It was a gorgeous day today (which was very welcome as the past 3 days were quite gloomy), so we decided to head up to Notre Dame de la Guarde for the afternoon. We stopped in at the Office du Tourisme for information on how to take the bus up to it. We were told to catch the 60 bus across the street. We found the bus stop and hopped on. This was our first time on a Marseille local bus, and it wasn't the most pleasant experience. The buses here are a lot smaller than the one's in NYC, and there is very limited seating. Instead of bars running across the top to hold on to, there are only a few poles throughout the bus. We were crammed in like sardines, and there was NO air conditioning!
I was holding on to a pole with both hands to keep myself from falling over onto the woman sitting down in front of me. A French woman leaned over to Chris and said, in English, "Tell her to keep one hand on her purse while riding the bus at all times" and that she had someone get into her purse once while riding the bus. I did what she said, although it made it much more difficult to hold on to the pole while the bus was weaving up the hill on very tiny streets.
By the time we got up to the top of the hill, sweat was running down my forehead and back, and I was ready to get off the crazy bus. We hopped off and took in the unbelievable view of Marseille and the sea.
We could see everything from up there, and being that it was a perfect day (no clouds, 70 degrees), the view was breathtaking. The cathedral itself was something to behold. I wanted to look around the outside of the building first, before going in. We could see Chateau D'If, the island of Frioul, the Vieux Port, mountains surrouding the city, and of course the beautiful Mediterranean sea.
We followed some people inside the cathedral into a small room with candles and statues of Jesus and Mary. People were lighting candles and saying prayers. The next room was labled as a crypt, but it seemed more like a prayer room to us. There was an alter that looked like a crypt.
We exited the building and went another story up to the entry to the main hall. We crossed over the tiny drawbridge, went through the revolving doors, and into the main hall. It was quite packed, and it took us a few minutes to realize that they were actually holding mass. We stood to the side and listened to the service for a little while. I have never been in a cathedral quite like this. The inside is hard to describe, and the pictures I took do not do it justice. The thing that caught our attention was the model ships hanging down from the ceiling. Chris noticed that the priest said something about watching over fishermen in his prayer.
I wouldn't have wanted to be attending mass there with all the tourists coming in and out, talking, and taking pictures. Yes, I was one of the tourists, but I was as discrete as possible with my camera.
We exited the building and stepped into the gift shop for a bit. They had some interesting books on Christmas in Provence to thumb through.
We decided to forego the bus ride down, and walk home. The walk was nice, but very steep and all downhill. We really got a workout! It only took about 30 minutes to get back to the port. We hopped into a grocery to get some food for dinner (trout, shrimp, bread, and some appetizers).
Pictures can be found here http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/483519.5a372a8e74c