Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lost And Found in St. Tropez

Our final ports these past two days have been St. Tropez yesterday and Marseille today.

St. Tropez, as famous as it is, didn't hold a lot of interest for us, due to the crowds. Even throngs of rich people can be annoying. As we traveled by tender to shore, we saw for the second time in our lives a huge yacht with a helicopter on the back. There were many other vessels almost as large.

We decided to try to find a sentier, one of the walking paths we've enjoyed many time on previous visits to France. After picking up an inadequate map from the tourist office (they wanted to sell us a town map for two Euros and we declined out of principle).

We got lost and walked overland before finding a beach and a sentier. After stopping for a lunch of pizza (pretty good, on one of those graham-cracker-like crusts), we walked up and down many steps and hills adjacent to some pretty decent drop-offs. We eventually stopped at another restaurant for a beer and some directions. One young waitress spoke English and told us there was a bus stop at the top.

No schedule was posted but we waited there for over an hour. Brian returned to the restaurant and asked that a taxi be called. Some time later a black van drove up to sweep us in luxury the five or six miles to St. Tropez for - gasp - 40 Euros. We said Non, merci, and the driver drove off in a huff (or maybe it was a Mercedes).

We trudged up the hill and there we found a bus stop with a schedule posted. Aha, there are only four buses a day and the next one was coming in 14 minutes. As we waited, we figured out which stop we thought was the best. The bus rolled up on time, it was free no less, and off we rolled toward St. Tropez.

The expert travelers' final mistake of the day was picking the wrong stop. We soon realized we had another 45 minutes of walking in front of us.

We finally made it back aboard at about 6:40 p.m. after walking probably 10-15 miles in total. To reward ourselves for that, we included dessert in our suite when we ordered in a lovely dinner from the Jacques Pepin specialty restaurant. The good news is that we're able to walk that far and feel fine the next day, although we do admit to some sore muscles.

Today we took the free shuttle to Marseille and wandered around its old port for an hour. It's the second largest city in France after Paris, and an hour was long enough for us on a hot July day. We retreated to the ship, where we've relaxed, played mini-golf and shuffleboard, and are now heading to the Captain's Reception for returning Oceania cruisers.

Later, it's dinner in Toscana, and tomorrow a full day at sea before landing at Barcelona Thursday morning.


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