|Frank, René, Ferdie, Leonie and Marion at the RSL for dinner|
Unfortunately I only have this not-so-clear picture available, waiting for René to send me a better one. Earlier in the day René spent some time repairing my vacuum cleaner which had a blockage. He was happy to do so while Frank was mowing the lawn and I had to attend to various other household matters.
|René the repair man :-)|
Finally the day has come. We get up early to wash the bed linen and towels and since the weather is fine I get everything dried before we have to leave. I don't know why, but I just can't get excited about this trip. Perhaps this one came too hard on the heels of the trip to the States. I don't know. We'll just have to take it as it comes I guess...
At 10am we get into the car and head for the airport where René drops us off and takes the car home. He is confident enough to drive after yesterday's trial run. As we are never interested in duty-free shopping we get through customs and security and find an airport restaurant where we can have lunch. After that I have a moment to take some general pictures and some of clever sand sculptures, exhibited at the airport:
|View of the shuttle bus pick-up area|
|Dolphin sand sculpture|
|Hibiscus flower sand sculpture|
|Surfer sand sculpture|
|Our plane nearly ready on the tarmac|
Here we have to go through security again and to my surprise my backpack, which contains my handbag and lots of smaller items, has to go through the scanner more than once. Now, this backpack was a quick last decision before we left, because normally I pack it in my suitcase. As it has gone through security in Brisbane without any problems I was surprised and couldn't understand what the problem was. But finally, oeps.... my bright red pocket knife appeared to be the offender. Overlooked, because it's always in my backpack with a number of items that we take when bush walking and I hadn't even remembered it was there. Ah well, it got confiscated of course, but that was all. After I signed for handing it it (did I really have to sign for that???) we were free to join the other travellers again. And so much for security in Brisbane!
As I said, we are flying British Airways but we'll come to regret our choice of BA, as the service, seating and food leave a lot to be desired. After the first stretch, operated by Qantas with their usual excellent service, this is a real let-down and I am glad I am asked to fill out a survey form. Oh, I have informed them alright! :-)
At 5am we land at Heathrow airport and have to walk through a maze to find the bus which brings us to a different terminal, where again we have to walk through a maze to find the gate for the next flight. Since the seating had been so bad I have more problems with my sore leg than I had straight after my fall three weeks ago, and the long walk is not making it any easier, but I finally get there under my own steam...
The last stretch of 1-1/2 hours to Lyon is a breeze. Also operated by BA, but the service, seating and food are a lot better. A pity that the long 14 hour flight had to be the bad one!
In Lyon it's even colder than it was in Heathrow and I am glad I've kept my winter jacket handy. Frank was more optimistic and has to get changed at Lyon airport after we collect our luggage. René's sister Gabrielle is waiting for us and after her husband Bernard brings the car around we set off on the last leg to Montfalcon, which is situated approx. 90 km from Lyon airport.
Halfway we stop off at a restaurant near St-Etienne-de-St-Goirgs where we have lunch. So far I haven't spoken more than a few words French, because my brain seems to be frozen. At first not a French word will cross my lips, but slowly I am getting accustomed to the sound of the language and it all starts slowly to come back to me. No real conversation by a long shot, but I can ask a few simple questions by now and answer a few as well. After lunch we go to the supermarket to stock up on fresh vegies and other perishables. Of course everything is labelled and I recognise most of the words, which makes the shopping quite easy in the end.
The last bit of the trip is via Roybon where we are pointed out the hairdresser, supermarket, pharmacy, post office, etc. Apparently this is the nearest little town where we will do our regular shopping and where we will fill up the car.
At last Gabrielle picks up the keys at the neighbours' and we are 'home'. She and Bernard show us around and then leave us with a promise from us that we will ring them to spend a day together and perhaps visit the abbey in their home town.
The house is an old farmhouse and is as we have seen in the pictures. However, it appears to become a bit of a disappointment as time goes by. One thing we must say: René is a very organised person if nothing else. The kitchen cupboards are well stocked as are the fridge and freezer. The cellar contains boxes labelled from A-Z and the contents are listed in a booklet that is ready on the table for us, with everything else we need to know. Maps, a box of chocolates and small gifts in the form of two 2013 calendars are left for us as well. However, we wish the house was as well furnished as the cupboards, fridge and freezer were stocked... Never before have we seen such sparsely furnished surroundings. There is a living room, but it doesn't quite deserve the name. The entry is into the kitchen which doubles as the living area, because it contains the one-and-only easy chair to be found in the house and the big flat screen TV on the mantelpiece. In the centre is a large table with four (uneasy) chairs. The kitchen bench and cupboards are along the wall underneath the stairs to the first floor. It's 5pm, we're dead tired, and since we have only one not-even-comfortable chair between us we decide to go to bed and have a good sleep...
The bedrooms are upstairs and we just manage to get our heads down (on a 'roll' rather than pillows) before we are dead to the world. We sleep 12 hours straight and wake up early Saturday morning and not very refreshed, but I leave the rest of the story (and pictures) for tomorrow...