“Romaning” Around Lyon

Ready to explore Lyon, we woke up, bought a few groceries for an early lunch, and set out on foot. Walking through the beautiful graffitied streets, we saw many squares, cathedrals, and monuments, before arriving at our first destination, Parc de la Tête D’Or. 

This urban park covers around 290 acres and features a stunning lake, rose garden, zoo, foot pathways, and bikes and boats for renting. Entrance into the park and exploration is entirely free! We, of course, had to be super tourists, and rent the most ridiculously uncomfortable bike to tour around the park. 

Leaving the park, we continued walking to visit the Roman ruins. Due to it’s location and influence, Lyon was one of the most important cities during the Roman Empire rule, and grew rapidly in both size and wealth. Lyon has many Roman ruin remains including an amphitheater, theater, Odeon, and museum. 

We returned to the basilique to view the inside, since we heard it was a must see, and indeed it was. Floor to ceiling mosaics, many different chapels, and a crypt. This basilique is definitely on scale with the one we saw it Monaco. It was absolutely stunning! 

By this time, we were getting hungry, so we stopped for an afternoon snack: tarts and local beers, and sat down by the river. 

Afterwards, we attempted to get into a few restaurants, but I guess you need reservations for most of them, or perhaps our 8:00pm dinner time was prime time! We ended up eating at another local Bouchon and had an amazing feast: another three course dinner, bottle of wine, and espressos for €70. 

Course one: pate for me, lentil soup for Daniel. 

Course two: pike fish for me, chicken for Daniel. 

We concluded with the same local delicacy, praline cake, and an espresso. 

Lyon has treated us very well and has definitely been a place that we would return. The friendliness of the people, delicious local foods, endless sites to visit, historical information, and beautiful parks and streets should make this city a must see on anyone’s list! 

“Only Lyon”

This morning we woke up to the beautiful sun shining through and finally gracing us with it’s presence in Nice. Of course, this was also the day that we were leaving Nice, so needless to say, the weather in Nice wasn’t so nice. Had the rain stopped for more than five minutes, I think we would have had a different experience, but regardless we made the most of it and were ready for the next leg of our trip. After a quick bus ride, mini photo shoot, and 30 minute plane ride with the amazing airline iHop (no they don’t serve pancakes!), we arrived in Lyon. 

The Lyon airport is quite a distance from Vieux Lyon where we were headed to, so we took an express bus, and two metros. Perhaps it took around hour, but the hospitality, and incredibly kind and helpful passerbys made our journey into town seamless. 

We had to wait an hour or so before meeting up with our Air B&B host, so we sat by the beautiful cathedral and did a toast to my Dad, being as it was exactly one year since his passing. We corresponded the time with our family in Ontario, so even though we weren’t able to face time them, we still knew that we will all doing a toast together, in Dad’s memory. 

After checking in and realizing our new home was part of Lyon’s traboules, we were excited to start exploring all that this beautiful city has to offer. For those of you who don’t know, traboules are these narrow passageways between houses that connect streets. They were originally used by silk traders and merchants as a way to access the river quickly. They’ve also been accredited with preventing complete German occupation within Lyon during WWII. Our home is within the longest traboules in Lyon. 

Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets, we stopped along the way for what is becoming our typical afternoon snack: crepes and an espresso. We strolled along the Saône before ascending 798 steps to reach the Basilique de Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière. The church was built in 1872 under the might of the Roman Catholic Church, and apparently excudes wealth. Unfortunately, it was closed once we reached the top, so we weren’t lucky enough to climb another 298 steps to get an even more panoramic view. I guess ours with have to do! Maybe tomorrow…

After taking the road path back down, we headed out for a traditional Lyonnaise meal at a local bouchon. We ordered 50cL of their local house Beaujolais wine and then our meal began with a melon soup. 

Next, I ordered the lentil and sausage appetizer, while Daniel tried the pate. 

For our main course, I had the goose which came in an incredible sauce, and Daniel had the fish. 

Our next course consisted of your choice of cheese. Mine was a local type and was very bold. I would describe it as a cross between Brie and blue cheese. Daniel had cheese and cream, which was also quite different but tasty. 

Next was dessert: strawberry tarte for me. It was delicious. Daniel had pears done in a wine/cinnamon sauce. 

Being our typical French selves, we ended our meal with an espresso. 

Three and half hours and €70 later, our stomachs were full and our hearts satisfied. If you’re ever in Lyon, visit this bouchon! It will not disappoint. 

