Monday, January 20, 2014

Saturday Lyonnais

About two weeks after getting back to Strasbourg, I went on my first little trip. Olimpia lives pretty close to Lyon, and she wanted me to meet her there to go shopping. That’s an offer I couldn’t refuse. 

It was pretty far to travel by train for just a day trip (almost 4 hours), but it wasn’t too bad. I did have to deal with a high school group on my train, though. They kept singing, which was pretty annoying. But at least the song they kept singing was ‘La Vie en Rose,’ one of my favorites!

I met Olimpia at the train station, and then we successfully figured out the tram and metro in order to do some sightseeing. I hadn’t been to Lyon since 2005, so I didn’t remember much about the city and definitely wanted to see more of it than just the shops.

Our first destination was the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. I vaguely remembered this place from my last visit to Lyon, but the beautiful interior of the church was still a surprise. There are mosaics all over the walls, and the color scheme is gorgeous.

This church is very new by Europe standards- built in 1870. Usually churches that new are unsatisfying to me because I can tell it’s not the real deal from the Middle Ages (picky picky, I know). But this one completely satisfied my love of beautiful old churches, so congratulations to Notre Dame de Fourvière.

As you can kind of tell from the last picture, there’s quite a view from this church. It’s on top of a hill that overlooks Lyon, and there’s a great view of the city from here.

Notice the ferris wheel in the middle; because later in the day we saw it from the ground.

We wanted to take a picture up here, but there were several obstacles. First, we didn’t have anyone to take one of us. Second, since we were up so high it was incredibly windy. We attempted about 10 crazy-looking selfies where our hair was sticking straight up, until Olimpia had the genius idea that we should put our scarves on our heads.

We both happened to be wearing scarves from Jerusalem (since I bought her one there), so it seemed fitting. Here’s the result. You can’t see any of the view behind us, and we look Muslim...but we did get a picture so that’s what counts haha. We have proof that we were in Lyon together!

There are ruins of a Roman theater pretty close to this church, so we went there next. This brought back major flashbacks of last summer. I can’t even count how many Roman theaters we saw, they eventually started to blend together in my mind. Those Romans were very committed to building theaters in everywhere they went.

We had fun hanging out there for a while before hitting up another church, the cathedral St. Jean. The inside wasn’t super impressive, especially since they’re in the middle of renovations, but I loved the outside.

This cathedral is just down the hill from Notre Dame de Fourvière, so you get a cool view of the basilica from here.

After that, we wandered the streets of Vieux (old) Lyon for a bit and enjoyed the colorful buildings.



Eventually, we came across the ferris wheel that we saw before. By this point, it was starting to get dark out so it was the perfect time to start our shopping. 

You probably don’t know that January and February is a magical time in France because of ‘les soldes,’ or ‘the sales’. Literally the entire country is on sale. And not some lame 20% off deal...everything is like 50% or more. EVERYTHING! 

You know, I thought it would be depressing to go back to France and have all of the magical Christmas decorations and markets be gone...but les soldes are really helping that transition. 

At the first store, I got a shirt for 60% off that I wanted to buy back in October but it was too expensive. My other purchase was at a shoe store where I got cute heels and a purse. Both of them were 50% off, which was so satisfying.

Then we got dinner and headed to the huge mall that’s right across the street from the train station. I remember going here with the Porchers in 2005 too. I bought Puma tennis shoes, which I thought were so cool and European. Ahhhh, back when wearing tennis shoes wasn’t against one of my life policies.

I didn’t get any clothes at the mall because I had already spent my money, and we didn’t have that long there before our trains left. However, the nutella milkshake I got there was probably worth a trip to the mall in itself. Also, just being in a mall makes me happy.

This picture makes me happy. Malls are the best. I think this is one of the biggest in Europe.

My train to Strasbourg left at 8, so after saying goodbye to Olimpia I was on my way home. Lucky for me, there was a big Israeli family with lots of kids that were speaking Hebrew pretty loudly in my train compartment. I really enjoyed myself listening to that and letting it turn on the Hebrew-understanding part of my brain that’s been turned off for a while. Listening to cute Israeli kids speak Hebrew is so superior to listening to high schoolers sing Edith Piaf songs, so the ride home was better than the ride there.

It was a successful day in Lyon. Pretty close to a perfect day, in fact. Lyon is one of the coolest cities in France, so I’m glad I got to see it again! And of course, I’m lucky to have a pretty cool travel buddy, which makes things even more fun.

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