Many people I know prepare for going on holiday by doing extensive research on their intended destination, possibly calling ahead to make choice reservations, pre-ordering some travellers cheques from their bank, stocking up on the necessary toiletries and general accoutrements, leaving the open suitcase close to hand inciting the gradual addition of neat piles of folded holiday attire. I tend to do things a little differently...note I don't say “better” but “differently”!
I will have done some research when booking the holiday, generally intending to do more nearer the time, and then I run out of time. I have been known to be organised and book the odd restaurant but this time I'd gathered a list of possibly eateries in Lyon, as I cannot visit the gastronomic capital of France with indulging in some culinary delights, but I've not made a definite decision yet. I had tried to buy some Euros at M&S when I spotted a favourable rate for cardholders but fairly unsurprisingly I don't carry my passport around, so was thwarted. I definitely should have bought sun tan lotion with a super high factor, but totally forgot but I did actually organise a new bathing costume for the jacuzzi (well, it would be rude not to!)
Despite best intentions, I always seem to end up packing at the last moment. I will have made an eleventh hour list in the packing app on my iPad and then be hurtling around grabbing: a sun hat, carbon fibre tripod, hiking boots (no, maybe not required on this occasion), sandals, a stack of random floaty dresses, skirts, tops and shrugs that I will be slightly perplexed by my own choice of on arrival, jewellery (vitally important), oh and some extra bling for ’gala night’, extra memory card, camera batteries and charger (I’ll concede they're more vital), underwear (also rather crucial) a pashmina or two, or seven, did I remember to pack the hat? As long as my passport, ticket and credit card are stashed safely in my bag I guess I'm sorted.
The cab arrives, I'm wracking my brains to think if I've forgotten anything but so far, it seems good. As I'm flying British Airways for the first time for many years I'm hoping to explore terminal 5 but my flight annoyingly leaves from terminal 1 instead. I organise a delicious salmon platter for the flight, much to the jealous stares of the other passengers and even the air hostess who was handing out the inflight ’meal’ of either a couple of cookies or a bag of nuts.
The plane is met at Lyon by a perky representative and I'm trying to guess who my fellow travellers are. I figure it totally wrong but we congregate and we wend our way to our minibus for our final drive to the barge.
M.S. Jeanine (motor ship) is an imposing sight, she is lording it over the other barges and will be our beautiful home for the next week. The interior has just been completely refurbished and what could have been dull, clinical and practical is elegant, luxurious and vivid. The corner seating is all richly upholstered in white Charolais cow hide, though apparently (and luckily) it's forgiving of red wine stains!
I realised on the bus trip that I'd forgotten to pack heavy duty SPF sun tan lotion and I suspect we’re in for a lot of hardcore sun so I disembark again in search of protection. By the time I return, more passengers have joined us, it’s time to spruce up for pre-dinner drinks.
We meet our crew (dishy captain!) and break out the Kir, before tucking into our first very fine meal. I think I'm going to enjoy it on here.