As good as overnight bus rides are, it can still be a real mission to be able to sleep well.
I ended up just sleeping on the floor.
Bec likes to curl up into a ball when she sleeps, but I am more of a sprawler.
I don’t know if you know this or not, but it’s pretty hard to sprawl over a row of bus seats.
I’m not saying it is impossible, I am just saying that is isn’t the best kind of sprawling that you can do.
There are a whole plethora of higher quality sprawlings to be sprawled.
One of these better options is the bus floor.
You might think I am a bit of a lone crusader with this, but I am not. I woke up at one point throughout the night, to find another bloke who was fast asleep in the isle in the middle of the bus. I still kinda just kept to the back of the bus, though, spreading out as much as I can on the floor between the last row, and the row before it.
We arrive at Lyon, and there is no warning.
The lights are on, the driver is making his announcement, and within a mere matter of seconds, people are pouring into the bus, before we are even getting off.
I’m in this frantic state, trying to get my gear and get off the bus. I really shouldn’t be, but in my state of erratic semi-comatosed consciousness, I am in a bit of a flurry. I smash all my gear in my bag, and hop off the bus. We have got a good few hours before we are abel to meet our CS hosts in Lyon, so while we are on our way to their place, we spot a Laundromat. For such an establishment to be in demand, you need to have two things:
- A lot of clothes to wash.
- A lot of time to wait
Well, as fate would have it, we met both the criteria, so we washed quite literally everything in our possession.
Not even joking.
I am feeling like an absolute sack of aids, and I had worn the same undies inside out, and back to front. I am not even pretending to joke about this. Bec was even running so low, that she stooped to an all-time low for her, and flipped her undies inside out. Being that I don’t know when we will wash our clothes next, I just go commando, and wash the undies I am wearing. Being that there are others in this building, I time my undressing, and cover my shame by lining up the corner of the island bench with the other lady’s line of sight.
It was a flawless execution.
I go to get my cash out for the money, and check all my pockets, bags, and hidey-holes, only to find that my wallet is not with me.
In my state this morning, I had grabbed my bag, and my wallet had fallen out of my bag. This is super not ideal. When I was getting off the bus, I even turned around as I was leaving to make sure that I didn’t leave anything behind. My wallet was a nice dark blue, and the floor was a dark grey colour. Being that it probably ended up in the shadows under the seats, it wouldn’t have stood out all too much.
I grab Bec’s phone, and get my running shoes on (the only shoes I have), and head back to the station as quick as I can. It has already been a good half hour since we left the station, so I doubt that the bus is anywhere near the depot now, plus we don’t have a phone that is working in France.
I hook into some wifi, and send the company a message.
Their notification is that they will get back to me in 3 weeks, as that is when all the busses end up making it back to Munich, which is the head quarters for the company.
As Soap would say in MW3, “Bad luck. We’ll get ‘em next time”.
I get some cash out, because I doubt that there would be anything left in my wallet when I get it back, and make my way back to Bec. Such is life. I come back, and tag team with Bec, who runs off the toilet.
I’m on coffee duties, so once she gets back, I head off in my track pants, thongs and jumper.
I am the definition of delinquent, and the looks from all the locals confirms exactly that. Just around the corner, I find the coffee shop/bakery. The guy is there baking the baguettes, absolutely fresh, and we already know that French baguettes aren’t even classified as bread.
They are in their own league.
They are the perfect amount of crumbly crunch on the outside, and the exact right amount of flaky, soft dough on the inside. it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, and it doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be a frenchman running around with a baguette under their arm. The coffees arrive, and I asked for them in a takeaway cup, but they doesn’t happen, so being that we are just around the corner, I just take the tray with the mugs with me.
Nobody questions my actions.
Well, at least not verbally.
You can tell there is a lot of internal dialogue going on, but nobody bothers to actually raise the subject. I get back, and get my undies back on, but this time I have a towel, and a towel that doesn’t smell like it has been rotting.
We pack our bags, return the coffee cups (this time, with big boy clothes on), and make our way to our host’s place. Only a few blocks away, we came across a market. They’ve just got under way with the day’s trading, and the smell of the fresh produce fills the air, while people run around the place picking up their groceries for the week.
This is the way to live.
There is literally everything you can imagine of wanting to get at these markets, and nothing in short supply, either. We keep wandering through, and finally find ourselves out the front of our host’s place. The only issue is that the time is 12:05, and they’re not available till 2pm.
Sooooo… We find a park, shrouded in trees and surrounded by benches. Between waiting for 20 mins to use the bathroom, and mucking around with each other’s glasses, our time surprisingly passed pretty quickly, and soon enough, we find ourselves walking back up the stairs to meet Tizi and Clement, who will be hosting us during our time in Lyon.
We walk in, and the apartment is the stereotypical french-style apartment.
The high ceilings, the windows to match, the lone seat nestled into the corner of the room, by the open Juliette balcony, the light wooden floor boards, and crisp white walls all fits the imagination perfectly.
We dump our stuff, and the first thing that Clement says is how much stuff we have with us. He doesn’t let up. He keeps going on about the boat that we are hiding in our bag. My only alibi is that we had to spend a good few months in -5 to -10 degrees, and now we are in shorts and thongs weather. On top of that, I have got my camera gear and laptop too.
