Okay, I know you’ve all been desperately awaiting this post so here it is. I apologize but I’ve been really busy and this blog’s been put on the back burner. I literally feel like I’ve been running and running for days. But after the long wait, here I present to you: my trip to France!
Lyon was WONDERFUL! I have seriously fallen so in love with that city. It’s gorgeous with two rivers dividing it right down the middle, with some of the most impressive French architecture bordering every little cobble-stoned street. It’s the typical French city you’d expect to see in a movie and that’s what made it so perfect. It’s also the hometown of the author of The Little Prince, so there are streets named after him, statues, monuments, all sorts of things in his dedication. The Little Prince was pretty much everywhere.
Plus, seeing Erin Berg was an absolute RIOT, and I’m so glad that she and I were able to finally check off a part of our long-list of things to do in our lives: and that was to see each other in Europe. After all, we became great friends due to our love of travel, Europe, and languages. It was so great being able to spend time with her in a place that she adores and being able to see her speak French so well. I wish I hadn’t returned to Madrid so quickly, I seriously fell hopelessly in love with Lyon and of course, it’s always a blast with Erin.
So here’s the trip:
I woke up Friday morning after calling in “sick” from work (I pre-arranged this trip with my boss beforehand. She’s so great she gave me Friday off to travel). However, I still had a lot to do, such as pack, check-in, print out my boarding pass, get to the airport and buy a gift for Erin’s friend who said she’d host me there. However, when I woke up later than I had planned because I am just not a morning person, I signed onto my computer and for some reason, Easyjet.com refused to let me check-in. That’s when the panic settled in.
I started running around my house, screaming, trying to pack, trying to figure out what I was going to do if I couldn’t check in, take a shower, buy a present and make it to the airport on time. I ended up calling Easyjet, but of course, I drained all the money on my cell phone so I was unable to get anything resolved. Then I used Kevin’s phone and I of course, I drained his phone too before I even got anyone to pick up. So I emailed them and hoped for an immediate response, but at this point, I was going to be late to the airport and I’d deal with not having my boarding pass once I got there.
However, when I went to the local locutorio to print out my ticket reciept (I thought I’d bring something just in case), they had responded to my email, and it helped tremendously as I was finally able to check-in and print my boarding pass. PHEW!
So I get to the airport 2-hours before like they recommended. However, I didn’t need to be there so early so I waited, waited and waited. Then, I finally got in line to board the plane, and of course it shows up 30-minutes late. We finally start to taxi a half-hour later, but then the pilot comes on the intercom and says we had to go back to check the engine or something. I’m at this point irritable, agitated, impatient, dying of heat inside the plane cabin, and still too tired from the night before. Another 15 minutes passes and the pilots then updates that the engineer still hadn’t arrived and would soon. Everyone groans. After another 15 minutes or so, the pilot tells us that we are all set, but due to air-traffic regulation we wouldn’t have a slot to leave for another hour or longer. Then people start to really complain.
Since I had no money on my phone and no way to tell Erin that I was going to be really late since she was picking me up, I asked the kind lady sitting next to me if I could borrow her phone. She generously offered it to me, but of course, her phone couldn’t send texts out of Spain so I never got a hold of Erin.
However, another 15-minutes later, the pilot said we were given clearance and 2 hours after we were supposed to leave, we finally took off. Then to make it worse, everyone was thirsty and hungry and since it should have been a painless hour and a half flight, they had no cold drinks and no food for anyone. But whatever. By the time I landed in France, I had practically read an entire novel I had just started.
Once in the airport, I was looking for Erin but she was nowhere to be seen. I wanted to call her but since I had no money on my phone I couldn’t. I found a pay phone that even when you put it into “English,” it was still 90% in French and after a 10 minute battle between Graham and the Pay Phone, eventually the superior came out with a victory. I got a hold of her and she told me she waiting for me at the train station. I paid the miserable and overly pricey 13-euros to ride the RhoneExpress into Lyon’s city center where after a 30-minute ride, I arrived to the bright smiling face of none other than Erin Berg.
