Friday morning, 07.45 and we were excited to get back on the road again. We stayed for five days in Clermont-Ferrand and now we were headed to Lyon, 206 km east. This time we were prepared, we had 3 liters of water, 2 apples, 6 candy bars, 2 loaves of bread and 4 croissants. I had thrown away my winter jacket and a pair of pants the night before and now my bag felt much lighter. The trip started great, we got a ride from our new friend Sylvain from the center of the city to a gas station on the corner of Bd Etienne Clementel and Bd Edgar Quinet, only a couple of hundred meters from where we wanted to start hitchhiking. We said our goodbyes then walked to what we thought was a pretty good spot in the shade, took out our “Lyon” sign and began to hitchhike.
One hour passed, two hours…nothing. We must have looked pretty sad and desperate because an old lady from the apartment buildings behind us began yelling to us from her window and pointing up the road. We were able to figure out that she was trying to tell us that there was a better spot for us to stand just up the road and we believed her. It was easy to believe. After two hours of nothing, anywhere would be better. So we walked another 300 meters to a big round-a-bout where the cars were feeding into it from three different directions and immediately realized that she was right. If anyone was leaving Clermont-Ferrand, they would have to pass this way. We tried hitchhiking again and we waited. And waited. And waited. Our shade turned to sun and nobody was stopping. We kept seeing the same busses pass us, we began to recognize cars and people, it was not good. It was getting hot and we were getting exhausted and by 13.30 we needed a break. All the people in the cars were beginning to look like Robin Gibb, and we took that as a sign to that we needed to get out of the sun for a while.
We found some shade and collapsed. The grass was damp and cold and soft, like a waterbed. It must have been 20 degrees cooler there. I can’t describe how comfortable it was, we had to force ourselves to stay awake. We were starting to think we wouldn’t get out of there that day and I admit, I secretly began looking for places where we could camp for the night. Forty minutes later we forced ourselves up and walked the two meters back to the road and began hitchhiking again. After another hour, a car FINALLY stopped. We walked up to the car and talked with the driver, but he was headed to the south of France, and even though it made us a little sick to do it, we had to say no to the ride. The last thing we wanted was to go anywhere where it was HOTTER, Christ, it was only in the high 20’s now and we wanted to die. Living in Sweden will do that to you, anything over 24 degrees is too hot. So we waited another hour and then FINALLY at 15.11 we got our first ride! It was a from a local guy, he felt real bad for us when we told him how long we had been waiting and he said that he would take us to a better spot on the highway. He dropped us off just past the tollbooths next to a small rest area with a bathroom. Awesome. Hitchhiker’s heaven. Running water and a toilet made the thought of sleeping outside a lot more inviting.…Tollbooths are really the best places to get good rides, the cars pass through the tollbooths slowly and the drivers can see you while they are waiting to pay the toll and they have time to think about stopping, plus the highway widens at the tolls so there is plenty of room for the cars to pull over and pick you up….
So we filled our water bottles, relaxed for about 10 more minutes and then found a nice spot on the road where we could sit down in the shade and continued hitchhiking. Even though we had only travelled 15 minutes in almost 8 hours, and despite the fact that we could still SEE Clermont from where we were standing, we were in a great mood. We were on our way! During our long wait that morning, Thea and I decided that we had had enough of France and if we were offered ride into Switzerland or toward Germany we would take it and to hell with Lyon. While we were mentally preparing ourselves for a couple of days on the road, and only 30 minutes later, we got our next ride. This was the one we were waiting for. A super sweet girl on her way home to Saint-Étienne, 130 km away and about 70 km from Lyon, it was a perfect ride. Thea sat up front talking and asking questions and I sat in the back filming and enjoying the back seat.
We drove for over an hour and she said that she would drop us off at a good spot, (everybody tells you that they will drop you off at a good spot) a round-a-bout that led directly to the highway to Lyon. She dropped us off, Thea wrote our website address on the back of one of her postcards, gave it to her and then we said goodbye. (Hello Julie if you are reading this. Thanks again for the ride!) The time was just before 18.00. Unfortunately, the spot was not really ideal for hitchhiking. The round-a-bout had a lot of trees and bushes in the middle of it and the cars couldn’t see you until it was too late for them to stop and the road that led to the highway was too narrow for a car to stop on it without causing a major traffic jam or a minor accident, so we decided right away that we had to find another spot, and quick. We did NOT want to sleep outside where she had dropped us off, it was super creepy there. We were kind of IN the city and not in the nice part. We were in the part of the city where they like to build the highways, you know, the poor part. And so we walked 500 meters until we came to another highway entrance, it wasn’t much better but at least it had space for cars to pull over if for some strange reason they wanted to pick us up. We thought that we were going to be there a long time, and maybe we would even have to find a bus or a train to get us to Lyon or a cheap hotel for the night, but after only FIVE minutes of trying we got a our next ride! And all the way into Lyon, Thank You Jebus. I have no idea what the driver’s name was, I could only understand about 70% of what he was saying, but we did learn that he was geologist living in Lyon and working in Saint-Étienne. He dropped us off in the south part of Lyon near the aquarium.
We took a bus into the city, met up with our couchsurfing hosts, joined them for a barbeque party at their friend’s house, ate some great food and cheese, had some great conversations with some super nice people, and just had an all around super nice FRENCH evening. Then we went home, took a shower and fell asleep… You know, it’s funny to think that just 8 hours earlier, Thea was telling me that she thought that if we were to put our plastic tarp on the floor and snuggle up real close together, the women’s bathroom at the tollbooth would be a cozy place to spend the night…
Women are so gross.