Monthly Archives: February 2024

A full day in Lyon – and beyond?

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The Rhone River in Lyon – viewing the Ponte de l’Universite and Ponte de la Guillotière

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In the last post I finally managed to get out of Paris, onto the train at Gare de Lyon, then ride on down to Lyon. (Later than planned; my 9:30 a.m. train got switched to 2:30.) There was also a bit of a hubbub involving Lyon’s two train stations. That resulted in me wandering around in the rain awhile before finding my luxurious lodging at HO36 Hostel, at 36 Rue Montesquieu. 

First thing next morning – Thursday, September 14 – I checked Google Maps for a laundromat. (Ho36 had good WiFi.) I found one and hiked down Rue Bechevelin, then took a short left to 43 Rue Chevreul. I washed and dried the wet sweaty clothes from the day before, at Promoclean Laverie Chevreul. (Laverie is French for “laundromat.”) While waiting on that I crossed the street for a cafe creme and sweet treat at Cafe Suzette, and posted this on Facebook:

“For breakfast [I had] this flan, in the shape of a pie slice. Delish, and you [can] eat it with your hands. Along with a cafe creme, while your hot sweaty laundry from yesterday is at the lavendaria across the street.”

(My mistake. I later learned “lavendaria” means something totally different.*)

I also posted that “Tomorrow I head for Le Puy en Velay,” and that my tablet’s autocorrect had a fit with such names. “It’s going to be a long month.” Which it was, with me constantly correcting autocorrect. (Which can’t stand either “creative writing” or foreign names.) But back to Thursday morning. After dropping off my clean laundry at Ho36, I started my city tour.

I planned to head over to the twin rivers, cross the bridges and get to Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. It’s atop a high hill, like the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. And like “Sacred Heart” it’s said to offer a splendid panorama of the city. But somehow, maybe still reeling from yesterday’s confused late-afternoon hike in the rain, I turned left on Rue Marseille. It was a nice walk, for a while, but by and by I got the feeling I’d made a wrong turn. “I should have gotten to the river by now!” As it turned out, Rue Marseille runs parallel to the Rhone River. (Three blocks away.) What I I should have done is stay on Rue Montesquieu and head west(ish) over to Quai Claude Bernard. From there I could head up to Pont de la Guillotière and cross over the Rhone. As it was, I ended up hiking parallel to the river and away from “Guillotière” bridge.

I ended up hikiing past Rue Raoul Servant, and thus past all those train multi-tracks that lead to a tunnel under the Rhone and on to Gare de Lyon-Perrache. (One of two train stations in the city.) And ended up hiking on to where Rue Marseille turns into Boulevard Yves Farge. By this time I’d hiked a half hour, and eventually reached “Vocational High School Louise Labé.”

Along the way I stopped at the first sidewalk wine store I saw. I’d heard so much about the Beaujolais nouveau the city is famous for, and wanted to try some. (A unique local wine and highly-prized regional specialty.) I went inside and asked if they had any. But the man just looked at me funny and said, with a deep French accent, “Noh-VAHM-brrr.” (Rolling his eyes, if only in his mind.) From the tone of his voice I gathered that was French for “dumbass!” I also gathered that Beaujolais nouveau doesn’t keep for long. Another “gang aft aglay!”

Back on the street – refreshed at least from a break in hiking – I tried a different tack. I turned right, and after a block of so saw what I’d been looking for. The heights of the city, topped by several buildings with steeples. Two blocks more and I found the Rhone River, then headed up to what looked like the highest steepled building. I kept walking toward Pont de la Guillotière, making sure to memory-mark where I’d turn to get back to Rue Montesquieu – and “home!” I crossed over to and through the Presqu’île heart of the city, which looked interesting, full of bustling young people, pilgrims and young romantics of all kinds. (“I wish I had more time.”)

I originally planned to hike all the way up the hill to the Basilica, but the route wasn’t at all clear. (No “direct way.”) And by this time I was getting tired from more hiking than I expected. Plus there was a funiculaire, and it was reasonably priced, so I took it instead. And the view just from the top of the hill was spectacular, by itself, but that was as good as it got.

Just like in Paris I’d hoped to climb to the top of the Basilica tower in Lyon. Then came another surprise. (Another “aft aglay.”) It turns out that to climb the tower you have to join a tour group. But aside from the expense, to me that meant standing around in a group of strangers, trying to feign interest in a lot of touristy questions. In other words, wasting time and money, to which I said, “No thanks!” Still, the view – even just from the top of the hill – was spectacular:

The highlight of the day today, hiking around Lyon, France. Two views of the city from high atop the hill where stands the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvielle. “Mission Accomplished!” I planned to climb up, but I must confess – I do not deny, but confess – that I took the funicular up. I was worn out by then, by the walking today and trials and tribulations of yesterday.

I posted that on Facebook, with the pictures, then hiked back to my lodging at Ho36. I took a shower, did some yoga and in due course wandered down to the bar-slash-community-room for a bite of dinner and a beer or two. Before leaving home I’d downloaded the version of Travels with a Donkey, as a file so I could read it anywhere. (Even without internet.) And there in that big Ho36 dining-room-slash-bar I started re-reading Travels in earnest. I wanted to know what to expect, and we’d be starting the long hike in three days.

