Bonjour Marseille – Day 2 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise – video

We are getting into the swing of our Mediterranean Cruise with MSC Cruises with our first port stop today at Marseille. I had envisaged strolling off the ship and walking into town, until I realised that we were docked around 20 minutes drive away from the centre of Marseille. There was a shuttle bus provided by MSC ($16 per person return) but we decided to try the public bus outside the port and after a transfer to the tram found ourselves walking down the main boulevard of La Canebiere towards the Vieux Port.

Vieux Port of Marseille Photo: Heatheronhertravels

Yachts in the Vieux Port of Marseille

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I spotted an old fashioned looking shop selling traditional sweets and biscuits, called La Cure Gourmand and bought some marzipan lozenge shaped sweets and chocolate olives to take home, although they may not last that long. Once the hub of commercial shipping in Marseille, the Vieux Port is now a marina full of yachts and sailing boats, surrounded on all sides by restaurants and cafes. There was a Saturday fruit and flower market in full swing and an event run by the local Marine Fire Service who had numerous vehicles and equipment on show for the public.

La Cure Gourmande in Marseille Photo: Heatheronhertravels

Traditional sweets at La Cure Gourmande in Marseille

We could see the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica up on the hill and we decided to take the No 60 bus that stopped right by the Vieux Port (Cost €1.80) to save ourselves a hot 30 minute walk. I didn’t envy the bus driver as he expertly negotiated oncoming traffic and parked cars in the narrow streets and bends on the hill. The Basilica is the city’s major landmark and was built by Napoleon III in the 1850s, topped with a golden statue of Mary and baby Jesus. Inside the Basilica a mass was in progress and there was some beautiful decoration and gilding, but the main attraction was the view over the whole city and out to sea. The walk back down the hill was not at all arduous and we reached the port again around lunchtime.

Notre Dame de la Garde Marseille Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseille

View of Marseille from Notre Dame de la Garde Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View of Marseille from Notre Dame de la Garde

Around the three sides of the port were wide boulevards for pedestrians and cyclists, which made it a very pleasant stroll, in warm sunshine with the boats swaying on the rippling, turquoise water. As we reached the Quai des Belges where we had earlier taken the bus, my eye was caught by a stall selling artisan soaps, one of the famous products of Marseille. We stopped to chat to the young man in traditional fisherman’s dress and smell all the different fragrances, selecting a few to take home as souvenirs.

Traditional soaps on sale in Marseille Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Traditional soaps on sale in Marseille

The far side of the Vieux Port was lined with cafes and restaurants fronting the old town Panier district, although the waterfront was destroyed in WW2 bombing. Guy was keen to try an authentic Marseille Bouillabaisse, a hearty fish stew, until he read one of the menus and realised it would set him back €60. We walked up the quay, where there were many tourist buses parked, trying in vain to find the correct place to take the free bus back to the ship, but gave up in the end and had a drink in a café at the far end with a view of the old fortress.

Fish stalls on the quay at Marseille Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fish stalls on the quay at Marseille

We wandered along to the St Jean Fort, an imposing fortress, one of the two that guard the entrance to the port, with its matching partner in St Nicholas Fort on the other side. There appeared to be a museum inside, but we walked around the pathway that circled the fortress where a man was sunbathing after a swim of the rocks. It was a lovely viewpoint to watch the sailing boats leaving the harbor and look out to sea. By early afternoon it was time to return to the ship and this time we decided to take a taxi back to the ship.

Yachts leaving the port of Marseille Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Yachts leaving the port of Marseille by St Jean Fortress

MSC Splendida in Marseille Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

MSC Splendida in Marseille

Back on board we watched the evening show, Paris Fou, with a French theme in honour of our stop in Marseille. The entertainment featured an Edith Piaf style singer, showgirls with skimpy costumes and feathers and some can can dancers, as well as an amazing juggler and artist who created shadow pictures with his hands.

Tomorrow, we reach Genoa in Italy, home port of MSC Cruises, where we plan to spend another day exploring the sights.

