Maths Nerd applied to Euro trip 2019 – the cost of my month travelling Europe

I could do endless posts on photos of my month in Europe. But instead, I want to publish my costs. We all have our things… when I’m feeling uncertain or bored; or when I’m looking for a fun project, I often come back to the barre spreadsheet (I’m only a ballet dancer in my head).

All mine in Santorini

So since the start of 2018, I’ve been tracking daily expenses in a ASIC app. It was likely a strategy to get more comfortable with contracting, potentially changing jobs and salary etc etc. So when I was in Europe in May this year, I continued the habit but in a spreadsheet to manage different currencies.

Cute huts that slept two for my overnight tour to Plitvice Lakes National Park

Let me lay it out – who knows, someone might find it helpful?

Total nights away: 31 (hyperlinks to where I stayed, I don’t earn anything for the recommendations)

LocationTypeNightsCost per nightTotal cost
Santorini, GreeceVilla4252.5 Euro1010 Euro
Budapest, HungaryHostel (3) & AirBnB4AU$ 46.74AU$186.96
Naples, ItalyAirBnB6AU$82.5AU$495
Dubrovnik, CroatiaHostel125.20 Euro 25.20 Euro
Makarska, CroatiaAirBnB149 Euro49 Euro
Split, CroatiaHostel2100 HRK200 HRK
transit nights2
Windsor, EnglandBrother’s400
Llundudno, WalesHotel – 2 rooms2169.42 GBP 338.85 GBP
Heidelberg, GermanyFriend’s200
Paris, FranceAirBnB3AU$138.25AU$414.76
TOTALAU$3244.99
AVG of paid nights AU$153 AVG of allAU$111.9
Budapest hostel – my original bed. I opted for a change – upper bunk with a curtain and storage box at the foot of the bed. Perhaps a mistake, given I got bed bugs

As you can see I move around the types of accommodation, both for an budget perspective but also a socialisation side. I am so pleased I went extra luxe in Santorini – not that I know what cheap options existed! I ended up arriving at 4am off a long ferry trip, and left at 6am on another morning. So it was nice to have somewhere entirely to myself – not worry about waking anyone. I had breakfast delivered three mornings, so tasty and healthy. I only moved locations in Budapest due to bed bug bites – so I found an AirBnB near the airport as I had an early flight.

Back to privacy in my AirBnB in Naples with ensuite bathroom.

My accommodation costs are on par with my transport costs, which included a flight from Sydney to Athens via Singapore, and departing from Paris. One leg of the four was on Scoot which is a budget carrier.

WhatHowCost (AUD)
Sydney to Athens/
Paris to Sydney
Flight$1374.25
Athens to SantoriniFerry$62.67
Santorini to BudapestFlight$192.84
Budapest to NaplesFlight$212
Naples to BariCoach$18
Bari to DubrovnikFerry$269
Dubrovnik to MakarskaCoach$22.37
Busabout overnight tourCoach$289
Split to Frankfurt flight cancelledFlight$217.23
Split to Luton*Flight$156.19
Heathrow to Frankfurt*Flight$321.99
Frankfurt to HeathrowFlight$178.30
London to ParisTrain$155.22
TOTAL$3,469.06
No wonder I paid SO MUCH, my overnight ferry room was four berths!!

I passed customs and immigration for my Split to Frankfurt flight, and THEN it was cancelled. I wasn’t keen to wait endlessly in a long line for alternative arrangements, so booked a flight to London, knowing I could crash with my brother. It did then cost a considerable amount more to resume the planned itinerary from Frankfurt. I had a friend who I love dearly who lives in Heidelberg, near Frankfurt. And she’s on maternity leave, whereas my brother and his GF were at work. It also costs a LOT to fly out of Heathrow; but it’s the closest airport to my brother. I do expect to get the costs of the cancelled flight reimbursed, and given accommodation was free in both locations, I’m not too fussed.

Hostel in Dubrovnik – only one in a HUGE four bedded dorm in a tiny hostel.

