Less than 24 hours in Marseille!

by Mark Graham on May 15, 2015


We had an early flight on Friday morning so we planned to spend the night in Marseille the night before.   When we realized Mary’s flight home from Montpelier was a day earlier than we had thought, we decided to make the best of it and spend as much of the day Thursday exploring Marseilles as possible.  So we grabbed a train from Lunel and took the easy 2 hour trip to Marseilles arriving around 11 AM.

We booked a room at the ibis Marseille Centre Gare Saint Charles which is literally right next door to the train station.  It was perfect!  We walked from the train to the hotel in about 2 minutes, and expected to be asked to leave our bags until our room was ready for check in at noon.  They were so nice, and told us our room was ready and we could go right up.  This hotel is quite nice.  It is simple, clean, no frills, but comfortable.  And the location is awesome if you are traveling by train.  There is a nice restaurant and full bar in the lobby and free internet which worked ok.

Marseille, France - Gare Saint-Charles After dropping off our bags and doing a quick ‘refresh’ we heading out to explore.  From the hotel we walked towards the front of the train station and the view is quite spectacular.  The station sits atop a hill that looks out over the central city, the marina and the surrounding hills.  There is a major stairway that heads down the hill.  We then followed the main street that leads to the Vieux Port, the old marina.  A nice downhill walk if you are up for exploring via foot.

The near side of the port is lined with restaurants which offer a wide variety of cuisines to suit most people’s desires.  Lots of seafood & pasta too!  We opted for La Madonne, which was quite nice and the food was very enjoyable.  After enjoying a nice meal with a bottle of wine we were ready for more exploring. (Check out our Trip Advisor reviews here!)

Vieux Port MRSFrom the restaurant we could see the giant hill across the marina with an imposing cathedral on top.  We aren’t much for cathedral touring but it just beckoned.  Not wanting to walk up such a steep hill after food & wine we opted for the very touristy Marseilles Fun Train.  Yeah, kind of cheesy, but it was the perfect thing for today!  The train takes you up the side of the mountain with beautiful views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea and has some very interesting information along the way.  It was well worth the 8 €/person.  The church of Notre Dame de la Garde is quite interesting and the views from there are absolutely amazing.  You can see much of the south of France!

We took the train back down and headed back to the hotel for a very short rest and change of clothes for dinner.  We found Casa No Name and it just looked interesting so we headed there for dinner.  Coming out of the subway is quite confusing as there are streets that are literally on top of each other as they are on the side of a very steep hill.  Google maps didn’t quite help understanding which exit to take, but take the Rue Estelle exit. The neighborhood was interesting with lots of families and kids in the open space areas having fun in the last hours of daylight.  We came upon a nice plaza that had many restaurants and a nice wine bar e-Wine where we had a pre-dinner glass of rosé.  They were very pleasant and spoke English very well, though we did attempt to speak French.  From there we headed to Casa No Name which was a very pleasant surprise.  You can read our review on Trip Advisor.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and had a nightcap in the hotel bar, then settled in for a nice sleep.  Being next to the train station made it not so stressful the next morning.  We just wandered over to the station, grabbed a bite of breakfast and caught the next train to the airport.  They run quite frequently and there is a bus that meets the trains and takes you to the airport.  Just be sure to get on the bus going to the airport and not the one going to the Airbus plant!  That is the bus the majority of weekday people will be heading to and it is an easy mistake!


Fort Worth’s Fairmount Historic District

by MPI Traveler on March 27, 2015

Tinas CocinaLast week we were busy doing the dreary task of preparing for taxes and decided we needed a nice lunch break.  We decided to try one of the new restaurants we heard about, so we headed off to Tina’s Cocina in the Fairmount neighborhood.  I haven’t been in that part of town in years and remember it as being quite the abandoned and blighted inner city neighborhood it was 20 years ago.  How things have changed!  The neighborhood has become a national historic district and many of the homes have been restored to their previous grandeur.  Locally owned shops and restaurants are popping up everywhere and there is quite the arts scene happening.  

From their website:

Located in the heart of Fort Worth, Texas lies the largest historic neighborhood in the southwestern United States. Fairmount, with more than one thousand contributing structures, is comprised of mostly bungalow and four square homes from the late 1800s through the early 1920s.

Definitely a neighborhood to check out next time you visit Fort Worth and stop by Tina’s Cocina.  Juan, the co-owner,  grew up running a taco stand with his mother and father in San Felipe “torres mochas” Guanajuato, a town a few hours south of Mexico City.  After moving to the States he carried on his family tradition of serving up some pretty awesome home made Mexican food.  We had the taco platter and the fish tacos – both were yummy and we could taste the freshness!  They also serve beer and wine which always makes a working lunch much more palatable!



Classic Italiano in DC

by Mark Graham on February 20, 2015

PostoPepper We found a great place in DC for super fresh, authentic Italian food which was the perfect answer for our evening meal. Located in the Logan Circle neighbothood,  Posto offers both classic and modern Italian dishes in warm and friendly atmosphere.  All of the servers are Italian and they are quite efficient while maintaining a certain relaxed ambience.

The “spice” was brought to the table in a good sized bowl – and this had to be one of the best combinations of crushed red pepper we have ever tasted – and quite spicy too!

We started with Carciofi Bruschette (artichoke spread, pecorino, truffle oil) and followed that with two pizzas. The pizzas are made Neapolitan style and they use only mozzarella di bufala from Campania, Italy. We found that one pizza is plenty to share between two people and took half of each back to the hotel.  They have a nice wine selection,  and of course we enjoyed a nice bottle with our meal.

Great place, good food, high energy, great service.  Make a reservation and definitely try it out next time you are in DC!


TexMex in St. Martin?

by Mark Graham on January 15, 2015

Rancho Del Sol Dessert SXM.pdfWell, Maybe! We tried Rancho Del Sol which is on the road between Grand Case and Orient Bay for dinner one night.  I had the Enchiladas Mixte (beef and chicken combo).  Derek had the Brochette de I’Apache which is a kabob type thing with a combination of bison, beef and lamb. Both were quite good.

Of course we had a bottle of wine and dessert! Overall a good price for the food and the service was very good. We went at night, but the best part of this place I think is the outside patio area that has lounge type seating from which you can see all of Orient Bay while sipping cocktails or having lunch.

We will have to go back during the day!


Read our review of Le Charm on Trip Advisor

by Mark Graham on December 28, 2014

Le Charm 2
We recently visited one of our favorite restaurants and wrote a review on Trip Advisor.  Please read it here: Le Charm / San Francisco

This is a great locally owned restaurant that serves up good food with great service. If you are in San Francisco you should put it on your calendar!