Options for getting into Marseille from the cruise port

  • Take the transfer bus provided by MSC at a cost of around €16.90 per person for the return ticket. This leaves from immediately outside the cruise terminal and takes you to the Vieux Port.
  • Walk 10 minutes down the road still within the port area to where a free shuttle bus takes you into the Vieux Port. This seemed to run every 30 minutes, however we couldn’t find where to catch it on the return journey, so I’m not sure if it is a one-way service.
  • Walk 20-30 minutes to just outside the port gates where there is a bus stop by the road. The number 35 bus runs 3 times an hour and will take you to Joliette. Here you transfer to the tramway T2 and get off at Sardi Carnot with a further 10 minute walk to the Vieux Port. The cost is €1.80 per person one way and the ticket is valid for 1 hour and covers both the bus and the tramway. It will probably take you around an hour for the whole journey.
  • You can take a taxi from outside the cruise terminal for a cost of around €20 one way, which I believe is probably the best option especially if there are not too many people waiting and you can share the cost with other passengers. The taxi ride takes around 20 minutes.

Excursion options for Marseille

The Marseille City tour (4 hrs, £42 Adult) begins at Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Garde on the hill overlooking the town and includes sightseeing in the centre of Marseille and time wandering in the Vieux Port. A popular alternative tour is Aix en Provence (4 hr, £42) for a 40 minute drive to this attractive old town with a visit to St Saviours Cathedral and a walk through the historic centre. There is also an excursion to Cassis (4.5 hrs, £32), a charming fishing town with high cliffs and brightly coloured houses which is a 1 hour drive from Marseille.

Other articles in my Mediterranean Cruise series

Join me on a week’s Mediterranean Cruise with MSC Cruise
All aboard at Barcelona – Day 1 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Palazzo and Gelato in Genoa – Day 3 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Naples and an excursion to Pompeii – Day 4 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Messina and an excursion to Taormina – Day 5 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Tunis and Carthage – Day 6 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
A day at sea and back to Barcelona – Day 7 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise

MSCCruiseslogo Thanks to MSC cruises who are hosting Guy and Heather’s Mediterranean cruise. Heather and Guy will be travelling on MSC Splendida from Barcelona on a 1 week cruise calling at Genoa, Marseille, Naples, Messina, Tunis. Prices for a similar cruise start at around £700 per person. For more information, visit the MSC Cruises website or follow them on Twitter @MSC_Cruises_UK or on the MSC Facebook page.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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Join me on a week’s Mediterranean cruise with MSC cruises

Cruising can be dangerously addictive and the sunshine of the Mediterranean is calling me. This weekend Guy and I will be off for a week cruising around the Med with MSC Cruises, calling at some rather exciting places that are quite new to me.

Sailing the Med on MSC Splendida

Sailing the Med on MSC Splendida

We fly to join MSC Splendida at Barcelona, with perhaps just enough time to try some tapas in the old quarter. After that I’m thinking Bouillabaisse in Marseille, Gelato in Genoa or an authentic Margharita pizza in Naples. Or how about Lemon granita in Sicily or Tagine in Tunis? Or just as likely I’ll be feasting on some culture and street-life, ancient churches, crumbling palazzos, and Roman ruins in Pompeii and Taormina.

We'll be visiting Genoa on our MSC Cruise

We’ll be visiting Genoa on our MSC Cruise

I gather the MSC Splendida lives up to her name too. She’s modern and stylish with European flair to blow away those myths that cruises are just for the retired – why should they have all the fun? We’re looking forward to a cosmopolitan, European crowd and I’m expecting a few family groups on board, as it’s half term and kids sail free in their parents’ cabin with MSC.

A little fun or relaxation around the pool on MSC Splendida

A little fun or relaxation around the pool on MSC Splendida?

Still, on a ship big enough to accommodate over 3200 guests, there should be something for everyone, and when the splashing around the four pools gets to much, we’ll find a quiet corner in one of the lounges or retreat to our balcony cabin.

