Sep 7, 2009

Lost Diaries 10

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Normally I would not write a journal entry about weekday life, but since we have been doing a little site seeing around Lyon this week, I feel compelled to fill you in. It all started Tuesday, when we made the decision that I would meet Damon after class and we would explore Lyon, since we are leaving in a week and running out of time. We started in front of the law school, like two Japanese tourists, filming everything in our path. No one was spared, least of all a topless fat man hanging out in the street that Damon got some great shots of. We filmed the law school, a fountain, a few statues, the bell tower, an advertisement for Choc magazine, and then grabbed a bite to eat before hitting the Tourist Information Office. We chose our eating location based on a sign they were displaying that read, “Sandwicherie.” Our supposition was that they had sandwiches, of course. Of course not. When they brought us the menu, it was all in French, we could not read a thing, everyone else was eating big salads, and I almost had a meltdown. I was at my French saturation point and sick and tired of being hungry and not being able to read the menu and I went into mini-hissy fit mode. Damon ordered a plate with “meat” and French fries, and I asked for a sandwich. This caused the man to take away my silverware and direct me to a tent set up near the kitchen. Apparently, you can only buy a sandwich as a take away meal. Sandwich people are not good enough for silverware, but since Damon was a regular person I was not totally banished from the table. (We have been kicked off of tables before when we only had sandwiches) At the tent, I was able to get a ham and cheese sandwich (I swear, have these people never heard of turkey?) and I decided that I was going to be adventurous and try a chocolate tart as well. When I got back with mine, Damon’s meal had already been served, which seemed very quick, but then I looked at his “meat” and noticed that it was raw, so that explained that. Damon asked me what kind of meat I thought it was, and I could not identify it. He could not either, and he was getting the sinking feeling that he had ordered horse meat. They eat that over here, you know. He ate his salad and fries, but steered clear of the “meat.” The waiter noticed this, and kept bugging him about whether the meat was good. Finally Damon inquired about its origin, found out it was in fact beef, and told the waiter it was not cooked enough, so he took it away and brought back a completely new steak, still too rare for my taste, but edible for Damon, as well as another plateful of fries. Damon was overjoyed, and made short work of the meat and the fries this time. The chocolate tart was quite a find. Almost like pie, and very good. I will be eating many more of those, and perhaps bringing home a suitcase full of tarts.

After lunch we rode the metro to the stop where the funiculars, or “funiculaires” in French, go up the hill to the sites. First we visited the Basilica of Fourviere, which, as you probably can guess, is another beautiful church in Europe that took who knows how much money to build. For these people to have so many churches, they sure don’t seem very religious. This church was devoted most of all to Mary. The sanctuary was ringed by different sculptures of events in Mary’s life. Even the sculpture of Jesus on the cross was entitled, “The Compassion of Mary.” Outside the church there was a great view of the city, since we were now on top of a kind-of mountain. Damon filmed, but I am pretty much over being high up and seeing European towns. Just as each town has some gorgeous church that they herd everyone through, each town has some sort of “lookout” gimmick that they want you to pay to go to the top of. In this case, it was one of the towers on the church, but it was closed, so we did not make it up there. We rode the funicular down and boarded a separate funicular to go back up the hill to the Roman Amphitheater. That is when it got interesting.

The amphitheater was huge and of course in ruins, but they were setting up a concert for that night. The concert tickets were 24 euros to see Isaac Hayes and someone else. It was a soul concert, and part of the “Nights of Lyon” summer series. We decided to pass, and kept exploring the ruins. The amphitheater itself was large, but more impressive to me were the ruins behind the amphitheater. I am not sure if they were dwelling places, shops, part of the amphitheater complex, who knows, but they did have small tunnels running through them in several places. One thing about me that you probably don’t know is that if there is a fountain, I usually want to put my feet in it, and if there is a tunnel or a cave, I usually want to go in. I told Damon this, and he told me to go. We found one, and I entered. When I got in there I was a little worried about snakes or spiders, but I could see light at the end, so I kept going. When I got to the light, it was a small opening, but large enough for me to shimmy through, and this seemed like a better prospect that turning around and going back out the end I came in, which would take longer. So I got down on my belly and made it out in a few seconds, but when I was able to stand upright I noticed that I was now on the other side of a tall green fence stuck down in some type of walled ruin, and it looked like I was trapped. I started hollering for Damon, but that brought no results. I finally found a place where I could use two walls to climb out Jackie Chan-style, and I made it up near the fence on a ledge, and started hollering for Damon again. In the meantime, some of his school friends had shown up, so he was talking to them and waiting for me to reemerge from the other end of the tunnel, so he could not hear me. One of the girls finally heard me and they told Damon where I was. He came to the fence and I told him that it went all the way through but that he would not fit, and I was stuck and would have to come back through. He gave me the camera and told me to film it, so I carefully climbed back down, grunted my way through the hole into the darkness of the tunnel, got freaked out about snakes and spiders, and basically ran to the other end of the tunnel with the camera held in front of me recording. I think that will be my last tunnel experience for a while. I was a little scratched up from trying to go fast and I had imaginary itches for the rest of the day.

After the tunnel incident, we rode the funicular down and hopped the subway to the Hotel Deville area, where we filmed some skateboarders and my favorite Lyon fountain (some of you may have received postcards with the fountain). Damon had some type of icee (served in a shot glass, it was so small it was pathetic), and I had some ice cream. Then we made our way to the park to film my Lyon hangout. Damon checked on renting a boat while I filmed the rose garden, and then we started hiking to the zoo which is in the park. Unfortunately, it was late, and the animals were already up for the night, so that was a bust. By that time we were really tired, so we headed back to “La Villette” (where we live) and I made hamburger helper. It was delish and we went to bed fat and happy.