I met her friend/my host Marine, who was this incredibly sweet and open French girl who was spitting image Fort Collins hipster: She had short hair, a lip piercing, rode fix-gear bikes, sewed patches to her clothes, listened to great music and was absolutely perfect because she was just like all my friends at home. I felt real comfortable with her. Not to mention she was hysterical.
Anyway, we dropped my stuff off at her place and then we all went to a barbeque in the outskirts of the city after a wonderful walk through some of Lyon’s tight and windy streets. The barbeque was a blast and I made friends with a ton of people there. Even though my French is clearly restricted, enough of them spoke English, and one even spoke Spanish. Despite our language and culture barrier, I ended up having a wonderful time and we had great conversations in part-English, part-French, and part-Spanish while sipping on rather warm beer and eating shish-kebabs.
The following day, Erin and I rented bikes that we thought only cost 1-euro, but as it turned out, it was 1-euro to register the bike, then 1-euro for the first hour, then 2 euros every half hour after that. You can have the bike for up to 23 hours so you can imagine how much we ended up spending on those damn bikes…I’m trying not to think about it.
But riding through the city was splendid! I got to see a whole different side to the city as we passed hundreds of people, cramped side-streets, and were able to see the two rivers that flowed in the middle intersect. It was so beautiful I cannot put it into words. I wish I could. It had such an air of wonder and of adventure, I wish I could spend a lifetime there exploring all the little side streets and experiencing the fine way of life of the French.
We ended up trying to find a park and drink some beer there, but France for some reason, unlike Spain, doesn’t sell bags of ice, therefore meaning they all drink beer and mixed drinks warm (WTF?!). We came up with the idea, after buying a six-pack of warm beer, to take a plastic bag to a bar and ask for ice and they were kind enough to give us some. So after we got ice, bought food to make sandwiches, I placed the beer in the bag and then the bag in the basket on my handlebars to cool down for our journey to a lovely park. And once we arrived, the sun was shining brighter than ever, the grass that extended for acres was pure green, the lake was full of people paddle-boating, and the zoo (yes, it even had a free zoo) was alive with guests and animals alike all enjoying the nice weather, we got to drink cold beers and eat French baguette sandwiches.
That night, we went out, drank in front of one of the river with Marine and some of Erin’s other friends (side note: Two of them were Ecuadorian and I spoke a ton of Spanish with them. As it turns out, Spain Spanish really is different since they had no idea what half of the words I used meant). We ended up going to a club that was on a BOAT! It was some Australian party boat. We had a great time, covered in sweat and all (it was so stinking hot!).
On Sunday, we ate lunch by the river, took pictures and just wandered the city on foot. It was one of the most simple but wonderful days ever just being able to enjoy a quaint French city, great company, even greater conversation and a view that only a king of France would require.
That night we all went and got dinner at a place that served typical dishes from Lyon. After dinner, we climbed this enormous hill to see a view of the entire city, but once we arrived at the top where a large cathedral sat, the gates were all closed for the night. This is god’s way of getting back at me I suppose…karma, Graham. Karma. So no view for us. But we had a terrific walk in the night through Lyon. Definitely not regrettable at all.
Finally, we went home, I woke up early, caught the plane back to Madrid (that left 30-minutes late…again…stupid EasyJet). Anyway, I’d go back in a heartbeat, even though now I understand French stereotypes a lot better. The people there really were pretty cold, especially since Erin and I were always speaking English amongst ourselves, people would make snide comments. Some idiot on the street said some really harsh words to Erin in English as we passed by. But the city itself is marvelous and has a total Fort Collins vibe. Even though I’m convinced Ft. Collins is worse than, let’s say, going to church, Lyon was the best of Fort Collins wrapped into a biker-friendly, absolutely stunning, history-rich, architecture-masterpiece French city.
Write more later,