When we first walked in the door of our apartment in Lyon, I may have done a little wee. It’s the kind of apartment that my house dreams are made of. If we weren’t faffing around the world and spending money staying at other people’s houses, actually, scrap that, even if we were working, being responsible and not faffing, we’d still never be able to afford this. It’s so beautiful, so, so, so beautiful. It makes me want to dance naked and perhaps tribally (not sure why as this is not the interior theme) around their designer lighting.

When we managed to tear ourselves away from the apartment, we went to the Musee Gadagne for lunch. Recommended by the apartment’s owners (did I mention they were away and we had it to ourselves for the weekend?), it was confirmation that Lyon truly is the gastronomic capital of France. After lunch, we spent a good two hours trying to find a pastry shop I had been in five years earlier. Going on ‘it was on the right hand side of the street’ you can probably guess we didn’t find it. As a result of various vague memories throughout our travels, we are now trying write down the great places we find, so as of today, you’ll will be reading names of places rather than ambiguous descriptions. How exciting. Seeing as though we couldn’t find the afore mentioned pastry place, we went to another recommended place, an ice cream shop called Terre Adelice. Oh my word, the flavours, they were magnificent. Dill anyone? Basil? Rhubarb?

Day two consisted of breakfast on the balcony, then going to THE foodie destination in Lyon; Les Halles Paul Bouchon. It’s pure food porn. Sève, the chocolatier, is amazing. So amazing they tell you not to put your grubby fingers over their pristine glass. We then walked through the food and art markets on Qaui St-Antoine and Luke watched me devour a baguette and the most expensive slice of cheese in the world. Another lesson we have yet to learn is not to spend three fucking hours walking to places i.e a shop with a chocolate wall that will mostly likely be closed on a Sunday. Yes, it sounds good in theory but when most places in Lyon are closed because a. it’s summer and b. it’s a Sunday, chances of success aren’t great. Then, when you actually find the address and it’s a surf store, it really seals the deal on these travel lessons.

Tomorrow we’re off to Paris, and on Wednesday we’re back in London. I can’t believe how quick two months have gone.

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Outtakes

July 31, 2011

Aix-en-Provence

July 30, 2011

Aix is one of those towns that manages to combine everything I love about France in one place. Great food, market stalls, cobbled streets, cafe lined squares and fountains that make you want to sit and write poetry. Well, that’s what I tried to do until I realised I had no pen and most of my poetry ends up being raps using the words poo and bum. Nevertheless, you can understand why painters like Cezanne were so inspired by the place, it’s just so damn pretty.

So as you can tell, I loved Aix. Luke, on the other hand, quite eloquently summed it up as like a Westfield, but nicer. Despite not having to set foot in one shop, it was the mere number of shops he had to walk past to get from A to B that seemed to warp his opinion of the place. Don’t worry though, instead of writing poetry by the fountain I hit him with my book while screaming ‘you better start liking this town bitch’ until he agreed. One might say this was even more beautiful than my potential penned sonnet. You know, actions speak louder than words, public displays of newfound French passion etc.

I’m not entirely sure what we did with our time in Aix, we did wander a lot, lay in a park on the softest grass in the world, ate sushi, played cards in one of the squares, drank coffee and ate pastries. We also stayed in a pretty great apartment off the Cours Mirabeau, the main street in the old village. The guy was a designer with great taste in music, books and snacks. And, what was even better was that we had the whole apartment to ourselves.

We’re currently on the train to Lyon and the whole compartment stinks of B.O. Jpow told us that if he sees anyone reach up for something at a supermarket he walks the other way. That was a great piece of advice. I wish I could stick my head out of the window right now because as some of you know, I have the nose of a sniffer dog.


Click to enlarge

The South of France is like a fifty-five year old lady who has a penchant for nautical wear, too much white wine and flat gold shoes with tassels. But then again, its terracotta tiled buildings, narrow cobbled streets and stunning aqua jewelled water more than make up for any hint of rah about the place.

On our first real day in Nice, we caught the train to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, then walked to the very pretty Saint-Jaques-Saint-Ferrat, lay on a rather uncomfortable stone beach (although not as bad as Nice), ate lunch on a whale monument bench then walked to Villefranche-sur-Mer (I know, I know, these names are too much, Luke has no idea where we went at all that day). Somewhere along the way on this trip, Luke has become an old man who likes to stop and ‘admire the view’ (= sit down because he’s tired) EVERY FIVE MINUTES. Sure, I appreciate beauty, WHILE I’M WALKING. Somewhere along the way on this trip, I have lost all shame and now have no qualms about changing in and out of my bathers right in the middle of the beach or the middle of the road for that matter.

By the way, it’s taken me about 45 minutes to write the above paragraph. There are a group of Americans on our train who are having the most loud, banal conversation. Do we really give a shit about the difference between ‘fun golf’ and ‘mini golf’? I especially don’t give a shit about Marie ‘who is, like earning, like $17 an hour’. I just checked and Luke doesn’t give a flying fuck either.

Anyway. Our third day in Nice was marred with rain, but this was ok because we revisited an amazing pet store we had seen the day before with cats that looked like they’d been hit in the face with a fry pan. We also climbed to the top of a jungle gym, saw a photography exhibition, visited the lookout, wandered around the local neighbourhoods and discussed what we’ve learned living with each other 24/7 for the past 2 months. We have decided that when food shopping, we can’t answer potential dinner suggestions with ‘mmmm’ as we both know that means ‘no’. I need to stop giving Luke a two option solution to things when I really only want to do one of the options and Luke needs to stop tuning into LaLa FM when he’s supposed to be listening to important things like directions to places. When it comes to general self improvement, Luke is trying to curb his excessive use of the word ‘Jesus’ especially on the eve of going to the US bible belt and I’m trying not to use the word ‘fantastic’ so much when talking to strangers. This is because I sound like a penis.