The next day Damon got up and went to class and I went to the mall. They have a big sale going on that lasts from the end of June until August 1st, so it was packed. I wandered around looking for souvenirs and clothes, and found nothing that I could not live without. Eventually my feet got tired, so I bought Damon some saline and left. I picked up a few postcards in the train station on my way back, stopped at the Post Office for stamps, and was back in time to make lunch. When Damon got home, he told me we were already late; we were supposed to meet Sonny and Louise at the train station to go wine tasting in the Beaujolais region north of Lyon. Beaujolais wine is red wine that is served chilled. We went to the train station, but there was no Sonny and Louise, so Damon decided we would go by ourselves and we bought tickets for Villefranche, about 30 minutes away from Lyon by train. We caught up on our celebrity gossip while we waited for our train by thumbing through French magazines and looking at Brangelina pictures. When we arrived in Villefranche, we made our way to the tourist information office, which is very inconveniently located about a mile away from the train station. When we inquired about the tours, the lady told us that there were no organized tours at that time, and you could not rent a bike in Villefranche. She gave us the same map they gave us in Lyon, and Damon decided we would take a taxi to one of the places on the map. We did this, and ended up in a remote town called Arnes, where no one spoke English, at a bar. The man who ran the bar called his wife, who spoke a little English. She arrived in a few minutes with a 4 year old girl and a dog in tow, and told us that this was not where they make the wine, but that if we walked down the road 2 kilometers, there was someone there who made wine. We started down the road with a hand drawn map, and apparently took a few wrong turns, but ended up at another bar where no one spoke English in an even smaller town. When we asked a man outside if anyone spoke English, he directed us to the bartender, who spoke Spanish. Those two are apparently the same in the eyes of the French. Eventually a girl came by who did speak English, and we were able to tell them we wanted to go to the winery. One of the men called the owner on his cell phone, and they told us he would be there in 20 minutes, sat us down, and gave us wine. This was wine number 2 for us, because we felt so bad about disturbing the first family (their bar was closed) that we ordered wine there. So, we sat there and spoke in Frenglish to the people in the bar. Eventually the restaurant owner from next door came, and he spoke very good English, so we were able to understand more. While we were sitting there, several interesting things happened. First of all, the bar owner’s 12 year old son came out to clean the tables (they are teaching him to work) and he gave me my first French kiss. Not the kind with spit, the one-on-each-cheek kind. At first I had no idea what he was doing, but after the first one I figured it out and just went with it. Damon said I looked like a pro. He shook Damon’s hand. After that excitement, a troop of 4 preschool children came in and kissed everyone in the bar (about 8 men by this time) before buying cigarettes and leaving. One of the men was their grandpa and he seemed very proud and unconcerned that his grandchildren who could not write their names could buy cigarettes. Two more glasses of wine later, Guy Charbonnel, the winemaker, came and hung out for a while before taking us to his operation. He drove us the back way to his house, which turned out to be 100 yards from the bar, and showed us vineyards. His vineyard is very small and at his house. He showed us the wine vats inside and then took us into the cellar of his house, where his wife and a couple of their friends were hanging out drinking wine. They served us some, and since his wife spoke a little English, we were able to have a pretty decent conversation with them. We talked about all kinds of things, and even covered Bush. I told them I was from Texas, using Damon’s t-shirt, and the first thing that they said was, "Oh, you love Bush." I said, "Yes, I do." They at first thought we were British. Everyone thinks that we are British since we speak English. I guess to them we all sound the same. Anyway, they were all in an uproar because Paris was a candidate for the 2012 Olympic Games, and they lost to London. The headline of the paper today reads, “Pourquoi Londres?” (Why London?) They are all ticked off. We made sure they knew we were Americans, and then they said that Tony Blair and Bush are best friends. It was very funny to see how our President has been demonized all over the world. They are not the first Frenchies that we have talked to who immediately identify Bush with Texas. I think Texas is not their favorite, because of Bush and Lance Armstrong. Their Bush feelings aside, they were very nice, and Damon bought 6 bottles of wine to bring home.

It was getting close to time for our train, so we left and walked the 100 yards or so to the restaurant, where we ordered pizzas. I had pizza margarita, which means cheese only (and olives, but I picked those off. They don’t even slice them so it is pretty easy to do) and Damon had some concoction that the restaurant owner suggested, which had chicken, potatoes, and an over easy egg in the middle. Very strange, but he liked it. They called a taxi for us, and we made it back to the train station 5 minutes after our train left. Damon said it was okay since there were more trains after that, but what he did not know was that was the last train to Lyon for that night. We met a nice mother and son at the station, and they helped Damon read the schedule, and even checked the bus stop for us to see if there were any more busses to Lyon, but the last one of those was gone too. They showed us where the hotels were in town, and we checked into a Best Western with only the camera and 6 bottles of wine in a box and went to sleep watching the Tour de France replay from that day. We woke up at 6:30, grabbed breakfast, and were back at the train station in time to miss the train we wanted to be on, and wait 20 minutes for another one. We made it back to Lyon and Damon was able to shower and get back to school on time. Remember how it was so hot and unbearable here in Lyon? Well, now that we have air, we are not running it because it is freezing outside. Damon almost turned into a popsicle this morning, because he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Apparently, that was just a heat wave.

Tonight we are leaving for Pamplona. Damon has reserved us a hotel room in San Sebastian, which is 300 yards from the beach, so I am sure I will have more naked European stories to tell on Monday. Saturday morning we are hoping to bus our way to the running of the bulls, and then back to Lyon through Paris, where we will spend a few hours on Sunday. This is our last weekend trip, and it is hard to believe that our time in Lyon is almost over. We are looking forward to exploring the United Kingdom, where people speak English, even if it does sound funny. Stay tuned for more adventures!

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