What did I spend eating and taking tours and local transport?

CountryTotal spent AU$NightsAverage cost per day
Greece$430.874$107.70
Hungary$395.834$79.17
Italy$819.166$136.50
Croatia$600.435*$120
England/Wales$504.326$84.05
Germany??2??
France$330.943$110.31
DAILY AVERAGE$ 102.23 TOTAL$ 3,169.21

*technically 6, one night was on a ferry between Italy and Croatia

In England, I ate from my brother’s pantry and occasionally paid for meals for the three of us. We took turns. In Germany, I am spoilt rotten by my friend, and we largely eat at home for two out of three meals. I did buy two pair of shoes, and paid for some incidentals when my friend was distracted by her darling daughter! But my tracking lapsed!

A legit single room in Wales
My brother and his GF got a double room, and this was their view. I was on the other side of the building – the wind turbines were AMAZING

So the total costs:

Accomodation + Transport + Spending =

3,244.99 + 3,469.06 + 3,169.21 = $9,883.26

Undoubtedly, I could have eaten less (my waist band tells me that!). Places like Wales and Greece, I certainly could have stayed in cheaper places. And I flew a lot of places, whereas with a better coordinated itinerary, I might have used less fuel intense travel options. I did find much of my scattered travelling came about as the planned routes or flights weren’t running as it wasn’t yet ‘high season’ of summer. Live and learn.

Ah Parisian roof tops, be still my heart

Interestingly, I don’t set budgets for holidays, but just try to do things as I usually would – the occasional splurge but usually toe a restrained line. I did noticed in late 2018, my annual budget had a $6,000 line item for travel :/ And that would include interstate travel for weddings or other family events. So yeah, I was a little off the mark there!!

Do you budget for holidays? How do you work out how much to set as a limit – is it based on your savings, or on what others advise a destination costs?

Impressions of a country

Travelling is so mind opening.  I had a robust conversation with a stranger about how you can think deeply about all the world’s problems, but you lose a level of perspective without travelling, and literally seeing things from another nation’s perspective.  Book smarts just cannot compare to being immersed!  I notice the tiniest things, the things that interest or appeal to me.  Usually things related to infrastructure – electricity, and waste & recycling… those sorts of things.

Here’s my thoughts on countries, in no particular order:

Europe

Holland/Netherlands: bike riders, great English speakers, friendly but somewhat… odd (it’s hard to explain), quaint flat country. Great stroop waffles ūüôā (on average) tall! beautiful country or village homes, land of tulips, clogs, Gouda cheese, many an EU treaty

Iceland: tiny population, stunning landscape, otherworldly, cheeky sense of humour, renewable energy superstars, puffins, wool, specific Icelandic horse breed.

Germany: efficient, incredibly rich innovation history (thinking BMW and Mercedes AND Audi, and there’s probably more), trains run on time (confirmed!), such a strong economy – which can match the ‘look’ of people.  Known for beer (not my thing).

France: great food, strong culture (ie less likely to lapse into English!), sense of style and fashion but also into garish bright colours, socialist structure even to their financial detriment, strong sense of what’s due and striking

Italy: great food, beautiful Venice – masks. Cheap for a croissant and coffee for breakfast, but generally too

Russia: unfriendly, cold people, interesting ‘look’ in people, dressy for day to day, amazingly ornate buildings and purely functional buildings, little ‘tourist’ focus compared to other nations, expansive

Romania: hot! friendly and open, laid back, rough around the edges with graffiti and aging buildings, 

Bosnia: hilly, tragic recent history, a country trying to forget and heal, diversity of being the cross roads of Europe – three faith groups, underdeveloped, real sense of diaspora

Ireland: drinkers, pretty green lands, expensive (surprisingly!), religious, friendly and humourous

England:  very like Australia, but with richer history and a stronger Indian etc population and influence, first stop for almost every backpacking Aussie!

