Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lyon - beer, bicycles and an irish bar

Pierre is (surprize surprize) another AFS 2009-2010 student, although one that lived in Auckland instead of Wellington. I'd only met him when he visited Wellington, but he saw on my blog that I was going to be in Lyon with no where to stay so offered for me to sleep at his.

Roman amphitheatre
The train journey here was interesting, at some point a woman asked me something, and when I replied that I didn't speak French she just shrugged her shoulders and forgot about it, but it meant that she knew I couldn't understand the announcement that the gave later on. I knew it wasn't great because everyone groaned, but normally I follow my "don't ask questions always pretend you know what you're doing and follow everyone else" policy and just do what everyone else does, so I wasn't too concerned. This lady however got all worked up and tried to explain it to me, but as my inability to speak french isn't resolved simplying by people speaking louder and slower to me, she didn't get very far! In english she said, "you come with me, 30 minutes" which I took to mean we were going to be delayed. In the end she looked in the whole carriage for someone who spoke english, and got a very unfriendly young guy with onlz slightly more english than her to tell me that there was a problem with the train, and we had to change to another at the next station. I put this together and surmised that I was going to be half an hour later and text Pierre to say so, but alas, 30 minutes later we arrived to Lyon on time and while everyone else presumably rushed off to another train (I guess the lady who said to follow her figured the english speaker had resolved all the confusion and didn't need her help anymore) I sat down to wait for Pierre, which proves that my "don't ask questions always pretend you know what you're doing and follow everyone else" policy would have worked and saved myself from waiting around in Lyon.

Me with Lyon in the background
It seems that in France people don't really share flats like we do in NZ, I know a lot of people who have left home to study who live in little one-room studios. Pierre lives in one like this, in an old building. Possibly the messiest place Ive visited so far in Europe, but that just adds to the fun of it! My time here in Lyon was really relaxed, but I needed it as a break from all of the rushing around of the couple of weeks before. Pierre heated pizza for lunch and then we sat around just drinking and chatting before going off to check out a view of the city. We took a cable car up a hill, apparently the oldest cable car line in the world but the carriages are way more moden than Wellington's. At the top there is an old roman amphitheatre from around 15BC, where they still hold music festivals, and a Basilica, and the view from there is amazing. We then went to feed a cat, and went back home. While I had a nap Pierre went out to buy food for dinner and my lunch the next day, Id been complaining about how I feel unhealthy as I dont get to eat enough vegetables in Europe, so he came back with a bag of frozen veges, very cute!

Pierre and I out in town
That night a couple of friends came around for drinks, Claire spoke perfect english so it was great to be able to talk to someone rather than just sit in the corner. After they left Pierre and I headed into town, where Pierre made a idiot out of himself talking to the bouncer in english, asking him to repeat himself, and then handing over his French ID! That bar was lame so we headed off to Pierre's local, an irish bar across the rivers. Despite Pierre's insistance that it would be a quiet night as he had a test the following morning, the evening got a bit messy there, we tried some mixture of beer and something that I think probably came from Lyon, and shots of tequila and tabasco (why did I never try that before, I love both tequila and tabasco, awesome combination!), and we chatted away to a lot of people. No one from Ireland though, although my irish accent may have made an appearance or two! We ended the night by bicycling home. In many major European cities they have bicycles that you can hire for usually 1€ for a day, and I'd always wanted to do this. Its kind of scary though because no one wears a helmet and the traffic here is so crazy. I think biking under the influence is still illegal, but taxis are far too expensive and it was too far to walk, and I figure that biking while drunk at 4am on a Wednesday night when there is no traffic anywhere is actually safer than me trying to navigate french traffic while sober during the day. Pierre teased me the next day about my claim that this was the coolest thing I'd done in Europe, probably not true but it was still heaps of fun.

biking home
Thursday was pretty much a write-off. Pierre somehow made it to class in the morning, but did manage to lock the door behind him, leaving me stuck inside all day. Luckily I had the frozen vegetables to eat for lunch! I spent the afternoon just catching up on admin stuff, emails and photos and trying (note im still failing) to keep this blog up to date! After Pierre came back from uni we just bummed around and ate, and then headed to a party at the house of some guys that study with him. Drinking with 18 year old engineering students really reminded me of how old I was! They were drunk when we arrived, none of them really spoke english, although they did delight in yelling obsencities in broken english for a rather large period of time. Luckily they gave that up, although this weird guy did follow me around trying to speak english all night and ignoring all of my hints that he should leave me alone. I'm finding that I am much more tempted to express my anger directly here, not sure if its because its frustrating not being able to calming tell people in their native language that they are being rude/annoying and should stop what they are doing, or if its because I just feel like I have nothing to lose making a scene in a foreign country. People who push in front of me in lines, disobey supermarket ettiquite and watch me struggle with my bag without offering to help are my biggest annoyances (ridiculously common here) but this guy was a few more sentances away from joining the list as well. Some of the guys were quite cool though, and I had an interesting conversation with a guy from Corsica who could understand a bit of english but couldn't speak it, he spoke in French and I replied in English and somehow we got by. There was a guy from spain too who perfectly demonstrated why I struggle with Spanish people, I made a few efforts to talk to him but he was really unfriendly.
Church in Lyon

We left the group as they wandered around the streets undecided about what club to go to and headed off to the same irish bar as the day before, with a small detour to get kebabs. I loooooove kebabs here in Europe, I really don't get what we do in NZ to make them taste so terrible in comparison to the ones here, I swear I wont be able to eat them when I return. We really did have a quite night this night, we were both too had it from the night before and after a few beers we biked home again to bed. A good couple of days just chilling out, I needed that after a lot of intense travelling!

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