In hopes of nabbing one of the better seats on the tour boat, Jesse and I rolled out of bed earlier than we would have liked, pulled on the nearest clothes, and trudged down the stairs. The morning air was cool and fresh, and I didn’t feel so disappointed about missing out on the Calanque+swimming tour. At least, I keep telling myself that. Anyway, we’d read that Marseille was a bit sketchy/ghetto, so we had our eyes peeled on our walk down to the port. Near one of the metro stops, I saw what appeared to be a drug deal. Two guys walked casually near each other, not locking eyes. One man handed the other what looked like a handful of cash and the other gave him a paper sack. The two continued walking away from each other like nothing had happened, and the one man peaked into his bag to check the contents. It was amusing and felt out of place, especially since it was early and the streets were quiet and empty. We arrived at the dock and find that no one was there yet, so we walked a few blocks away to the find caffeine at the Green Siren we’d seen on our map. Yep, I felt 100% like a tourist, but I felt a need to try Starbucks in both countries we visited this trip. And yup, I felt doubly like a tourist as a carried my 16 ounce cup out the door and down the street back to the docks, as 1) nobody else we’d seen had drank coffee on the go and 2) we hadn’t seen anyone else consume this large of acup of coffee. I think the largest portion I’d seen was an 8 or10 ounce, though their coffee is much stronger and richer than the brewed coffee of the US. I was only a little embarrassed though, as the bittersweet nectar was 100% worth it. We boarded the boat fairly promptly and found good seats on the top deck and crossed our fingers that the sun wasn’t too cruel today, as we hadn’t thought to put on sunscreen (or even brought any with us, come to think of it). We settled in for the ride and inhaled deeply, taking in the fresh, salty sea air. The air was still crisp and cool, and I slightly wished I had brought a sweater with me. Ah well, it just created an opportunity to sit a little bit closer to Jesse. 😉 I don’t want to bore any one, so I won’t go into too much detail, but the calanques are rocky inlets along the French Mediterranean coast, kind of like fjords. The rocks are mostly limestone and have been quarried for many years. The base of the Statue of Liberty is actually made from it, as well as part of the Suez Canal. They are beautiful, almost white, and manifest themselves in quite the variety of shapes and designs, with various nooks, crannies, and weathering on them. They are beautiful, and each calanque we visited had its own vibe, distinct style, and beauty. In this photo, you can see that this calanque has been quarried. There were many families and boats hanging out here, though most of the other inlets were quiet and had few visitors, perhaps because they are hard to get to. One particular one was well known among nudists, and one was present, though it was really too early in the day for most people to be out and about. For reference on the size of the calanques, I’ve included this photo. If you click it and look closely, you can see a group of hikers boulder along one of the masses, and another solo hiker/climber above them near the peak. I really itched to dive into the water and swim to the rocks so I could climb and explore… or just bob around on the water on a kayak and scrape along the edge of the cliffs. Anything, just so long as I was closer and could touch the water and rock with my hand. Despite those desires, being outside this day, sailing across the sea, completely at the mercy of the driver, no thinking, no planning, no navigating, no wondering if this was the right stop to exit on was one of the most refreshing moments of the trip. It was relaxing and just what we needed at this point in our adventure. I’m glad we did it and got a break from walking the city streets.
Here’s two last things – a small panorama of one of the cliffs and a short video that demonstrates the colorful sea bed, thanks to the plant life down there. Sadly, it is endangered. Enjoy!