The Milano Train station is huge and under construction to modernize this 1931 structure. I saw a sign for Mini Hotel across the street. I had to stay over before traveling on to Lyon. It was around 5pm and I had just bought a ticket (after standing in three different lines) to Lyon for the next day. I checked in to the Mini and paid Maxi. Stopped to have a beer at a local Café. $10 with an attitude for a pint of beer.
I went to the next Café where a very entertaining and friendly waiter charged the same but with a smile. I stayed there until way after sunset and spent over $70 but had a great time. There was a New Zealand couple next to me that started off with a beer and a half bottle of wine. The woman said she just wanted a glass but the waiter, after escorting her into the bar to show her the wines , talked her into the half bottle but with a bottle of water she would mix with it. 4 Bottles and I lost count of the beer, we were all sitting together with two gentlemen from Lebanon and having a great time sharing travel stories. They had spent a fortune touring Europe on Cruise ships, starting with three days in Dubai. Then England, Ireland, Italy, Greece, until ending in Milano for the return trip. She was a school teacher/administrator in New Zealand and figured it would take them 3 years to pay off this vacation but they didn’t care. Nobody cared at that point. We parted and I went to the internet café, $10 an hour, to email Andree that I was coming and when I would arrive.
The next morning, I ran into the Lebanese man at the roof top restaurant having breakfast. I checked out and returned to the internet to see if Andree was going to pick me up but my time had expired and it would cost another $10 to find out so I thought I would take my chances.
I was seated in a assigned seat on the train next to a Black lady that had to call everyone to tell them she was whatever in some language I didn’t understand. She would get on the phone then start laughing and talking but never paused so I wasn’t even sure anyone was on the other end except that she said hello and goodbye. She called everyone on her call list. She got off in Torino thank God. O.K. I am to get off the train in Chambery and take a connecting train to Lyon with my other ticket but can’t figure out where to pick this other train up. I asked the attendant and he informed me it is a bus transfer not a train and everyone was boarding around the corner. I gave the bus driver my train ticket and he stamped it and loaded my luggage.
The bus pulled into the Station Part Dieu Lyon and I had to get to an Internet connection to find out what Andree wanted me to do. I had told her when I was to arrive but never got her return message as I had to leave early and didn’t have time to get on the internet. She wanted me to arrive at Station Perrache Lyon as it was easy to pick me up. I tried to book the ticket in Milano for that station but they didn’t know what I was talking about.
I didn’t see any departure signs for Perrache so inquired about any internet connections. It turns out that the station is Wi-Fi connected but you have to pay for it. I got on and for 15 minutes tried to get connected. I gave them my credit card number and they gave me a password but it wouldn’t work. I finally gave up and decided Andree is at Perrache waiting since she was here when I arrived so better find a Internet Café. The lady at the counter said there was one downtown and gave me the Main St of Lyon but couldn’t tell me the name or cross streets. She was giving me the Metro stops to take and I finally decided to take a cab but wanted to dump my luggage in a locker first. The locker attendant explained I needed 4 Euros and when I asked for change he didn’t have it. I finally got change and stored the bags.
I then took the cab but he didn’t know any internet café so the both of us were driving all around the main part of town looking for a sign. I finally spotted it and finally got into the Internet. The message was to take any train from the station Part Dieu to Perrache and I’ll be waiting. They run every 8 minutes.
I took a cab back but the taxi didn’t have change for a 20 and it took a while. I refused to give him a tip. In the station, I finally noticed a departure for Perrache at 4:50 and it was 4:43 but another was leaving at 5:21 so figured I could make that one. I had to get my luggage, and buy a ticket. I fooled around with the ticket machine again but couldn’t find the destination so went to the ticket office and saw 40 people standing in this long line which wasn’t moving because there was only 4 ticket agents. I couldn’t do anything but get in line. Twenty minutes later, the train had departed and the next train wasn’t until 6:05. I was only half through the line and the ticket agents were down to three. I found out I could have taken a cab without going to the internet downtown and saved money. The ticket was only 1 Euro and if I had saved my tickets from the trip instead of throwing them in the trash when I arrived, I could have gotten the ticket free.
While waiting for the train, a women was out on the tracks moving her luggage to the other side. She made about three trips back and forth and was now being assisted by someone helping her carry her baby in the carriage across the train tracks when whistles started blowing everywhere and three police came on one side and another on the other. They just got her up to the platform when a freight train came barreling through the station. Almost exciting as my day.
