Light traveller

This morning, I saw a traffic warden on our street for the first time since the lockdown has started.

They were standing a lot closer…

While the warden was issuing a ticket, a few construction workers came out from a building site nearby and approached him, protesting about the penalty. At one stage, the distance between them was less than 1m even though the confrontation lasted nearly 5 minutes. ‘Gee, is it really necessary? Where is the social-distancing rule?’ I was biting my lips while I was watching the exchange.

Issuing parking fines to construction workers, who weren’t banned from working but also were discouraged to use public transports, was one thing but also sending out those traffic wardens to the street without appropriate protections was another thing I really wanted to question Hackney Council. Sure, they would want to recoup some revenue they lost during the lockdown. But they must also remember that they had their duty to protect everyone from the virus.

Ok, it’s enough for my corona moaning.

As I mentioned in the previous post that mum and I were not light travellers even though we wished to be one. We would love to travel with a minimum luggage like a small carry-on each, instead of being laden with multiple bags of all sizes and makes like Samwise “Sam” Gamgee in The Lords of the Rings and trudging on down the street.

Sam, you travel in style…

When I fantasise about being an light traveller, one image pops up in my mind is a TV advert I watched when I was a teenager. In it, a guy in a pair of faded Levi’s 501 slipped his passport in to the rear pocket and casually walked towards a departure. Needless to say, he had no luggage to hamper his style. Oh, how we would love to be unshackled like him but sadly it would not gonna happen. Do you know why? Let me explain.

We stayed at Le Boulvardier and this was their reception / bar area.

Funky decor, huh?

We didn’t see the staffs when we arrived because the bar was closed then.

A view towards the bar entrance from the street.

During our road trip, we discovered that the majority of the hotels we stayed didn’t have a coffee maker or a hairdryer in the room. We, especially mum, loved drinking coffee and having no facility to make one in our room was a big headache. I imagined that the hotels expected us to go out and have our caffeine fix at cafes nearby. But mum didn’t like French style coffee (she preferred American style) and also she wanted to drink it and relax in the privacy of our own room. ‘I don’t want to go out for coffee first thing in the morning!’, mum would moan.

So, my solution was storing everything we imagined we would need during the holiday, such as a kettle, a hairdryer and a yoga mat(!) in the boot, and bring it (or them) to our room when necessary.

Le Boulvardier’s room was one of those minimalist kinds with very basic amenities – no coffee maker and no hairdryer.

‘Good job that we decided to bring a kettle and a hairdryer from the car then!’

If the car park was near the hotel, I wouldn’t have minded doing a few trips to transport our necessities to our room. However, the parking at Lyon was more than a few streets away from our hotel and therefore I decided to bring everything, a kettle, a hairdryer, cups, etc.

Shame, we didn’t drink at the bar!

One day, we should try to be light travellers by setting a baggage allowance, like one carry-on each. I bet it won’t be easy but we probably can learn to live with a little bit of inconvenience and even enjoy it as an out of ordinary experience…

Where is a car park?!@Lyon

I am feeling very good after finishing practicing stick-handling drills, shooting pucks and riding an exercise bike. Now, I’ve completed stretching and I am ready to update my blog!

After passing Laragne-Montéglin, we traveled along A51 northwestward. At Grenoble, we took A43 and continued another 112km towards Lyon.

Lyon was the largest city we planned to visit during the road trip (we omitted Paris because we visited numerous times already), so we were duly excited.

Lyon, on y va!

We reached the outskirts of Lyon around 13:00.

Traffic was getting busier…

We continued towards the city centre and crossed the Rhône.

The Rhône! Beautiful!!

Once crossing the river, our sight was filled with tall buildings and trees.

So where is our street?

For the road trip, I booked all of our hotels through Booking.com and one of my criteria when I came to choose lodging was how easy it was to park our car. Mum had a bad knee and we weren’t exactly light travellers – our baggage snowballed as we continued the journey! – so I wanted a public parking to be near the hotels if they couldn’t provide a private one.

Lyon!

Navigating through a large European city on foot would be confusing if you were new to the place. And the task would be even harder if you were behind the wheel and negotiating one-way streets in an unfamiliar city. I tried my hardest not to smash anyone’s side mirror as well as any pedestrian while desperately looking for a sign “P”!

All parking bays are taken!
Our street but no parking!

On Google map, there were a couple of parkings but one was only open for limited period and another one was closed except contract parkings. Eventually, we managed to find a spot in the car park which was more than a few large blocks away…

Sorry mum!

I promised mum that I would bring a car near the hotel when we were leaving the city so she would have to walk a minimum distance next day…

Memory loss

‘Do you remember what we did in Tours?’ Mum and I still question each other but either of us can’t recall anything in detail. It was because we were more concerned about mum’s injury than paying attention to our first French city since our road trip eleven months ago.

From Caen Ferry Port to Tours was about 274km and the journey took us just under 3 hours.

Fortunately, the hotel we checked in had a lift so it made our life a lot easier, especially mine as I had to carry all the luggage.

After unpacking, we shared a bottle of beer and discussed how the day went. ‘Hope I will feel less pain tomorrow.’, mum said longingly and I nodded very hard because I couldn’t agree with her more.

One thing I remember clearly was the receptionist at the hotel. He told me that Aikido was his hobby and I taught him typical Japanese greetings such as konnichiwa, konbanwa and matane.

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Uncertain beginning…

My mum had done it again. So what had she done?, you may ask. Well, let me explain.

Everything seemed to be going swimmingly then…

After finished checking in at the gate, we moved to a security check-point and a staff there asked us to step out of the vehicle. ‘Mum, he wants us out of our car.’

I didn’t see what happened because I was occupied with the security guy and mum was at the other side of the car but she stumbled as she was climbing out of the seat and took a rather awkward tumble.

The security was all clear and we were allowed to return to the car. As I buckled up and started an engine, mum confessed what she had done to herself.

‘You did what?!’

She showed me a red mark on her knee as she recounted the circumstance of her little accident. ‘Were you hurt?!’ ‘I think I twisted my hip when I tried not to fall.’ Oh no, mum…

The journey to Caen Port was to take five hours and her injured hip started to bother her as soon as we settled ourselves in our reserved reclining seats.

‘Don’t worry, mum. I’ll fetch painkillers from the car!’

I went down to the car deck with a steward and brought back the medication and a yoga mat. ‘Mum, lie down flat on the mat.’ Even though she found it a bit embarrassing at first, she admitted that resting on the mat felt much more comfortable than on the reclining seat.

The ferry was busy with school children. It looked like there were at least three separate school trip parties on board and the kids were everywhere except the reserved areas.

You go and entertain them!

Good luck, Mr.Teddy…

Then, I went to the upper deck to take some photos so I could show them to mum…

I wished if she could come with me because the views around the upper deck area were spectacular.

We are almost there!

‘Oh, why did this happen to me?’ Mum sighed as she did her seatbelt. ‘I’m sure it will get better soon if you take it easy for a while.’ I tried to sound optimistic even though I was not sure at all.

It was hardly an auspicious beginning of our road trip…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Sound & well!

My apology for not updating a blog for a long time. Mum and I are very well and enjoying our road trip through France enormously.

Initially, I was planning to write posts everyday as we travelled place to place. However, Wi-Fi I connected at each hotel wasn’t very fast nor strong enough to upload pictures, and I decided not to blog while I was on the road.

Today, we are staying at Sisteron, a town with spectacular ridges and boulders!

I shall blog about the place properly once I am back in London with a faster broadband connection…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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