Middle East

United Arab Emirates: wealthy, showy, recent growth and development, huge migrant population for almost all ‘lowly’ work, want for nothing (ie every global company that may have consumers is here), intense and ambitious plans for the future

Egypt: ancient culture and history, very protective of females (I needed an ‘escort’ to walk the streets in the evening), strong push to sell to tourists, incredibly hot in June, sandy, Coptic christians but largely Muslim

Morocco: may be seen as africa to others, but more muslim leaning aligns it with the middle east, snake charmers, red buildings and alleyways

Israel: strange to call in Middle East as it has such a strong non-Arab/Muslim identity, fierce people, strongly nationalistic, Jewish, hilly, rocky, diverse – green hills to the north and barren rocky desert elsewhere, salty sea vs most fertile sea, being in country changed how I felt about the place, and it’s history and it’s displacement of others,

Turkey: Istanbul – modernised Muslim culture, beauty beside the water, ornate tiling, chewy ice cream

Americas

Canada: nice above all else, maple syrup, moose, French speaking corner, intensely cold weather (though I did visit in summer!)

USA: huge portions, friendly and attentive service staff, sassy migrant populations, unhealthy food, low prices, tipping culture, cheap petrol/gas, driving nation

Bahamas: felt like an American outpost, strange lack of authenticity (I stayed a night though), stunningly pretty beachy locale

Cuba: intensely warm and humid, run down, old world patina, contrast of new Asian car brands to the known large American cars of yesteryear, cheap rum and mojitos, music in their blood – saw a band at a small beach, ho hum food

Asia

Indonesia: Bali – party hub for Aussies, mainly Muslim but Hindu island with offerings almost everywhere, including on footpaths, trash ridden, very tourist focused,

Malaysia: (from layovers only) Kuala Lumpur Muslim with a distinct fashion in head scarves different to other Arab nations,

Singapore: restrained, strongly policed (socially and actually), wealthy, steamy, limited land mass

Thailand: Phuket x 2, Bangkok x 3? beautiful curly script, steamy, orchids, party destination for backpackers, strong penalties for foreign drug crime, huge sex tourism, lady boys,

Laos:  Vientiane – crippled or fledgling, strong French overtones from former colonisation, quiet, sleepy, slow

Hong Kong: in 1993 – Chinese but English speaking and overtones from occupation, use of migrant labour for child care

Japan: strong culture, precise, exact, miniatures, infantile/childish interests, strong cartoon culture, cutesy, volcanic nation with hot springs and a ‘bathing’ culture, anti tattoos, delicious food, raw fish, sea or fish based diet, strong sense of community, challenging to visit for an English speaker without assistance

Thoughts?

Santorini Sunsets

In early May, I headed to Europe, and back to Greece. I’d not made it to Santorini the first time – wanting to avoid the crowds. I absolutely splurged on accommodation. It proved a great blessing – my 12 hour ferry took 14 and arrived at 4am! It was so nice that the villa had arranged someone to meet my ferry and transfer me – and the reverse when I had an early morning flight to Budapest a few days later.

I was interested to hear the property manager speak very frankly about the island – he had a wife and daughter. He said the island is only good for tourists – there’s no future here for his daughter. Pregnant ladies have to transfer elsewhere to give birth. As beautiful as it is, I could see what he meant.

It’s incredibly picturesque, and I can see why people flock here. In high season, i expect there’s a stack of direct flights from all over Europe, to bring people in and out. I wouldn’t rule out returning, but I imagine there’s no lack of equally temperate Greek islands with fabulous food and less of the tourist hangover.

Jetsetting – again

Once again, I find myself travelling.  This time, to Germany, for a fabulous christening and then a side trip to Copenhagen – cause when in Europe, you may as well see the next place on your bucket list!

Delightfully sunny day to arrive in Frankfurt

The beautiful building my friend’s apartment is in. It’s beautifully sunny with lovely wooden floors. I didn’t want to leave.

It was a very short turn around between being asked to be a Godmother, and the actual christening (which, of course, I was not obligated to come to, but couldn’t see any good reason not to attend).

