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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Marseille, France: Wesh Wesh

Following my failed hitchhiking attempt to Avignon I decided to jump on a train to Marseille and wing it. Marseille is the 2nd largest inner city in France by population and 3rd largest by metropolitan area population (In general conversation the Frenchies I've spoken to seem pretty split in what position they refer to it as. Australia always uses metropolitan area, a much larger area around the city, so I'm going to say 3rd largest city). Marseille is an old port city and was the European Culture Capital of 2013.

I arrived by train and soon found WiFi to find the address of a hostel. I had heard bad things about Marseille and it was late at night so I was a little cautious. There were many people standing alone at the beginning of smaller streets staring at me as I walked past. I decided to stick to the main roads instead of taking short cuts down the smaller streets, occasionally looking at the map on my tablet. There was also a lot of rubbish in the streets. The night was a big contrast to the following day. When I arrived at the hostel I was told it was fully booked, the guy called another hostel that was also fully booked... Fuck! Was my first thought. Then he told me he does have a separate 5 bed dorm that isn't on the computer but we would need to look at it first to see if it's made up since it hadn't been used since the summer. We walked out the back door of the hostel and accross an alleyway and up some outdoor stairs. The room was better than good. It was a massive studio appartment with a kitchen, bathroom, toilet, cable tv and a modem for WiFi. I paid him there in cash. After he left I realised I gave him no passport and he doesn't even know my name.

I paid for a dorm bed and got this by myself!


The next morning after breakfast when I went to checkout a different guy was working and asked for my room number and name. I said "I was outside the"... and got cut off mid sentence with "ahhh you, it's all good". I dumped my bags in the left luggage room to explore with the hostel never knowing my name... lucky for them I didn't decide to sell the TV to help fund my travels.

The city was completely different during the day. All the rubbish was gone and the city was alive with people everywhere. It had a really cool vibe. It was also surprisingly cheap and packed with restaurants, street stands, bars and cafes.

I didn't take my camera with me so these three photos from my phone will have to do.




After returning to the hostel to collect my bags with no definite plans for the night I had a message from a friend of a friend saying I could go to her house, 250km away, to spend Christmas with her and her family. I used the hostel computers to try find a ride to Béziers, the closest I could get was Montpellier and only one ride left on Bla Bla Car for the night. After some texting I was off on the metro to get picked up by my driver and his girlfriend. It turns out they were going to Bézier but put Montpellier because they had to stop there at one of their family's places... Perfect! I met the girlfriend's family. Her younger sister had already been to Australia for 1 year on Working Holiday Visa using Couchsurfing and was planning to go back for the 2nd year... small world. When they dropped me off at my meeting point at the highway turn off to Béziers I pulled out the money and a bit more since they drove me all the way but they wouldn't accept any money (taking 2 trains would have cost almost 50 Euro, an awesome little present on Christmas eve). They said I'm travelling and they enjoyed talking to me (they were both 25 years old)... People like this make me love travelling, the world and people.

I waited less than 30 seconds for my meeting with a friend of a friend.

Lessons Learnt:
People are awesome once again.
The world is small.
When you don't where you will sleep everything always works out one way or aother.

P.S. If you're wondering about the title, Wesh are the gangsters of Marseille. You can joke around saying this in other parts of France but probably better if you don't say Wesh Wesh in Marseille.

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