We were coming to the end of our Mediterranean cruise and our last stop was Marseille, France. We had a bus tour to several churches, most namely being the Notre Dame Cathedral (of Marseille). I learned there are several Notre Dame Cathedrals in Europe (and this wasn’t the famous one). Later we would have some time to explore the city.
The Cathedral was at the top of a hill, and given how our night before ended, being crammed in yet another bus was not ideal for any us. It was warm and humid and bumpy, with lots of winding up and around through the mountain turns to the very top.
Once we arrived at the church, it took us all of ten minutes to realize it was “just another church.” We had probably seen a total of 35 churches on this trip, all of them full of something special but looking very much the same to me. The cool air outside of the church felt nice and there was a beautiful view overlooking the city. We spent some time snapping pictures and suddenly Julie said, “Why don’t we light some candles?”
“Ok, but what are we going to light candles for?”
“Hmm…” she thought for a while. “For all the single people!”
So we did. We took our euros inside, each placed one gold coin in the donation bin, and each lit a small white candle…for all the single people!
After a few stops at a few more churches, we arrived back in the city and were told to meet our group in two hours. We didn’t really have a destination. I don’t even know what there is to do in Marseille (beside go to church), but those are my favorite types of trips. Just wondering the streets and taking it all in.
We walked the busy sidewalks and watched the cars and buses stroll by. It looked exactly like France should. Thin, dark haired women strolled the streets in heels, their arms full of bags from Prada and Gucci and Louie Vuitton. Tall, handsome men hurrying along in their business suits carrying briefcases. Cafes lined the sidewalks, with smells of fresh breads and pastries overwhelmingly filling our nostrils. And coffee shops with tables on the sidewalks, full of people enjoying an afternoon drink while reading the paper. It was just like the movies.
We hadn’t had lunch, so we found a cute café with tables outside where we could grab a sandwich and people watch. I was so hungry, and everything looked so good. I opted for a cheese sandwich (I love cheese…it’s my favorite food)! It looked like a traditional grilled cheese sandwich with an extra layer of fried cheese on the outside. So many layers of cheese and bread; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Yummy it looked. And disgusting it was. I still think of that sandwich and shudder. The bitter and sour and rotten taste it had. Ugh! I’m not sure if it was the cheese or the bread or the creamy, white sauce that came as a surprise, but I learned I don’t like French food. What can I say?!
After we ate, I needed to use the restroom. The restroom was downstairs (like many are in Europe). Usually I would just crawl onto Matt’s back and get down that way. Although he’d have to make a quick entry into the women’s restroom, this worked well. But we were nearing the end of our trip and he was getting worn out from continuous piggybacking. And besides, this restaurant had a lift. Not an elevator. A lift. You know, one of the platforms that slide up and down a railing along a flight of stairs with a flat surface for a wheelchair and its user to sit on?
So, after much struggle (due to the language barrier), Matt was able to get the code to the operating panel of the lift. It was at the bottom of the stairs, so he went down, punched in the code, and hollered up at me, “Ok, go ahead and wheel right on up.” And I did. It was a long flight with a 90 degree turn halfway down. The lift was going so slow compared to how badly I needed to use the restroom and I thought about halfway down that it would have just been easier for me to dirty my pants and scoot down the stairs on my bottom.
Also, I hate, I mean absolutely despise these types of platform lifts. It’s not because I’m scared of falling or that I don’t trust the operating system. It’s that everyone, I mean everyone, who can see the lift and its slow moving mechanics stops and looks. They stop what they’re doing and they take a few minutes to watch the beeping platform move slowly up or down the stairs with me awkwardly perched upon it. Beep. Beep. Beep. “I’m just going to the bathroom, folks. Really, it’s no big deal,” is all I can think. I know it’s just curiosity, but I just don’t like unwanted attention. And there are times when these lifts are a necessity, and thus I need to be thankful. This was one of those times.
After a few minutes, I arrived at the bottom of the stairs and rushed to the bathroom. I swung the door to the women’s restroom open only to find that there were a few more stairs up to get to the actual stalls. So…Matt made a trip to the women’s restroom after all. We finished our time at the café, using the same platform to get back up. And our time in Marseille was over. Just like that.