Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Back in the U.S.A.; A Few Final Photos
We're now home in the U.S., having flown back from Lyon on Monday. We spent the weekend in Lyon after taking a train there from Annecy on Saturday morning. Annecy has a population of around 50,000, which was a bit of a change for us after spending the first part of our trip in small villages and towns, but Lyon was a different story still. Lyon is France's second largest city, with a population of over 1 million in its metropolitan area. And while many other cities or towns we visited were located on a river, Lyon has 2 major rivers running through it: the Rhone and the Saone (and some would add a third - the river of Beaujolais wine that flows into Lyon from just outside its northern boundary).
We spent most of our time in Lyon just wandering through different parts of the city, crossing its two rivers several times (and partaking of that third river on several occasions). We went into the courtyards of some of the colorful former silk weavers houses in Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon), and, along with about half of Lyon's residents, spent Saturday afternoon at the large Tete d'Or park near the center of the city. While walking through an out-of-the-way neighborhood on the way towards the park, we stopped into a wine store, where the proprietor was pouring a couple of red Burgundies to sample. We checked out the wine selection (it was outstanding), and talked to the owner briefly, asking if he had ever heard of the Chatus grape variety (he hadn't). Then, hoping to avoid the usual tourist haunts for dinner, I decided to ask him if he could recommend a restaurant that served traditional regional food. He highly recommended a restaurant just down the street -- Le Bouchon des Filles -- and suggested that we make reservations because it was such a popular spot among locals. So we called and made reservations for that night, and were very happy that we did. The place was packed for dinner, not a tourist in sight (except us), and the food was interesting and outstanding.
On Sunday, we began the day by going to Les Halles, the indoor food hall of Lyon, which was a short walk from our hotel. The shops at Les Halles carry an amazing selection of cheese, meat, seafood, vegetables and pastries, among other things, but since we were leaving the next day we could mostly only admire the food, just picking up a few cheeses and some bread for the next day and to bring home. We then walked to the center of Lyon, where a huge outdoor food market sprawled along the banks of the Saone. After again admiring an amazing array of food products, we had lunch in the center of Lyon. After lunch we spent a couple of hours in the Museum of Miniatures (www.mimlyon.com), located in a magnificent building in Old Lyon, then walked up (and up) to the Fourvière Basilica, which looks down upon the center of Lyon from high above the city. At the end of the day we had a simple dinner in the center of the city, then took one more walk into Vieux Lyon before heading back to our hotel to try to get some sleep before our 3:45 a.m. wake-up call the next morning.
The next day was long, and not worth describing. It was nice to get home after a grueling day of travel (including a 5-hour layover at the Madrid airport), but the first thing we noticed was that while all the snow was gone, the trees were still naked and there were almost no flowers yet, just a few daffodils. It was quite a contrast to all of the areas of France that we visited, since Spring was well underway in even the more mountainous areas. Below are some photos showing the contrast.