I have been trying to snag a ticket on a half-day bus tour to Marseiles and Cassis, but have tried three times and failed. So today I went to the city bus terminal - actually just a wide street dedicated to buses a few blocks from La Rotonde - found that there's an express bus to Marseilles every five minutes(!) for € 5.20 one way. It stops a couple of times on its way out of Aix - at a college where a couple of dozen students got on, but the rest of the trip was on an Autoroute - like an Interstate. The stop in Marseilles was at the Gare St Charles, which serves as both a bus and train terminal. This modern facility makes it easy to connect to other locations in the south even mixing and matching travel modes.
First impressions of Marseilles: Big. Hilly. Polyglot. Functional. I walked from the terminal to the Old Port, all down hill, groaning in anticipation of the climb back up. Along the way I saw a LOT of women in Islamic dress. Of course, the men, when accompanying them, wore jeans and tees, sweat shirts or functional clothing. And one heard a lot of foreign (non-French) speech, probably African Arabic or other, but I don't know the sounds well enough to do more than guess.
The streets weren't terribly clean, but probably better than cities like New York. Not nearly as well-kept as Aix, however. And while I have been panhandled in Aix a few times, it was pretty relentless in Marseilles, especially in the old port area where tourists were as thick as flies (and about as attractive).
One guy had an electrified accordion (accompanyment playing thru speakers in the accordion as he played the instrument). He moved to the front of the place where I was having a quiet croque monsieur for lunch, and he played something, making it a not-so-quiet croque de monsieur. After the song he walked among the tables shaking a dirty paper cup demanding a gratuity. When I demurred, I got, as they say in Hawai'i, the stink eye. Oh well.
After lunch I made my way back to the station (up-hill all the way, as you will have inferred from the paragraph above). Waited four minutes, paid the € 5.20 again, and climbed aboard for a smooth ride home.
After being out and about for so long I crashed/napped for an hour, then went to a familiar Italian take-out place and got a piece of spinach lasagna for supper.
And after supper, walked back up to the Cours where there are a couple of Gelato places. Gelato, I've heard, is slightly less harmful than ice cream, and tastes wonderful, so I bought a cup (vanilla-caramel-pecan flavored), and sat on a city bench to eat it and watch the world go by.
An interesting day, and having been emboldened by my solo excursion to a Big City I'm ready to try more to some Little Cities. The owner of my place has suggested she might take me on some road trips to nearby places, as I may have mentioned. That would be a treat, especially where hills are concerned. She is supposed to return from England before Friday.