Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Marseille, France

May 14... our first port of call was Marseille, France. Last nights sleep was not quite comfortable - the beds were uneven and my back really hurt. So instead of the planned early morning, I woke up late and barely made it in time to the Bora Bora cafe for breakfast (till 10 am). Breakfast was as lousy as dinner last night and was extremely disappointing. What was even more disappointing was the service staff. Again I couldn't help but compare the service to that on the Royal Caribbean. DH warned me to stop the comparison else really continue to be disappointed! :(

We then dropped the kids off to the kids club (called Grafitti on deck 15 mid-ship) so we (the adults) could go on shore. Marseille is France's second largest city and the capital of the Provence-Cote d'Azur region. Its a maritime cosmopolitan city on the southeast coast of France. The port where the ship docked is industrial and looks very commercial. We took the ship's shuttle bus (€15 pp) to the city center and noticed that the port along the way was more picturesque than the glimpse we got from our ship. Had I done my due diligence in terms of research, I am sure we could have saved some moolah and taken the local transport to the city.
Once we got down at the city center on Rue H. Barbusse, we headed down the street towards Vieux Port (old port). On the street corner of Quai du Port, we bought tickets (€7 pp) for Le Petit Train, which is, as the name suggests a miniature train replica running on the streets of Marseille herding folks to Notre Dame de la Garde. The ride to the church took us through more picturesque streets and the view of the port and coastline were spectacular. Too bad it wasn't a hop off/hop on type of tour - we couldn't really get down anywhere to soak up the scenary or take pictures. The ride to the church took us about 30-40 minutes. The church stands majestically on top of a hill and offers more breath-taking views of the city. The inside of the church houses a crypt (lower church) and a basilica (upper church). I tried my hand at HDR in both the places - will have to see how the pics turn out. The Basilica is stunning with intricate artwork on the walls and ceilings. I need to read up on the history of this place - like I said did not do due diligence on my research. :(

The ride back was shorter and DH spotted an interesting looking square full of street side cafes near Vieux Port. So we headed in that direction on to Quai de Rive Neuve, around the port, to Place Thiars. We saw many interesting looking restaurants - 'Love Sushi', an Indian one called Jaipur fact Indian restaurants seemed popular, we saw quite a few along other streets - Govinda, Ashoka, Le Kashmir etc. We finally settled on a place called 'Fuxia' in Place Thiars. It had a decent Italian menu. As it turned out, the food, wine and dessert there was definitely the highlight of my day. Every dish was exquisite - the bruschetta, Aubergine parmiggiana, gnocchi with pesto, rigatoni Siciliana....yummmm! Just mouth wateringly exquisite! The Chianti we ordered was also perfect. Lunch ended with some excellent Tiramisu and chocolate layered panna cotta. Again exquisite! We simply drooled over the food. We then took a circuitous walk back to the shuttle stop seeing a few other streets around the port area.

Picked up the kids after heading back - they of course didn't miss us at all and seemed to have had a fantastic day. After more late afternoon siesta, we headed for dinner. Menu at the Villa Verde dining room looked boring so we decided to go to the dinner biffet at Bora Bora. Big mistake! Dinner was terrible with hardly any choices....salad was awful, fries were not good, there was only pizza, bunch of cold cut meats, bread, hamburger, grilled chicken.....sigh! We were better off going to the dining room! Lesson learned! I had read that food and service on this ship were far from good but even in my worst expectations, I did not think it would be this bad! I am extremely disappointed. :(

After dinner we headed to the Aft Lounge on deck 7 because the program indicated that there was a dance show. Again there was hardly anyone there at the announced time of 8:30. We danced with the kids for a bit and then headed out around 9, when we saw people heading in! Maybe most Europeans also follow IST! :P Around 9:45, we headed to the Strand Theater for another show. Once again, we were not disappointed. The dancers, artists, magician were all excellent. The magic show kept the kids entertained, the juggling and other acrobatic atcs were good and dancing tribute to the king of pop, MJ was also executed well.

We had to call it a night after that. Tomorrow we dock in Genoa where we haven't quite decided whether we want to take DH to the aquarium or go to Portofino. Grrr, not being connected to the Internet sucks...once one is used to looking up everything online, life without it is tough!

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