I made the train and arrived hoping Andree was still waiting but after 3 hours she left. I checked out a map to see how far away she was and it was around an hour’s drive one way. I figured she waited until 5 or 6 at the most then went home. She then would have got my message that I should be at Perrache after 5:30 and if she was coming back, should be here around 8pm. I waited until 8:30 then left to find a hotel and something to eat before everything closed. There was one next to the train station for 56 Euros and another around the corner for 46 Euros. I took the cheap one and bought breakfast in the morning plus an internet card I could use in my room to email Andree and let her know.
I checked into the room and got on the internet immediately to find a message from Andree with her phone number telling me to wait and she would be there in 30 minutes. The message was at 8pm, I left at 8:30pm . It was now 8:45 so I ran back to the station and had her paged when I didn’t see her but she was gone. Returning to the hotel I called her and left a message. Apparently she was on her way back home. I then went back to the station to double check and leave a message with the hotel I was staying at just in case she arrived late for me. When I got back to the hotel, she was on the phone waiting for me.
She had been to the station while I was checking in the hotel, then on the way out of the parking lot she saw the hotel and stopped to see if I had checked in. It was the more expensive one that I rejected. She would have caught me there if I had decided on that one. Her daughter will pick me up tomorrow at 10 am and we will come back to Lyon on Wednesday. I need a day of rest.
Tuesday at 10am her lovely daughter showed up and drove me to Morance and their home. She ran a B & B out of it. Very small but lovely home they (her and her husband who don’t live together) have owned for 24 years. We went shopping at the local Carrefour …rather like a Wal-Mart but a great selection of Terrines, Pates, Wines, Breads, Cheeses, well you get the point. She gave me the scenic tour, stopping to chat with around 8 older men playing Boules, then on to fixed a nice lunch on returning. It was a nice relaxing day.
We had a late breakfast and it is a beautiful day so we decided to spend it touring the countryside of Beaujolais after lunch.
My diet new consists of different cheeses, croissants, Pate, salads, casseroles, wine and water. Andree gave me the Grand Tour of the vineyards and villages of the region. It was beautiful and spectacular. No billboards or superhighways with fast food rest stops. It was very peaceful and pastoral. We stopped at different photo opportunities and for little walks in interesting villages.
She recommended we visit a friend of hers on a mountain top for an aperitif. She parked on the side of a road then started hiking down this hillside with me following. We came to a small hut of sorts surrounded by these beautiful flower and vegetable gardens on the side of the hill with an incredible view of the valley below.
She yelled and Bernard came to the gate to great us. We walked down the path through the garden to a mud and straw hut with an outside grape arbor with a table and some chairs under it. A friend was visiting and we joined them. The friend politely excused himself and departed.
Andree was anxious to see his new dry toilet. Bernard and his wife Lille have no running water, or electricity and built this 800 sq foot home themselves. It consists of a bathroom (before they had an outhouse) a kitchen and a small living room/bedroom. They read a lot and everything was in its place. You almost wondered if this was just for show or did someone actually live here? Bernard broke out a bottle of sparkling sweet wine that was like Asti Spumante and Lille arrived down the path to join us for conversation while we sat under the arbor. They spoke French after asking my permission. Bernard spoke a little English and was very tolerant of my bad French. We had an enjoyable one hour stay then departed for a Chateau and vineyard that had been run by the same family since the French Revolution.
We arrived while the owners were sitting around drinking Ricard Patisse.
It is like Ouzo or Sambucco and the French drink it with their morning Espresso before starting work. She introduced me to the son Jean Pierre and we did a tour of the winery. He explained everything as we sipped Chardonnay, Rose, and Beaujolais. We talked about his travels to Puerto Rico and his stint in the Army when he was sent to Algiers. He has 3 daughters, all under 10 and seldom vacations as this is a family run winery and all the grapes are cut by hand then fermented , after pressing, in 100 year old casks.
I took some photos and we returned to a lovely dinner that Tasmin, Andree’s daughter, prepared for us. I retired early and awoke to a thunder storm in the night and overcast wet morning.
We are now leaving for a tour of Lyon then lunch at a restaurant and return. Andree tried to cancel one of my days in Paris so I can stay over another day but we have to go through the on line booking agent and that is proving impossible. I decided to just not go until Saturday. I’m paying either way and just as soon stay here an extra day than in a Paris hotel. We started with a fantastic lunch at this small forty two seat restaurant in the basement of a small building on a side street of downtown Lyon near the Rhone river.
