Thursday, July 2, 2009

Into Marseille

Long drive to Marseille...over 6 hours and well with a few navigational issues was closer to 7. We purchased and brought the Garmin Nuvi and it has been a lifesaver in the small towns and villages where street signs rarely exist. We have named or navigator Pepe and now Sophie now that we are in France. You have to have a nav system to get it, you feel you have to give the voice a name that is directing you and re-directing you at times.

Most of the highways are toll roads. We paid .75Euro up to 15Euro (over $20) along the way and decided to take the coastal roads after the 15Euro charge. But that added time and naturally many opportunities to exit at the wrong spot on the roundabout, which, are frequent in Europe. All and all we did well, I mostly drove, Braman navigated when Sophie was not stepping up or when we added a stop. Riley is an excellent traveler. She spent over an hour giving us various quizzes from her magazines and sharing interesting teen articles then settled in to read and listed to her iPod. At nearly 10pm the fuel light came on and we had a bit of a scare. Out on lonely coastal roads and fuel stations are open 24 hours but are not attended and the 1st 2 we went to would not accept our credit cards and had not cash optoin. About the time I was close to panic we rolled into a spot with an attendant. Not sure what we were doing room, fueling with a ccard seems pretty self explanatory, but there were many french words that I did not recognize.

Once we decided to Marseille I went to work with the Michelin Guide- terrific travel tool (thanks Scott) and began calling and found many hotels were full, but found a spot on the harbor with reasonable prices (for Europe) but only one bed, but we decided to give it a go. Marseille is a very busy city and at 11pm was jammed with traffic, people and lit up like Times Square. Navigationg to the hotel posed a challenge and we soon learned there was no parking. We unloaded, I checked in and thankfully John found a public park down the street. The room is small and very European but had many extra blankets for a nice bed for Riley on the floor.

Oh and yes it is still stifling hot....oppressive but the room has air conditioner and did a reasonable job in cooling the room, certainly not cold, but tolerable. In the heat and with the weak refrigeration in Spain/France I find I crave cold drinks most of all. Ice is commodity or so it seems and is relished greatly by all.