The Realities of Traveling in Your 30s vs. Your 20s
Two weekends ago I traveled to Lyon to meet up with my BFF/cousin Sharde who's been participating in a culinary program just outside of the city. For the four-day-weekend, we planned to tour, drink lots of French wine, dine out, catch up on girl chat, drink lots of French wine, oh and drink lots of French wine.
I was really excited for the trip because this was only my second girl's trip since I got married in 2013, aside from my good friend's Stephanie's hen weekend in Marbella, Spain (hen is British for bachelorette) with 9 other women. I stayed up the night before because I had to be at London Heathrow at 5:30 am to make my 6:30 am flight to Lyon. Ok, truthfully I ALWAYS stay up all night on the night before any flight, to pack, clean and put all my affairs in order before making the trip. I also like to be good and tired when I get on a flight too. Since I was traveling alone, there was plenty of things to be done, including cooking enough food to last my husband throughout the weekend.
I arrived in Lyon around 8:30 am (France is 1hr ahead of the UK), and hotel check-in wasn't until 3 pm. Sharde would be meeting me at the hotel after her classes around 5 pm. So I had time to kill. First thing first, scope the tiny airport for duty-free wine. Fail! Second, uber was too expensive (37-46 euros- no way!), and again I had time, so I had breakfast and mapped out a commuter route. The best thing about living in Europe is that you can always count on a mass transit to get you directly from the airport. I took an express train from the airport to the center of the Lyon city (22 mins) followed by a 10-minute tram ( more like an electric bus conveyed by overhead cables except there were no tracks) to the Marriott hotel which was 5 minutes walk away from the tram stop. I arrived by noon, did early check-in, texted Sharde the room number, and fell into a deep trance-sleep. I was awakened hours later by the front desk, Sharde with bottles of wine in hand (YES!!!) and room service with a bucket of ice. The girl's weekend had officially begun!
Lyon was beautiful! Even though the city is rich in history, foreign tourism is to a minimal compared to a city like Paris. The people are MUCH nicer than other Parisians and spoke English without snorting. The locals weren't used to having many Americans visit so we were often approached with the curious conversation about origins of our English accents. The city was easy to maneuver on foot and by public transport. One of the most astonishing sites in Lyon and that I have ever seen is the Jardin zoologique de Lyon, a large park that includes a botanical garden and zoo. Founded in 1858, the zoo has 300 animals from 66 species. Animals include giraffes, zebras, and other exotic animals. The animals aren't in cages but rather fixated in a "natural habitat" setting. But the best and most amazing part of it all is that the zoo and the entire park is open all-year-round to the public for FREE. We were lucky enough that our hotel was surrounded by the park.
Now in our 30s, we spent the weekend touring during the days (a total of 23 miles on foot alone). Our evenings were spent having dinner, one night of shisha, and two nights in our hotel room drinking, eating carry-out, and yes watching Netflix. No selfies, tight dresses, make-up, and high heels. We even scheduled time for mass on Sunday morning in the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral (there's one in Lyon too). The mass, of course, was in French but the best thing about Catholic service is that it's universal (the literal meaning of the word Catholic) and we could follow the Gospel and readings on an app.
During our 20s trips like this would include long nights at the club and full days hungover and sleeping in. Don't get me wrong, those days were great and left us with many fond memories (and on occasions, still fun), but times have certainly changed. We enjoyed this weekend together just as much as any of those getaways in our 20s. It's just a different kinda fun. A fun you can only appreciate once you've lived out your 20s and can appreciate the times of your 30s.