Sunday, August 02, 2009

Transition: from Barcelona to Aix-en-Provence


On Thursday, July 30th I set off from Barcelona, Spain to Aix-en-Provence, France. Not the easiest spot to get to: it involved 2 trains and a bus. Well, actually, 3 trains and a bus - and walking.... It was a bit of an adventure that I wrote about in detail in my journal (when one is on the train, there is a lot of time to write....) - but here are some highlights:

  • survived the "pigeon poop scam" on my way to get me to the commuter train that would get me to the station where my train would depart Barcelona from... it goes like this: guys pelt you with something (muddy water? tea and oatmeal?) then come to rescue you from the pigeon poop which at this point is all over you (or, in my case, my pack)... they seem genuine enough until they try to help you off with your pack.... uh, no thanks
  • with that, and then a track platform change on the commuter train, my time cushion was eaten up and I got my train from Barcelona to Montpellier with 7 minutes to spare... that's actually not bad with a train, but a bit too close to comfort for me
  • passport control into France was interesting, as we pulled out of the border station, saw a guy cursing loudly and shaking his head... probably no passport?
  • Saw a girl so addicted to her iPod that she stood in the toilet of the 2nd class compartment for at least 30 minutes charging her device using the razor plug (it was a hold-your-breath facility, so I really think she was nuts!)
  • upon arrival in Montepellier I met my first pay toilet of this trip... but it was .50E! But it was clean and almost pleasant after the train loo.
  • there was 1st class available on the leg from Montpellier to Marseille, which I took and aside of the larger seats, I wondered if it was worth the few extra Euros.... but the loo was mucho better, so, yeah, it's worth it...

Most guide books and web info tell you to take the train from Barcelona to Marseille via Narbonne, but I found that going via Montpellier was about 2 hours faster: a shorter wait between trains, and I think my 2nd train was a high speed one...

On a train platform in Marseille.... so immediately French!

Passed several wind farms in southern France, for some reason I find them very elegant and beautiful....

The Spanish coastline...

Finally, off the trains, just one bus and a walk to go....

  • at Marseille, got confused and conflicting directions on where to find the bus to Aix, so wandered around for ages with my heavy pack in the heat..... (why exactly did I want a pack instead of a rolling suitcase? someone remind me....)the bus itself was awesome, cool and took only about 30 minutes
  • All I had to do then was phone the guy who was going to let me into the apartment and walk about 5-10 minutes.... but my stupid Spanish phone did not work, the pay phones would not accept my credit cards, and I could not convince anyone (shop owners, people on the streets) to let me make 1 single short local phone call.... sheesh!
  • Finally arrived at the building, but no one was going to let me in until I telephoned the guy to come.... regrouped.... and to make a long story short (believe me, it is longer) found a kind woman in a children's clothing shop who let me call and I left a voice mail (being almost an hour later than was anticipated)... the shop lady came out a few minutes later to say Monseiur had called and he would be there in 10 minutes - triumph!!!
Now, some pics from Aix..... This is where I am staying, and below is the sunlight pouring in my kitchen window this morning... (after the morning thunderstorm had cleared....)

My street, and my windows... adjacent to an old chapel...
My windows:
The nearest square in the old town, where I had dinner my first night (crepe place straight ahead) and a drink last night by the fountain (guy in black shirt with the laptop is at "my" table)..

Happy feets in Aix listening to a cello concerto....

Cellists playing in a truly beautiful square, notice the old stcne cobblestones.... and, yeah, the motorcycle at the window too ;-)

I have yet to have pizza from this guy, but when he saw me taking a picture he wanted to be in it! So sweet....

Me and my beer and my doodles and the fountain for last night's beer.... (same square as 4 pics above).... that pint cost me 6.50E! gasp! I am having to be crafty here to eat cheaply....

I bought two small photographs from this gentleman yesteday, his name is Jurek Nems and he is very exciting to talk to, he was going on about the light in France and his joy in what he is able to capture. I will treasure the 2 pics and look forward to framing them wherever and whenver I have a 'home' again....

5 comments:

Branwen said...

Wow! I love this blog! I remember being there.Funny, cause I thought of you when I was there a few years ago! Love the old fountains and the smaller French town feel. See you in 7 days!!!!

Roberta said...

Bonjour B, Aix really is a wonderful introduction to France, it really is quite charming. I guess I was meant to be here if you thought it so!! Also looking forward to seeing you in Paris soon!

Anonymous said...

JEANNIE SAYS "I'M ENJOYING SHARING YOUR TRIP"

Roberta said...

Is this the Jeannie who's initials are followed by an R, then a K? If so, sweet to have you posting comments to me! Glad you are enjoying.... Love, Roberta xoxxoo

Mabel @ Barcelona said...

Nice pics, looks, looks loverly there! Here still warm!

Mabel
mabelatbarcelona.blogspot.com