Day 1 – Lyon – St Etienne

By | September 19, 2006

There were people swimming in wonderful outdoor swimming pools by the Rhone. We crossed the river towards the Basilica which looked beautiful high above the city. It also looked like a bugger of a climb to get to it.

We went to the Cathedral to get us in the church mood, but it was closed. It closes at 5 on Sundays. The Basilica does too. We cycled back down to the station in town and I got water while Lou got tickets. I waited with the bikes as lots of long-haired, black-clad teenage boys with camping gear arrived.

We managed to get a lift upstairs, but had to manhandle the bikes down to Platform E. I realised I hadn’t validated the tickets so ran back upstairs to get them stamped. Lou was chatting with a rail employee when I came back – our train was on Platform F. She was very helpful and took our panniers up and down the stairs as we took our bikes.

Our train was a museum piece, it looks like it was built pre-war. We got the bikes into the guards van but were shoo’d out by the driver – “When the door closes you will be on the other side”, so we left our bikes and now I’m watching the sun set over the Alps. It’s hilly out there.

Lou has just noticed that I have ‘Mask of Zorro’ sunburn really badly, even though we didn’t start cycling until after 4.  As Dad told me my new cycling friendly haircut made me look like Henry V I’m not having a beautiful day.

We pulled into St Etienne and got up and tried to open the guards van door but couldn’t. I knocked on the drivers door but no reply (it was the back of the train). I’d decided that if the train started to pull out with us on it I’d pull the emergency cord. The door on the non-platform side of the train was open and Lou called out for help, but there was no-one there. Eventually Lou opened it with brute force, pushing outwards like a plane door. I jumped out and unloaded the bikes as Lou threw them down to me. Lou leapt of the train as if it was about to pull off. The train driver was strolling down the platform to help us. He made Charles Atlas gestures at us, laughed and pointed out that we’d have to carry them downstairs to get them out of the station. We did without incident.

There was an escalator up and I thought I’d give it a go, unfortunately my bike tipped, the handlebar got caught in my pocket, which jammed the rear brake on and I was propelled forward with my shorts being pulled down and Lou and her bike crashed into the back of me.

Our hotel was, as advertised, directly outside the station, which was perfect. The bloke sorted us out with a parking space in the basement. After a change of shoes we headed out to dinner. A stroll around the block revealed we were in the red light district and after a discussion about the merits of the advertising methods deployed we returned to the strangely German restaurant under the Hotel Ibis.

It had ugly lighting and unattractive plates with bad art. They did though have excellent pasta Provencal and cheap, fruity Cotes du Rhone. At midnight we headed back.

Forward to Day 2
Back to Day Zero – Coventry to Lyon

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