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21 April 2024
Alan Morris in Aix de Provence, France.

Today I woke up in the port of Marseille in France, ready to go on a trip to Aix de Provence.

Aix de Provence.

When I woke up in my cabin I took a shower but the water pressure was very low. So low that it wasn't strong enough to stand under & I had to hold the shower head away from the wall to use it at all. After going to the buffet breakfast & settling for a cheese & ham omelette & some fried bacon (American style bacon, shrivelled & dry), & some tasteless melon, I went for a coffee at the atrium bar. On the way there I made a complaint about the shower in my cabin, to the English host on board the Costa Diadema. She told me she would get someone to fix it ASAP.

When I got back to my cabin last night, a note had been left on my bed telling me that my scenic tour of the Aix de Provence had been cancelled so after having my coffee I went to the MyTours desk onboard the ship. They offered me a shuttle bus trip to Aix de Provence, it would be just a bus there & back but two guides from the ship would be going along & would point out places to look at in the two hours of free time that we would have there. At around 1:45 pm I joined the bus but had to wait until around 2:20 pm before all the passengers got on the bus to leave. It was supposed to leave at 2 pm & I get very fed up waiting for people on tours who turn up late.

The drive to Aix de Provence went through some lovely countryside & I enjoyed looking at the scenery on the drive there. When we got there we were dropped off by the coach & then led by the two guides from MyTours, on a very circuitous walk to a square that we seemed to walk around to get to. When we arrived the only thing the guide pointed out was the tourist office. He also told us that he would stay exactly at that point in case we needed anything as he was just going to have a coffee.

The group all dispersed on their own & I walked to the tourist office. It looked very familiar but I couldn't think why. Unfortunately, the tourist office had no local maps & very little of anything but bus trips for sale or tourist souvenirs. I decided that as I had Google Maps on my phone, I couldn't get lost & went exploring on my own.

The town centre had a few places roped off, to prevent access, due to an Iron Man competition that finished in the town centre, this made walking around more difficult but with only a couple of hours of free time, I did my best to explore. As I walked around I came across a restaurant that felt familiar. After a while, I remembered sitting there with my mum eating a meal on a previous visit. Although I hadn't remembered coming here before I soon recognised other places & realised that I had stayed here overnight on the journey through Spain & France back to my mum's home in the UK many years ago. As I walked through the back streets taking photos of the narrow alleyways & streets I even came across the hotel that we stayed in & the car park opposite where I parked the car overnight. To be honest the visit to Aix de Provence would have been very ordinary but for the memories that it brought back to me of my mum & our stay together on my last visit. Much like today, I found the prices here quite high on that visit, & the weather had not been great.

I wanted to stop for a drink in a local cafe, but I refused to pay more than €8 for a coffee & eventually stopped in a health food store & got myself a bottle of lemon ginger beer to drink. I sat down where we were meeting to walk back to the coach & saw a few people from the coach. They were all looking for the guide who had said he would not move from the spot, but who was now, nowhere to be seen. I went to open my bottle of ginger beer & then realised it was not a twist top & that I had no way of opening it, oh well it would go in my suitcase & travel back to Los Alcazares with me. The people on the coach all slowly gathered with the last people back, the two guides, who were late. We walked back the same circuitous route back to the coach where we all reboarded the coach & travelled back to the ship in Marseille. The trip was okay because it brought back memories of my visit with my mum but other than that it was a waste of money.

Once back on board the ship, I had a shower in the repaired shower in my cabin, & then got myself a beer before going to the Fiorentino restaurant for my dinner. Yesterday I had been on my own at a table for six but just after sitting down today, an English lady from Albir in Spain asked if she could join me. Her name was Gail & she proved to be very good company. We sat chatting throughout dinner & she told me about another lady she had met called Val who she was meeting later & asked me to join them. For my meal tonight I had Onion soup, Sea bass stuffed with seafood served with zucchini & a piece of fudge chocolate cake. The soup was okay, the bass was okay & the cake was okay but wasn't a fudge chocolate cake.   You can see today's full menu here.

When we left the restaurant, Gail & I went to the Teadora lounge bar to meet Val. We all sat chatting & drinking cocktails whilst we listened to the music before going to the Emerald theatre to see tonight's show, Christi Nistor. He was a singer & the show was advertised as a full energetic & vibrant show. Both Val & Gail seemed to enjoy it but it wasn't to my taste. It didn't help that we were seated on the 5th floor looking down on the stage with a slightly obscured view, in seating that was very cramped & made my legs very stiff.

When the show finished we went to the Country Rock bar to watch the end of the show that was going on there. The band was quite good & whilst Gail got up to dance with other people there, Val & I sat enjoying our cocktails & chatting. Incredibly it turned out that Val & I had a friend in common in Spain, the sister of some friends of mine in England, who runs a bar near where Val runs a bar in Spain. The saying says that you are only separated from everybody else on earth by   six degrees of separation, with myself & Val this seems to be true. When the band finished we went back to the Teadora lounge bar for more cocktails Gail started dancing whilst Val & I listened to the music. When the band finished we moved on again to the Orlav Grand bar for more cocktails & to listen to the music there. In the early hours of the morning, Gail left us to retire to her room but Val twisted my arm & I stayed for a couple more cocktails before I also retired leaving Val with the cocktail waiter.

  View photos from my trip to Aix de Provence.