Monday, May 1, 2006

Lyon: We came, we saw, we vanquished! Day 5.

Greetings from France! We hope you are enjoying our adventures!

The only thing worth noting during our stay in Lyon was that we almost missed the train…. again! For once, this has nothing to do with our lack of planning! We went to station Perrache about an hour before our departure time to make sure we weren’t going to miss the train. From the station, we caught the train to the main station at Part-Dieux, and took less than 10 mins to get there. We were so proud of ourselves that for once, we had successfully executed the plan we hatched. We went to look at the departure announcement board, and I noticed that our train was going to be late by 15 minutes. I mentioned it to Julee, who, then had this panicked look as she pointed out frantically on our tickets that we had to switch trains, and that we had only 17 minutes to do so.

After what we went through the other day at the station Bxl-Midi in Belgium, I thought that 2 minutes to get from one train to the other would be an easy feat. Well… Julee just plainly refused to go through this madness again! So, we went to the information desk to get guidance. The lady at the counter reassured us that the train at the next stop would wait for us, but then she thought about it again, and decided to give us tickets for another itinirary which wouldn’t require any correspondence. We thanked her profusely … until we realized that the tickets she gave us were for the train that was going to leave within the next three minutes. We started to run until we got to the right platform, whipped out our tickets and went through the train attendants. We finally made it through, in the right train, in the right car! J. We were now heading for Nice.

Diep

Hi Everyone!! Thanks to everyone who has been posting comments – hope you are enjoying reading about our travels. Continuing on what Diep wrote above, I’ll add my memories of our visit to Lyon.

1) The hotel that we stayed at in Lyon was right next door and I mean right next door i.e., no more than 50 feet from the train station. The good thing was that we were able to easily get to the hotel by foot. The bad thing is that I, who am a very light sleeper did not only hear the trains arriving and leaving the station into the wee hours of the early morning but I could hear automated announcement of each train’s arrival and departure. The musical chime that precedes each annoucement has now been seared into my brain. Arghhh. Needless to say, I did not have the most restful night of sleep but with all the excitement of the travelling, lack of sleep did not seem to matter much!! Fortunately, there’s something very hypnotic about riding the train that always makes me sleepy so I do catch up a bit on sleep as we go from one town to another.

2) We spent Saturday morning in Lyon. Though we had to check out early, the guy at the reception desk was kind enough to let us leave our luggage in the hotel’s locked storage room. With our luggage safely tucked away, we made our way to the town’s main square.



As we neared the square, we heard the sound of a live marching band. We followed our ears and it led us to a celebration of WWII veterans placing wreaths of the town’s war memorial.



We stayed through most of the ceremony which was quite moving and then headed to a nearby weekly farmer’s market where we decided to buy some food to bring with us on our train ride. It wasn’t hard to decide what to bring along as the smell of chickens roasting on a rotisserie with baby potatoes cooking in the fat dripping off the chickens was intoxicating. There were also a couple of stalls selling cheese and Diep, being the “cheesaholic’ could not resist buying a couple of cheeses. We also got some roast pork and pate and thanks to Diep’s keen eyes, some knives to cut and eat our food with. We stopped by a food store and bought water and bread and with the food in hand, we headed for the train station. Unfortunately, the smell of the cooked potatoes got the better of us so we headed for a nearby park and munched on potatoes. It was a beautiful day for a picnic and we really enjoyed our simple but very satisfying meal. …and by the way, check out this parking job! The one thing that we’ve noticed is that there do not appear to be any rules on where you can/cannot park your car. If you parked your car in the US like this driver did in Lyon, there would be no doubt that you would find your car tagged for towing!!





3) The train ride to Nice was very quiet and relaxing and we each took out our needlework to help pass the time. Along the way to Nice, were fields of mustard (see pic below), patches of fields of deep green color which I think are of legumes that farmers plant to return nitrogen to the soil. Every now and again, you would see a small village and a herd of Charlois (I think that’s the breed) cows. If I remember correctly, these are the French equivalents of the Jersey milk cows that we often see in the US. It’s this French breed of cows that produces the milk of a sufficiently high fat content that results in the wonderful cheeses that France is known the world over for.



As we arrived towards Nice, the scenery changed dramatically from fields and rolling hills to the rocky hillsides that you see in pictures of the Cote d’Azur. As the train pulled into Marseilles, we caught our first sight of the Mediterranean and olive trees and quickly realized that we were approaching our destination.

The adventure continues. More on Nice later!

Julee