My brain is losing ability to block out the yapping yanks and form sentences. Luke is doing his ‘I’m annoyed face’. I guess if I really loved him I’d shush them/karate chop their mouths but I just can’t. It’s way more British/Australian for us to stew silently and bitch about them after. Oh the rage. We’ll be in Aix-en-Provence soon.

Goodbye…

July 25, 2011

Goodbye Pammy. You drove us mad, but knowing both of our short term memories, we’ll both be saying you weren’t that bad this time next week.

Goodbye Workaway, free food and accommodation, lovely chateau’s and beautiful countryside. Goodbye nutters and cleaning of red wine stained vomity toilets.

Hello travels.

Our guru

July 25, 2011

One of the best things about travelling are the people you meet along the way. Ok, so we’ve mostly met nutters, but our guru, Kannan, is truly someone we’ve been glad to get to know.

Cannes

July 21, 2011

Today we were planning on going to St Tropez but stupidly, they only run two boats from Saint Raphael per day which is really helpful in peak tourist season. Not only was the first one full, but it didn’t come back until 6pm. Not ideal when the last village bus back to Pammy’s is at 6:15pm.

So instead, we decided to go to Cannes. Seeing as though we have paid an extortionate amount of money to the French rail system, we decided our trip Cannes could be on them, as we only had tickets from Les Arcs to Saint Raphael and Cannes is an extra stop on the train.

Now, I have to explain, I’m a massive pussy. The worst thing I did at school was leave sports day early and get a telling off for talking during choir practice. The only thing can draw me out of pussy mode is when I pay too much for public transport and I feel like a free ride is owed to me (hence me not paying for a year on the 149 bus in London and Luke did – pussy). So we hopped on with the dodgy looking men with their plastic bags and the woman slumped in the corner talking to God. All went well and we arrived in Cannes without getting caught.

Now, Cannes smells of money. It makes you feel a bit boozy and rah with the palm trees and hotel lined promenade with art deco lettering. The place definitely has a buzz but then again, that might have been the sound of the valets locking and unlocking all of the obscenely expensive cars. The beaches are mainly for the rich who can afford spending 30 Euros on a sunlounger. The plebs (us) have to pile on top of each other and scavenge for a patch of sand. On the plus side, Luke saw lots of boobs and I got to see a lot of European back hair.

On the way back, we were again on ticket inspector alert. We had just found some nice seats when we saw three inspectors come into our carriage. We got up to move to a different part of the train but were trapped like the mice in the tube going up to Richard Gere’s ass when we saw another two conductors coming up from the other side. Those clever buggers with their two pronged approach, I bet Richard didn’t think of that. While deciding what to do, we did what any seasoned free rider would do and guiltily walked up and down the same isle about three times. As they were closing in on us, I decided me going into the toilet might help. Deciding Luke looked more innocent than me, I left him outside while I stood in the toilet looking at a picture of a badly drawn cock for five minutes. When I couldn’t stand the stench for any longer, I went outside to see what had happened to Luke. He was still there. Unharmed and looking confused. We decided that we looked like dicks and decided to go and sit down. When we got into our original carriage, the inspectors we arguing with another man who had tried to beat the system. We hoped that they would continue arguing until we got to the next stop where our ticket was valid. As Luke and I were whispering what our cover story would be (we fell asleep and missed our stop this morning so decided just to stay in Cannes – err, piss weak) when the ticket inspector pounced on us from behind. “Billet”, he demanded. Luke handed our tickets over to him. I kept my head down thinking about our 70 Euro fine and praying the inspector was gay and Luke had cottoned on and winked at him or something.

We waited.

And then he stamped them, without saying a word. Anti-bloody-climax.

Last night after dinner, Pammy told us that she used to be psychic. After this revelation, I didn’t think the conversation could get any better. But I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Because then she told us she once had an extra terrestrial encounter.

The physical restrain I had to use on my face is indescribable. The self control to not look at Luke, push our chairs back and proceed to roll on the ground weeing ourselves with laughter was excruciating. In fact, I had to use my hair as a moustache to cover my mouth as I felt it contorting with every new sentence. What was worse, was that she was directing the conversation at me. At me! I don’t do a very good sympathetic face, let alone a credible ‘yes, I totally empathise with alien encounters’ face. I’m finding more and more on this trip that people are sharing shit with me that my cynical mind is just not equipped to deal with.

Let me relay the conversation, no exaggeration, no creative licence used.

Pammy: “Speaking of probing (which we weren’t), have I told you this story? I’m sure I have (looking at me).”

Me: “Errr, no”.

I look at Luke, he confirms and is no doubt hoping for some kind of lesbian orgy story. Not tonight my friend, not tonight.

Pammy: “When I first moved here, on my first night at the house, I had a stack of papers on the floor. I had gone to bed and suddenly, in the middle of the night I woke up to find the papers levatating and a bright, white light outside. I knew that I was about to be taken. I just had a feeling, you know? So I clung onto the bed because I didn’t want to go. I really, really, didn’t want to go. When I woke up, I checked all over my body for any signs of probing, but couldn’t find any. But you never know for sure.

WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK.

You cannot make this shit up.

Today we taught a float wearing, 29 year old Indian dude how to dive.

Surreal.