I took the week off work to recover from my surgery, and I was really hoping to use it more productively. I mean, I know I had surgery, but it was just on my ear, right? But alas, I spent most of it in bed sleeping, reading, or watching movies. I just had no energy for doing anything at all productive. Not even something I enjoy as much as blogging. But it’s been a full week. I am feeling much more like my old self. My hearing is a thousand times better, and I’m ready to finish detailing my trip. That I began over 5 months ago. (Can you believe that?)
After two days in Nice and Antibes, we took a train to our final stop – Marseille. Once we hiked up 4 flights of stairs to our rented apartment and dropped off our stuff, we headed straight to the train station to spend the afternoon in Aix-en-Provence. We discovered that we could take the train or purchase a cheaper ticket for a bus that also left from the train station. We did that.
Confession: When I was researching for my cheat sheets, I ran out of time before I got to Marseille. And you could tell. We had to figure out everything as we went and were not quite as prepared as I would have liked. We really didn’t know what to expect from Aix (or Marseille in general). The bus dropped us off in what seemed like a random intersection. We had no idea where to go but followed everyone else into town. We knew we had arrived when we saw this fountain.
That was exactly what I was expecting from Aix-en-Provence. But we ended up taking a wrong turn at this fountain and walked down a street that was not what we expected from Aix. One of those modern streets with a copy shop and travel agency or some other mundane business that reminds you that people really live in France. I really love seeing that side of a city when I’m traveling, but it wasn’t how I pictured Aix-en-Provence. From the photos I had seen, I imagined fountains and cafes and streets bathed in warm light and shops with old books and maybe bicycles. I pictured it being quiet and quaint.
It wasn’t like that at all. I mean, there were fountains and cafes and streets bathed in warm light, but there were also super noisy motorcycles zipping up what seemed like pedestrian streets and tons of people making lots of noise. It was bustling! Not sleepy. We got turned the right way, away from the mundane shops, and headed up toward the university.
We stopped in a bookstore and some other shops, but I don’t know if it was just travel-weariness or what, but somehow, we were not loving Aix. We decided to head home early, but first we wanted to stop for a drink.
Then something happened. We happened to turn down a magical street. Suddenly, it seemed like the whole city changed. It was exactly what I was hoping from Aix-en-Provence.
Maybe it was just relaxing in an outdoor cafe and sipping on an Orangina that made the difference, or maybe my attitude changed. As the trip was winding up, I was feeling really reflective about my experience. One of the things I was thinking about was my approach to a destination – do I go into it with preconceived notions? or allow it to unfold itself to me? Obviously, I usually do the former, and I started thinking about how I could do more to cultivate the latter.
So I ended up enjoying my few hours in Aix-en-Provence, even if we had a terrible time trying to find our bus home. But we made it.