Today was the first sunny day without clouds we have had in WEEKS! I just couldn't stand to be in doors, so Chris suggested that we go to a large park here in Marseille called Parc Borely. Fannie had told me it was a nice place to visit. We took the metro to the Rond du Pont stop (where the big soccer stadium is located). Then we took a bus to the park. We have decided that buses are our least favorite way to get around. It wasn't a matter of it being packed this time, but the young soccer hooligans riding it were making us uneasy.
We were happy to get off at the stop, but then we were not sure how to get into the park. There was a large wall and no signs to enter. We saw a man with two young children walking one way, and figured it would be wise to follow them. They did lead us right to the small, unmarked entrance. We walked in and we found ourselves in a good sized playground. We crossed through and found a map of the place. We had the choice of going to the sea, to the hippodrome (where they have horse racing), to the botanical gardens, or just around the main area of the park. I wanted to go to the sea, of course, so we headed that way.
The park was filled with people, which was no surprise being that it was Saturday afternoon. There were people lining up around the hippodrome to get a glimpse of the upcoming horse race for free. People were biking, rollerblading, and even in these strange peddle carts everywhere. The peddle carts were of all shapes and sizes...some for only kids, some for families, and others for only adults. We decided that we will do that next time and it will be a great way for Chris and I to do something fairly close to biking (since he doesn't know how to ride a bike). As we got closer to the beach, we saw a kayaking class taking place in a little inlet. We also plan to do that when it gets warmer! The Mediterranean is the best place to learn water sports since the water is so calm.
I was very happy to get to the beach. It was fairly cold out, but people were still swimming and laying in the sun. We walked out to one point and looked around for a bit, before getting scared off by a guy urinating into the sea beside us. He was not the only guy we saw urinating in public in the park...later there was a guy in the bushes doing the same. These guys are not bums either...they looked like regular people to lazy to find a WC somewhere.
We continued walking around the beach, watching the sailboats and people enjoying the day. Lots of people were playing soccer, some were flying kites, and others were just sitting in the sun. I took as many people pictures as I could (still getting braver about doing that sort of thing).
Chris & I sat for a while watching some mini sailboats come in from their lesson. They were kid sized boats. We also saw a group of wind surfers taking a class near the beach. In the Spring, Chris and I are going to do that too!
We walked back over to the park and wandered around. We found a group of ducks and roosters making noise by the water. We also found the smallest go-cart course ever! It was so sad and pathetic, especially since there was only one boy on it chasing roosters.
The rose garden was at the end of the season, but there was a few blossoms left. The park at sunset was so nice, and it was so much fun just weaving around the paths heading back towards the beach. I wanted to stay and watch the sun go down, even though Chris was ready to head home and eat. We messed around a bit longer, checking out the grounds of the museum until the sun was going down over the Mediterranean. We walked over to a point where we could see a direct line to the sun on the sea and watch it set at 5:15pm. A woman walked over to us and said, in French, that it was a magnificent sunset, and that it was the first one she had seen here. It was beautiful and the colors were just gorgeous. Coucher de soleil means sleeping sun in French, which is the phrase they use to say “sunset”. Watching the sun go to sleep over the sea is one of my favorite things to do, and this was the first time actually seeing it clearly.
We left the park and went back to the bus stop. The bus was late, so we stood there trying to keep warm, and watching the cars go past. I made a little game of looking at the license plate numbers and seeing where people are from. If the plate has the number 13 at the end, they are from Marseille. If they are in the 90's, Paris. Other numbers, which were rare, were from other parts of France. We waited at least 20 minutes for the bus, and when it finally came, it was packed. We couldn't fit on! We gave up and decided to walk back to the metro station. It was about a 20 minute walk back. The stadium was filling up with people for a futbol (soccer) game. There were vending booths everywhere selling street meat, and ticket scalpers on the side of the sidewalk. We will have to go to at least one game while here in Marseille.
Our trip home was very fast, and we stopped by the grocery and Piccard to get a few things for dinner. We had a very American meal...hamburgers, french fries, and ice cream. We “Frenched” it up by putting the hamburgers on baguette with tomato and blue cheese. The ice cream was more like parfaits of chocolate and vanilla goodness.