As I leave Amsterdam on the way to Paris I know that Paris will not be my final destination. This is not because I am not interested in Paris, but it is currently very cold there and I would like to visit Paris when I can enjoy the city without freezing my fingers off. After the four train transfers and arriving at Gare du Nord station I head for the ticket office in order to get information on trains heading south. Hopefully it will be warmer there. The attendant informs me that there is a train heading to Lyon, France in an hour from a separate station. Being able to use my rail pass for that trip, I make my way to Gare de Bercy station and get on the train to Lyon. The trip takes five more hours and I arrive in Lyon sometime around 11:30pm. It’s cold here as well.
At this point I have been traveling by train for 17 hours. I am exhausted and I need a place to sleep. Having not done my research on places to stay I end up trying a few hotels around the station. No luck, they are all booked full. One receptionist is very understanding though and allows me to use their Internet terminal to find a place to stay. After a short amount of searching I find a hostel across town named “Hostel Lyon”. The receptionist calls and finds out they have room and have 24 hour reception. My mood is starting to improve.
Once I finish printing out directions I strap on my backpack and start the hike across this unknown city towards my hostel. Little did I know, Lyon was an important city for the Romans and after crossing the Rhône and Saône rivers I find myself in the ancient district. Buildings here were constructed during the 15th century or earlier. In front of me lies a large hill with an enormous church sitting proudly at the top gorgeously lit up by spotlights. Taking pictures as I go, I hike up the steep road while mentally pinching myself because I cannot believe a hostel would be situated in such a beautiful location. Finally arriving my suspicions are verified. This hostel has the most beautiful view of Lyon after the church at the top.
After checking in I spend a short amount of time using the wifi to check up on emails and inform my mom and dad of where I am. The receptionist is a nice guy from Manchester, England and we have a good chat. He assures me that the hostel is quiet and not full of thieves, but to be sure not to leave valuables out in the open just in case. Soon I will wish I had listened to him more carefully.
When I finish with my emails it is near 1:30am and I am beat. Saying goodnight to Jon the receptionist I walk to my room, change, and put all my things except my phone and charger in my backpack and lock it. My phone has a near dead battery, so I plug it into the wall outlet nearby and drape it over my bed so that it rests near my head. My thought is that if anyone decides to swipe it, the movement will alert me. Quickly I drift off to sleep and do not wake up until 9am for breakfast.
Grabbing my phone I leave the room to eat. Quickly scarfing down some chocolate oats and a baguette with Nutella I spend some more time checking the Internet on my phone. It’s now 10:30 and I am still quite tired, so I head back to my room for a nap. Plugging my phone in again for a charge, even though it was at 94%, I lay it in the same spot near my head and drift off to dreamland. That will be the last time I see my wonderful iPhone.
I’m woken up from my nap by the cleaning staff knocking. I roll over and reach for my phone to check the time. This is where my life turns upside down. My hand grabs nothing but air. I open my eyes and look to see if it had fallen down, but I’m met with an emptiness where my phone used to be resting. The USB charging cord connected to the wall is also missing as well as the person who was sleeping in the bed above me.
Immediately my heart sank to somewhere around my left foot. I frantically threw up the sheets and bed looking to see if somehow it had just been misplaced. I looked in the roll out storage beneath my bed. I checked around my backpack and in my coat. My device was nowhere to be seen. As the facts set in I imagine this is similar to what a parent feels if their child is lost. My one link home. My only means of communication. The location of all of my memories for the past year of my life. The one object that always assured me I would be alright no matter where I went. I guess one does not realize just how important a phone is to them nowadays until they lose it.
Walking out to the reception area I inform the staff there what happened. They are less than helpful. I’m not sure if they do not understand or simply do not care, but they offer up no way to alleviate my suffering. There may be one more option though. I quickly walk to a person nearby with a laptop and they graciously allow me to use it after I explain my situation. My only hope is that my “Find my iPhone” service may reveal that it was still in the hostel. After logging in though my hopes are soon dashed. There is no location data for my phone.
