Friday, 17 October 2014

"She was a day tripper!"

The past two weeks have been a bit hectic. Aside from suddenly being swamped with work after being told that the year abroad “is a bit like a holiday”, I had two sets of friends visiting (first my friend Daniel came on Wednesday and Thursday, then Sophie and Lauren came for the weekend). I also had a little day trip adventure. This could only mean one thing: time to be a tourist!

Wall Mural at Musée Urbain de Tony Garnier
We started with the obvious attractions. The beautiful Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière never fails to disappoint, and the panoramic view of the city from the top of the hill is a perfect photo location. Whilst up there, you can’t miss a trip to the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre either, which on a bright and sunny day such as the ones we enjoyed, is a great place to stop and sit and catch up with life. One of the best things to see in Lyon, however, is the Musée Urbain de Tony Garnier, which is a collection of buildings in Lyon’s Etats-Unis district with fantastic murals painted onto their sides, and even the rain which fell on a biblical scale couldn’t dampen our spirits or ruin the impression the amazing artwork made. It was also nice to have my friends from home meet some of my friends here in Lyon. Daniel was treated to a university organised party, whilst Sophie and Lauren joined us for a much more relaxed bottle of wine at a bar by the Rhône. I also took advantage of having visitors by eating out and enjoying some of the food that Lyon has to offer. We ate at typical Lyonnais bouchons and I tried, although I admit it wasn’t my favourite dish ever (much to Daniel’s amusement), the famous Lyonnaise quenelle. It’s a sort of mixture of creamed fish, breadcrumbs and egg which is poached before being served with a lobster sauce. The sauce was delicious, but I couldn’t get my head around the texture. Try to imagine a fishy suet dumpling…yeah, that’s it…you’ve got it!

Aix-en-Provence market
I can’t tell you how brilliant it was to have some friends from home come to visit. It was as if they had brought a piece of home with them, and just being able to spend some time with them has re-energised me and given me a little emotional boost for the next few weeks of my stay. Last time I lived in Lyon I was here for over three months and didn’t really miss home that much. It’s funny, I didn’t realise how much I missed home this time until I saw my friends from England here in Lyon, and it’s only been two months!

Last weekend was absolutely fantastic too. A few of the girls decided to day trip to Aix-en-Provence and I’m so glad I agreed to join them. The town itself is pretty small and you can see most of it in a day, but the weather was beautiful and the surroundings even better. The best thing about going on a
Saturday was that there was a market, which of course meant I spent a ridiculous amount of money on soap and jam and chutney and chocolate-orange spread and all the other things in life that a girl can’t live without! We spent a little time looking at Paul Cézanne paintings in a local museum and took a walk up to the cathedral in the afternoon. It was so understated inside but had an alluring charm that was quite disarming. Often when cathedrals are elaborately decorated I find it hard to get past the aesthetic beauty of the building, but the simplicity of the cathedral in Aix-en-Provence and the beautiful organ music being played allowed me to connect on a much more spiritual level, which I really loved.

Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence
An ice cream and a coffee later and we were on the train home. Despite the long day, I actually found
my time in Aix-en-Provence quite relaxing, and came home feeling refreshed rather than drained. Spontaneous day-tripping is definitely the way to go, and with train tickets for only €10, it’s so affordable.

I’m hoping to have a couple of quiet weeks now. There are tests to tackle, presentations to give and essays to start planning, and whilst I've had my fun, I should probably start knuckling down. Then again…I am the queen of procrastination, so maybe I’ll have something else to write about sooner than I think!