“I’m afraid we don’t issue refunds on the Lyon cards,” says Eloise in Tourist Information.
Well, I’m not actually wanting a refund. But could you get the card cancelled so that she can’t use it? Or – even better- so that, if she tries to use it, the card explodes and covers her with indelible blue ink which, as it drips down her treacherous skin, tattoos her with the phrase “I am a thief.”
OK, I don’t say the last bit. But I think it really loudly.
“Let me just phone my manager,” says Eloise. “Would you like to sit down?” Oh yes please. I would like that very much as, at the moment, I am Jellywoman.
So, as we wait for Eloise to get through, and then have a long conversation with her manager which outstrips my school girl French, I’ll get you up to speed.
Yesterday, when our Airbnb host came over to try and sort out the flooded bathroom, we asked if he knew where the Tourist Information Centre might be. No, he didn’t. And neither, in fact, did he know how to mend the boiler which was only put in a couple of weeks ago. He’s sending for Madame Plug, the mending of foreign boilers being so outside my pay-grade.
So this morning, after bracing cold showers, we set off to try and find Tourist Information. We don’t actually have a map of Lyon as we’re banking on getting some freebies from Tourist Information. But in order to get to Tourist Information, we need a map. I’m using Google Maps but when I search for Tourist Information, there are many, many little red markers and we can’t figure out which is the main one. In the end, our cunning plan is to aim for the cathedral and hope there will be signs en route.
It takes a couple of hours for us to wend our way to the the middle of the city: Lyon is at the confluence of two rivers, the Rhōne and the Saône, and is a melée of ancient bridges and alleys together with modern flyovers and underpasses. It’s not an intuitive layout, having grown organically over a couple of thousand years.
By the time we find Tourist Information, it’s lunchtime, so, naturellement, it’s closed for lunch.
We return a couple of hours later and are helped by the lovely Eloise who gives us two free maps and talks through our interests. We end up buying a couple of Lyon cards, which cover four days of travel, admissions to museums and galleries, a walking tour and a river boat tour. I tuck my card safely into my red purse, check CityMapper for the best way back to the digs and, allons-y, we head for the bus stop.
If the number 9 bus hadn’t been cancelled for the next couple of hours due to some sort of travaux, then we wouldn’t have gone to the metro station.
If I’d told the helpful young girl more firmly that really, I was fine with the ticket machine, then maybe – just maybe – my purse wouldn’t have been nicked.
It’s less than a minute between me zipping my purse into my rucksack and us arriving at the platform. In that time, someone half-inches said purse without either ActorLaddie or I noticing. Because at the platform, I look for the purse to tuck away my metro ticket and there it is, disparu.
My rucksack has a number of zipped compartment, so it takes a minute to realise that no, the purse is really and truly in none of them. ActorLaddie sprints back to the ticket machine and checks the bins. Rien de tout. Oh merde.
“I’ll have to cancel my cards,” I say to ActorLaddie, and reach for my phone. At that very instant, a text comes through from Lloyds saying that someone has attempted to withdraw £448.17 using my credit card and can I confirm that this was me by texting YES or NO. I text NO and almost immediately my phone rings.
I know it’s the thing to moan about bankers but honestly, the chap from Lloyds is bloody brilliant. He immediately cancels both my cards, sorts out the genuine payments from the fraudulent, makes sure that we we’re ok for money for the holiday and is kind and reassuring.
We’re assuming that the young girl who asked if I needed help was by way of being a distraction, which makes me feel like a prize idiote.
Anyway, apart from a bit of cash and my driver’s licence, the only other thing of value in the purse is the Lyon card, waiting for its first outing on Monday. So we hare back to the Tourist Bureau. Eloise is still there and – oh, hold on, she’s just finished the phone call.
Her manager has agreed to cancel my card (though not the bit about indelible ink). They’re giving me a replacement. They are wonderful people.
Heading for the bus-stop, we can’t resist having a quick look in the Metro station to see if our Dodgère Artfule is still there. I’m intending to splash a photograph of her over Twitter. ActorLaddie is planning to tut really loudly. But there’s no one there who looks like her. Of course, she may be in disguise – but there ain’t no way to hide those Lyon eyes, n’est pas?
There is a book in this, if that’s any consolation, lots of luck, for the rest of you holiday