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Trip Report Relaxing on the Rhone - a river cruise virgin's trip report.

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Cruising, let alone river cruising, was never on my agenda until a couple of months ago when an old friend asked me to join her for 8 days on the Rhone, cruising between Lyon and Avignon. The original plan had been for my friend and her DH to go with an old university friend of his and his DW but her DH's chronic illness meant that he was too unwell to travel, so rather than cancel the whole trip she decided to invite me instead. Of course I had to think it over very carefully and 30 minutes after receiving her e-mail I was on the phone saying "yes"!

It took a couple of weeks to sort out the name change and other formalities with Riviera, [the tour company organising the cruise] but after that the only thing to do was to sit back and wait for the date to arrive, which it duly did, and the morning of May 16th saw me on the early flight from Newquay [in Cornwall] to Gatwick. There I picked up the train to St Pancras where we were going to meet before joining the Eurostar to Lille where we would change onto the TGV. My GF and I managed to spot each other through the crowds waiting to check in, and all was plain sailing until our travelling companions turned up or rather, the wife, C, did. She was very upset because the husband, V, had left his laptop bag on the tube train they had been on, and they had not discovered this until they got to St Pancras, so he had had to go back to Bakerloo to try to find it. And his passport and mobile were in it, so she wouldn't even know if he'd been able to find it until he turned up - or not!

After a rather tense 30 minutes, V arrived complete with laptop case, passport, and mobile. Luckily the staff at Bakerloo had found his bag so the trip was back on track as were we as we boarded the 12.59 Eurostar which turned out to be very full. At Lille we were met on the platform by the Riviera tour director, A, who shepherded us and his other charges onto the equally full TGV to Avignon, warning us that we'd have to be quick to get off at Lyon so to be ready with our luggage nice and early. The first problem however was where to put our luggage as this double-decker TGV was not well-appointed with luggage areas, and quite a lot downstairs had been taken by those who did not want to lug their bags up to the top level. However we managed it in the end and settled back for the 3 ½ hour journey to Lyon where we would join the boat.

Next up - the first of many, many meals and an unexpected chance to practice my Bulgarian.

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