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Published: February 23rd 2012
Ten hours on a train is brutal I must say, especially when your faithful Kindle recently decided to break down, taking all of your reading material with it. Who knew that self-entertainment would be so hard?
So I left Biarritz in the small hours of the morning, no sun in sight. Walking up the hill towards the train station even the three dogs, who normally came sniffing and begging for a treat each time I walked by, preferred instead to snore lazily away while I trudged along. It's a desolate feeling, stealing away at night but truth be told the city barely notes your leaving.
With a stop over in Bordeaux it was a grand total of 10 hours on the train. I don't know who designed the cross country route, but whoever it was must have loved confusing travelers. Without changing seats, I faced the direction of travel for a couple of hours only to wake up after a nap facing backwards. This happened 4 or 5 times and eventually I was half convinced we were headed back to Bordeaux. And along the way a grandmother and
Lady of the Republic
Place des Terreaux, Lyon
her grandson sat across from me and I found myself eyeing their chocolate, figuring out a plan to sneak one away. Luckily my truant behavior was stopped, not by any will on my part but more because grandma ate every piece.
I arrived in Lyon after dark, again no sun in sight. And after navigating the metro and a rather rickety old furnicular that carried passengers up the hill at a snail's pace, I found my hostel, somehow tired and irritated after my day of doing nothing. (I think it might have been the lack of chocolate.) Irritation (and a large amount of sweat) must have given the receptionist a clue into my mood because she told me to take a seat and relax before checking in. Aka, I must have looked downright terrible. I finished my evening off in classic American style: a pint of beer and a tart of cheese.
I spent three days in Lyon and honestly I could see myself living here one day. Though I've seen mixtures of old and new that cover nearly the entire spectrum, Lyon seems to have got it just right. Vieux Lyon straddles one side of a river
while Presq'ile resides in between the two rivers that cut through the city. This latter neighborhood holds modern day attractions, complete with shopping and American-influenced coffee. Vieux Lyon is pedestrian-only cobbled lanes blocked in by buildings showing faded colors after time, but zero associated weariness. Just up the hill from these alley-like lanes looms the white, pristine church dedicated to the Virgin, her golden statue watching over the past and future alike, and all us in between.
In the evening I walked by the Opera House to try my luck at seeing a show. Unfortunately there weren't any performances, but instead I came across an impromptu step/hip-hop competition. Teenagers gathered, all with different levels of talent, and stepped, twirled, spun, and flipped to music ranging from techno rock to rockin Elvis. No one was turned away, audiences were welcome, and competition was filled with friendly taunting. It was like the heartbeat of the city, combining generations across all dividing lines, pumping out the rhythm of a place that IS what you see.
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