Lyon to Montpellier & Murphy’s Law ~

Lest anyone believe long-term travel is all giggles and bubbles, here’s a little diddy about what happens when things don’t go exactly as planned and why we didn’t stay in Lyon. It’s a philosophy I’ve long-held close to my heart; life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.  Because let’s face it…. no matter how hard I might try to channel my inner Pollyanna, there are travel days when Murphy’s Law just stomps all over said plans.

…A rule that states, “If something can go wrong, it will.” An addition to this law reads, “and usually at the worst time.” The identity of “Murphy” is unknown, but the saying was first used during the 1940s and may have originated with members of the armed forces in World War II.  Dictionary.Com

Running On Empty

Our last night in Dijon, France I clicked off the light hoping to fall into blissful slumber but it was not meant to be.  I always get a bit apprehensive the night before we travel, but on this particular night I was wide awake until 4:00 a.m.  So, when we stepped off of the train in Lyon, France I was running on empty.

Following the directions on GPS, and those sent from our AirBnB host, we found our way from the train station to the bus stop and hopped on the bus.  Sadly, in the wrong direction.  We ended up wasting maybe 30 – 40 minutes backtracking and starting over in the opposite direction. Not too bad, but not a great start.  I think it may have been a sign of things to come.  Do you believe in signs?  I do.  Finally, moving forward in the right direction we found our way to the apartment we had booked for 5 nights.

Not Feeling It

I wasn’t particularly keen on the neighborhood or the fact that the apartment building was down a narrow ally, but they’re pretty much the norm for Europe.  Once inside we started to unload and settle in. Although I wasn’t feeling it with the studio, it was manageable and it would be okay for our stay.  Until…  The apartment was advertised as having air conditioning and with it being 85 degrees in Lyon, it was definitely needed.  Turns out, the air conditioner was a portable unit sitting on a suitcase near a window.  Abi realized the only way the a/c would work was if the window was open and the unit’s exhaust tube was propped out the open window.  Um… no.  #1. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose to open the window and let in the hot air while supposedly cooling the room?  #2. This was not stipulated in the apartment listing so we were rather perturbed. #3. We didn’t reserve an apartment to have a window open 24/7.  #4.  We called the owner and basically said, WTH?!

Lyon

Lyon – definitely worth a return visit one day.

Prepared To Do Battle

We booked a room online at a hotel we’d considered before we booked the apartment, gathered our stuff, cancelled our stay in the apartment and left.  Back on the bus (thank you to the sweet man who rattled off instructions in French, but somehow we understood which bus to take), a short walk and voila we were checked in to a sunny bright hotel room.  Prepared to do battle – we were past the refundable point of our reservation – we found a French help line for AirBnB and made the call.  A big shout out to AirBnB and our new best friend Ricardo who processed a full refund because the apartment was “misclassified.”  I try to be a good person but I have to admit I took pleasure in knowing the owner of the apartment lost the income and that his “air-conditioned” apartment would sit empty.  Remember, I was running on 4 hours of sleep and feeling less than forgiving.

Feeling uplifted by knowing we would get the refund, we began to relax and settle in to our hotel room.  Ha!  The air conditioning was not kicking on.  “Oh, did we forget to tell you the system is broken?” said the clerk at the reception desk.  Turned out, the entire system was burned out and would not be fixed until the end of the week.  But, as the manager so casually offered, “It’s Lyon, you don’t need it.”  From the frying pan into the fire.  It was just not our day, but we were not in any shape to find – and move to – another hotel so we settled in for the night, a very warm night.

A Lousy 24 Hours

Although we had planned to spend 5 nights in Lyon, it was pretty clear to us that we were not supposed to be there. There was no way we could stay in the hotel with no a/c so we made the decision to leave.  And, if we were going to leave anyway, we decided we might as well just get on a train and head to Montpellier.  Montpellier was going to be the first train change on our upcoming journey from Lyon to Seville.  By leaving Lyon early we could eliminate the pending 5:00 a.m. wake up call on what would be our longest travel day.

Once on the train again just 24 hours after having arrived, we both sighed with relief. It had been a lousy 24 hours. I didn’t even tell you the part about having to find a clinic at 8:00 at night and waiting for 1 1/2 hours to see a doctor who spoke English about as well as we speak French.  Thank you Google translate and smart phones.

