Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trains, trains and automotrains.

Another day in Lyon, but after the muse concert I decided to take it easy. I took breakfast in my room (more croissants, YUM!) at 11, and then ventured out for a short walk. I was going to visit the Lumiere Museum, but unfortunately they were closed, so I just rode around on the Metro for a while, watching people. They really say "good day" to each other a lot more than we do. Similarly, I think that Paris has the impression of being the city of love because the culture here doesn't have the same taboo on public displays of affection. I don't know if I like it... I'll get back to you on that one.

Back to the hotel, and watching some quality international television. So far I've watched a cooking show in Italian, a game show in Spanish, drama in French, and naturally, the BBC world news in English. Gearing up for tomorrow's travels to Toulouse, repacking with an emphasis on efficiency (I've discarded some old clothes), and an early bedtime. Feeling very sleepy today. Even so, I had a moment of "warm glow", the feeling of, ah, I'm holiday, this is incredible.

Until Toulouse, au revoir.


Well, in quite the about face, I'm feeling pretty miserable. While this time, I caught the train, and even managed to navigate the changeover with ease, when I got to Toulouse things didn't go my way. I tried to get to my hotel via the metro, but when I had to resort to my iphone (and more global roaming charges) to tell me where I was, the closest train station was a 20 minute walk from it. Given that it was starting to get dark, I decided to back-track to the SNCF Gare (national train station) to catch a taxi. To my dismay, there wasn't a taxi rank nearby. I located what apparently was supposed to be a taxi stand on the map, and started to walk. This was closer to the centre of Toulouse and there were lots of people and light around, so I felt a bit safer. A 20 minute walk later (ironic much?) I finally located a taxi rank, and made it to the hotel. Unfortunately this hotel is not as nice as the one in Lyon. Added to that the delay means it's now quite late, and quite a distance to public transport. I've had to cut my time short in Toulouse in order to make it back up to Paris at a reasonable time, so that means I'm going to have to check out tomorrow morning. I might try and head out for a late meal but again my confidence has taken a beating.

Even so, I'm glad I made the journey to Toulouse rather than just not coming at all - the train ride down allowed me to see much of the countryside, and in fact even a bit of how some of the residents live as the train passed through some different locations. There were some beautiful hills and rock-faces coming out of Lyon (I'm guessing that's the start of the French alps),

and watching the sun-set over what I'm not sure was the ocean or a really big lake, travelling 150km/h was still a good experience. As I'm heading up the centre of France tomorrow, I'm hoping for a window seat so I can see (even breifly) some more of beautiful France.

Just before I go again, I just wanted to note the change in atmosphere. Being this close to Spain obviously has an influence on the locals as I noticed a vibrant energy, even in my brief moment in the city centre. It seems as if where Lyon is the bravely French, cultured, refined side of France, Toulouse seems to be the party town. I really do regret I only have the barest of moments here, if I were staying my original two intended nights I might even consider going out on the town tonight. Though shouting orders in heavily accented bad French over loud music would be interesting. I can barely make an order in Australia.

Here's a parting thought - it's good to do this by myself... even though I might enjoy the company, when I make a mistake, as I've done twice now, the only person I have to blame or for that matter blaming me is: Myself.

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