Monday, April 23, 2012


This weekend we took a last-minute trip to Lyon, about 2 hours away by train.  I had been talking to a coworker on Friday who said that she often goes to Lyon just for shopping, because there's a large mall next to the train station.  We had no plans over the weekend, so why not?  I thought we'd do some clothes shopping (I haven't bought any clothes the entire time I've been here!) but we ended up just sightseeing.

It worked out well in general, the train was pretty convenient, the weather was rainy but not for the whole weekend.  The hotel wasn't that nice, but you can't have everything.  We ended up taking the bus to the old town area, where a medieval festival was taking place, with sword fighting, archery, cannons, etc.  Went to the main church, a museum of miniatures (hung out there quite a bit because it was raining outside), had dinner at a decent restaurant (Lyon is famous for its food).  People were quite friendly and helpful when we asked directions.

A couple notes - when we went to the train station on Sunday morning to store our baggage and catch the metro into town, I saw a group of 4 red-jacketed young people.  It must have been some kind of make-work program.  I didn't think very highly of it, they were doing very little useful work. They were apparently there to help travelers, just like they had in Amsterdam, though I think the program was run much better in Amsterdam.  Here they just chatted with one another, and formed into groups that didn't easily allow anyone to break in and ask questions.  I did end up getting some help from one of them who was quite friendly and wanted to practice her English. She led me to the ticket desk to pick up a map of town.  That's where I saw a total of 8 train personnel, hanging out and shooting the breeze with one another.  Why did they need 8 when there were no customers?  It's probably a union requirement.  I was thinking about all the train strikes they have in France.  Not the most efficient system!

We also saw the red-jacketed young people at the Roman amphitheater (great place for the kids to run around).  I asked one of them if he could tell me anything about the amphitheater, and he hemmed and hawed.  Finally I asked, "When was it built?"  And he didn't even know!  He said, "I always forget that".

Our dinner on Saturday was at a very nice restaurant.  The only problem was that...I ended up ordering a Lyon specialty, which turned out to be innards!  I absolutely couldn't eat it - I think you have to grow up eating that kind of thing.  I had asked what it was, and the waiter said, "It's from a pig".  Little did I think I'd be staring at a plate of pig intestines, all full of little tubes.  Yech.

Also Eric ordered tiramisu.  But instead of being the standard tiramisu with coffee, it was more like a vanilla pudding with raspberries in it.  Not a hint of coffee at all.

The upshot?  Overall quite positive, especially for something so last-minute. We'll probably go back to Lyon at some point, stay at a different hotel, and check out the restaurants online before choosing one.

Peter and I among the ruins

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