A Sunday stroll around Heidelberg

I had four nights with my lovely friend, her husband and her baby daughter, before taking the train via Hamburg to Copenhagen – they put the train on a ferry! It’s cool!

The funny look is cause i was eating , in Hamburg station(and seriously, it’s hard to see your face as you take a selfie)

The pastry of Hamburg – having German friends helps you use the few minutes between trains to try the best things!

The ferry deck – both the departing shore and the arriving shore has wind turbines, as well as some in the sea.

An attempt at proof of us, in a train, beside trucks, in a ferry!

Getting off the train to go to the upper decks of the ferry

I’ve only just arrived in Copenhagen, and it’s already great.  I arrived as the sun set, it was cool, but not too cold.  The hostel is everything it promised – hip, stylish, but affordable.  The rooms are great – the list of ‘things I could have brought’ for this place include: an s hook or a coat hanger for my coat, a padlock for the locker, thongs (my feet want to be free of shoes!).

Golden hour for me to fall in love with the city by

The train trip started around 7am, and I arrived around 6.30pm, so a long day.  I was well equipped by a delicious snack pack from my friend.  And I bucket load of throat lozenges as I battle the start of a cold.  The journey was quite enjoyable – I saw a lot of really pretty countryside and wind turbines. I passed most of the time listening to podcasts – some I’d pre-downloaded, but many I listening to using the wifi on the trains.

Have you been to Denmark? Any recommendations?

Cambodia

For the week after New Years, I joined my friends for two nights in Bangkok and four nights in Siam Reap.  They has been in Vietnam prior, and continued onto Phuket.  I probably couldn’t have articulated why I wanted to go to Cambodia, but I am glad I did.  It has a very laid back feel to it, and feels still a little unspoilt.  There’s countless hotels, of the 4-5 story size, with strong European influences.  January is the dry season, but being South East Asia, it was humid and hot.  It always is!

Cambodian’s seem to be very capable basket weavers, and I think they were used somewhat for fishing, not just as a decorative food serving device. This tree was at the airport

Does this not look like bliss? The bikes were used, but the pedal taxi was merely decorative

Despite it’s name, it was incredibly tame compared to similar streets in Bali, Phuket or similar.

A remork is the Cambodian’s answer to a tuktuk. Usually a scooter with four seats, though the rear facing back rest could fold down and then your suitcases or other transportable items could fit

A canoe idling at the rear entrance to Angkor Wat. I think these are traditional, as I saw one in the man made lake at the resort too

Approaching Angkor Wat from behind

This etching demonstrates how work on Angkor stopped when a king died. So there’s lighter etchings in the top areas, compared to around where his hand is.

Angkor Wat from the front – the light is all wrong, so I am thankful we started by seeing it from the behind

To the left is the very common etched pillars, which to an electrical engineer like me, looked like insulators we use on poles! We saw glossy stylised versions at the airport – what a great room divider

The brighter/lighter head has been replaces or restored. These figures were also repeatedly etched on the walls in Angkor Wat

The concubines… which is Cambodian is a word that includes ‘sara’ so it sounds like I’m partially a concubine?

Side profile of one of the smiling buddha’s at the second temple we visited – it had 49 pillars, all with a face etached on the four sides

Lotus flowers were everywhere, with the petals folded in various ways. They seem to be the national flower

When the humidity was too much, or after a work out ūüôā

Inside Ta Prom – a temple overtaking by trees

The silvery trunks of trees growing

Nature always wins

It’s hard to know if the rubble was a result of nature, or humans

Cambodia had always been on my bucket list, as I’d been to it’s neighbours: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam.  The bulk of the holiday was relaxing and eating and drinking, we saw all three temples in one day, and that was just enough for us ūüôā

Post Euro trip expenses

For my recent trip, I had a spreadsheet running in advance of departure, and it had pre trip expenditure.  As my trip unfolded, I was curious to see how my spending went, and so added things to the spreadsheet.

