The 9th May started early as I had determined to keep heading South in search of the still elusive sunshine and again decided to take it in easy stages so Lyon looked like a place to aim for. To live two hours train ride from Paris I really have visited France remarkably little, basically a cycling holiday in Normandy and Brittany about 30 years previously, and I was determined to rectify the situation now that I had the travelling head back on.
Whilst I described in the previous entry here that I had never heard of Macon, which provided me with enough reason to go there, I had most certainly heard of Lyon and was keen to see it as it is, if I have it correctly, one of the more important towns in the country. Again I had booked a carpool at about €9 or thereabouts which is roughly comparable to the bus and considerably cheaper than the train. Besides that, I was getting quite cosy with the concept. It is comfortable and you get a chance to chat to people as well, which I love to do. Try doing that on a long-distance bus and you are likely to be thrown off as a stalker! I had taken the precaution this time of finding out precisely where I was to be picked up and where I would be dropped off in Lyon and picked my hostel accordingly so that I was not going to have the trek I had endured in my last location.
The pick up point was at the beginning of the toll road and so, getting ready good and early and checking out at reception I showed the young lady the precise location which I had written down and asked her if it was walkable or if I needed to get public transport or even a taxi. I am quite prepared to accept that the fault may well lie with me for my lack of facility in the language of my host country but she assured me (as best I could understand) that it was two kilometres distant. No problem, I can walk that easily especially in the time I had allowed myself. Probably four or five kilometres down the road, hot and getting a bit sweaty, there was still no sign of the toll booth. Time was now starting to press me and fortunately this time technology was able to save the situation. I parked myself on a convenient fence outside a Lidl supermarket and texted my driver. A couple of messages later, she told me to sit tight and she would come and get me which was very decent of her.
Turning up about ten minutes later I stowed my kit in the boot and settled down for the journey with her and her teenage daughter. Very pleasant it was too, except occasionally when the driver started using her mobile (cell) ‘phone whilst hurtling down the motorway at a serious rate of knots. This is always something that terrifies me but we did manage to get there in one piece and the lovely lady deposited me outside the Gare Perrache as arranged and at almost exactly the predicted time. A lovely run.
I had carefully studied the map prior to departure do avoid any navigational mishap and I can still remember the details now. Over the bridge, fifth on the left which is Rue Sebastien Gryphe and it’s on the left. No problem. I also knew I could not check in for a couple of hours so I am sure regular readers are already ahead of me with what happened next. Yes, you’ve got it, it was beer o’clock. Well, the sun was over the yardarm by then. I didn’t see a rough-looking bar which is my preferred type but I did come upon a rather swanky looking place called Bar restaurant Mademoiselle Simone. Although I was dressed in my usual scruffs of bandanna, badly frayed denim jacket, rock T-shirt and so on I reckoned the worst they could do was turf me out on my ear so I chanced it and breezed in and what a venue it was.
Simone is obviously very musically themed (I was later to discover they do have regular live music) with an immaculate baby grand piano amongst other things and I was even more convinced I was going to be shown the door. Not a bit of it. I ordered my beer which the friendly barman served up in short order and the inevitable chatting began. I really was getting pretty confident in my French by this stage although a degree of waving my hands about is always going to be required sooner or later.
I took a quick look at the price list as I reckoned that in a quality place like this the beer was going to be ruinously expensive but it was not appreciably moreso than the other places in town, even those that were not nearly so classy. Fair enough, that was Fergy settled for an hour or three and I could happily have sat there until closing time but I knew I really should go and check in so I bid a reluctant farewell to the barman (by now my latest “new best friend”), tipped him well, took myself off over the rather vertiginous Pont Gallieni and walked straight to the door of the hostel using my memorised map. Far better than the debacle of me attempting to use Google Maps on my ‘phone. Technology and I just do not mix.
I was staying in a place called Le Flaneur Guesthouse, which is actually a hostel and within two minutes of setting foot in the door I know I was going to like it there and it was going to inevitably end up in me getting stuck with “travel inertia” as I have previously described in this blog. Both predictions turned out to be completely correct.
If you are interested, flaneur translates variously as loafer, stroller, loiterer or dawdler and I reckon that any one of the descriptions fits me down to the ground. I got assigned my bunk, which turned out to be extremely comfy and, having dumped the kit, it was straight back to the very pleasant bar in the communal area and down to some serious beer drinking. The sightseeing could wait.I’ll get onto the full details of the hostel in the next entry here but there was just time for a delicious and very reasonably priced plate of charcuterie and cheese before heading to bed.
Stay tuned and spread the word.