So, the buggers at WordPress have run out of storage (OK, I’ve used up all the storage I get on my free account because I like pictures. All the pictiures) and now people are talking to me about self hosting and it seems like something I should do for my blog to continue.
I have to be honest in that I don’t really understand it (even though I’ve worked in IT for many years! But I’m a wordsmith, not a technical person). I mean I kind of get it but only conceptually.
And it costs money! For something I can’t eat or wear!
Anyways, it’s all very exciting and nerve wracking (I don’t know why, it just is) so I’m looking into it and finding out more.
I’ve been recommended both BlueHost and NameCheap.
I also have a friend who says he can help me to host it on his server.
When choosing a hotel stay for a city break, I like to get the right balance between location, quality and price. The Kyriad Gare Perrache ticked all of those boxes.
Located just a couple of minutes walk from Perrache station, the transport links were second to none. With Metro and tram stops, and an overland railway there was nowhere that wasn’t easily reachable. Also it was just a short walk to Place Bellecour for the city tour bus and walkable to the old town across the river bridge. Location box ticked.
All the reviews I read on TripAdvisor commented on the friendliness of service, the modern styling and the cleanliness. I emailed the reception with a couple of questions before we arrived, which they answered quickly and helpfully. Check in was quick and seamless, in a really cool and funky brightly decorated reception.
The rooms were well laid out, with The. Most. Comfortable beds and pillows, plenty of plug sockets, well lit mirrors (and a full length one too, amazing how many hotels forget that) and a great shower (one of the first measures of any hotel stay).
The rooms were serviced daily with clean towels, renewed coffee, tea and biscuits and everything was immaculately clean. Points lost for the tiny size of the lift (the three of us and our luggage wouldn’t fit, we had to make two journeys) but that’s not the end of the world.
The hotel had a great bar which played contemporary and traditional jazz and again was decorated in a very modern style. Drinks were VERY expensive, but that’s hotel bars for you! We didn’t eat in the restaurant but the food looked really good. Check out the funky piano!
Quality – box ticked.
Finally, the price. I mooched around to get the best deal, settling on Hotels.com and taking advantage of cashback via Quidco. The hotel website price was around 100 euros per night, but I booked it for about £50 per night. I found it cheaper to book a 2 night and 1night separate stay than all 3 nights together (I then just emailed the hotel to ask if I could stay in the same room for the duration of the two stays, which wasn’t a problem). You can read my top tips for booking a bargain trip here.
Price – box ticked!
Booking a hotel is always a risky process, even if you’re only on a short break and will just be using it as a base, because staples like a good shower and comfortable bed are important. But I was thrilled with this hotel and would definitely recommend it.
One of the great things I find about French cities is how well connected they are, and how cheap the public transport is. So it made complete sense for us to take advantage of that and plan a daytrip outside of Lyon.
Annecy is a pretty town very near to the Swiss border, in the Alps. The old town has lots of coloured buildings and a river running through it. It’s sometimes referred to as the Venice of the Alps. I’ve seen pictures of it and read about it in the past and, although it’s a 2 hour train journey, the tickets only cost us about £45 return which was well worth it.
If you follow me on instagram you’ll have already seen a lot of these photos, as I was very taken with the place!
Lake Annecy is the biggest lake in Europe, and surrounded by pretty lakeside towns and mountains. We went on a boat trip.
There are flowers everywhere in the town and on the bridges across the river.
This is tartiflette – a speciality of the region. A gratin of potatoes, onions and bacon lardons smothered in baked reblochon cheese. It was pretty spectacular!
We had a beautiful day in the sunshine, breathing in the mountain air and enjoying life, before getting the train back to Lyon in time for dinner!
Lyon is the third biggest city in France, after Paris and Marseilles, according to the commentary on our bus tour of the city. The open top bus, where everyone was crammed downstairs because the weather was so bloody awful…
Thank goodness for overpacking. As I mentioned in my previous post the weather forecast for the first two days was cold and rainy, followed by warmer temperatures and sunshine for the next two. There’s always the hope that the forecasters have got it wrong, and in fact they had, it was colder than suggested!
Our first stop was the Basilica de Notre Dame, situated high on Fourviere Hill on the old town side of the River Saone. We took the (impressively clean and organised) Metro and then the funicular railway to the top of the hill. The Basilica was built between 1872 and 1884 and is one of the most breathtaking churches I’ve ever been in – from sheer scale through to attention to detail.
Inside was mind blowing.
I spent so long looking at the mosaics – each one must have been 3 metres long and was made entirely out of tiny half centimetre squares. The dedication and attention to detail is hard to comprehend.
