Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011: Lyon - Train, Residence, Vieux Lyon, Travel Plans

Today we took the train to Lyon. We had planned on getting the 9:45 train but we got there just in time to buy a ticket and get it validated for the 9:26 - the conductor had blown the whistle but they saw us on the platform and called us on - very kind! We dashed on and dropped into a seat, sitting there for quite some time before realizing we were in first class (we'd bought second class tickets). I debated staying there - they don't check your tickets on every trip - but we saved ourselves possible embarrassment by moving to second class, which was really just about as comfy.

It was nice to see the landscape change from mountainous to gently hilly - I missed the first time coming in from the airport in Lyon on the bus because I was sound asleep.

In Lyon we found the apart'hotel, about a 25 min walk from train station. It turns out it's really a student residence (which the website did not mention!), so it has a kitchenette, but it is pretty rough quality. But at least it's just me until the weekend, and I will be out sightseeing most of the time. And I was able to navigate to it with my roughly drawn map - the grid system is in effect here more than in Grenoble, and I found it far easier to predict which direction I was going in.

After walking Mark back to the train station to catch his shuttle to the conference I walked for about two hours, across to the Presqu'ile and Vieux Lyon. The rivers Rhône and Saône are beautiful, with many different bridges crossing at frequent intervals. I passed through the Jardin Archéologique at the Cathedral of St John, where remains of earlier churches have been unearthed - first founding of a Christian church here was in AD 150, the earliest major Christian church west of Rome. It was fun to see the excavated foundations, but the similar remains in Grenoble are better - they're more mysterious housed in the underground museum, plus all the artifacts that were found in conjunction.  On the way back to the hotel I scoped out where the Quai St Antoine market will be tomorrow morning.

I found a Monoprix not far away and got what I imagine will be a week's worth of basic staples, plus tonight's dinner: couscous, pasta, tomato sauce, lentils, chickpeas, Serrano ham, orange juice, a small bottle of olive oil, milk, yogurt, an onion, shallot, garlic, arugula, carrots, zucchini, comté cheese and two apple-filled pastries. I brought salt and pepper with me, plus a bit of butter. I'm planning to eat in for supper and maybe go out for a few lunches - I'm saving myself for the weekend, when we have two fancy meals out planned! As I started cooking I discovered that I've only got a dull bread knife and no cutting board. Sigh. I should have packed the ceramic knife.

And finally some hard core travel planning tonight. I finished booking all the hotels for the trip with mom. Now to finalize train and tour bookings!

Bonsai-like street planters - so elegant!

A view down the river Saône

The Passerelle du Palais de Justice - I believe it was built in 1972 - it does have that kind of modernist flair

It's fun how the cables seem to change to impossible positions as you cross over - you know they all hold up the bridge, so how can they be radiating in all directions like this?

Ruins at the Jardin Archéologique

The Passerelle St. George - an adorable little storybook-like pedestrian-only bridge

Note the red building - could it be any skinnier? Only one window wide!

 The view from Place Bellecour, the largest pedestrian-only square in Europe: statue of King Louis XIV, Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière and La Tour Métallique (built to rival the Eiffel Tower)

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