Stylish decor in the balcony cabin on MSC Splendida

Stylish decor in the balcony cabin on MSC Splendida

We’re counting on being well looked after by the crew, eating some delicious Mediterannean food and reliving our holiday in Texas with some Tex Mex in the Santa Fe speciality restaurant – hoping they serve those delicious fish tacos I enjoyed in Austin. I already have a Balinese massage planned on the sea day to sooth away the aches from all the sightseeing.

Planning relaxation time in the spa with a Balinese massage

Planning relaxation time in the spa with a Balinese massage

What should we not miss Marseille and Genoa? Any tips for Pompei, Taormina and Carthage where I’ll be brushing up on my Roman history? What souvenirs should I look out for in the souk in Tunis? And if you’ve sailed on MSC Splendida or with MSC cruises, do pass on any tips to help us make the most of our week’s cruise.

Mediterranean cuisine on board MSC Splendida

Mediterranean cuisine on board MSC Splendida

I do hope you’ll join me in a virtual voyage on MSC Splendida over the week from Friday 23 May to Friday 28 May when I’ll be posting photos on all my social media channels as well as some diary updates here on the blog. Follow along with the hashtag #MSCBlogTrip and be sure to let me know any tips for the places I’ll be visiting.

In the meantime, more articles to get you in the mood for my MSC cruise

Review of MSC Splendida from Ladies What
Review of MSC Splendida on Travel with a Mate
Review of MSC Splendida from Selena the Places
Visiting Genoa from Selena the Places
MSC cruises insider tips and advice – interview with Executive Director Giles Hawke

Articles from our MSC Mediterranean Cruise

All aboard at Barcelona – Day 1 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Bonjour Marseille – Day 2 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Palazzo and Gelato in Genoa – Day 3 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Naples and an excursion to Pompeii – Day 4 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Messina and an excursion to Taormina – Day 5 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise

MSCCruiseslogo Thanks to MSC cruises who will be hosting my Mediterranean cruise. Heather and Guy will be travelling on MSC Splendida from Barcelona on a 1 week cruise calling at Genoa, Marseille, Naples, Messina, Tunis. Prices for a similar cruise start at around £700 per person. For more information, visit the MSC Cruises website or follow them on Twitter @MSC_Cruises_UK or on the MSC Facebook page.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Dublin, Lisbon, Rome – where will your next citybreak be?

When spring arrives with sunshine and daffodils, it always puts me in the mood for planning my next getaway, a mini-break to throw off the chill of winter and tide me over until the summer holidays. If you’re in the mood for a weekend away in Europe or the UK, take a look at the fun web app from SuperBreak to fuel your holiday inspiration. Whether you’re planning a relaxing half term break with the family, a weekend of eating and entertainment with your friends, or a cultural city-break with your partner, here are some of the destinations that you might want to consider;

If you’re a couple looking for a weekend of food, drink and entertainment you might look at….

Dublin

Dublin at night Photo by Lendog64 on Flickr

Dublin at night, the ultimate party town

What Superbreak have to say; Just a quick jump across the water and you can enjoy traditional Bars, comedy clubs, delicious local food and the ever-so-friendly Irish welcome! Guinness at the ready!

What I enjoyed about Dublin;

  • I love the way that the Irish always have a story to tell, that you can go into any pub and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and there’s always some music and a song or two.
  • Visit the Guinness Storehouse in an amazing 7 storey old warehouse with modern glass additions to learn about Dublin’s favourite tipple – you’ll be shown how to pull the perfect pint of the black stuff and can buy up the brand’s heritage (love the retro toucans).
  • Take the train out to Sandy Cove, a seaside spot where the members of the 40 foot swimming club test the water every day of the year and where James Joyce lived in an old Martello tower and liked to take a dip.

Here’s what I wrote about Dublin: The best of TBEX, the best of Dublin

But if you and your partner are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Rome

The Trevi Fountain in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome to return some day

What Superbreak have to say; With a wealth of history, culture and plenty of Italian charisma, you can’t help but feel the love on a weekend break in Rome with someone special.

