My Life as a Traveler

Rolling Backwards

After a 6am wake up call (the phone said “this is your wack-ee-up- call”) and a 7am breakfast buffet including plums and yogurt, salmon, herring, broiled tomato, mushrooms, fresh squeezed oj, cappuccino and chocolate croissant (buffet included with room, room paid with frequent-stay points),  we head for the airport. The restaurant and the streets are strangely quiet for a weekday morning in a town made for business. It’s like a ghost town. Turns out it’s Chirst Himmel Fahrt (Ascencion), an Easter-like holiday. Everything is closed and since it’s Thursday, it’s a long weekend for most. We board our tram and train and arrive at the airport.

I saw Susie off – she’s heading back to Virginia. I’m boarding a train for Lyon, France.  All week long we’ve been riding the train and have had no problem finding seats. In fact, sometimes we had a whole car to ourselves. I had made a reservation from Zurich to Lyon and was wondering why, since up til now the trains have been empty. However, today’s a holiday and the train is packed. When I get on the train, every seat is filled except for my reserved one. Phew! The only problem is that I’m riding backwards.

If you’ve traveled with me before, you know that on a subway or train I must face forwards. I always want to see where I’m going and I’m afraid of the possibility of motion sickness. But today I’m going backwards and I have no choice. I thought about what this may mean and came up with this explanation: today is a day to look back. How far back? Well…

On the second leg of my trip to Lyon, an elderly gentleman sat beside me. He was from Chamonix, in the mountains, and ran a hotel there since the end of WW2. It’s between seasons there (skiing and hiking, or winter and summer) and he was out and about visiting his son, who saw him off, and heading toward Lille to visit his daughter. He told me the story of his life, escaping the Germans in the war and working in Tunisia studying soil, back to France and imprisoned for a short period, then hiding out in the Chamonix hotel where he used to travel with his parents for holiday, marrying the daughter of the hotel owner, inheriting the hotel himself, and still running it with the help of his kids, even in his 90’s. As I got off the train, I told him enchante or, nice to meet you. He returned the sentiment and kissed my hand. Awwww… It’s been a while since my hand’s been kissed!

More history: the train conductor (ok, we’re in France, now) mumbled a tres jolie as he was punching my ticket. My seat partner said he was referring to me (not how pretty my ticket was!). It’s been awhile…

Dragged my bags up 4 sets of stairs to my sweet little (and I mean little) hotel room. Wasting no time, I’m out for a walk, checking Lyon out. There’s an electronic/indie music fest going on. I hang out with the kids. I’m rather old for this crowd, but no one is snarling at me so I stay, bouncing to the music. It’s been awhile …

And finally, the best part of the evening was dinner. I was seated at Paul Bocuse’s LE SUD Restaurant at about 7:10pm, early by French standards. They had a 28euro fixed-price menu that was out of this world: Fresh salad, sea bass on spinach, runny cheese for the cheese course, strawberry tart, and coffee.  The waiter (so cute) helped me pair wine with the food. I flirted with him a bit and, when it was time for dessert, he brought me a little glass of champagne (free!) to go with my dessert. I apologized for the crass Americans at the next table ordering coca cola and pizza, then appetizers, then 6 different main courses for only 4 people.  I did most of my conversing with my waiter friend in French.

Rolling backwards. I did not get motion sickness, and it was fun to live as if I was a teen bouncing to music, young and flirty. Backwards is not so bad.

2 responses

  1. Beth

    Lovely!! Just catching up with you here. Saw Susie a little while ago a the Pub here in Hampton, at Vic’s retirement party–she looked wonderful and refreshed, though still in a different time zone! I told her how much I’ve enjoyed following your adventures and seeing the beautiful pictures…

    May 15, 2010 at 12:21 am

  2. Susie

    I was so worried about making my flight and navigating my way without you…1/5 hrs late departing Zurich. Ugh! But after a whole week of having the rail car to ourselves, you made a reservation for a seat….and it was the only one left!!! Wow! merci dieu!

    May 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm

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