Arriving to Lyon on week 8 of our England to India cycling expedition
Upon arriving at the pearly gates of Lyon the word discombobulated springs to mind. We arrived a bit earlier than expected but, early or not, it didn’t change the fact that we had no plan. A bit of a running theme for us when doing life. Don’t mistake this for being disorganised – we’re not disorganised. We have all the things that need to be ordered in order but more often than not we don’t have a long-term plan.
This surprises people a bit, a lot in fact. Whilst pedalling along and meeting so many people who have so many questions about our trip the same questions always get asked about our “plan”.
“Where are you going next… how long will it take you… what’s the plan for when you get to such and such a place… how will you do such and such…”
You get the picture. Now don’t get us wrong, we do have a plan, the plan is to cycle to India; it’s just the bits that’ll be covered in between we haven’t thoroughly finalised yet. We know what direction we’re going in, where we want to go along the way etc. it’s just not as detailed as other people’s plans may be.
This suits us perfectly. The flexibility of being able to go where we want when we want is the best thing about this trip. Whilst cycling through France everyone we’ve met has told us “the best places to go” and charmingly offered places to crash, with our plan we have the freedom to go to all of them.
So far we’ve had offers to stay in Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, India and Pakistan plus so many more. Not having a plan means visiting these places and people on route is possible. This trip gives us freedom and flexibility to really travel, not constrained to train timetables or bus stops. As long as a good breakfast has been had we can go wherever we want. And if a substantial breakfast hasn’t been had J will only last a few miles before the hanger kicks in).
Should we have made a plan?
First arriving to Lyon there was no plan. We cycled around a little aimlessly and settled ourselves in the Place Bellecour, the largest pedestrian square in Europe. Weary and faint from cycling in the heat and after a very humble lunch we decided that this plan couldn’t be made without beer and peanuts. The two were purchased and on went our thinking caps.
Sounds like a great way to spend the afternoon in the sunshine, right? Unfortunately not. Being the largest pedestrian square in Europe means that the Place Bellecour is full of people from all walks of life, including some potentially unsavoury characters. Perched with all our worldly belongings; our bikes, clothes, blogging gear, cameras and our home (tent) meant we felt very vulnerable. It’s a very exposing feeling to be somewhere new and hectic, with all that you own in the world right beside you.
This feeling was intensified by the fact we had nowhere to go. No plan meant we were technically homeless. As the sun started to set a feeling of mild panic started to surface and we realised we were stranded in one of the biggest cities in France. When you’re in the wilderness you can just pitch your tent in any remote area, Lyon didn’t seem a good choice for remote areas, and with darkness creeping up we needed a plan fast.
If you’ve been following our journey you’ll know we’ve been staying with incredible Warm Showers hosts throughout our trip. They’ve always shown us the utmost warmth and hospitality and have truly been a highlight of this bike tour so far. Hoping the residents of Lyon wouldn’t leave us on the streets some messages were sent and before long we had an offer for somewhere to stay for the night – hooray! Last minute we were welcomed in by Laura and Tristan, who could sense we were smelly and weary, gave us a lovely dinner and we hit the hay. In the morning we explained our first ‘homeless’ feelings from the night before but how it had subsided as soon as we had seen their message welcoming us into their home.
In the morning we thanked them for their awesome hospitality and set about finding a longer-term accommodation option. For 3 seriously budget travellers, all with big bikes this is a ball ache. Especially in a city in France. We found the cheapest hostels but they had no room for bikes, then we found hostels with room for bikes but they were by no means cheap.
Finally we came across an option: a hostel at the top of the city with space for bikes, it was the cheapest we could find but still cost us twice our daily budget. They also had no mixed dorms so I had to sleep alone (lonely Sarah). Like I said before there are lots of hills in Lyon and the hostel was a the top of an almighty hill. Our bags were on the other side of the city, still at Laura’s and Tristan’s, so after hauling are arses across the city, packing up our stuff and pedalling away the almighty hill had to be conquered. Lots of unnecessary moving all due to a lack of planning, right?
The flexibility and freedom of not planning is great but sometimes it can leave you on your arse with nowhere to go, tired and hungry in the middle of a busy city. In this instance we had no plan and that’s exactly how we found ourselves: at the mercy of a strangers’ generosity which luckily landed in our laps. This might not always be the case and not having a plan leave you open to less favourable situations.
We knew we would be staying in the hostel for 4 days but after that we had no idea what was next. Paying for an expensive hostel was draining our cash and to make matters worse the hostel kitchen was pants. Not good for Veggie Vagabonds. It was at this point we decided we should probably come up with a plan…