On a good day you can see Mont Blanc from Fourviere Hill. On a cold, rainy, windy, 6 degree day, you can’t!
Vieux Lyon, old town, is a maze of cobbled streets and little squares with restaurants and traditional Lyonnais bouchons – tiny eateries serving rustic cuisine from the region. It was very pretty, but hampered by the weather even though we struggled on in the face of adversity!
You can get a perspective of how high the Basilica rises above the city from this picture.
Parc de la Tête d’Or covers 290 acres. It’s huge! I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a multi faceted park in my life, and we spent 2 hours just wandering around.
It has a lake where people can boat in summertime, a beautiful fountain surrounded by flowers, and there’s a big velodrome in the grounds too!
There’s a small deer park, which randomly also has some ostriches?!
A zoo with flamingos, a giraffe (who we didn’t see, unfortunately), lions (who wouldn’t stand up for a photo!), a variety of monkies who I couldn’t photograph through glass, buffalo, toucans and tortoises! An eclectic mix!
The park is famous for it’s rose gardens, although we were slightly too early as they weren’t fully in flower. I can only imagine what a riot of colour there is in high season.
And the Botanical Gardens which, although not my thing (too claustrophobic) were very impressive.
There you have it, an overview of our time in Lyon! We didn’t mange to see everything we’d have liked because of the weather, the fact that 1st May is Labour Day and there is no public transport running (WHAT???!!! I didn’t know that when I booked!) and also my Mother-in-Law, who was our travelling companion, isn’t at 100% health right now so we were tourist dawdlers rather than striding out all over the place and walking miles like we usually do.
Special mention, before I finish, to my first time of eating snails! Which I enjoyed so much I had them a second time too! They’re fiddly to get out of the shells and not very filling, but they were so tasty and enjoyable. A similar texture to mussels, they were cooked in garlic butter and I loved them.
Tomorrow I’ll share some pictures from our daytrip to Annecy, in the Alps.
Wowsers, another first of the month. Where is the year going?!
Continuing my series, and as I’m currently in Lyon, I thought I would talk about my first city break abroad.
I’ve been holidaying overseas since I was a little kid, and the excitement of those 2 weeks a year in a big hotel in the sun was always immense. But as I got older travel started to become more accessible, with low cost airlines and the internet opening up all sorts of possibilities that would previously have been much more expensive and complicated.
The first city break I ever went on (by which my definition is not a holiday with the purpose of sunbathing!) was to Prague. It was also the first holiday that the husband and I ever went on where it was just the two of us. We travelled at the end of November on a cheap as chips flight. I remember vividly when the flight landed, at around 8pm, that there was a light dusting of snow on the ground, which I was so excited by!
We stayed in an apartment on the top floor of a stunningly ornate old building which had an aged charm and an eccentric owner. The small terrace was too cold to sit out on, but you could see the beautiful roofs and domes of the city, all glistening in the cold frosty air.
After dropping our bags we went straight out to have a look around and get some food. Our apartment was 5 minutes walk from Old Square which was buzzing with people, despite the cold. Restaurants had outdoor seating with patio heaters, and people were eating and drinking al fresco bathed in the lights of the square and the bars.
We fell in love with it instantly.
Over the next 4 days we wandered around the city, visited cathedrals, crossed Charles Bridge many many times, drank cheap beer, went on the funicular railway, cried at the Jewish war museum and cemetery, marvelled at synagogues, did a bit of shopping, ate hearty winter food, drank absinthe in an underground bar and went to a sex museum!
But, best of all, was on our last day. I was really upset to see that the Christmas market was being set up in old square but wasn’t yet open. As a firm Christmas fan, I was bereft that we hadn’t planned better.
And then, on our last night, the Christmas tree was lit and the market opened! I was beside myself (and very vocal!) It was the best end to a stunning break I could have asked for.
It was bloody freezing (as you’d expect) but we’d planned accordingly and wrapped up in multiple layers, hats, gloves and scarves. I’ve always thought of Prague as a winter city anyway so wearing chunky boots and a furry russian hat epitomised what I had anticipated in my mind.
Prague is an absolutely amazing city and I would love to go back, perhaps at a different time of year. I’d avoid summer due to the unfortunate proliferation of stag parties looking for cheap booze but I think springtime would be very beautiful.
I can honestly say that trip opened my eyes in terms of short breaks and seeing a different side of the world, and we haven’t looked back since.
Have you been to Prague? Do you love city breaks? Let me know!