Preface
Paris 12e
Saoû
Bellegarde-en-Forez
Buxières-les-Mines
Paris 6e
Epilogue
My sister Jocie with CS at a nearby restaurant: how good to have French wines on tap again!
Jocie and CS

There was to be no more flying Austrian for the Stringers: like all the other airlines we've be happy flying with, we could no longer afford it. CS spent a long time researching fares, and we ended up flying Gulf Air. So our stopover was in Bahrain, for fourteen hours! A pretty posh hotel room with large bath — into which I immediately plunged, for I adore having baths and the one here in our flat isn't deep enough to even cover me — was all well and good, but you can't possibly do ANYTHING in Bahrain in fourteen hours. Still, I'm not sure what you could do there in a week, to be honest...

The less said about Bahrain's Marama Airport the better, really. See? — I'm not saying anything!

And then we were in Paris (location map for anyone interested), where we'd booked an overnight room in a hotel across the road from the Gare de Lyon; for that's where we were leaving from, early the next morning: let that last link load and you'll see the facade of the hotel, panning across to show how very, very close is the station! It wasn't nearly as nice as its Website told us it was, the Hôtel Terminus Lyon — surpriiise! Not. We walked looking for a Crédit Lyonnais to get cash (after a very yummy lunch shouted us by one of my sisters, coincidentally in Paris at that time), but the deal had changed, alas! Whereas eighteen months previously we'd been able to use our debit card with ease, this time it was not accepted. We were going to have to get on-line to transfer some funds: as it was already Friday afternoon, things didn't look too promising in the short term.

That night in the hotel room — not of 3-star quality, but in the vicinity of 1½, and that's being generous — CS had to put my travelling bed together for the first time, poor bastard! My back was by then pretty dodgy, with various unspeakable things going on amongst different vertebræ; he'd had to build — and transport, and it was not light — a portable... ahh... thing that enabled me to actually sleep in a bed (prior to his efforts with a fixed version at home, I'd been sleeping in a recliner chair!), and it took a bit of setting up. An absolute bummer for a single night's stay.   :-(

Then we were kept awake for hours and hours and hours by people partying across the hideous 'courtyard' gap around which the building was wrapped: in the end we watched a silent movie: it was good seeing a movie in a non-anglophonic country with all the same advantages as had anyone else who might be watching it! — but a shame the soundtrack couldn't drown out the neighbours. Breakfast was ghastly.

'Nuff said about the 12e, yes? After all, it's not that part of Paris you'd voluntarily stay in without having a really, really good reason: ours was simply to abbreviate to whatever degree was possible the time/effort needed to get us to the Gare de Lyon at a fairly early hour on a Saturday morning.

It worked, more or less; but we had to pay a gormless bloke a fair bit of cash to help carry our luggage across to the station, next morning — and possibly more importantly, had to organise it with him in advance, to the nth detail; for he was not a person to whom being organised came easily... But in the end there we were, ensconced on the train in a virtually empty carriage. Not being aware when we boarded that it was going to be thus, we ousted from our booked seats a couple — the only ones in the carriage at the time — and then had to feel embarrassed about having done so when the train pulled out without another person's having got on! They let us know by their expressions what they thought of us...