Normally I was supposed to be travelling around France in the month of March, visiting Lyon and the Burgundy region. Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic started and the trip was cancelled. As by the end of June the borders of Europe started to reopen and some travel opportunities started to be had, my good friend Gillis and I decided to go for a weekend to Lyon to make up for our lost trip to France in March.
We booked an early TGV departure from Brussels on Saturday morning to make most of our time there, unfortunately due to track works I was not able to get into Brussels on time by train from my home town of Antwerp. As a solution we decided to spend the night near the South railway station in Brussels at the Pullman Brussels Centre Midi.
As we spent the night at the station, we found ourselves in plenty of time before departure at our TGV Inoui train to Marseille St. Charles, which we would travel on until Lyon Part Dieu. This is the first TGV service out of Brussels in the morning. On the platform there were no social distancing measures and people kept crowding together to make sure they the first to board the train. Luckily everyone was wearing facemasks.
On-board the train there were also no special measures in place, every seat was taken and the train was fully booked. It was obligatory to wear a face mask the entire trip and the on-board Bar was closed, thus no food and beverage service was available.
Passengers where encouraged to stay in their seats as much as possible during the trip and people tried to comply as there were noticeably less toilet visits. If anyone did get up to go to the toilet they would get stared to death by the other passengers. The toilets where regularly cleaned by a cleaning staff member on-board the train as an extra measure put in place by SNCF.
Besides the obligatory facemasks everyone was wearing, the trip felt like a dead normal TGV trip. Making the usual stops on the way and the seat dance in every station as people tried to find their assigned seats.
The worst part of the trip was the arrival in the overcrowded Lyon Part Dieu station, where passengers wanting to board the train blocked the way out for people exiting the train. No social distancing was possible here, and you had to squeeze yourself through crowds just like in the old days.
In my opinion it almost felt like the Corona crisis was over and everything went back to normal, which is a very dangerous situation as this might cause some spikes in the infection rate as people “forget” about the dangers.
How do you feel about travelling in the current times, do you suffer from a high enough dose of “Fernweh” (like us) to risk it or would you rather wait and stay at home until it is all over? Let us know in the comments below!