Lyon, France

Trip Start Feb 27, 2008
1
25
31
Trip End May 28, 2008


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Where I stayed

Flag of France  , Rhône-Alpes,
Friday, May 9, 2008

Day 71 - This morning we packed and prepared to leave Paris. The train to Lyon took only two hours. Lyon is the second larges city in France but it feels like a small town compared to Paris. We were lucky enough to actually stay in a hotel this time. Best Western is starting a chain of hotels in Europe and apparently they are offering special rates to get people to try them because we got a 3-star room for $52 a night. The regular rate for a double room was 100 euros. I don't mid staying in hostels mind you, but it was an awesome feeling to know that I could get a wake-up call or find an Ice machine if I needed it. We sat on the very comfy bed and flipped through the 25 channels of French TV for a while. I didn't know anything at all about Lyon except for the fact that it was one of the first cities in the western hemisphere to create silk. Lyon is situated on a peninsula of land where two rivers come together. West of the rivers is a large hill where an Ancient Roman town used to be. At the foot of the hills on the west bank of one of the rivers is the old part of Lyon. We took a subway down to the old part of town and walked down the cobblestone streets and looked at the Renaissance houses in the old part of town. St. Jean's cathedral is located in the heart of the old district. It has a 13th century automaton astrological clock, quite a mechanical feat for the middle ages to produce. The clock not only tells the time, but also the day, month, year, distance from the summer or winter solstice and several other astrological things that I couldn't quite comprehend because the description was written in French. Check out the pictures to see what I'm talking about. After St. Jean's cathedral we went across the river to the more modern part of Lyon. This part of town looked just like any other modern city with busy streets and pedestrianized walkways and squares surrounded by cute café's. I could tell that this place was hopping at night but with one look at the menu's I could tell that I would not be joining them for the party this evening. Things were just as expensive here (if not more) as the were in Paris. I really can't understand who would pay $6 for a single cocktail when you could buy a whole bottle of liquor from the store for about $10. On our way back to the subway stop we stopped by the post office and bought a box to send souvenirs and things back in, then walked through several squares where we saw people sitting reading, walking their dogs, or playing with children. One of the squares even had a carousel in it. That night we stayed in and watched a movie in our comfortable bed. Didn't Ben Franklin say that we know the value of a soft bed only when we're staying in a Hostel...?

Day 72 - We filled a box with souvenirs and things we wanted to send home and walked it down to the post office. We arrived just in time to find the doors shut. On Saturdays the post closes at 12:30pm "What's the point of even opening?" I thought. "Nobody gets up early on Saturday to mail a package" I longed to someday work in a post office or bank where I could work hours that were only convenient for me and no one else. Tomorrow was Sunday so we were going to have to carry it around all day tomorrow too. We lugged the heavy box home and then went to Old Lyon. We went to St. Jeans to hear the astrological clock chime. St Jeans wasn't very full at those few days when we were there except at noon, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm when the clock goes off. 
For those of you who are Oregonians you may be familiar with the themed ducks that are all around Eugene. I don't know how each city arrives at a decision but Berlin has bears, Eugene has Ducks and Seattle has an animal but we can't remember what it is. Lyon had lions some were mosaic and some were painted, etc. The strange thing was that where ever there was lion there was also a polar bear. I don't know it this was some indecision in the bureaucracy or if polar bears actually have something to do with Lyon, France. If anyone knows the answer to this, please help me out.
We took the funicular to the top of the hill where a large 19th  century church was precariously perched. I'm sure the number of churches we've seen has now numbered in the hundreds. But no matter, we went in anyway. The church called Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere had two floors. On the ground floor were pews and standard alter which you would find in any other church. Upstairs was a very elaborately decorated cathedral with mosaics and expensive decorations everywhere. After admiring the view of the city, we walked down the hill alittle where there were two ancient Roman theaters. These theaters are still used today for certain productions and I'm not sure if they are in their original condition or if they have been restored but they are very cool. All the flowers were in bloom: Karla stopped and smelled the irises. She's so cute. Our tummies were grumbling so we went back down the hill to look for some grub but the café we had in mind was closed. The café after that one was open but wasn't serving food. Walking down the street we saw that all the cafes were closed and only the bars were serving drinks. We walked in to an Irish pub to ask what the hell was going on. The bartender informed us that restaurants close from 3-7pm. I was floored. It's like a French siesta without the rest. The restaurants close but everyone keeps on working. Why can't everyone be open 24 hours a day like Americans? I'd even be fine with the open 9-5 like the Austrians. Everyone's method seems to make sense except for the French. I found myself constantly wanting to eat between 3 and 7 whether it be late lunch or early dinner or both. This conflicts with my habits the most. What a drag. We crossed the bridge to the new side of town and Karla insisted we sit down and eat NOW. When that girl's blood sugar gets low she gets ANGRY. I'm going to remember to feed her a sandwich before I ask for any favors in the future. So we cross the bridge and found a place that was open. It was a bit expensive but Karla told me not to care. After food, Karla returned to the hotel to take a delicious bath and I went to steal some internet downtown and buy train reservations for the next day.
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