As the saying goes, you live within your means, and I am sure that if we were to cull half our stuff in our bags, we would make it work, but there isn’t anything that I am willing to throw away, for the sake of having a lighter pack. We only wear them between the places we are staying anyway.
We chill in their living room and get to know each other for a bit. Tizi is an Architect, who has only finished her degree in the past few years, so is still starting out in the architecture world. You can tell she has the creative side to her, as the house has the suggestion that someone has put thought into where the furniture should be positioned and the general decor of the place.
Clement is a sound engineer at the opera house, so he gets the best view in the place, and works on a contract-to-contract basis for events or shows. Its pretty damn cool.
We wrap up the introductions in the apartment, and make our way out to see some of the city. We walk along the river bank, passing all kinds of boats, sporting all kinds of tempting alcoholic beverages. We even walked past a “Ayers Rock”, floating bar, with a dirty big Aussie flag as the logo. This is an abomination, but we accept it for what it is.
We wander all the way from below the city centre, right up to the park near the top of Lyon. Its a bit of a hike, but like most things in life, it’s not that hard when you’re in good company, and Tizi & Clement are true legends, so that isn’t too hard.
We reach the park, and just like Bordeaux, it is absolutely packed because of the sunshine.
It is at this point that they spring on us that there is a free zoo in the park. We are expecting to hear that the zoo is a collection of cats and exotic dogs, but it was a legit zoo. Admittedly, it didn’t have everything, but the first thing we saw was giraffes and flamingoes, which is just a little bit awesome. Bec is beside herself, as this is the first time that she has seen a Flamingo.
As far as public parks go, this is pretty damn good.
We wander through, and settle down under the shade of the trees on the edge of the zoo, so that we don’t have to move too quick when they wanna close the gates to the zoo. Clement & Tizi crank out some French treats and we sit, chat and drink in the shade with the French afternoon sun periodically peering through the trees, passing over us as it pleases.
In typical french fashion, they leave the last part of a brownie in the tray for a good 10-15 minutes, while nobody eats it. Nehemy, in Bordeaux told us about this too, saying that the amount of times that she would have to just tell Jerome to eat the last piece is a joke.
Tizi & Clement are no different.
They’re too polite, but in Australia, it’s the general rule that you should offer the last piece to the other person too. So, we are in this awkward position, where nobody wants to eat the last piece, but someone needs to.
Who is that person, you might ask?
I am that person.
Clement offers it to me, I eat it. It is the most simple equation you could imagine.
We head back to their place, and introduce them to Yanis, which is this wicked and really easy card game. It’s fun, the stakes are high, and with the beers and wine involved, it makes it a lot more funner. I mean, lets be honest, with enough alcohol, watching pain dry with your mates is fun.
They taught us this new game, where you have four cards face down, and you have to pretty much do the same thing as with Yanis, where you have to get down to a certain number, but you can only look at two of the cards, and through the rest of the game, you have to work out what you have under the other two cards.
We hold our own, and gravitate toward the kitchen. Tizi & Clement cook up some salmon, spinach and creamy sauce dish for us, which is just brilliant. The one thing I love about French culture is the food. Its really awesome that its so normal to get around the kitchen and have a good laugh and chat with your mates while cooking dinner.
If I am going to cook, I don’t want to have to rush.
I wanna enjoy the process, take my time and hang out with mates. I’m not about rushing through it all, and it feels somewhat like that tonight. Again, in true french fashion, Clement makes sure that I clean up the last of the dish.
I am beginning to believe that the French are rude less and less.
So far, our experience of French people has been that they are more than happy to share their lives and culture with you. If anything, they are very straightforward people and will tell you exactly what they think, but they aren’t rude for the sake of being rude. I mean, every culture will get those tossers from time to time, but on the whole, French are no where near as bad as every made them out to be.
The night wears on, as we get show them photos from Iceland, and talk with them about their travels. They spent a good 16 months travelling through Asia, the middle east and a few other places. When asked where their favourite place was, it was a toss up between Iran and this monastery in China.
Who would have thought?
In Iran, foreigners are so uncommon, that they walked into a shop, and the assistant stood there, staring at them for a good 10 mins, while they did their shopping. They would later find out that she was staring at them because she never through that she would actually see a foreigner. How mental is that?
They were planning to only stay for a few weeks, but they ended up staying for two months because everyone you meet wants you to come around to their house, and wants to introduce you to their grandmother.
They were invited to weddings, birthday parties, dinners and tours anywhere and everywhere they wanted. It was absolutely mental. Then, in China, they visited a Kung Fu monastery, where they would get up at 5am, and spend the next 12 hours training non-stop and eating in silence.
It cost them 6 euro/day each, and that covered their food, training and accommodation. They were only visiting, but when the guy asked them if they wanted to stay and train, they took it by both hands, and spent the following week there. They loved it so much, that they took it up when they got back, and they still train Kung-Fu in Lyon twice a week.
We talk into the night and have our fair share of laughs and stories with them.
I have a feeling like I am going to go to Iran, and I wouldn’t mind giving that monastery a crack.
Come back for the next story,