The picture wasn’t taken the same day as this post. I didn’t actually take any pictures yesterday. But this is the hotel I stayed in, and the final destination for this post. Unfortunately this post is all text. Lots of pictures to come next!
I should have titled the last post, “Tomorrow in the Airport.” That has got to be the longest I’ve ever traveled without sleeping in a bed.
The flight from Newark to Madrid actually wasn’t all that bad, and that was part of the problem. It was only 7 hours, and we lost 6 hours. There were constant announcements and drink and food for the first 3 hours, so they didn’t turn off the lights for “bedtime” until what was essentially 6 am. I could not get comfortable at all, and despite how tired I was, I did not think I’d be able to sleep at all. I did get some sleep, but not very much. It didn’t help that I made the mistake of trying to eat some of the airplane food. It was free, which I wasn’t expecting, and I thought that between the choices of chicken, pasta, or vegetarian, the chicken sounded the most benign. It was actually chicken and pasta, and a little loaf of bread, and the green salad looked like it had cracked wheat on it. I should have asked if they had anything without wheat, which they probably didn’t. So even though the chicken was covered in some kind of lemon sauce that was probably thickened with flour, for some reason I thought maybe I could get away with it. I ate only the chicken, but my tummy was quite rumbly and unhappy for the next 3 hours, which happened to be the same 3 hours that we were supposed to be sleeping. That did not help.
My seat mates were a retired Spanish teacher from Cleveland on his way to a vacation in Spain, and a 30 something Italian on his way home to Bologna from a holiday in Costa Rica. They practiced their Spanish together, and even when they spoke English, I had no idea how to join in the conversation. Small talk is just so awkward for an introvert. But, being an introvert, the fact that I didn’t, or wasn’t able, to join in didn’t bother me very much. I’m sure that is something I will have to work on this trip.
The flight got in at 10 am Madrid time, which is 4 am Ohio time. Going through customs was ridiculously easy. I handed the guy my passport, we both said “hola,” and he stamped it and handed it back. I was able to take my pack as a carry on, so I didn’t have to wait for luggage. But that didn’t mean I was done waiting!
My next flight to Lyon was through Easyjet. Because they’re a low budget airline, they have all kinds of added costs and nothing is free. The website strikes the fear of your wallet into you. It costs 28 Euros to check your bag, but if you don’t check it and they make you gate check it, then it’s 45 Euros, which is almost the same price as the ticket price. So I checked it ahead of time, but I probably didn’t have to, since the plane was the same size as the one I’d just been on.
When I checked my bag in, the lady said the flight was delayed 2 hours, and handed me a 4.5 E light refreshment voucher and a brochure, which was in French, and I found out later it described the rights that I had for compensation for my flight being delayed 2 hours or more. So I decided to use my voucher to help buy a bocadilla iberica, which is a sandwich of hard, iberican ham on a dry, chewy baguette, and a bottle of water. Probably not the best choice. After my tummy problems on the plane, it probably wasn’t the best idea to try to eat more bread. At this point, though, I was starting to think maybe my plan of eating the bread over here isn’t such a good idea.
I had split my bag up into two to reduce the size and weight of my carry on. My backpack had all of my clothes and large items, and all of the smaller, heavier items were in my sling bag. All of my electronics, cables, toiletries, guidebook, etc. But not my phone. I sat down in one of the very hard airport chairs, put my buff over my eyes, and took a “nap.” It was kind of awful, and when it was over, I discovered that my water bottle had leaked all over the inside of my bag, and the little plastic bags that I’d put everything in had water inside them. I actually poured water out of the portable battery I’d brought. It’s dead. I will have to try to get another one, because I know it will come in handy with all of the pictures I want to take.
The flight was supposed to be at 1:30, but didn’t actually get into the air until 5:45. I was pretty worried at this point, because the last train from Lyon to Le Puy-en-Velay left at 9:05, and arrived at 11:26. My hotel check-in closed at 11:30. So once we got on the plane I called the hotel, and once my “parlez-vous Anglais?” was answered with “no,” I realized I was probably in trouble. So I apologized for my bad French, and tried to explain that I would possibly be arriving after midnight. The problem is, I know enough to kind of make myself understood, but then when they respond I had absolutely no idea what they’ve said. Thankfully the woman sitting next to me was able to talk to her and said arriving after midnight was ok. Her English was worse than my French though, so I’m glad it all worked out.
I didn’t have to go through customs in Lyon, probably because the flight was internal EU, but I did have to wait for my bag, and that took forever. Then I took off in search of the shuttle into Lyon. The trains leave every 15 minutes, and I got in less than 5 seconds before the doors closed. That was the first break I’d caught all day. The ride into the other train station where I would catch my next train, Lyon Part Dieu, took 30 mins, and I had the misfortune of having to sit backwards. By the time I got to the station and bought my ticket, it was only 15 minutes until the train left. I was pretty hungry, so I thought I’d try to find some food. I got another sandwich. This one with regular ham and cheese. I was hoping I was far enough into real France (not just at an airport) that it might be ok. Still probably not a good idea to eat another sandwich, but there wasn’t much choice. I didn’t notice an immediate issues when eating it, but I did feel quite nauseated afterward. I really don’t like trains.
Thankfully it was less than a 5 minute walk from the train station to my hotel, and I was grateful for my good planning in that respect. I had a difficult time trying to communicate with lady at the front desk. She wanted to know what time I would be checking out in the morning, and I didn’t know how to respond. I’d been traveling for 27 hours, and it had been 33 hours since I’d slept in a bed. I didn’t know how long I’d sleep. I actually do know enough in French, but I’m not very fast, so it wasn’t until I was in my room and unpacking that I had formulated how to say it.
I made the mistake of trying to wash my clothes, because they still aren’t dry this morning, and the bed was as hard as a rock, but all things considered, I slept pretty well. Although, now I’m ready for a nap. Hopefully that just means I will sleep well tonight.
Today I get to explore Le Puy!
Wow, crazy first day! I am glad you were able to get into the hotel. Can’t wait to hear more!
Good job buddy! I am really enjoying reading your updates, keep them coming 🙂
Whew! You made it there! I hope exploring Le Puy was fun and you found some okay food. (The airline needs a gluten free option! I remember Doug once ordered the Kosher meal just for fun. Or maybe it was hallal. I remember it came with a Prayer for Travelers under the wrapper.)
Best of luck! Love you!
I enjoyed reading this. Have fun exploring today!