Better late than never – Lyon

(Bridget)

Yes, we have been slack with our blogs given that there is only one city left in our first tour of Europe to talk about, Lyon. We have been so caught up in London life that blogging has taken a back seat. One thing that we both really appreciated was hearing how much all of our family enjoyed reading our blogs, so since our adventure has definitely not come to a close, we will get everyone up to speed on what we have been up to since then.

(Alex)

Lyon, the last stop on our first grand tour of Europe.

It was also the point where we had to give our little Peugeot back. After the final leg through some appropriately sad and dreary weather, we found our way to Lyon airport, briefly got lost, parked up for the last time and handed over the keys. Over 42 days it had accompanied us from Bordeaux, through San Sebastian, Cudillero, Santiago de Compostella, Porto, Coimbra, Lisbon, Cordoba, Cuenca, Zaragoza, Moux, Avignon, Nice, Monaco, La Spezia, Tuscany, Innsbruck, Freiburg, Dijon and now to Lyon, and everywhere in between, been part of some great memories and clocked up 7,124km.

So long, Peugeot. It was fun. Hope the new owners are nice.

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We’d booked an interesting hotel (in a good way) for our last couple of nights in continental Europe. Quite central, not far from the Nouvel Opera House and tucked in against the Saone, Hotel St Vincent is a nice little boutique place. ‘Boutique’ generally means there won’t be much in the way of modern luxuries, as we found to be the case again (we were on the fourth floor, there wasn’t an elevator, and B had kindly promoted me to be head of the stairs department in all matters of bag transportation for this trip), but it more than made up for this with its high ceilings, cool exposed stone walls and general spaciousness.

(Bridget)

By the time we got to our hotel, it was quite late, so we did not do much exploring, just found a bar with the football playing (Alex’s choice) and had a pretty quiet evening.

In the morning, the sun was shining again which was perfect for exploring. Lyon is a beautiful city so we did not have to work hard to enjoy ourselves. We had breakfast at our favourite family-run bakery Paul and had our first miss-ordering experience. At this Paul they made you order your food at the till which was ages away from what you were ordering so you had to remember the name for each thing that you wanted to purchase. What I wanted was chocolate bread (chocolat viennoiserie) but what I ended up getting was this ridiculous hot chocolate covered in whipped cream (chocolat viennese). Alex kindly switched his coffee for my hot chocolate and everything was bon. We spent the morning walking around the main city area that was full of beautiful wide boulevards, huge parks and river views. We did find a shop selling “New Zealand, Auckland Antarctic Research” branded clothing which was a bit of a laugh.

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One thing that must be given special mention to is the River Saône. We have been to a lot of places around Europe with rivers running through the middle, but have never seen a river that has water so clean before.

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After a delightful walk alongside the river, we crossed over one of the many bridges and into Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon). This was an area with tight cobblestone streets, dinky little shops, restaurants galore, and cute terraced houses. While we were wandering around we saw someone moving house that lived on the 6th floor of one of the old buildings. To move their furniture, they had to have a giant cherry picker to get everything out from the balcony. It seemed like quite a task, so we decided that’s why no one ever moves house in Europe because it is too much of a drama.

Behind the Vieux Lyon was the Fourvière, Lyon’s ‘hill of prayer’. We decided to take a look since we could see a massive white castle at the top and thought it would be a nice vantage point to see the city from. We had to climb a lot of stairs to get up there but when we were up the top, the view was even better than we had originally anticipated.

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We also discovered that the castle on top of the hill was actually a cathedral (surprise, surprise). The Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière was one of the more modern churches that we had come across in our travels, only dating back to the 19th century. We were not expecting much, but what we saw inside was the most spectacular interior of any place we have been so far. All of the walls and floors were covered in intricate mosaics depicting famous scenes from the bible. What I liked about this one was that the scenes were all of the peaceful or triumphant events in the bible, rather than of death, torture and suffering which was a common theme in the older churches we visited. We just sat and stared at the beauty of this place.

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At the top of the Fourvière there is a famous radio tower called the Tour Métallique which is a blatant rip-off of the Eiffel Tower and was a strange thing to see so far from Paris.

After all of that sightseeing it was time to head back down to the Vieux Lyon and experience what the city was most famous for – its gastronomy. We picked a little restaurant down one of the side streets that had a set menu so we were able to have a full 3 course French lunch to sample the food that this city had to offer. I had the French onion soup to start, Lyon Saucisson for main and chocolate mousse for dessert. Alex was far more adventurous with his choices and ordered terrine to start, fish soufflé with lobster sauce and chocolate mousse. It was extremely enjoyable even though the waitress had a terrible sense of humor, telling me that my meal had nuts in it when I was half way through eating it, may have resulted in a slight moment of panic before I realized she was joking.

The evening was nice and relaxing and involved more exploring of the city, some journaling and an early night in with some delicious quiche and strawberry tarts for dinner from one of the local bakeries which we picked up on the way home.

Our last day in Lyon was really sad, as it was the last day of our trip. We had croissants for breakfast, repacked our bags ready for our flight to London and I wrote a blog. We spent the rest of the morning out wandering around the city again, but it was not as nice as the previous day as it was overcast and cold. We made it back to the airport via the extortionate tram from the city to the airport with no dramas. It was an extremely weird feeling getting to the airport and knowing that our trip was at an end. We had a nice reminisce about all of the good times that we had over the past 6 weeks. Although we were still heading off to a completely new destination (London), it was different because we were moving there and would have to almost start again from scratch.

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