But first I had to get to Le Puy.

Sitting among all the fellow hostelers, sipping on an ice cold beer and reading Stevenson’s account of the adventure again, I thought about tomorrow’s transportation. Back home I’d bought a ticket for a 1:30 train and bus to Le Puy, however

When I got to Part Dieu Wednesday afternoon, and before starting the hike to Ho36, I took some time to just stand and scope out the situation. (The vast station.) Mostly I wanted to familiarize myself with how to get out of Lyon and on to the train to Le Puy. I watched people boarding, and saw that they all had one of those square things with the squiggly lines inside, either on their phones or on a piece of paper. (What I later learned was a “QR Square.”) And I didn’t have either one. So I planned to get there early next morning and figure something out.

Before retiring for the night I set the alarm for 8:-00 – the train left at 1:30 – but woke up at 6:30. I went through my morning ablutions and packed up. Then, figuring I had a little time to relax, I lay down for a bit – but “danged if I didn’t fall asleep again.” (And had really weird dream to boot.) Still with some time to go I left Ho36, hiked up Rue Marseille to the McDonald’s where I’d stopped to get my bearings on Wednesday. I’d checked Google Maps for a simpler route, so from the McDonald’s I hiked straight up Rue Paul Bert and followed it all the way. I got to Part Dieu in 22 minutes, at least half the time it took on Wednesday to get to the hostel.

I got to the station and went inside. Crowded, noisy and vast, and amid all the chaos I got run into, literally, by a tall attractive brunette in a red vest. Which I really appreciated; she was one of the station’s staff. After some mumbled apologies I asked her for help. She may have thought I was one of those “angels unawares,” but at any rate she directed me to the nook off to the side of the station – out of the main drag – where I could get a paper pass. The line was short, I got my paper with the squiggly square and – with plenty of time to spare – took a hike.

Out through the exit and over the six tracks east of the station, through the Parc Jeanne Jugan and up Rue d’Avigny for a ways. Then back to the Parc where I stopped at the Hotel-Restaurant Campanile Lyon, for a leisurely brunch at one of the shaded outdoor tables. And that was that. All I had to do was get on the train for a 45-minute down to Saint-Étienne-Châteaucreux, find the bus station in 15 minutes, then ride for an hour and 20 minutes.

What could go wrong? I was on my way to Le Puy en Velay – and beyond!

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More like, “to Le Puy-en-Velay and beyond…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Lyon France Images – Image Results. It goes with a a page, “Lyon in pictures – the mysterious food capital of France.” And aside from the Ponte de l’Universite and Ponte de la Guillotière, you can see the Basilica “Fourviere” at the far upper left.

“The last post:” More “gang aft aglay” – and luxury in Lyon!

A note about clothes washing on an overseas hiking journey to Europe. Sometimes while taking my end-of-day shower – and as necessary – I can wash my sweat-damp clothes by stomping soap into them and then rinsing with the shower hose. (A quick trick I had to learn in Jerusalem, when my Piggly-Wiggly bag full of dirty clothes got lost on the bus-ride to Nazareth.) And incidentally, the French word for laundromat is “laverie,” as in the Promoclean title. “Lavanderia” is apparently something to eat. See for example French Lavanderia Recipe – Image Results.

Re: The Lyon Beaujolais. “The wine is marketed to be drunk in November, only a few months after the grapes were on the vines.”

“Angels unawares.” See Hebrews 13:2 – Bible Hub, in the KJV, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (The attractive young lady in the red vest certainly got my vote for a nice berth in heaven…)

The lower image is courtesy of Infinity And Beyond – Image Results, referring to sayings by Buzz Lightyear, the “fictional main character in DisneyPixar‘s Toy Story franchise.” See also To Infinity and Beyond: A Journey of Cosmic Discovery, on the 2023 book by Tyson and Walker.

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More “gang aft aglay” – and luxury in Lyon!

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Room 10 at the HO36 Hostel Lyon, sheer luxury after that “flat” in Paris, and hiking in the rain…

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The last post described my September trip to France, as far as the train from Paris down to Lyon. (Two days in each city. Then I’d join my GR 70 hiking partners in Le Puy en Velay.)

Back home, preparing for getting to Lyon, I’d planned and memorized the hike from Gare de Lyon-Perrache to the HO36 Hostel where I’d booked a room. I figured the train would get to Lyon-Perrache first, as the more direct route. But as we approached the city, the overhead speaker announced we’d get to Lyon-Part-Dieu first, much to my surprise. So, I went into a “quick-recalculating” mode, then for reasons set out in that last post, “decided to get off at Part Dieu, even though I’d paid the ticket for Lyon-Perrache.” (Mostly I didn’t want to make a special side-trip the next day, back to Part Dieu, as I’d have to if I stayed with the original plan.)

