Carpooling to Midi – Pyrenees

My friend made me an offer I couldn’t reject. She asked me if I would like to join her and her colleagues on the trip to Pyrenees. It was 30 degrees in the air near Avignon and few days later, after one carpooling I was in Toulouse where I joined my friend and we headed towards the French Pyrenees.

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I don’t see snow very often, and I’ve never seen snow during the summer months. I’m typical Croatian coming from the seaside, not very proud of that, but it’s true – the only and ultimate fun during summer is going to the beach and swimming, drinking coffee and going to the islands, and drinking more coffee or beer or wine… but all the summer fun is centered around the sea. This July was somewhat different, L and me where 2080 metres up high, somewhere in the Pyrenees. We got lost. It was a foggy day. We left the group and decided to proceed on our own towards the shelter, where we were supposed to spend the night. The shelter, as one of her colleagues kindly informed us just before we left the group was at the altitude od 1800 metres and it was only 10 minutes away from the place where we were at that moment. We continued walking for another forty-five minutes without reaching the shelter. This caused some concern and we started questioning whether we took the wrong path. We were at the altitude of 2080 metres when first worries started to appear and it was obvious that we were on the wrong path.

Luckily, we had plenty more hours of daylight ahead of us and there was no cause for concern. We decided to follow the same path down, which turned out to be the right decision. Apparently, we passed the shelter on our way up to 2080 metres, but we didn’t see it because fog was so thick. Luckily, on the way back, fog cleared away and the little mountain house stood on the peak of one of the many hills, overlooking the lake.

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This trip was simply amazing. Thanks Lysa for these breath-taking pics and for introducing me to a different way of spending summer holidays. I love to be by the sea, but mountains can be great fun as well, especially when you get to see snow in the mid-July.

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Walk and discover… Marseille

It was time to go and visit Marseille. We’ve arranged everything… found great way to reach Marseille (as trains in France are so expensive, though they are very fast, but still very expensive). We used carpooling. Had to go to Avignon from Uzes, and we met with our driver on the bus station. We were in Marseille in an hour, more or less, and we paid only 6 euro each, and got some useful insider tips on what to do and where to go. So much better than taking the train and paying 30 euros or more.

Marseille  is the city I’ve dreamed of visiting for so many years. We’ve just spent 10 days in a rural and quiet part of France, so Marseille was a great choice of the city to shake things up a bit. First night we stayed near the Marche des Capucins, and second night we booked accommodation in a completely different environment, in Rue du Panier. We had no idea about what to expect in Marseille as we didn’t do any reading prior to travelling to Marseille. We just relied on our inborn curiosity and on strangers that we met on the way to Marseille. We got so many useful tips from our car pooling guy, although we spoke little French and he spoke little English, we managed to catch the names of the main sites that he mentioned.

Marche des Capucins is a beautiful, lively, colourful, amazing part of the city that is absolutely must-see in Marseille. I could spend one whole day just wandering through the alleys of this vibrant market. Even if you are not that much into eating and exploring different dishes, this is place to go just to feel the pulse of the city. And, it’s a great place to eat for little money! 🙂

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So, with our bellies full and a good night sleep, we decided to head next morning towards the famous basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. It’s a hilly road to go, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Especially if you award yourself with an almond croissant afterwards. 🙂

But back to Notre Dame… it’s a church, and yes it has a beautiful interior and exterior, but what amazed me the most was the stunning view. You get to see the whole Marseille from the top, including Frioul islands.

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rocky road to Notre Dame

The rest of the day, we slowed down the pace and just wandered around the city. It was time to move our things to Rue du Panier and leave this lively part of Marseille to discover another part that’s more artistic, silent,  cleaner, and beautiful in a different way.

We were closer now to St Charles station and to the Vieux Port, which is breath-taking, as whole Marseille is. This city has so many different skins and layers, and it has so much to offer to its visitors: amazing people, great food, sea, hiking in the middle of the city and swimming in the city after the hike…

It’s a city I would like to return to every now and then. It really made me feel at home, so it got its place on my list of the cities that are more than just a tourist must-go-and-see. This place feels like home!

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