Lyon basilica with flowers

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Bike Vandalism and a Beautiful City

Our Journey, Week 10

Just like cats we fall on our feet, or maybe wheels in our case, and despite rocking up to Lyon with little to no plan everything seemed to work out pretty damn well. Yes, we did have a few days of uncertainty, ended up paying more than we’d have liked for a last-minute hostel and experienced our first bit of bicycle vandalism, but it didn’t cloud our beautiful experience in the city.

If you’ve been following our latest posts, you’ll probably realise that we’ve become pretty big fans of France. It’s the reason we’ve taken a much less direct route and have now been here 10 weeks even though we had planned on 2. So, we thought having our first bad experience after all this time was not bad going.

Our overpriced, last-minute hostel was picked primarily because of the ‘secure bike storage’ and also because it was the only thing within our budget that had availability. For those of you who have been to Lyon you’ll know it is very hilly. If you’ve not been to Lyon I can tell you it is bloody hilly, and, our chosen hostel: HI Hostel Lyon, was perched right at the top of the city on a nauseating hill. This is perfect for the breathtaking views you have from the terrace but painful when it comes to cycle to and from. It also means that a good set of breaks are a necessity when bombing down towards town.

On our departure day, after hauling our panniers through the hostel, I noticed some nuts and bolts on the floor near Betty (my bike). Despite the locked bike storage, CCTV and Betty being surrounded by a dozen other possible victims, someone decided to remove my break pads. These break pads are worth £5 and as the bike storage was filled with much more valuable gear it seemed to be a malicious attack rather than a thief trying to make some money. I was pissed. Especially as I could easily have died if I didn’t checked the bike before leaving and going down the steep decline. The staff at the hostel didn’t seem so concerned, adding to my level of anger, and despite emailing the head office we’re still waiting for the manager to check the CCTV…

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Who steals bike breaks!?!!
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As I said, I’m impressive it’s taken 10 weeks for anything like that to happen; I didn’t die, and the breaks weren’t expensive to replace, I just had a very nervy cycle, loaded with more than 20 kilos of gear, going down huge hills with only one break.

Are we now city lovers?

Break pads aside, this couldn’t put a downer on how incredible a city Lyon is. We’re not usually fans of the urban sprawl but Lyon is a whole lot more than that and there was a certain charm that really captured us. With a population of 500,000 Lyonnais, the city is crammed full of culture, character and exciting experiences but not so big to be overwhelming. To us it was the perfect size to comfortably walk across the city in a day, with time for lots of photos and food breaks, but still have whole areas we didn’t manage to explore. If you can completely cover a destination it leaves nothing for the imagination and nothing to go back for. After nearly 3 weeks in Lyon we’d still come back and find a wealth of new things to uncover.

I could write a whole article about how awesome Lyon was, so I won’t go on here, but keep your eyes peeled in the following weeks for an article completely devoted to Lyon mush.

Girl looking at graffiti in Lyon
Lyon was filled with awesome graffiti!
Sunset in Lyon overlooking city
A stunning view at sunset overlooking the city
Street view in Lyon
Street life in Lyon

We’ve come to sit on your house

Helping to add to our beautiful Lyonnais experience was our first house sitting exchange, just outside of the city centre in Sainte Foy les Lyon. Our best buddy had some family friends in the city who were spending some time in their country house so we arranged to look after their lovely flat and rather plump cat. Despite only having been on the road for 2 months I didn’t realise how much we needed to recharge our batteries until we arrived.

This trip so far as been an incredible rollercoaster of adventure but besides our stay in Fontainebleau we’ve constantly been on the go. Although staying with cycle hosts, work exchanges and wild camping is a truly rewarding experience it couldn’t be described as relaxing. Whether it’s heaving your bike through bushes as the sun sets to find a discrete camping spot, getting used to the norms and characteristics of a new house, or trying to hold a conversation after cycling for 9+ hours, over the 2 months it tires you without you even realising.

Cat next to dinner table
This is Tommy, our chubby little friend!

When we arrived to our house sit, sat on the reclining sofa and realised there was nothing we needed to do and no conversations we needed to have, the tiredness hit us. I say us, Sarah was fine, but I literally melted into a puddle of floppiness.

It took three days of little-to-no movement to feel fully refreshed but after that the city was ours to explore. From sky top rose gardens and underground secret passageways, to graffiti tours and free jazz nights, everyday we added a few new pins to our map, grabbed our cameras and bikes and went off exploring. 

This was also the first time we had a kitchen to ourselves and boy did we make the most of it. With a local market 5 minutes away we made every meal an occasion, done in proper French style with a baguette and some wine. I also forgot to mention the apartment was on the 8th floor and we had views like this from the balcony…

Man overlooking sunset balcony
Talk about that for a balcony view!
fruit and vegetable market Lyon
Our local fruit and veg market, 5 minutes from the apartment

Life is about variety

During our time in Lyon we truly realised that variety is the spice of life. Yes we love living in a tent but we also enjoy having our own kitchen and more than a 7 x 3 ft living space. We’ll always feel happiest in the outdoors but it was a really nice change to be in a city, surrounded by all that we could need and with timeless interactions with a variety of fascinating people. This is not so easy when you’re hidden on a mountainside with not a soul in sight. 

When our house sitting time was coming to an end we couldn’t wait to be back on the road and felt a new excitement almost like we were beginning a whole new trip. Life is most beautiful when there is variety, it helps you appreciate the balance of life. Although itchy feet sometimes feels like a burden you can’t beat the feeling or settling somewhere and finding happiness, then getting excited for the next stage of your adventure.

Hitting the Alps!

Batteries re-charged, it was bloody exciting to get our panniers back on the bikes and hit the road. We left to follow the Via Rhona, all the way from Lyon to Geneva and to take on the Alps!

Man bike touring near lake
We’re coming for you Alps!

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