Published on : 06/03/2015

First Impressions of Lyon and the MS Van Gogh

If I were to make a list of things that warm my heart, I think the kindness of strangers would be at the very top.

I was reminded of this fact today as I eagerly awaited the arrival of my luggage at the Lyon Airport. Like many travellers, one of my biggest fears of flying is the potential that my bags will be lost! For this reason, I'm always on edge at baggage claim, thinking 'worst case scenario' until the very last second. After an agonizing bit of paranoid waiting, my suitcase was the last to arrive, after every other bag had already made its way down. My relief was shortlived though, because just seconds after it was dropped, the entire conveyer belt screeched to a stop. This left my suitcase stranded and out of reach! Like a petrified little girl, I stared at my bag, not knowing what to do. Luckily, it wasn’t long before a young man from my flight heroically leaped onto the belt and began delivering the last few bags over to me and the other remaining passengers. As he handed me my suitcase, he beamed and told me “Welcome to Lyon!”

Thank you, random man from my flight!

This moment of kindness paved the way for an amazing first day in this new city. Because of my early morning flight, I found myself with several hours of free time before boarding my third river cruise, the MS Van Gogh. Naturally, this meant that I would aimlessly wander off with no plan!  

Lyon is an absolutely beautiful city, with gorgeous deep green water running through its rivers and picturesque buildings coloured in orange, red and yellow. My few hours of exploration took me to hilltop Basilicas, gorgeous squares and even an incredible park, the Parc de la Tête d’Or where I found a free zoo! Spending my afternoon among flamingos, monkeys and giraffes? This city sure knows the way to my heart.

At around 3pm, we boarded and started cruising shortly after that. This trip is the shortest one on my itinerary, and will only last two nights. While this brevity will give me a small taste of the Rhône’s beauty, I really do wish I had more time on this river! Many passengers of my other cruises have told me that the Rhône is their favourite to cruise, due to its ever-changing scenery. I’ve only been cruising for a few hours, but I’m inclined to agree! The chalkboard green colour of the water is gorgeous, and every couple of seconds, we seem to pass some kind of picture-perfect scene.  

My floating home for the next three days is the MS Van Gogh, part of the CroisiEurope fleet since 1999. One step inside and you’ll quickly understand the reason behind its name. The interior is decked out in a ‘Starry night’-esque colour palette, with dark blue and gold furnishings, while many prints of Van Gogh’s work adorn the boat’s walls.

Instantly, as I walked in, I felt welcome. The crew on this ship is so unbelievably nice, and most importantly, they seem to genuinely enjoy their work. Always smiling and laughing, their positive energy is contagious. Today, during the crew welcome, I witnessed a lifejacket demonstration awkwardly set to the main song from Titanic. It was hilarious, and gave me a real look at the humour of this crew. I’m going to be happy here, for sure!

Tomorrow, we’ll be exploring the medieval city of Avignon, known for its gothic architecture and of course, the Palace of the Popes. I’ll have more photos and stories for you soon!

- Christina

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