Day 3 – Monday 3rd September 2012

Planner • Traveller • Blogger

Today see’s four become two as the Grand Prix weekend is over for Ben and Zoe. This, then, is a good time to say what a great couple of days we’ve had with them and how that part of Kate and I’s journey would not have been the same without them.
Ben, have I told you that I have seen an extract from Lewis Hamilton spouting his best Grand Prix circuits? They are; Silverstone, Italy (Monza), Monaco and SPA. Yep, that’s the four you’ve done!
I had envisaged a slightly different send off/departure to what actually occurred today. Basically, we were late (again) checking out and didn’t consider the nightmare that was downtown Bruselles traffic (obvious in retrospect I know). More on this later. I can even report that yes, I even broke into a sweat which was apparently visible on my forehead. This may not sound like a strange phenomena for the English but for me, this is rare. Ask my gym buddies. No bedroom jokes please 🙂

Anyhow, the point at which the two couples separated was when I had to find our platform from one of the overhead displays. It was at this point we had to give our very brief goodbyes to each other and the last thing Kennedy said to me was: “Off to the Charles De Gaul are we? Enjoy!”.
Also consider that my brother Paolo left a blog comment on the first day basically saying you’re so off to Paris. What is with people thinking I’m off to Paris!? (In fact, just don’t go there) 🙂

What Kennedy missed was that Charles De Gaulle was merely a stop in the direction we were headed. So all, I’m afraid it isn’t Paris. That, frankly, would have been far too simple. We’re heading so much further than that.

(This is when all the geographically challenged open up Google Maps to see where on earth Marseille is) 🙂 Don’t worry, I’ll show you a little map momentarily.

Several years back the French had the fastest train and therefore train network in the World. These days, I believe it is either the Japanese or Chinese that have that title of the fastest train but nevertheless, we’re still going to experience an epically fast journey at speeds hopefully averaging somewhere between 120 and 140 MPH. That’s a heck of a lot faster than the mundane train journey’s we get back home.

Yes folks – the above is apparently possible in 5.5 hours!?
I had a new sense of out of the ordinary this journey was when somebody even as well traveled as Ben did not even come close to guessing the direction of where Kate and I were next headed.
As I touched on earlier, it really was a frantic rush to drop the hire car off and navigate around the truly vast Bruxelles Midi station to find our next boarding platform. Again, we only made it on time thanks to Kennedy’s supreme driving which now includes driving around one of the busiest cities I’ve ever been in without a Sat Nav. Legend.
In the end we make the train by a reasonably comfortable ten minutes. After wiping a sweat from my brow, Kate grabs a quick picture of us about to board the TGV. The Train of Great Speed for its English translation.

We settle into our pre-booked seats and cozy up for the journey ahead which we still can’t get our heads around. The next time we step foot on land, we’ll have traveled through the entire of France.WTF.

We safely arrive at Marseille albeit knackered despite some shut-eye.

I can confirm that a train capable of reaching 186MPH was late. Yes, you read that correctly? How does that work!? Human error somewhere no doubt as we were stationary for a while and couldn’t figure out the overhead radio announcements as they sounded foreign…
This meant we were on that train for an eye watering 7 hours! Yep, 7. I had once upon a time thought about tackling the Trans Siberian route but after 7 hours on a train, let alone 7 days, no thank you!

We check into our hotel and shortly after head out down to Marseille’s port. Did you know Marseille is France’s old town and in the top three of the busiest – populations wise? Well, you do now.
If Kennedy isn’t already livid, regretfully he will be when he sees the dish I had this evening and for a barely believable 15 euro’s.

Ben, with prior warning and much love, our trip doesn’t end here:

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