Roman Ruins and Churches in Lyon, France

I can’t seem to get enough of France. Michelle, Arturo and I wanted to venture out to Lyon for the day so we took a 7:29 train and arrived at 9:20! Michelle had researched the best way to spend the day and informed us that the best decision would be to buy a one-day city pass to gain free transportation and access to over ten different museums, among other perks. For that though, we needed to find the Visitor’s Center. Let’s just say that we meandered for an hour and a half (no exaggeration) to find this center. We recognized later that we could have taken the metro and saved ourselves the trouble and some much needed time. Oh well.

With the City Pass, we could get a free one-hour cruise on the river La Saône, so we scheduled everything around the 14:30 slot. I have denoted the following walk on the map below. I tried to demonstrate the mountainous terrain in Lyon, but the map doesn’t do a very good job at it… From Place Bellecour [A], we ventured to St. Georges Church [B], arrived at the Théâtre la Maison de Guignol [C] (where we got tickets for free to the puppet show at 16:30), then took the funicular to get to Théâtres Gallo-romains [D] (the Roman ruins) and finally made it to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière [E].

Place Bellecour to Basilique Notre-Dame

Too bad Google Maps can’t show you how we took the funicular to the Roman ruins (because it was more of a straight path from C to D than what is pictured), but at least I can show you what it looked like from inside!

Inside the funicular–notice the elevation!

Everything we did was spontaneous and the only thing we planned was the river cruise. The marionette show we also planned, but I’ll tell you later why only Arturo ended up going. After Basilique Notre-Dame, we sat back down on the funicular and took the metro to Croix-Rousse, a neighborhood that my host mom told me we had to visit. She said there would be good food there. I really hate that we not only did not find unique food, but we just generally did not end up eating! Every restaurant was overcrowded so there was no room for us–but when we did end up finding a place, we had a horrible experience. Here’s what happened.

Before I get in to what happened at the restaurant, I need to explain something. Arturo and Michelle decided during the trip to brush up on their French language skills. I felt a little uncomfortable talking to Arturo because of the simple reason that I wasn’t sure he understood everything I told him–since he typically stared at me with a blank expression–and because I plain wasn’t accustomed to talking to them in French so I always switched to English (though speaking to Michelle was no problem at all). They called me a bad sport for not contributing enough, yet I tried as much as I could. Which is what we were doing when we entered the café (“café” and “restaurant” are almost synonymous in France). This particular one had ample space. As the hostess proceeded to seat us, I saw a young man look up from his date to stare at us. That would be no problem if he didn’t continually turn around–as we were BEHIND him–and glance at us. On a date, for goodness’ sake!

The hostess didn’t give us menus. What are we, mind readers? Or they must have thought we have photographic memory because they displayed their menu outside. We waited for five minutes until I came up to the hostess and asked her for menus. She said she’d be right with us, instead of just handing them to me. I stood around for a minute or so, almost pacing near the bar where she was, until I found them and brought the menus over to us. Next step was ordering. Geez this sounds like a difficult task. Arturo called the waiter over, who said he was busy but would be right with us. Seemed to be the phrase of the day there. We observed him and he would just find tasks to amuse himself with instead of coming to take our orders. Really, though: he would go wipe off a couple of tables then come up to a table and ask the customers if the food was good, shortly disappearing into the kitchen for a while, only to emerge with no plates on his arms. That was it. I’ve never encountered this kind of rude behavior! Parisians were so much more friendly which is astonishing, given their horrible reputation. We just got up and left. But not without receiving one last look from all three of those people: the hostess, the waiter and the guy on a date.

We were cutting it really close to our river cruise. Supposedly, we were to be there 15 minutes ahead of time, but we made it just before the boat was to leave. Yay free stuff. 🙂 I could tell why it was free. The ride was goshdarn boring! I think partially the problem was that we were comparing the cruise we took in Paris to this one, and not only was Paris way more fun, but they also fed us. That was probably the root of the problem. The end result? Arturo fell asleep and Michelle and I just chilled by the bow of the boat, relaxed and took some pictures. The wind was refreshing.

Michelle and I were too hungry to do anything without food. Arturo left to see the Olympic Stadium, while she and I went food hunting. Can you believe that at 3:30 everything is closed?? The restaurants all close their kitchens until dinner and only serve drinks. Given that situation and that Michelle is vegetarian, we only found three places that were conducive to our needs. We ended up eating at an…guess what…American restaurant. *sigh* At least the food was good!

We only sat down at 4:00 so there was no way we were making it to the puppet show at 4:30. We were so happy to get ice cream at 5:15 though! I got mine with vanilla and speculoos, a kind of ginger flavor that is popular in Belgium and France too, apparently. Arturo met us at 5:20 and we took the metro to head over to the train station. When we realized we still had some time before our 6:27 train, we went to a mall nearby and found this great store called Undiz, which we didn’t realize was another way for spelling “Undies.” Ha!

Initially we had planned on making it back to Geneva, taking naps and then heading off to Lausanne to party it up until 6:00 in the morning. But I was just too worn out and much as I would like to deny it, I really don’t enjoy clubbing. Often times, I feel like I do it just to say I did! I told them I wasn’t going to go and Arturo ended up sleeping through his alarm. I didn’t feel bad at all for ditching them. 🙂