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Lyon in wait.

13 July 201403:57PMeurope-2014travel

It's weird being back in France.

Mostly it's the language. My French is all still there, but it's slow and rusty. So I understand most things, but sometimes at a pretty significant delay. It's like being on a very slow Skype call all the time. It's a bit uncanny.

We're only in Lyon for two nights, with a day out in between. Essentially it's an extended stopover, to break a 23-odd hour train trip into slightly more manageable chunks.

It's cool to be back somewhere where you vaguely understand the culture, and the street signs, and the way things work, and where you know what's tasty and what to avoid.

That last one in particular. French pastry is totally awesome. I think finding a patisserie was just about the first thing we did, actually.

I also bought myself an Orangina. If you're an Aussie with no idea what Orangina is, think basically fizzy orange juice. It's pretty great stuff, but much like Krispy Kremes, most of the appeal is that it's something you can't necessarily find so easily at home. I'm not sure that anyone else necessarily gets my obsession with ordering this stuff wherever I see it, and my frequent but not exactly eloquent proclamations of "BECAUSE IT IS THE BEST" don't really seem to be swaying them.

They also come in really neat bottles, this sorta bulby shape with some interesting texturing on them. I've been using one as my water bottle since I went to Reunion - there's an accent on the e, but I can't make my phone do it - and got a new one last time I was in Europe, but it's starting to look a bit ratty. I'm basically just happy it still exists, really.

(And if I get nothing else out of this trip, at least I got a new water bottle, right?)

We took a cable car up to the Roman amphitheatre which overlooks the city. The view makes them probably the best spot to take in what's actually quite a nice city that we only get to stay in for one day. Plus, I am a sucker for ruins.

These ones were in excellent condition. I wonder whether that's their actual state, or whether they've been restored? I'm pretty sure the Romans had access to concrete, but possibly not of the quality or quantity to last until the present day? On the other hand, apart from being very stable, most of it looks_like it's been sitting their for two thousand odd years. It _looks blackened and ancient and wonderful. I could pretty easily look it up, but I think I'll leave that until after I've finished writing this.

Climbing over these is the most fun I've had in something really old since Edfu. Except this time, because 20ish-year-old guys are universally idiots, we had each other to riff off, until we were clambering all over these things yelling PARKOUR at each other. I imagine this is what people used to do at Stonehenge - and while I stand by my approval of the way Stonehenge is managed, Lyon has basically reminded me that ruins are great fun to climb over, and wonder about, and just stand on and admire for their rugged beauty, and that's maybe just as valid a use for them as preserving them and studying them.

At least, that's what I should have told the security guy who told us to get down from there. Stupid liability.

Speaking of valid uses, Lyon has a particularly cool one. They host a whole bunch of summer concerts up there, a mix of music and plays and stuff like that. I really like the idea. I think it's a great way for locals to get something out of what would otherwise be just a tourist attraction, and I think, if I were an artist and - look, it's just a really cool idea, okay? It's just fitting for something to be continued to be used for its intended purpose thousands of years later, and to still be pretty good at it too. Somehow I think the Romans would approve.

Just up the hill from the amphitheatres is a church. I think you could do a whole tour of Europe just looking at churches. I also think that that's not necessarily a tour that I would want to do. There are a bunch of differences between Spanish Catholic churches and French ones, but I can't for the life of me figure out what they mean. Maybe it would mean more if I'd been raised religious, but when you don't really get what much of it means in the first place it makes it pretty hard to appreciate difference. Why does one have a bunch of shrines, and the other doesn't? Why are the pews different? Is this just this church? Or is it a French thing? Or maybe a denominational thing? Who knows? Give me ruins any day.

(And yes, I'm aware I could easily look this up as well, but I will once again restrain myself until after I post this, largely for the sake of making a point.)

We wandered back down through a very quintessentially French part of town, all alleyways and balconies and little shops and restaurants, and in a nice bookend, the last place we stopped was a bakery. The plan was to ask them what time they would have bread tomorrow, so we could take some on the train with us. Having taken the lead from Jess and out of a desperate and probably misguided need to prove myself in front of someone who has been living here for six months, I did not quite follow through with a complete sentence.

What I'm trying to say is that I ended up basically asking, "When bread?", and was pleasantly surprised and confused when the answer was "six minutes".

We bought some and ate it with stolen Nutella from breakfast, and as you would expect from piping hot French bread straight out of the oven, it did not disappoint in the slightest.

That'll do, Lyon. That'll do.

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