What I enjoyed about Rome;

  • Buying a gelato from the kiosk shop on the island in the Tiber and eating it with a view of the river where Dan Brown’s hero, in the book Angels and Demons, parachutes out of an exploding helicopter to land on the island.
  • Visiting the Turtle fountain or Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei first thing in the morning before the crowds have gathered – so much more charming and less crowded than the Trevi Fountain.
  • Visiting the daily fruit and vegetable market in Campo de’Fiori and buying a slice of pizza fresh from the oven from the artizan bakery at one end, then sitting on the steps of the central monument to eat it.

Here’s one of my stories about Rome: The view from the dome of St Peter’s in Rome

If you are a couple who fancy a weekend of culture in the UK take a look at …

Stratford-upon-Avon

The river at Stratford-upon-Avon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Picnic by the river at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare

What Superbreak have to say; Discover the quaint city of Stratford upon Avon on a romantic weekend break. Step back in time in this historic city and see the spots where Shakespeare’s most famous plays were created.

What I love to do in Stratford-upon-Avon;

  • Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a fabulous venue that has gone through a multi-million pound renovation. You must try and get a ticket to see one of their Shakespeare productions but even if you can’t, be sure to pop in to wander round the building, visit one of the exhibitions, climb the tower or take a backstage tour.
  • Taking afternoon tea at the Arden Hotel right opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the perfect place for a lunch stop in between sightseeing or a pre-theatre dinner before you pop across the road for the performance.
  • Several of the houses in and around Stratford associated with Shakespeare and his family are open to the public, and we we especially love Anne Hathaway’s Cottage with its cottage garden and the settle by the fire where young William might have snuggled with his new bride Anne.

Here’s what I wrote about Stratford-upon-Avon: The Tower and other Transformations at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

But if you are a group who’d like a weekend of culture in Europe why not try …

Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Visit the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

What Superbreak have to say; With history, landmarks and iconic French architecture around every corner, Paris offers everything a group would need for a cultural break. Don’t forget your camera!

What I enjoyed about Paris;

  • Wandering around the Parisian’s choice of market, Marche d’Aligre with the most polished and perfect fruit and vegetables, a mouthwatering selection of prepared dishes in the covered market and a flea market where you can buy everything from vintage footwear to elegant wine glasses.
  • Walking down Canal Saint Martin to admire all the houseboats and then continuing along the narrow footpath right beside the Seine, with views of Notre Dame in the distance – a world away from the tourist crowds at the cathedral itself.
  • Exploring the covered arcades with art galleries and street cafes in Place des Vosges and then visiting Maison Victor Hugo to find out about the life and times of this celebrated French writer, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Here’s what I wrote about Paris: Our winter weekend in Paris, the food, the sights, the video

And if and your friends are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Lisbon

The vintage trams in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ride the vintage trams in Lisbon up the hill

What Superbreak have to say; A weekend break in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital offers an eclectic mix of fascinating Portuguese history and contemporary art and culture.

What I loved about Lisbon;

  • Listening to the mournful Fado singers who perform in the restaurants in the Bairo Alto and Alfama neighbourhoods – don’t expect the food to be anything special but the music will touch your soul.
  • Eating Pasteis de Belem from the famous cakes shop near the Monastery of Jerónimos - these creamy custard tarts are the signature of Lisbon and you can either sit in the vaulted cafe rooms at the back of the shop or take them away to eat in the gardens overlooking the port.
  • Taking the yellow, vintage No 28 tram up the hill to the Castelo de Sao Jorge where you can walk around the ramparts and gaze over the rooftops towards the river where the ships left to conquer the New World centuries ago.

Here’s one of my stories about Lisbon: An autumn weekend in Lisbon – Podcast

There are plenty more inspirational short break destinations to discover with the SuperBreak app so why not give it a try and see where your inspiration leads you.

About the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator:  To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Yorkshire based holiday company  Superbreak.com have created a fun app to help you choose the perfect UK or European city break based on who you’re travelling with and what you enjoy. Check out the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator Webapp or follow the coversation on the Superbreak Facebook Page or on Twitter @Superbreak using hashtag #SuperBreakinspo

This article is brought to you in partnership with Superbreak.com

Photo Credits: Dublin at night by LenDog64 Other photos by Heatheronhertravels.com

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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