France - a trip to Lyon
It is true, places that are closest to your home - you often oversee them. This is what happend to us with France. OK, as a child I, Nina, have been to Strassbourg several times, we have visited a small part of the Alsace alread, I have been to Paris twice (but only for business - so, I saw the airport and the hotel). Markus also had spent some time near Nice. But we have never ever really visited France together. With very limited knowledge of the french language it never has been high on our bucket list.
Once again, the reason why we finally decided to travel to France once again was because of our spiritual master Paramahamsa Vishwananda. He was about to give a satsang (where he answers questions people ask him) in Lyon. Lyon is only a 3 hours and 40 minutes drive away from home. So we took the chance, booked a room for 1 night in Lyon and started our first real trip to France.
Our first impression: driving in France is ridisculously expensive. They have toll roads which have really high prices and gas is extremley expensive. Thankfulls we had filled up the car before in Switzerland. First time, something in Switzerland is less expensive than somewhere else :-). However, the trip went smooth and we soon reached Satonay Camp, a suburb of Lyon where our little hotel was. The hotel itself was on the cheaper side but had great references on tripadvisor. Indeed, the room was clean and pleasant enough. But it was a strange feeling when we checked in and wanted to go to our room when 2 policeman came out of a room with rubber gloves and seriously looking people around. Well, maybe sometimes it is good not to have too much knowledge of a language. We have heard early that week that in 7 cities in France the situation is getting worse and the situation is like in a civil war. Of course, Lyon is one of the bigger cities and surely part of these 7 cities. So it really felt strange and worried us a little, also having the impression that Sathonay Camp is not the nicest area. Anyway, it was also not a bad area. We settled down in our room and made ourselves ready for the evening and just hoped, everything would go smooth.
It was a short drive to Rillieux-La-Pape where the event with Paramahamsa Vishwananda took place. A much nicer area. The event was beautiful. People from all over the world and every corner from France came and soon our worries were gone. We enjoyed the veggie food offered and of course we enjoyed being in the presence of Paramahamsa Vishwananda. At around 2 am we went back to our hotel and had a peaceful night (other visitors of the event were also staying in the same hotel).
Next morning we left the hotel and drove down to the Saône River towards Lyon. It was a beautiful drive and we enjoyed the scenery. In Lyon we first went up the hill to the Cathedral de Nôtre Dame. The good thing about France: there is a lot of free parking - if you are lucky to get a free spot. We were lucky. And we enjoyed the stunning views over the city. After a short breakfast we took a long time to visit the amazing cathedral. Later we moved on towards the theatres romains and the old town. We took a walk down to the river, crossed over into the more modern part of Lyon. There we checked out a supermarket. This is our hobby being in a new country: checking the supermarkets. It is always good fun to discover what kind of food is on offer. But this time we were really disappointed. It is really hard to find decent vegetarian or vegan food. By the way, the same for the restaurants! It is simply not available. Well, this was hard for us. But we bought lots of fruits for the day. It is a good diet....
We continued to the Place Bellecourt, a huge square and the heart of the city. The worldwide rugby semifinals were taking place in Lyon that weekend so a lot of promotion was going on there. We quickly left and made our way back to the old part of Lyon passing by the Palais de Justice and the cathedral. In one of the old lanes we sat down to enjoy a nice café au lait and observe the world going by. People seemed very friendly here. It was a nice atmosphere. Till suddenly a sight made us speechless. Military came walking slowly through the lanes fully equipped and armed. They looked seriously checking every corner. One person after the other - in total about 9 walking in a special formation. People around us either reacted like us (being speechless and observing everything) or simply ignored it. Well, we decided to leave. With the news talking about a civil war, there was no need to stay longer. Slowly we went back to the car.
Anyway, Lyon was a pleasant city and it was nice to spend some time here. But we had planned more. With the crazy friday evening traffic we were one of many cars with the same destination: the alps. More about that in our next blog.