It had a stone ceiling being in the basement with lots of unique windows around the sides and modern art work on the stone walls. Flowers on the tables and chic customers enjoying conversation and food. We ordered salads. Mine was a salad with duck, bacon, raisons, and nice fresh greens and vegetables. The restaurant served a “house dressing” that was very good. I enjoyed a small carafe of wine and we shared a bottle of water. Then came some raviolis with crème and fresh cheese grated into the sauce. Tiramisu and Café au lait finished off a wonderful lunch. Now it was time to work it off.
Andree gave me a brief road tour of the sites from the Soane and the Rhone to the Roman ruins, little know Lyon neighborhoods and then to the Touboules…old Lyons narrow backstreets. We parked the car for that then walked cobblestone streets and back alleys. Visited churches and shops. We were to ride the funicular to the top of the hill to visit a famous cathedral and see the view of Lyon from the mountain but you had to pay 4.40 Euro and I was trying but didn’t have change. Andree got so pissed that they didn’t provide proper service for those that wanted to use it, that she insisted we give up the parking space and take the car up then find another space. We did. We walked around the Cathedral and the Roman amphitheater. There was a concert in the theater that evening …Yanni or Pavarotti or Paul Potts…I don’t know it could have been Pink Floyd. We decided to spend a fortune and get a drink at the local tourist café overlooking the city. After waiting for the one waiter who was serving 80 people to come around, we ordered a Coke and a Wine Spritzer (a sacrilege in France). The waiter wouldn’t make a Spritzer but brought a soda water in a bottle, a glass of wine and another glass to make my own Spritzer , all for only $10. He was out of Coke. Andree had some of my soda and we left after to return for dinner that evening.
When I awoke, I had three bite marks on my arm that were oozing fluid and itched like hell. My arm was swollen so Andree put some salve on it and it stopped itching but stayed swollen. When in Italy I was eaten alive by ants, mosquitoes and spiders. Also a few bed bugs bit me on the way there. I was bleeding, scratching and swollen in places that you couldn’t reach. I never had been bitten in years. Must be that I lost my immunity and now the bugs are making up for it.
We had a quiet dinner that night and retired early. The next day a couple from Belgium was to arrive with their child for a last minute reservation for the B & B. I moved to Tasman’s room, she went to stay in Lyon with her boyfriend and both Andree and I cleaned the house, did the laundry and went to the local town for some last minute shopping at a Arab market, a farmer’s market, and a store quite like Trader Joes.
She stopped at the train station for me to pick up my ticket for departure tomorrow. When we returned we unloaded the Van and I read Bill Bryson’s “Down Under” while she readied things for her 7:30 guests. 8;30 rolled around and we had aperitifs and snacks while waiting for a phone call or something. They stood her up so we had soup then rice with vegetables and cheese and wine. Now it’s time to kick the cats out of my new room and retire with “Down Under”.
The next morning Andree was busy preparing a lunch for Andrew, her husband from Marseilles, her son Theo from Lyon, his girlfriend Nora, myself and Andree. She sent me outside to weed the patio and get dirt under my fingernails. That was a nice experience except that I couldn’t bend over to remove the weeds. I devised a method of sitting in the chair then moving the chair around while I weeded. We welcomed the entourage and exchanged introductions. Andrew and I sat in the sitting room discussing travel and Bob Bryson, careful to stay out of Andree’s way. We had a lovely meal of baked fresh vegetables with couscous and a homemade spicy, but delicious curry sauce. We had bread and a nice salad then Andrew was talking about some Arabic sausages from North Africa that Andree promptly took out of the refrigerator and fried up for us.
I was anxious about missing my train so excused myself to load the car but Andree insisted I still had time for cheese she had sat out for me. I was full and nervous about the trip so begged to leave. She said she liked to arrive just in time to catch the train. I suspect that is how Andree does everything in her busy life. I bid all good by and can honestly say that my stay in Morance was one of the best experiences of my travels in Europe this summer. Andrew and I exchanged travel stories on the way to the station. He works in International Relations and travels quite extensively from Iran to Russia and other parts of the world. We both agreed about the magic of SERVAS and the wonderful experiences it offers. He walked me to the track and waited until my train arrived before bidding me goodbye.
I transferred trains in Lyon and am now on my way to Paris.