Glacial lagoon

I prepaid all my tours in Iceland, with Extreme Iceland, which was

The above cost just shy of 90,000ISK which converted to about $1,100 AUD. ¬†I would say it was money incredibly well spent, if not a little pricey when I was paying. ¬†For every tour, I had door to door transfers/collections in great vehicles with wifi. I really couldn’t have asked for much more. ¬†Meals weren’t included, but many stops were provided and advice (ie buy now, pricier or less choice later). ¬†When I combine the Iceland activities to the other holiday activities, such as the tulip gardens entry fee as well as the entry to Oradour-sur-Glane, ¬†activities end up being 17% of the money spent.

Little twingo – my first car hiring experience solo

Travel costs include the flights to Europe, which were the cheapest I have ever seen them at $1,300 return.  They was Sydney > Doha > Amsterdam then Paris > Doha > Sydney in May.  As I mentioned in another post, I took the opportunity to upgrade the Doha > Sydney leg, and even still, the total flight cost was below what I have come to expect for this journey.  When I include the costs of two days of car hire, tolls and petrol, as well as a few ICE/TGV trains in Germany and France, my total for travel comes in at 50% of my costs.

Chic Icelandic hostel

Accommodation varied between countries

  • Netherlands: AirBnB ¬†~$75 per night
  • Iceland: Hostels ~$70 per night
  • Germany: AirBnB ~$70 per night
  • France: chain budget hotels & private room in hostel ~$85/$55

Without this blog, I’d not have noticed that I cam in around $70-75 AUD most nights. ¬†I can say that my AirBnB experiences were all great! The locations were wonderful, the hosts helpful and in most cases, breakfast happened to be covered, which I LOVE! ¬†The last night in Paris was in a hostel that I knew well and was well located for an early departure. ¬†I’m sad I missed their breakfast, as it’s worth every cent. ¬†Accommodation¬†came in at 15% of my spend.

Then one has two cheeses with two meats in a square pizza

All that’s left is cash purchases and meals, and for what I can itemise and best guess, feeding myself was 13% of costs. ¬†That leaves only about 5% either unaccounted for or not in these broad categories.

I didn’t set a budget for this holiday, so I can’t comment on how my spend compared to that! ¬†What I can say is that I think I am content with what I spent, for what I saw and experienced. ¬†What I’ve really noticed is the shift away from ‘shopping’ styled holidays, where I replenish my wardrobe with stores that aren’t in Australia, to a greater focus on seeing the things I’ve longed to see. ¬†This also helps with luggage and transit ūüôā

Last minute upgrade

Right after arriving in Amsterdam, Qatar Airways emailed with an offer to upgrade on either return sector of my flights. ¬†Well timed – send that email when the pain of long haul is FRESH! ¬†So I decided to take up the offer for the 14 hour flight from Doha to Sydney. ¬†Overall, adding this upgrade STILL made my total fare less than what I usually spend to fly to Europe (given it was May, it was cheaper than July/August or around Christmas/New Year when I’ve travelled in the past).

Army planes at Charles de Gaulle – there were a STACK of men in the terminal in uniform and clearly travelling

Doha lounge

Never been SO happy to see a shower – I woke at 5.30am in Paris and skipped a shower, knowing I could get one in the lounge in Doha

This cannot even compare to my hostel sink the night before!

Oh what a shower! Though, I couldn’t get it cold enough!

Lounge area with refelctive pool

Lounge meal – from self serve buffet

The day’s cocktail, something with honey

Lounge desserts

Date cake post tongs. I really think some one needs to let Qatar know about cake slices (the utensil)

Another section of seats in the HUGE lounge

Section of the lounge known as the ‘Grill’ for sandwiches (and OF COURSE drinks)

Now, on the plane!!

Exited selfie – double chin at no extra cost

Honestly, no one needs a screen this big on a plane

The green stickers near the bottom, MIddle Eastern modesty

Delicious biryani for dinner

A hazelnut and caramel tart with some port before sleep time

Sorry it’s blurry – this is the ‘bar’ for Business class…

Blurry selfie of me in the complimentary PJs

A pre landing sweet snack… cause… why not?

