Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Merci Marseilles

The first day of our two week escape to Europe was in Marseilles, France. Nobody slept well on the plane trip, which involved flights from Austin to Chicago, Chicago to Brussels, and Brussels to Marseilles.

All had gone well, the flights were on time, the kids were well behaved (yeah!), and best of all we were now in France.

Alas, the line at Hertz was unbelievable. I have never seen a line this long for anything. Think for a moment about the longest line you have ever seen at a rental car counter. Do you see this in your mind. Yikes, that is long, right? Well this was longer. It snaked though the parking lot and took over two hours to reach the counter.

This was a cultural lesson, because in the United States people would have been irate to stand in the hot sun, but alas, everyone was in great spirits. Granted, few were speaking English, but everybody was just taking the situation in stride. One kind traveler from Germany shared that Americans expect everything fast, yet Europeans go with the flow.

When we finally reached our hotel the day degraded even further. We had only one night in Marseilles before joining friends at a large Chateau, and the hotel, which looked very appealing on Hotels.com, was substandard. It was located in a very bad part of town that did not feel safe.

While the hotel lobby and rooms were renovated, the area was frightening. They locked the doors at 7PM (guests were given a code to get in the doors) to keep the outside out. Additionally the room smelled really bad. We all settled down to nap, and I whispered to my wife, "would you be happier if I called an got us a room at the Radisson tonight instead?" She did not have to think twice.

I spoke to Frank at the beautiful new Radisson Hotel on the Old Harbor in the heart of Marseilles. He was very helpful and booked us two rooms. We immediately moved. It made all the difference in the world. Frank and the staff of the hotel transformed our misserable day.

We had dinner in the most charming bistro, Le Fetiche Restaurant on Rue Saens. Jean Claude who was either the owner or the worlds best waiter (or both) delivered amazing service. The much needed wine hit the spot, and the food was truly delicious. Our day was complete with gellato for the kids (and the parents).

The next day we took a tour that included a visit to the church on the top of the hill, The Norte Dame de Gare. The view of the city was amazing and we left Marseilles with only fond memories. Victory rescued from the jaws of defeat.

A good lesson that a bad experience or two can quickly be erased if you have the right attitude.

Have A Great Day.



Hollis Baker said...

Hey Thom,
I am pleased you and family are enjoying yourselves. I enjoy checking your blog often.
Keep on......

Chris Hyde said...

Great reminder and great pics too. Glad you all had a great time in Europe!!!