My First Solo Travel Experience – Lyon

If you read part 1 of my first solo travel, you’ll know how much I loved Brussels – I could not have wished for a better start of my travels. I met some incredible people and explored beautiful places. Next stop is Lyon. So, can it by anywhere as good?

My First Solo Travel Experience – Lyon

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The Journey

After searching online for a while to find a way of getting to Lyon from Brussels, I decided on the cheapest option, which might have not been the best idea.

I booked two coaches – the departure from Brussels was at 1am to Paris, where I arrived at about 5:30 am. I then had to catch a metro to the other side of the centre to get the second coach. But there were two slight complications..

When we arrived in Paris, it was still pitch black outside. Looking at a screenshot of my map, I confidently walked around the building to enter the station – only to find out that every door was still closed. Looking back at my map, I noticed another entry to the metro slightly further out, of course with my poor navigation skills I got completely lost.

I forgot to mention that I’m not a big fan of Paris, of course I like the nice parts known to everyone but as a solo female I wouldn’t feel comfortable especially on the outskirts. So being lost at night, somewhere in the city got me experiencing the first feeling of slight panic so far, not knowing what to do I took my phone out and started snapchatting, naturally..

Not that I had internet connection or anything, but I saved it for later and I’m glad I did so we can all have a bit of a laugh now :). I finally saw the metro entrance only to find out it’s still shut, so I sat down and waited, completely on my own. After a little while more people started turning up as I relaxed slightly, that’s when my stomach went crazy – remembering how absolutely starving I was. I might have forgotten to bring any kind of food due to having the best time in Brussels before departure.

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The door finally opened and we all rushed to the station, worried if I’ll make the coach now with only an hour left I quickly walked to the ticket machine to get a ticket – none of the machines were working properly.. are you kidding me? I walked over to the ticket office only to get told off by the guy for interrupting his breakfast – clearly I should have seen that he hasn’t started work yet.. and the locals gave no interest when the confused tourist begged them to help.

After going through all kinds of moods: calm, irritated, worried, angry, panicky, upset, worried, angry, you get the idea.. I even though of jumping the gates – I decided to give it another go and very calmly approached the machine once more. Slowly and slowly and.. just as I felt like giving up – IT WORKED. I’m not even kidding you.

I finally made it for the coach. In 6 hours I will be in Lyon! (still with no food)

I haven’t planned to visit Lyon till the day before.. walking towards the hostel, I instantly liked it. Beautiful architecture, lot’s of greenery, beautiful square, an endless amount of shops and cafes..  Oh and every single female looking absolutely stunning from head to toe.. not ideal when you’ve been in the same clothes for nearly 48 hours.

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Accommodation

Counter Culture Hostel
€24.00 (about £18) a night

As soon as I walked in, it was obvious that this was is a party hostel – loads of laughter, people chilling in the reception area and planning their night already. They gave me a warm welcome and one of the guys checked me in. This must be the most casual place I have ever stayed at. I’ve also been told about:

The Happy Hour 8pm-9pm = all females get free drinks. Yup, guys go buy your own.

Before I even dropped my backpack, I was introduced to the people in the common area aka the reception/small room and got asked if I want to join them to go up to the Fourviere Hill – knowing absolutely nothing about it, I accepted. I left my backpack, took a quick shower and joined the others to explore Lyon.

Tip: The entry to the hostel is the big door next to the ice-cream place – no sign and looks like an entry to normal apartments. I walked up and down the street for a while before I finally asked someone.

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About the hostel

For how chilled out it was, the cleanness was a nice surprise. Don’t expect anything great as it’s a very standard and basic hostel with a small kitchen and not very modern at all, however the location is great. At the time this was only one of the two hostels in Lyon, however it seems like two more now have been recently added. I would definitely recommend it, but only if you like a good party vibe (don’t expect to get much sleep).

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Exploring the city

First stop was the Fourviere Hill and to get there we had to go through the old town – not to my surprise, it was stunning. All I could think about was how long I could easily spend there wandering around aimlessly.

We then went up the never ending steps and up the hill to get to the top of Fourviere.
Looking down at the fascinating views of Lyon hypnotised us for a short while until our stomachs interrupted the perfect moment. We explored the beautiful Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and made our way back to the hostel.