I was well and truly getting a cold, and so my sleep was restless but I can ONLY imagine how much worse I may have felt elsewhere in the plane.

Packing debrief – Euro 2017

What went well

  • charging stone – this is the first year I’ve had one (Thanks Santa/Mum) and on long bus and train rides, I’d have been lost without it…
  • laptop – I was in two minds, but I’ve yet to curse it’s weight, or worry about it’s safety
  • cross body satchel – purchased in Chicago, I haven’t looked back! It’s great for holding a wallet, phone and keys, and at a pinch, my fold up shopping bag, bobby pins etc etc

Old Navy purse

  • backpack – I bought it for $5 in a thrift store, and it worked well. ¬†I didn’t ‘need’ it for the hikes or Iceland stuff as I anticipated, but it was great on travel days (of which there were many!)
  • pop out extra bag – i bought this in Japan, and it’s tiny when it’s folded down, and expands out for my ‘return’ journey. ¬†It’s a pain that it doesn’t stay centred on the suitcase’s extendable handle which means it can swing around, but…. first world problems. ¬†In the driving journey, I put all the ‘Iceland’ clothes in it, and left it in the car boot.

Bright and colourful!

  • all the underwear – I’ll never discourage someone packing all the underwear – it saves being FORCED to wash for tiny items. ¬†And before someone says “hand wash nightly”, I tell you: one night stays are risky they won’t get dry and I do NOT do musty/undry smell.
  • packing a collection of earrings – when you wear the same coat everyday, and in all the photos, it’s nice to add some variety in the smallest of ways.
  • i don’t have a laptop sleeve, so I improvised:

It’s a beanie… containing a laptop!

What could be improved

  • weather was a little warmer than anticipated – a skirt or a pair of shorts would have been worn a few times!
  • the cashmere jumper was never worn. ¬†When I was cold in Europe, I threw on the black puffer jacket, with a hood, it was good for the day it rained in Heidelberg

Second row from right, the grey cashmere… not required

  • packed a hat – never wore it. tsk
  • a dedicated sleeping top – I did think about this. ¬†Instead I made do with other tops, but then felt they were too ‘dirty’ for day wear afterwards
  • failing the above sleeping top, a sleeping dress – I often like a light summery dress, it’s much easier for shared bathrooms (for dress/undress then pants etc), can be slept in and is generally comfortable.
  • my cross body purse (pictured above) is a little squeezey for things that are DL sized (or the length of the short edge of a normal piece of paper), so I would consider that if I ever replace it
  • I packed ‘hotel minis’ I had left over from an interstate trip, as well as my solid shampoo. ¬†I always opted for the little bottles as they were easy to dry and put away, whereas the shampoo bar stays damp and I feared leaking – I did use it the few nights in Heidelberg though

Hiccups

  • my eight year old work boots stopped ‘working’! The soles have started to split, and in Heidelberg, so much so my socks got wet from rain. I decided to ‘let them go’ at Lyon station, rather than traipse them back to Paris or Sydney. ¬†I did however swap into their damaged’ness in Oradour-Sur-Glane after doing the museum in heels and feeling a little sole sore!

  • my heels lost one of the plastic pads that hides the metal and other mechanics the second last day – which makes tiled floors a little more perilous. ¬†I know the word for a ‘reheeler’ but I need to find one who can do it on the spot. ¬†Cause there’s no way I’m wearing flip flops in Paris!

Overall, I’m pretty content with what I packed. ¬†I picked items I love to wear, and didn’t get bored of them in the two weeks. ¬†I did need to do washing, and it can be a little annoying to get dry before moving again.

US Bucket list trip

This post takes a few points from my 2017 Bucket list and groups them together… Nothing’s booked yet, but it’s another way of gathering my thoughts and things that could be grouped together. I also drafted a post for a trip to Scandinavia (in case that also accidently posts!)

