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Day 4: Leaving Lyon

After breakfast, we boarded coaches for the centre of Lyon, France. We enjoyed a guided tour of this fascinating city, with a wealth of Renaissance buildings, rich churches and one of Europe’s most splendid town squares. During lunch back on board, we began our cruise upstream toward Beaune on the Saone where we caught our first glimpse of the Beaujolais hills and passed through picturesque villages in one of the world’s most famous wine-producing regions. The wine drinkers on board are enjoying special pairings with each meal and they say it is delicious. I stick to Coke Light. We have gone through three locks so far and they are interesting to watch.

Photos are not uploading so I’m giving up and calling it a night!

Lyon

We walked to the mooring point at noon today, about a mile along the Rhône. The weather was perfect and we were in no hurry so strolled along at leisure. We were able to drop our luggage off and continue our journey to find lunch (French onion soup!) and shop a bit. Our river boat is the MS William Shakespeare (Riviera River Cruises) and it was built in 2014. The ship holds 140 passengers and a crew of 35. It makes for an intimate cruise, which is refreshing since I have only been on ocean cruises with 3000+ passengers. Our cabin is a French Balcony which means we have a large sliding door and panoramic view. It’s truly lovely! The crew are friendly and eager to please. This is the first cruise of this itinerary for the 2019 season and I am proud to be experiencing it, along with my dear friend, Sharon. Tomorrow we enjoy a walking tour of Lyon before we depart in the afternoon and head south. (And no, I didn’t purchase a single macaroon, but they were so beautiful they had to be photographed!)

(Internet is spotty with so many people trying to access it tonight, but hopefully a few photos will upload.)

Hey Wanna Go…to France?

Day 1-2: Albuquerque to Lyon

Uneventful travel days, thankfully! I flew Albuquerque – Chicago – Munich – Lyon. I had two seats together for the long haul and was able to stretch out and get some decent sleep. This was my first time flying Lufthansa and it was a nice experience. I arrived in Lyon and took the pre-arranged private transfer to the hotel (about a 20-25 minute ride) where my friend, Sharon, had arrived a couple of hours earlier. Tomorrow late afternoon we board the MS William Shakespeare for our 7 night cruise down the Rhone River. We can’t wait!

A few random pix taken from my flight into Lyon…plus my latest Hey Wanna Go swag of a stainless steel water bottle that kept my lemon water cold AND did not leak!

My travel planning often sends clients (and myself!) to distant European locations: England, Ireland, France, Italy. Other times they head west to the sunny beaches of Hawaii, or the exotic Far East.

As exciting as these experiences are, my most recent travels took me to my home state of Texas. While growing up in Dallas, our family owned a ranch in the Hill Country (Kerrville) where we visited multiple times a year, and where my father took groups to hunt each fall. A year ago, I located the current ranch owners and asked if my three siblings and I could take our father on a weekend trip to re-visit the ranch we had not seen since 1976. The generous new owner, Al W., asked if we would like to stay AT the ranch, in our old house (140~ years old). Such an unexpected treat! “YESSIR!”

The night before our trek, my siblings, father and I congregated in West Texas where our mother graciously hosted a family dinner for us and our father (divorced in 1979, both remarried). An unexpected last minute invitation was extended to Mom and 10 hours later, parents and four kids (we lost my older brother in 1983) were road tripping for the first time in 40 years. Thankfully we were spared traveling in the green station wagon that made the last trek 😂.

No trip to Texas would be complete without an excess of BBQ and we enjoyed a meal at Bill’s BBQ in Kerrville. A last minute message to a Dallas neighbor from the 60-70’s, and soon after, in burst a smiling face with hugs all around.

An hour later, our family stepped inside “our” ranch house and we were each transported back to the simpler days of our youth. The dining room had surely been much larger 40 years ago. A shower had been installed over the tub where our mother hand washed hundreds of diapers, central heat and air added, a new stove, but this was most definitely still our beloved ranch where many of our favorite childhood memories were created.

As kids, we were allowed to have adventures, explore hidden creeks and drink the best tasting water in the world, shoot guns, collect Apache arrowheads left behind by the original ranch owners, catch armadillos, fish under 100~ year old Cypress trees, ride our propane tank ‘horse’, skinny dip in snake-infested waters, feed deer, play with crawdads, pick pecans and apples from the trees our dad planted. We learned where meat came from and ate fresh venison, elk, catfish, bass. We named live guinea hens, only to learn that they would be our dinner that night (and watched the whole process). We got to grow up in the glorious days before technology took over and chained the world to electronics.

Our ranch arrival day gave time to explore, BBQ ribeye steaks to a perfect medium rare, eat family-recipe brownies, share stories until late in the evening, and laugh until we had tears streaming down our cheeks. We all dearly love our ‘grown up families’, but there is something about the original family unit and old memories that nobody else understands.

The original Hudgins gang ❤️

Me and my dad in front of the dam

Me in front of one of the ancient Cypress trees

Doe in a field near the house

Texas fire pit

I will continue sending clients to marvel at the Crown Jewels and cross Abbey Road in London, cruise to Alaska, and take sushi-making classes in Tokyo, but for me, this trip is going down in the books as one of my own personal favorite travel adventures.

Belfast

Today we had our first full coach day and headed north to Belfast, where the Titanic was built. Our group is a nice size – 24, plus tour host (Paul) and coach driver (Gary). Most people on the tour are in their 50’s, with one couple being 40’s, and another perhaps early 60’s. We have a quite large bus, so each person can have their own seat, if desired.

We visited Downpatrick and St Patrick’s grave, Titanic Museum (a must for those interested in ship building or Titanic), and enjoyed an interesting city tour.

In Belfast, a nearby pub, The Crown Pub, was recommended and its ambiance did not disappoint. Little “snugs” held 6+ people for private dining and 4 of us enjoyed our lunch and an assortment of hard cider or Guinness.

The scenery is beautiful – rolling hills, sheep with colored markings to identify who they belong to, crocus blooms popping up in the grass. It is quite cold and locals say a cold front is coming through this weekend. Tonight we are at the Jury’s Inn in downtown Belfast. Although it is considered budget, it is newly refurbished, modern, clean, comfortable, and a perfect location. Around the corner is The Europa and I was able to have a spur of the moment site inspection and check out a few rooms. Very nice and I look forward to sending clients there in the coming months!