I came up with a beautiful plan to get from Lyon Part Dieu to the HO36 Hostel, at 36 Rue Montesquieu. Unfortunately, that’s when the ”gang aft aglay” thing kicked in again. (The thing that plagued me a good part of the trip so far.) “For one thing it was raining, again. For another I hadn’t memorized the pre-mapped route” back to Part Dieu “as well as I’d done the way from Lyon-Perrache.” So, as noted, the latest “aglay” started when my 9:30 train from Paris got cancelled. I’d had to change to the 2:30 train, and so got to Lyon much later than planned.

Then, once I left Part Dieu station, it started to rain. What followed was me learning yet again that under such circumstances Google Maps don’t always match reality. Put another way, those Maps can give you a route that’s hard to memorize and execute – in the rain.

Here’s what I mean. When I left the hostel Friday – in the act of leaving the city – it took a mere 22 minutes to hike back to Lyon Part Dieu. It was simple. Head out Rue Montesquieu to Rue Marseille, and take that street up to the McDonald’s where the street splits. (The McDonald’s I found on the way in Wednesday afternoon.) Then just follow Rue Paul Bert all the way to the station. You can’t miss it. But that’s not what happened that rainy Wednesday afternoon.

Aside from the rain, I re-learned that in “walking” mode, Google tends to send you through a lot of side streets and back alleys. That can seem more “direct,” but it’s hard to remember. And about that McDonald’s I found? Technically – I learned later – it’s at 6 Place Gabriel Péri, just off “Cr. Gambetta,” after it crosses Pont de la Guillotiere. That’s where I ended up  late Wednesday afternoon, after hiking around in the rain. I recalled that McDonald’s has free WiFi, so decided to stop for a bite and check my bearings. (In hindsight I could as easily stand outside and use their internet, under the eaves, without waiting in line as long as I did.)

I’d been angling west, heading generally toward the twin rivers and the Presqu’île center of the city. (Toting my 20-pound backpack, with rain gear.) I found I actually wasn’t that far from the hostel. But to get there – per Google Maps, courtesy of the Lyon McDonald’s – the best way was, again, through side streets and back alleys. (Google says walk down Rue Marseille, then take a right on Rue Bechevelin until it angles over and meets Rue Gilbert Dru, and so on.) I thought I could remember all that, and eventually did find the hostel, but the Wednesday hike from Part Dieu had totaled a lot more than a “mere 22 minutes.” I didn’t get there until 6:30.

At this point the reader may ask, “Why does he do such things? Everything seemed to go wrong! So many ‘gang aft agleys.’ This guy really had a lousy time!” But nothing could be further from the truth. About which I recall a quote about Ernest Hemingway traveling in Europe:

“One of the things about him is that he’s committed to travel. He likes, I think, more than anything to be a foreigner, a stranger in a strange land. Everything is heightened, and taste is heightened, vision is heightened, smells are heightened.”

So it is true that finding your way around a strange foreign city – “where they talk funny” in ways you can’t understand – can be a big challenge, but that’s what “heightens” the experience. And it especially heightens the taste of that first sip of icy cold beer at the end of a challenging day. Which is how things turned out that first day in Lyon.

It did take until 6:30 to find the hostel and get into my room – but, “Oh, what a room!”

Three times the size of the dump in Paris – I charitably called it a “flat” – in both the room itself and in the big luxurious bed. Plus I got a bathroom of my own. My own shower too! (No climbing half a flight of stairs to a landing between two floors, to get either.) I’d gotten hot and sweaty hiking from Part Dieu, but the Ho36 hostel made my day. And a big part of that was the bar and nice big common area I saw first thing on entering from Rue Montesquieu.

Once ensconced in my room I took a luxuriant hot shower, warming up nicely after my wet, sweaty hike. After more pure luxuriating in Room 10, I hiked – walked, sans pack – back to the McDonald’s for a late dinner. (I’d done a lot of hiking that day, mostly carrying a 20-pound pack. Remember? Five or so hours killing time, up to Notre Dame and back, between the train I expected and the one I finally took?) Last of all I got my tablet from the room, went down to the first-floor bar-slash–common-area, and enjoyed a cold draft beer – or two. All while settling in nicely among the other guests, some of them young, full of life, and/or fellow pilgrims.

And ready for more “gang aft aglay” on the morrow, should that again be necessary…

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The bar and common area at HO36 Lyon. “Sheer luxury” after Paris…

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The upper image is courtesy of HO36 Hostel Lyon – Official website – Best prices – ho36.

“Last post.” On Lyon, another Basilica and another “best laid plans…”

“I didn’t want to make a special side-trip.” When traveling, especially on foot in Europe, I like to make sure beforehand of my hiking route to a mass-transit connection, so I don’t miss the connection.

“Then take Rue Paul Bert…” All the while, hiking, thinking to myself, “Rue Paul, Rue Paul, I’ve heard that name before.”

On my 2019 trip to Jerusalem. See This time last year – in Jerusalem! (And links therein.)

On the “fun” of traveling in a strange country, see also for example 27 Surprising Benefits of Traveling Abroad, and 10 Benefits of Foreign Travel – WanderWisdom. As for the quote about Hemingway in a strange country, I copied that down from Episode 1 of the Ken Burns documentary on Hemingway, “A Writer (1899-1929),” as noted by a Professor Cushman.

The lower image is courtesy of Ho36 Hostel Lyon – Image Results.

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