That’s it. It’s gone forever. From here on out it’s about getting over it and figuring out a way that I can continue my travels or if I need to cut them short and return home. Before logging off I send a quick Facebook message to my mom and dad informing them of what happened and that I wouldn’t be reachable. They are less than pleased. My mom is worried and my dad is fuming. They spend the next day looking at every possible option to help me from America.
In order to try and cope with my loss I spend some time outside of the hostel wandering around Lyon. This city proves to be equally breathtaking in the daytime. The ancient Christian churches, little cafes, and cobblestone streets are extremely interesting. After spending some time meandering through the narrow streets of the village I walk back up the hill, past my hostel, and hike further up towards the church that dominates a good portion of the hilltop. At this point my legs are burning from the exhausting climb, but I am rewarded with an even more beautiful and unobstructed view of the city. I can understand why the the old builders of this place would choose the location they did.
I spend the rest of the day inside of the hostel mulling over my options at this point. Up on the mezzanine I meet a guy name Lee. We talk for awhile and go over the events that took place this past day. He tells me that he is originally from southern California and came over here to travel around Europe with a goal much like my own. He wishes me good luck as I leave and go back to my room. I just want to take a nap and figure out what to do tomorrow.
I’m woken up by a knock on the door. When I open it I am greeted by Jon, the receptionist that checked me in the other night. Saying that he was informed about what happened to me he expresses concern for me and assures me that he desperately wants to help me out with this. We walk out into the meeting area away from my room and I explain to him all of the events that have happened since the last time we spoke. Distressed about something being stolen inside his hostel, he hands me his MacBook Pro to do some research and communication and than talks with the other employees. I use the opportunity to update my family. Having decided on what my next move will be I also look up the nearest Apple store. It will work best if I just bite the bullet and buy an iPod touch so I can continue on my travels. Jon returns and tells me he wants to do everything in his power to help me get reimbursed for the phone since he is sure as well that there is little chance of recovering it. He offers to return the next day and come with me to the police station to translate while I file a police report.
The next day goes well. I wake up early with a new drive to get myself back on track for travel. After breakfast and a good amount of coffee I start the long walk to the other side of the city. When I arrive at the Apple store I’m greeted by a clerk that speaks fluent English which is very helpful. Once I explain my situation to him he assures me that I can get all of the information from my iPhone downloaded to this new iPod since it was backed up on the iCloud. Not only that, but since my iPhone was password locked when it was stolen there is no possible way that the thief would be able to access my personal information from it. This is extremely reassuring and I spend the next two hours downloading all of the data from my phone onto my new iPod.
Aside from the fact that it took nearly three hours for the French police to tell us that there was nothing they could do, the rest of the day goes well. With my newfound energy to continue on after getting my data back I begin looking into where I can go from Lyon. A website that I previously found called HelpX is looking more promising now. This is a service that helps volunteer workers find hosts that will provide housing and food in exchange for help around their properties. I send out a few emails to hosts that look suitable, have a beer, and then go to sleep.
The next morning I walk down the hill and find a small bakery where I buy a slice of rhubarb pie that I can’t resist. It is as delicious as it looks. Leaving the bakery I walk to the farmer’s markets across the river and buy some ingredients for a soup including noodles, potatoes, carrots, and some smoked sausage. While cooking up my soup I chat with a guy from Canada named Fred about the differences between America and Canada.
The soup turns out spectacularly. While I am enjoying it I get a reply email from one of the families I contacted. Deborah is her name and she owns a farmhouse in southwestern France along with her husband Keith. They are looking for some general house work and help with some renovations. I am elated by the quick reply and quickly start planning my way out there. The earliest they will be able to house me is February 8th, so I decide to travel and stay in Toulouse for a few nights until then.
Once my travel plans are settled on I feel relieved. It looks like my adventure will be able to continue just as well as before, and I will have to just deal with my phone when I return to the US. Relaxing in the hostel, I spend the rest of my day conversing with the other residents and just generally wasting time.
Tomorrow I will be leaving Lyon for Toulouse, staying there for three days, and than making my way to the city of Condom of all places. There Deb and Keith will pick me up to stay at their farmhouse