The ‘fare finder’ section of the Ryanair website offered an unexpected gem. A return flight from Shannon to Marseille on the first weekend in May for a mere seventy euros . This was unusual. Flights from Shannon are more limited in terms of destination than Dublin and they tend to be more expensive. So this was a treat. I had never been to France’s oldest and most notorious city. The reputation it has for being a dangerous city did not alarm me – Naples has a similar reputation and that was one of my favourite recent trips. Plus I have been to the United States twice over the past year. Marseille might be a bit rough and ready but mass shootings are not a a daily occurrence like in the US. So long as I kept my wits about me there should be no problems encountered. The alternative was to stay in Ireland where a one night stay in Cork city cost the same as return flights and four nights’ accommodation in Marseille.
My research told me that the Old Port was a must see. Marseille was founded as a port city by the Greeks 2600 years ago. A tourist train would take me to the Notre Dame de Nord cathedral overlooking the city. Le Panier looked like an eclectic street. The papal town of Avignon was a short train journey away – the palace where seven popes was based for a period of seventy years in the fourteenth century was one of the world’s finest. I had always wanted to visit it.
The bus journey to Shannon Airport was frustrating as it is poorly served by public transport. I probably have unrealistic expectations considering how small the airport is. My flight was at 19.20. I booked a bus ticket for 16.25 which was meant to get me there by 5pm. The bus arrived into Colbert Station from Cork thirty five minutes late. The rain that fell during my wait can only be described as vengeful. I reached the airport at 17.35 – my journey enlivened by the young woman with streaky tan complaining on the phone to the friend she was visiting in Birmingham about how her flight was delayed by two hours and how she would only arrive at 10.30pm. I gave a smug inner chuckle. My flight was on schedule and I would arrive at 22.45 and reach my AirBNB by 23.30.
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