I generally don’t remember having any food since my coach journey so you can only imagine how absolutely starving I was. 

I will write a full guide to Lyon very soon

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Enjoying Lyon at Night

So turns out that the ‘girl only’ happy house wasn’t a joke, I did however buy some cheap rose earlier on – in the cutest bottle (I’m a sucker for packaging..) in case the guy doing the check in was messing with me slightly. Turned out he wasn’t but the rose was generally the nicest and most delicious wine I have ever tasted.

If you want to try good wine – do it in Lyon. The place is surrounded by beautiful vineyards.

We then went out exploring the city at night, drinking and laughing – I though to myself that unlike my worries before I left for this little adventure, I haven’t been lonely at all so far other than the coach journeys.

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One More Day

I wasn’t sure what my next stop will be and when, I knew I had to get to Italy pretty soon in order to explore my main destination of this solo adventure – Cinque Terre. I spent a good couple of hours trying to figure out my next move. This is something that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone travelling around Europe during high season – try to plan your travels a little bit in advance, even if only a couple of days before if you have a set time frame, so you don’t end up wasting a lot of time.

If you’re not in the rush though – forget planning and go with the flow!

After finally booking a coach to Italy, I met up with the girls and went to explore this charming city that actually felt more like a town. We chilled by the river and that’s when I realised – I am doing this.

I am travelling solo and loving it.

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Exploring Solo

The girls went back to grab some food and I decided to go back to the old town and explore more of it while I can. Vieux Lyon is the historic part of the city and is a must see, the cobbled streets, the old stunning and colourful buildings plus an endless amount of eateries and cute little shops – I could wander around there for days.

I ended up in a less touristy part of town which got quite rough, realising how much more I am standing out compared to just a few minutes ago. I started noticing a few stares and felt slightly uncomfortable, so I turned back and walked towards the river to grab some food.

Baguette and 2 different types of cheeses – freaking delicious.

The weather was incredible so l decided to relax by the river and breathe in the beauty of the surroundings. I wanted to see what it feels like being in my company only and if I can actually do this.

Feeling strange at first, it started to feel real nice. But after a little bit a man twice my age approached me to ask if I want to spend some time with him (from what I understood), then another one sat next to me. I finally saw what people mean about female solo travel not being ideal in the South of France. Of course it didn’t help that I was only just getting used to it, which probably made it twice as bad.

I did however hear quite a few stories that made me change my plans and I decided to go straight to Italy instead of exploring Nice and Marseille.

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The Goodbyes

When I came back to the hostel, I could barely recognise any faces – so this is what it feels like to be in a hostel for couple of days – people come and go, you make friends and the next day you end up having to say goodbye already. But I loved being able to hear so many different and interesting stories, talking to people that I wouldn’t have met back at home.

As my coach to Italy was at midnight, I was lucky to join yet another happy hour – winnings.

After more laughter and chats, I grabbed my backpack and made my way to the coach station.
Lyon at night is beautiful!

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Yet another Confusing Journey

Getting to the coach station was super easy. However finding the coach – not so much.
With the poor signage and barely any people, whenever I asked anyone for directions – I received different answers. So overall it took me nearly an hour to find my way, but I made it and I was ready for my next the next part of the journey. After taking two buses and two trains – I will be in the stunning..

Cinque Terre <3 

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Overall Experience

Lyon is stunning, and I met some great people.
I don’t think it could match Brussels and the crazy amount of fun I had with Laura and the others but both times will stay with me for a long time! So far, I loved every part of my travels – even the slightly scary times.

Let the next adventure begin..

Italia!

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Tune in next week for more of my Solo Adventures! :)

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  • When you were in old Town by yourself and you said you ended up in a less touristy part that was a bit rough, what area was that? (if you happen to remember). Are there any other areas you would recommend staying away from as a single female traveller?

    • Hello Kelsey!
      I don’t remember exactly where it was, but it was just outside of the Vieux Lyon area. But don’t worry too much about it, when you come across one and don’t feel comfortable – just go back where you came from straight away! 🙂
      In general, as a single female traveller (especially in France) I wouldn’t walk around at night by myself unless you have to – then choose the most lively streets 🙂 xx