From Lyon to Montpellier

And, that’s how we found our way to Montpellier where we spent a few days just absolutely relaxing.  We took long walks while we explored all of the nooks and crannies and alleyways of Montpellier.  A highlight of our stay was meeting a couple from Switzerland and a gentleman from the UK.  We all sat near each other in a restaurant and chatted easily over lunch, which by the way was one of the best meals we’ve had thus far. I love moments such as those, meeting people and being able to easily chat as if you’ve known each other for years.  The respite also gave Abi the time to get rid of the cold he’d been fighting for a week.

Lyon

Montpellier Comidie Place

Some travel days are more challenging than others, there’s no way around it.  In the big scheme of life though our lousy 24 hours was a mere blip, even though it wore us out.  The one thing we’ve learned over all of our years of traveling through life together is to just keep moving forward.  And, that’s exactly what we did.

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15 Responses to Lyon to Montpellier & Murphy’s Law ~

  • Sorry you missed Lyon, but I fully understand wanting to strike it off the list and move on. Once you have soured on a place, it’s over. Sounds like you recovered nicely and have gotten back on track.

  • You’ve put on a lot of railroad and walking miles on your two-month odyssey around and about Europe and frankly, knowing how Murphy’s Law seems to be intertwined with travel, you’ve been blessed by the travel gods during your trip. I know I would have reached my breaking/melting point if I’d run into the lack of A/C during a heat wave so I’m glad that AirBnB came through for you. We too have had a lot of luck with AirBnB and got back a full refund plus a $100 credit when we arrived at an apartment in Cartagena, Colombia (that we’d splurged on for the month of December) and found 1) no mattress on the bed 2) a leaky bathroom sink with a puddle of water on the floor and 3) no Wi-Fi as advertised. So glad you’ve had a chance to recharge because now the next chapter in your European odyssey is about to begin!

    • I remember that story (nightmare) Anita. I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the AirBnB customer service, glad they worked for you as well. And, as they say when one adventure ends another begins!

  • We understand, having just spent several weekends in the Bay Area that were pretty melt inducing too. Ever put a wedding reception together, dressed in a long silk dress when the room must by 95 degrees? Yep. But we move forward. Good for you. Will you get to the Roman Bridge? It’s worth the trip and there is a lovely river (Of course) to swim in if it is warm.

    • The bridge in Montpellier is not accessible to the public, one can only view from a distance. And, under the bridge there is a parking lot. 🙂 We did take a walk along the river though.

  • Patti, you and Abi are very resourceful going from plan A to plan B to plan C with such diligence. The Airbnb properties are not always accurately described…infuriating isn’t it? I am glad you got to relax and enjoy Montpellier in the end

    • It is infuriating, Gilda, even when you’re in good shape and not hot and tired! Interestingly, while on the phone with the owner he said, well, you can’t say there isn’t air conditioning in the apartment! To which I replied, but you forgot to mention the fact that one has to have the window open! Maybe it would not have mattered to someone else, but it sure mattered to us.

  • Nice story Patti, travel isn’t always great and sometimes our feelings about a place are influenced by bad experiences or bad encounters (Lisbon, Zagreb and Trieste are places that we didn’t have much luck in). But often the bad experiences make for the best stories.
    We haven’t had many bad Airbnb stories and have never asked for a refund or cancelled. But good to know you were helped (although I notice it is near impossible finding a help # anywhere on the Airbnb site…what did you do?)

    Frank (bbqboy)

  • Full time traveling can be quite exhausting. Especially when Murphy gets in the way. But you made it past the lack of AC and have gone with the flow.

  • That does sound like one hell of a beastly travel day – a perfect, honest example of what a pain travel can sometimes be! You’re right, there are times when you’ve got to know when to quit and move on and I’m glad you found a happier spot further on in Montpellier. It’s great that Airbnb were so helpful, we’ve booked a load of apartments and rooms through there for the next three months, so it’s reassuring to know that they’re so good with refunds if anything goes wrong.

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We are Patti and Abi. We retired early to live a simpler life, travel the world and hopefully, inspire others to redefine retirement.

 

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