Travel experiences

8. Go to the super bowl | Minneapolis, US  (early Feb 2018)

via

10. Go to (the original) Mardi Gras| New Orleans USA (mid Feb) Рweekend prior to is February 9- 13 see site http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/mardi1.html

20. Take a SoulCycle Class

  • 111 West Wacker,¬†Chicago, IL 60601
  • 2549 Kirby Drive,¬†Houston, TX 77019
  • 12 in Los Angeles

General experiences

9. Build a bonfire and make S’mores

I feel like S’mores a summer tradition, but a fire in winter seems right to me!

Clermont Ferrard – Lyon – Paris

Golden light selfie

Today was the start of the journey home.  Once again, I stayed in a budget chain hotel (ACE) in Clermont Ferrard, which is located just off the major highway, but also had a cluster of chain restaurants nearby (and coupons in the foyer to get a reduction on the bill Рsomething I forgot the night previously).  I continue to get painfully full from delicious meals Рat this Pizza restraunt, I had a ginger cocktail followed by a square pizza with camembert, some sort of dried meat, bacon cubes, onion and potato.  Amazingly good.  Followed it by a tiramisu made with speculoos, which is a spiced biscuit from the Netherlands or Belgium which often accompanies a coffee.

First, one drinks

Then one has two cheeses with two meats in a square pizza

Then you go Italian with a Belgian twist for desert

I forgot to set an alarm, but naturally woke at 8.30am (well and also 1am and 6am, but… you know…). ¬†I enjoyed the 6E90 breakfast, almost identical to the day before – a large mug of hot chocolate, a yoghurt and two pastries. ¬†When in France, right? ¬†The buttery lightness of pain au chocolate and croissants is amazing when it’s done right! ¬†Then back in the car.

For this leg of the journey, I decided to try taking the toll roads (or paege). ¬†It cut a considerable amount of time from my journey (the GPS had been configured to remember ‘no tolls roads’ so it took some playing around to reverse that idea). ¬†The initial projections were a four hour travel time, which would have had me returning the hire car after the 13h15 agreed.

The toll roads are wonderful – still spectacular scenery, but foot down and that’s about it – no roundabouts. ¬†There’s at least two lanes everywhere, and three in areas where it’s hilly (so the trucks can take a slow lane). ¬† There’s also a collection of tunnels, which are impressive too. ¬†Overall, road rules and sensible driving abound. ¬†Everyone stays right unless overtaking. ¬†I’m not sure if it was forgetfulness or the rules, but many people leave the indicator ‘on’ whilst in the fast lane overtaking. ¬†Generally speaking, there was little predatory behaviour, like following closely, though one Ferrari driver had a moment that saw me give him eye contact to say “your impatience will not see me cut in front of a large truck until I deem it safe”.

Approach to a large tunnel!

There was horrendous congestion on the approach to Lyon, and I worked hard with first and second gear, and didn’t one stall! ¬†I did change lanes once or twice, and in hindsight, far right was the best (for the future turn, but also for traffic flows!). ¬†I also, unexpectedly had an additional toll for using the city’s ring road. I haven’t a CLUE what the cost was, and just merrily inserted my card. ¬†Devil may care… or… there’s really no backing out.

When bluetooth audio won’t work, and the 130kmh makes the ambient noise incredible, one keeps a podcast audible like this..

Once within Lyon ‘walls’, I had an easy enough drive, although the final turn was left, across two lanes of traffic, two tram lines, and then there were pedestrians crossing (or talking on their mobile and making me anxious whilst I straddled tram lines). ¬†In the end, dilly dallying mobile phone man was ignored, and I proceeded. Car back! Safely!

It was a few blocks in the baking sun to the train station, which seemed to have increased the armed military presence. ¬†I sat down for a little while to decompress after buying my ticket, and then grabbed some lunch (Starbucks… cause the French chain Paul had unbelievable lines). Then I boarded my train – not without a pushy women trying to cut the line in front of me, to realise.. wrong carriage. ¬†I did say excuse me in French, but she may not be French. ¬†Shame. ¬†Seriously, forming an orderly queue is something most in France and Germany can master… tourists too!

Free wifi on board (for multiple devices!)