Thursday, July 3, 2014

Liquid nitrogen sorbet, port cities, and reggae La Marseillaise

I am writing this blog about thirty minutes after coming back from a BBQ I had with my lab at a grassy area near the lab buildings. Like true nerds, we made some liquid nitrogen sorbet just from LN2 and lots and lots of peaches. People also had a lot of fun blowing up LN2 in bottles. They handled the LN2 without gloves, and goggles are also overrated. Well, this is France, I guess. ;)

BBQ stuffs is ready!

Our LN2 sorbet in the making!
Everyone screams for ice cream!

Anyway, last weekend I decided to get away from rainy Grenoble and went to Marseille on another impromptu trip - the second largest city in France and the hometown of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem. I have heard many stories about how Marseille is not the safest city (especially after Algeria won a match in the World Cup, and people started burning cars). I hoped everything would be all right. 

For reference, this is where Marseille is relative to some other stuff:

After a two-hour train ride from Grenoble through places I want to visit (Aix-en-Province, Avignon...) we arrived at the Gare Saint-Charles and were greeted warmly by the Mediterranean sunshine.

Me and the tiiiny Notre Dame in the background!
Soon, after walking down a large road through Haussman-esque architecture, we arrived at the famous Marseille side streets and cute outdoor markets like this.

Some of the interns who went with me bought 10 bars of soap each at this market. It smelled really good, but I decided to not leave with an overweight luggage, knowing how difficult it was for me to leave with an under 50 lb last year.


After having some homemade lunch in a privately owned restaraunt called "Grumpy Cakes" (I asked the owner why she named it that, and she said because she was grumpy and it's also from the Grumpy Cafe in the show "Girls"), we explored the port itself. 

Me and some summer interns from LSU

At one point we were lazy and took the boat from one end of the port to the other, seeing it from a new perspective:

We headed to the closest beach we could find, and even though it was quite populated, it was great finally being in the water. However, it was pretty cold still, and one of my friends commented that she was getting frostbite staying there too long. I hope she wasn't completely serious, because it was such a sunny 85 degree F day. 

After swimming and playing cards on the beach, we headed to a Lebanese place for some snack for the road, and saw a really awesome monument to Jeanne d'Arc (one of my heroes) near this amazing cathedral: 

 The city turned out to be pretty safe with a lot of tourists as well as locals: but maybe it is because we left before it was dark. I loved that it was also a port town, because that gave it a more authentic feel than some of the seaside towns which have become solely beach destinations. 

Next destinations? On my list I have Lyon (definitely going there for Fete de la Musique!), Avignon (it's actually not that far!), Geneva (sneaking into CERN?), Annecy (lake and cute streets!), and who knows what else...

Finally, here is a reggae version of the Marseillaise for you to check out: it is quite different from the original and Gainsburg, an eccentric French songwriter, wrote it in 1979 as social rebellion. Granted, the nationalist party and probably many conservatives were not pleased. I first encountered it in my French Film class when we watched a movie on Gainsburg's life.

Hope everyone is having agreat summer, and blog!

À bientot!

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