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Marseille and More Troubles – Day 35
Sunday 16th August 2009 – France
I used the 5 star facilities today, and I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that there was fruit splashed against all the walls and all over the floor. Some kids had been messing around here last night, and the smell was pretty bad, not to mention the wasps that frequented the shower blocks as I tried to shower. It was not the best morning I have ever had, and it wasn’t about to get any better…
I rid the tent of the many ants that had inhabited it during the morning, and packed it away as the small flies continued to fly into my eyes and nose. I couldn’t wait to get out of this place. I had my breakfast then set out for Marseille.
The drive out from Montpellier and all along the way towards Marseille was lovely. The seaside views and unforgiving cliff faces were incredible. The sun was shining off the water, and the sea air wafted through my car windows making me feel every bit as though I was in somewhere exotic. The roads opened out to small picnic areas along the way, and I had the urge to stop on many occasions for my lunch, but knew I wasn’t too far from the campsite, so I plodded on, somewhat happier now.
I arrived at an extremely large and over-populated campsite, with prices equally as large. But the girl in reception, who by now was locking up to guide a family to their holiday tent, told me the site was fully booked and walked away. I was a little disappointed as it was a good area, and although pricey, it seemed like a fun place, but I had to find another, and fast. I was getting hungry now but the priority was to find a campsite, so I programmed the sat nav and ventured onwards again.
The next campsite had a space left and was arguably bigger than the previous site, and just as much money, but I booked a night and was given a ride in a golf cart to show me where the pitch was, which was great fun. After learning the directions, I took my car and set the tent up. Lunch followed, then I made the decision to take a drive into the city to post some post cards to family and friends.
I drove off in the direction of the post office, and was informed by the sat nav that it would be a 30 minute drive, so I sat back to enjoy the ride through the countryside, then into the busy city, before finding a quieter part of the town where the post office was waiting, or at least should be. It was Sunday as I had not long realised, so it wouldn’t be open, if I could find it, but I wanted to be sure it was here so I could repeat this trip tomorrow. Going by previous experience, I wasn’t holding out much hope of finding it, and as luck would have it, it wasn’t there. I parked up and walked to a nearby bank to get some money while I was there.
I drew out 200 Euro, and decided I would get a little extra to hold as backup money. As I entered my pin and got to the screen where I decide how much money I want, a hand came over my shoulder and pressed one of the larger sums of money on the screen. I was completely taken aback, and surprised – to say the least – that there was anybody behind me in the first place. Where had this person come from!? I had to pull myself together quickly as I was losing control of the situation, and all I could think of doing was to press the cancel key on the key pad. I pushed the guy out the way to press cancel, and all the while he was trying to get at the screen, shouting something in French. In the mini drama that unfolded there and then, my card was chewed up by the machine, possibly due to all the buttons being pressed at the same time.
As we both stood back from the machine, I noticed his friend had joined us. They conversed briefly in French, one guy shrugging his shoulders, and I just stood there, shocked and angry by what was happening. Eventually the 2 guys stood either side of me to get a good view of the machine, as the first guy ordered me to put my pin in, angrily pointing at the screen shouting “PIN!, PIN!”. I felt a little vulnerable at this point, but I just said no, and continued to say no while the guys got a little frustrated. They soon walked off, both in opposite directions, the first guy scaling a garden wall behind me before disappearing into the housing estate. I guess this was where he had sprung from initially, and was possibly watching and waiting for someone to come along and use the machine.
So here I was without a bank card for the second time this trip, days after finally receiving my new card. I tried in vein to press some buttons to try and retrieve the card, but it was obviously no use. I was utterly fed up and totally dejected. I was lucky the 2 men hadn’t stolen my wallet as well, although I clung to it tightly and warily during the fun and games. The bank was closed being a Sunday, so I had to come back tomorrow and see if I can get the card back. I made a note of the phone number as well, then went off in search of the information office. It wasn’t there! I asked some locals in a nearby market and they pointed me in the direction I should be going. I arrived shortly after to find that it too was closed. Its fair to say I was a little angry at this point.
I drove back to the campsite where I phoned the parents again to let them know, then I phoned my bank back home to ask what I should do. They informed me the card was probably lost for good, but if it made me feel any better I could try and ask at the French bank tomorrow to see if I can get the card back. So this is what I will do. Otherwise I would have to play the waiting game all over again for a new card to be sent to me, and this wasn’t an option as far as I was concerned.
I didn’t do a lot for the rest of the evening. I sat and reflected on my 2 moments of agony this trip, trying to understand where I had gone wrong, or what I could have done differently. I wondered if I was finished with the trip altogether, even if I could retrieve the card. I’ve had the car broken into, and now I’ve been jumped on at a cash machine, so maybe its time I went home before anything else happens. I realised that rational thinking would be beyond me today as I was still raw from today’s events. I would think about things with a clearer head tomorrow once I knew if I could get the card back or not. For now I just wanted to sleep.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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