Plain Trains and Automobiles: Squeezing the most out of getting from A to B.
23rd March 14:40 – Glasgow – London
23rd March 20:30 – London
24th March 06:00 – London – Paris
24th March 20:00 – Paris – Lyon
25th March 09:00 – Lyon
So I slept really well on the bus strangely. Got to Lyon at about 3:30am, with nowhere to stay and nothing open I looked in a lonely planet ebook for places to see. Clearly in Lyon THE place is the Basalisk Notre-Dame (not a hunch back form of the Hogwarts snake), a massive church atop a hill overlooking France’s third largest city. From the bus stop I rented a city bike and pedalled to the bottom of the hill with my two big bags. It’s not surprise that I got a lot of shouts from people heading home from their nights out before the long weekend. At the bottom of the hill the church sits up I decided it would be best to walk…because these bikes only have three gears and I’m carrying an extra 30kg. So the first little hike I’ve done since the Pyrenees was back in France, at 4am, with two bags and lots of layers which I couldn’t be bothered to take off.
I’d hoped to manage to put up a slackline inside the grounds of the Basalisk but no such luck, it wasn’t open. Just round the corner however is a really nice park with a modern, well-lit bridge that worked perfectly. Come 6am joggers were enjoying the new found obstacle course my early morning hobby had created while I kept occupied and enjoying the sunrise in a city I’ve never been before. Watching unknown landscapes slowly come into fruition with the dawn of a new day is ridiculously exciting, because the change from lights to structure is so gradual you have to remind yourself it’s happening.
Now I’m sat in a coffee shop 5 hours later, trying to persuade myself to finish my breakfast and go sit in the airport for another hour. I’m not going to lie, I’m not looking forward to another four hours in a vehicle.
25th March 17:00 – Meribèl
So after waiting at the wrong stop for the half hour tram to the airport, which I finally got (more free wifi), I met the rather exhausted looking ‘fam’ at the airport. Ironically my dad’s bought a new camera in ‘duty free’. Another 3 hours of getting slightly lost while the rental car’s sat nav becomes more and more sarcastic, we finally got in. Everyone seems really tired apart from me so I cook, we go hire skis and I’ve got a nice proper mattress, suddenly any discomfort all feels worth it.
The Return: Meribèl 1st April 10:00 – London 2nd April 08:00
This time I was only heading to London to stay with the other half of the family for a week. The same slightly bewildering car journey, followed by getting the tram without my rents and sister who had a 6 hour wait until their flight so wanted to go into Lyon too because I was nearly late. Onto the bus, which this time round is practically empty. The hours to Paris pass incredibly quick and once there I have 2 hours in which I meet a fellow passenger ‘Reni’ from Germany who’s heading to Glasgow with her boyfriend. Naturally overly-trusting, I give her my keys and my address and let my flatmates know there’s going to be a stranger staying in our home (update: humans are perfectly trustworthy and often leave chocolate as a thank you, although LeftRight Repeat take no responsibility for adverse affects of overzealous generosity). Once back on the bus I cheekily asked the bus driver, this time an incredibly jokey guy, if we could both sit downstairs, he obliged. He also turned out to be an incredibly interesting guy who cycles all over when he is on his bus routes and not driving. He also left the Mormon church recently although all his family are still avid followers including his wife and children. With any luck you’ll see more of him on here. Just before we got into Calais we were stopped by a roadblock made by refugees directly in front of us. Watching helpless as the police came and scared people, in desperate need of help away stirred a quite large pool of self-awareness in me. I had no idea how anyone could feel so desperate, and I never would, and here I was complaining about delays.
A I said at the beginning of this rather long-winded commute, not only did I meet awesome people and do loads on my way to my holiday, I also did so in a less harmful way to the environment. The carbon emissions for a flight from London to Lyon come out on average per person at 250kg, that’s 250kg of gas… the weight of your average Silverback Gorilla, per person, per plane. That’s ridiculous. Although when the figures come out it’s still upsetting to think that the bus journey release 60kg of planet destroying gas into the air for each person on that bus, the weight of three golden retrievers. This kind of shocked me, when my life has been so full of travel, I’m also destroying the world which I’m so lucky to be able to enjoy, which sucks. I’ve made a deal with myself that from now on Im going to try and neautralise my footprint.
Okay, so let’s weigh up the pros and cons.
- 18 hours on a bus, 5 on a train, and an uncomfortable hostel bunk
- Small, smelly and loud children (who were kind of cute in hindsight)
- Still produce substantial carbon emissions
- A wealth of experiences in a very short amount of time, visited three different cities
- Met amazing people whilst travelling
- Got to my destinations roughly on time
- For the cost and carbon emissions of flying one of the 4 of us on that holiday, there by plane, you could have taken all of us there by bus.
Basically, stop being travel snobs, it wasn’t long ago that people flying places was an absolute luxury, and it still is in many parts of the world. You can still travel, you may not be as comfortable, but if you have the time, you’re travelling while you’re travelling, if that makes sense.