Thursday, May 5, 2016

Twenty-four hours in Lyon (most of them sleeping)

Maybe this post should be called Lyon, Been There - Slept.

Too little time, and too little energy to make the most of it. Just an overnight stop for me on the way to France. My overnight bus from Prague arrived into Lyon at 7.00am.  I stumbled out into the station with gummy eyes and brain to match, snuffling and aching everywhere after eighteen hours on an overheated bus. France it was, at last, and I didn't even feel like having coffee and a croissant. But you have to, don't you! and I did. So then I had a pain in the gut as well.

I stayed in a simple single room in a seminary called the Jean Bosco Centre. I can't recommend it more highly. My room was ready and the shower was hot and I was ready then to tackle Lyon. The thing about the JB Centre is it is many flights of stairs above the river - but these monks are not masochistic, there is a funicular. I walked down though, across a roman amphitheatre which is just over the road, and then through the rose gardens and finally down steep laneways into the Veille Ville and across the Saone River.

Destination the Silk Museum. Or I should say Musee Historique Des Tissues et Musee des Arts Decoratif. It is actually two museums in mansions at either side of a courtyard where I would happily live forever even if I had to sleep in a tent for rest of my life including through the winters. The weavers of Lyon - all men - were artists as well as great craftsmen and in fact they were obviously canny businessmen and pretty good with technology too. The pattern cards used to program the weaving looms are like computer punch cards. The silk trade brought immense wealth to Lyon that you can see today in the Renaissance mansions that line the streets.

How could I have forgotten the French tradition of Le Dejeuner? When weakness set in I went in search of a sandwich and could find only fine dining, with a number of Euros beside the menu options that just made my eyes even gummier. Say Lyon to a frenchman and her/his mouth will start to water. It is packed with restaurants. Good choice though, my little place offered a salade Lyonnaise (giving me a good contribution to french-word-rhymes-with-chaise at Le Bookshop's conversation session!) that probably only set me back $15. So Eastern Europe was far behind me now. Though a half hour in the tabac/newspaper shop at the station had already placed me in the heart of Europe. A million different magazines on current affairs, culture and philosophy, history and economy. Nicholas tells me that the most important role of the government in France is encourage culture, tradition and intellectual life. Take that Malcolm Turnbull.

Another round of woven silks and I walked back up the hill before collapsing for 15 hours straight.

So, to recap, Lyon is famous for gastronomy and the textile industry and it has impressive roman ruins. There are two other Star Sights. The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere was practically on my doorstep. Described as 'gaudy mock-Byzantine' it was built in the late nineteenth century and dominates the skyline.

The Cathedrale St-Jean, on the other hand, has been sitting quietly by the Saone for around 800 years.

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