How We Made It to Marseille (and Trip #24 to Holland)

The tourists from America

In April 2008 I had been on Facebook for six months and was slowly meeting new people in different places. In a Cairn Terrier Group, I met a young woman from France named Celine. Though 30 years younger than me, our personalities seemed to mesh and we both had Cairn Terriers. We became Facebook Friends. Before Facebook Birthdays took off, Celine was one of just six Facebook Friends to wish me a happy birthday in 2008. Soon my wife Carla became Celine’s Facebook Friend too.

Your French tour guides

As time passed, I lost touch with many of my initial Facebook Friends but Celine and Carla and I continued to interact. In 2011 Celine would get married to Jean-Lucien and move to Marseille in the South of France. Celine began to write about coming to New York on a vacation. In mid-August 2013, right before Carla and I took a trip back to visit her family in Holland and take a side-trip to Paris, Celine arrived with Jean-Lucien in New York. We met them in Times Square at one of our favorite restaurants on August 13th. We had such a fun, relaxing time. And Jean-Lucien is a terrific guy! I’m not just saying this because he and Celine might read this blog post. Very friendly, smart, with a good sense of humor. Got a new Facebook Friend! Celine and Jean-Lucien are perfect to hang out with. Wish they were our neighbors.

Carla welcoming everyone to Cassis
What you call your beautiful shipping village

Celine gave us some nice presents from Marseille with a map of her city with an arrow pointing to “your next vacation.” We were certainly intrigued with the idea but I wasn’t exactly sure when this would or could happen. We went to Rome in 2014. I told Celine we would like to visit and get an opportunity to see the South of France. I did not want to promise something and 30 years later still write, maybe we’ll make it there one day. We did not go to Holland in 2015 as Carla’s brother visited us. Airfares were higher than ever, more than double from less than 10 years ago.

Port Miou

On August 13, 2015 Celine and I exchanged notes that it was the second anniversary of us meeting in New York. During the day, I checked airfares from JFK to Amsterdam. They were now significantly lower for March 2016. I asked Carla how she felt about going to Holland then, with a sidetrip to Marseille. Carla said it was fine with her. I contacted Celine and asked if they would be around on Saturday, March 19th and Sunday, March 20th to show us the town. She said her and Jean-Lucien were available and sent me a picture from her agenda with the entry. We were set and had seven months to countdown!

Cape Canille
Vieux Port Marseille

We arrived the afternoon of Friday March 18th and met them the next day. They drove us to a beautiful fishing village, Cassis, which is about a 20 minute drive from Marseille, when traffic is good. It’s called by Fodor’s “the prettiest coastal town in Provence.” On a sunny, pleasant Saturday in mid-March, the scenery is beautiful. There are so many beautiful pictures we could show you. Guess you’ll have to become my Facebook Friends to see the entire photo album. Celine and Jean-Lucien treated us to lunch at an outstanding seafood restaurant!

The reflecting glass near the Marseille train station

In the afternoon we walked in a park and saw the calanques. I have seen the area around them and have heard them compared to the fjords. As New Yorkers Carla and I had no problem walking. The scenery must be among the most beautiful in the world. As we drove back to Marseille, we were in awe of the scenery. It’s like pictures you have seen of Italy’s Amalfi Coast. We said goodbye at about 5:30PM and met again on Sunday morning.

The view from Notre-Dame
Inside Notre-Dame

This day was devoted to the area of Marseille. We saw Le Panier district which, as often happen in guidebooks, is compared to New York. Le Panier is compared to Greenwich Village. We also saw Marseille’s Museum District and shopping areas. We also went inside the Notre-Dame de la Garde Church which is beautiful. The area outside the church had breathtaking views of the city. We said goodbye to Celine and Jean-Lucien around 6PM. On both nights Carla and I had dinner in downtown Marseille. On Monday we flew back to Holland to finish our trip.

Port Miou

This was my 24th trip to Holland. Since my father-in-law’s death in February 2014 we stay with my brother-in-law. Albert is the best host and the nicest guy you will ever meet. His home, in Den Helder, is so relaxing and such a change from noisy New York. For the fifth consecutive year we saw our Den Helder Facebook Friends Carina and her husband Frans. They visited our neighborhood in New York in September 2015. We meet them at Café Bos and always have a fun, relaxing time.

In Den Helder. Can you guess which person is not from Holland?

As always we go to Amsterdam and see one of Carla’s long-time friends and her son in Nieuw Venepp. Sadly Carla’s father, mother, aunt and grandmother are no longer with us and we do miss them on our trips. We did meet the family we usually meet. Hope they will be with us for many more years. I made it to Concerto Records to buy the first Common Linnets CD and Waterstones to buy the book “Stuff Dutch People Like.” With our iPhones and Albert’s wifi we are what we said we would never become; people checking in all time to see what happening back home.

Souvenir #1-the book “Stuff Dutch People Like”
Souvenir #2-The Common Linnets CD #1 and #2

Not sure when we go back to Holland. But the next trip is #25. That’s a special number.

There’s a picture of the three of us in New York and now there’s one of the three of us in the South of France
There’s a picture of the four of us in New York and now there’s one of the four of us in the South of France

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