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Michael’s Travel Diary

Monday, 17 Jul 2006

Location: Lyon, France

MapEntry 48 - France: Biarritz and Lyon. (9th - 12th July)

Firstly, there have been two pamps updates with heaps of videos (in case you have missed them) and a heap of photos from Moscow to the end of the Contiki tour added, all in the last few days. Hope this keeps you guys going for a while. Also, finally cracked the 4000 hit mark at some satge last night.... go me!

So, since we left Pamplona, we have unofficially been driving blind (almost literally - Clint unable to see without prescription sunnies) and wandering back to Franfurt, Clint's departure city. There was very little planned, and as a result we found ourselves in places we hadn't expected to be, and searchin for accommodation a few times.

We left Pamps with our final two passengers for the trip and headed to San Sebastian. We had hoped to go out and make use of some of the best surfing to be found in Europe, but the weather was over cast, and we took the scenic route out from Estella (where oiur camp was) and it took a bit longer to get there than we had imagined. After ordering lunch, a feat in itself, we continued on, not really seeing much of San Sebastian at all. We headed north across the border into France and pulled into the sea-side town of Biarritz on the recommendation of Matty. Eventually we found some accommodation, and by now it was afetr 4pm... and we were wrecked. By the time we got our gear out of the car, had showers, and figured out what the crowds on the beach were for (Roxy Jam surf competition - we just missed the final and they were taking down the erected seating - damn) we need to crash for a while. It seems that Pamps wasn't the place for getting sleep.

We crashed out from 6-8pm, not realising that the soccer was an 8pm, and not 9pm kick-off. Damn. So we headed into town, and had some drinks in a few of the bars that all seemed to be in the same area, of course, all playing the soccer. The French people were more laid back than alot of the other places we had been, and it pronanly didn't help that there were heaps of tourists, probably rather neutral, there as well. We saw the second half (after the 2 goals had already been scored) and then waited thru the extra time to see the 1-1 draw. Then the penalties. Finally the French people became vocal, and soon it was all over, Italy going on to win the penalty shoot out, and the mood of the French people returning to its usual sombre self! What could have been one of the wildest nights on the trip quickly saw people leaving the pubs and bars in droves, presumably to go home sulking (much like the Aussies did after the Italy game...).

We headed down to the beach, and quickly realised just how beautiful this town actually is. The buildings along the shoreline are typical French palacial looking constructions, and the sit right along the cresent shaped beaches. The light coming out of the buildings also rather eerily lights up the beach, water, and the huge rocks sticking out of the water. It was incredible site at night, and we quickly started wishing we had an extra day here. After exploring the beach, and somehow keeping myself out of the casino, we headed back to the pub district, saw it mostly shut, and headed off for a good nights sleep.

Well, good nights sleep? The 14 bed dorm had 12 people in it, it was hot, and sleep wasn't easy. Eventually got into a deep slumber, only to be woken at 630am with Clints phone ringing repeatedly. Then it was all over. A guy was snoring like a freight train, and sleep was near impossible. By 7am, a Kiwi sleeping opposite the snorer got up, and in one of the funniest things I have ever seen in a dorm, just starts yelling at the guy: 'Would you just f--king wake up. I just want 1 hours sleep, get up and stop f--king snoring'. It was incredible, but the snorer had it all under control, responding with 'dude, it's a hostel man. If you can't handle it, stay in a hotel...' We snuck out about half an hour later, trying not ot make too much noise!

A long drive ahead of us, we decided to head to Lyon. Again, I was suprised by the beauty of the city. We didn't get in until after 6pm, almost 8 hours on the road, stopping only for a Chineese all you can eat buffet in the middle of nowhere. Oh, and we almost ran out of gas too! The car's computer had the 'Calculated Range' at 0km for a good 10 minutes until we finally reached a petrol station on the freeway. Another 'navigational error' whilst I was driving and the co-pilot was catching some shut eye! But we did make it, and also have an idea of the buffer zone in the trip computer now too.

Once in Lyon, we drove around for too long looking for a place to stay. Eventually we got there. Not that we couldn't find one, but the streets were all so narrow and one way, that the map we had was useless. After checking in, we wandered around the city, ratehr aimlessly. Again, the city just looked spectacular as the sun went down. Straddling two rivers, there was plenty of walking and a few photographs taken as well. On teh way back to the hostel, around 10pm, we actually walked through the middle of a French film set. A couple of the younger locals assued us that there was a big name french movie star in the film, and that they would on the set too, but it was no-one we'd heard of, so we had no chance of recognising them.

Back at the hostel we had a few drinks, and ran into Michelle, one of the girls we met staying in our tent city at Estella for the Bulls. After the abr shut at the hostel, and we finished our last drinks, we headed off for another restless night sleep in the heat.

The following day was rather boring. We spent the first half of the day washing all of our clothes that hadn't been destroyed at Pamplona, and I sent home a package with all of the clothes that had been destroyed. Should make a good souvineer, assuming it doesn't get stopped at customs for random food and wine product on the clothes! That afternoon we spent a chunk of time at a net cafe (boring, I know, but I gotta keep you guys informed). As the day wound on, I was determined to see some of the sites of Lyon, and we headed up to the opera house and 'the giant skater' statue. We got side-tracked though.

Being that the idea is that I will be job hunting in a weeks time, a suit would be a handy item of clothing to have. And I don't want to be buying that in London. So, walking along the river towards the north end of Lyon, where the statue is, we duck into a suit shop to 'quickly' have a look. Two hours later, I am the proud owner of two new suits (a brown one, and a grey one with white pin stripes) and a lilac (don't laugh, it gets better) shirt and tie that looks awesome with the grey suit. Still gotta sort out shirts, tie and shoes for the brown one... Clint, not wanting to feel left out, bought a chocolate brown suit, with light brown pin stripes, and a pink (laugh now...) shirt and tie. As well as a pair of (over priced, but apparently comfy) bown shoes.

From there we missioned up to the top end of town, saw a few sights, and had had enough for the day. Before we knew it, it was almost 10pm, and we were still in the city centre so headed back to the hostel, again had a few drinks till the bar shut, then went to bed. In the morning we woke up, picked up our suits that had been adjusted, and headed off on another long drive to Laussane, Switzerland. But that will have to be another story, for another day.