One Year Ago Today…

…I lost my friend, my comic relief, my dad. This past year has been the hardest of my life with uncontrollable emotional outbursts and continual flashbacks, but I’m learning to cope. I’m learning that memories last a lifetime. I’m learning that these strange nuisances and occurrences are messages from you. I’m learning to live each day to its fullest and to love unconditionally. I’m learning that your inherited stubbornness can be used for the betterment. I’m learning to sing out loud and not care if it’s in tune or not. I’m learning to laugh everyday because it truly is the best medicine. I’m learning that if you watch Jeopardy every night you’ll get more than one answer correct. I’m learning that an ice cold Coors in a frosty mug can actually taste okay. I’m learning that beans really are a magical fruit. I’m learning that the beach truly is the best place to be. I’m learning to embrace my unique or rather quirkiness. I’m learning to be a forever kid. I’m learning to shoot for the stars. I’m learning that anything is possible if you set your mind to it and believe in yourself. I’m learning to tell those important to you that you love and care about them everyday. I’m learning that although you aren’t here in body, you’ll forever be here in spirit. I’m learning that I will never forget you, but that your memories and attributes will continue to live on through others. On today especially Dad, I’ll remember you. I love you forever and always! 

At 10:47am Ontario time, and 4:37pm France time, Daniel and I found a little café in Lyon to do a cheers to Dad. It was a bittersweet moment, but as the sun shone brightly upon us, I knew it was Dad shining his pearly whites through and cheersing us back. 

Thanks for watching over me Dad, for keeping me safe, and for loving me unconditionally. I can only hope that when I have my own children, they’ll always know how much I love them, just as I knew with you! 

When Nice Gives you Rain…go to Monaco!

This morning we awoke to another gloomy forecast for Nice. Rain, rain, and more rain. After seeing the main sites of the city yesterday, we made a last minute decision to venture into the country of Monaco! We took a quick 30 minute walk to the train station and 20 minutes later arrived in Monaco!

Upon exiting the train station we followed the signs to Jardins Exotiques, which we discovered is a beautiful terraced garden feature succulents and flora unique to Monaco. The gardens also provided spectacular views of Vieux Monaco, and within it contained a cave full of stalagmites and stalitites. 

After our tour of the cave, we took the bus to Vieux Monaco. The gorgeous narrow streets were filled with vendors and had endless pathways to get lost within. Along the way, we stopped at the cathedral, the aquarium, and Oceanographic Museum.  This museum was filled of fascinating history and was extravagant in it’s building architecture. 

Next, we visit the King’s Palace, and then ended our visit at the Monte Carlo Casino. Now, I’m not sure how much you know about Monaco, but saying this country is wealthy is probably an understatement. Everyone drove Mercedes, BMW’s, and of course your fancy Bentley’s and Mazzerati’s. The casino itself was elegant on so many levels, and the rich feeling you felt around there was overwhelming. 

Although we debated putting our money on black, instead we headed back to the train station and into Nice. We went for an amazing final local dinner before heading back to our place and getting our things organized. Tomorrow…Lyon!

It’s Nice to be in Nice!

Awakening bright and early at 530, we quickly got our things organized and headed to the Bordeaux airport for our flight to Nice. Around an hour or so later, we arrived in the rainy city, ready to check in and begin our exploring. 

We strolled through the narrow streets of Vieille Ville, surrounded by bright yellow colours and fresh mix of fish and pastry smells. As the rain sprinkled overhead, and the skies became dreary, we didn’t let that stop us from our short visit here. We walked along the beach lined street and climbed Colline du Château for spectacular views of Nice. This park contains gardens, waterfalls, view points, and old ruins that are simply spectacular on all levels. 

The rain continued to pour, so after a visit to the cathedral, we stopped for an essential coffee and our first crepe!

We continued on route for more exploring before a delicious three course local dinner!

Top City to Visit 2017

Bordeaux has topped the best city to visit in 2017, and I couldn’t agree more! What a remarkable introduction to France and a simply gorgeous city and more than one way. 

On Friday, we planned to get up early to explore all that Bordeaux had to offer, but an alarm malfunction, and a late sleep in, set our day off later than planned. We grabbed a quick espresso and pain de chocolate, and began our on foot journey to visit all the sites that made Bordeaux a UNESCO heritage site. We visited thirteen different sites like cathedrals, Grosse Cloche, and Tour Pey Berland, just to name a few. 

After site seeing, we hopped on the tram and headed to La Cité du Vin, which is a wine museum. Upon checkin, you’re given a headset in your language and an iPhone looking device that guides you through the museum, giving you the history, culture, facts, and interactive exhibits to engage the senses. The session concludes with your choice of a glass of wine. 

Our evening concluded with a delicious local dinner, strolling the streets, and getting packed for our next stop: Nice. 

Bordeaux: Port of the Moon

Longest shopping strip in Europe, France’s oldest museums with World War II displays, highest number of preserved historical buildings outside of Paris, and the world’s major wine industry… I must be talking about Bordeaux!

We boarded the train from San Sebastián for our three hour journey into France. Easily navigable, we stopped for a quick and delicious coffee, before checking in at our latest and greatest Air B&B in Old Town. We received the ever most important food recommendations, before heading out for a quick orientation of the town and some yummy eats. Strolling through the streets, every block looked different, yet equally as stunning in architecture. Cobblestone streets, limited vehicles, and lively squares surround each block. 

After aimless wandering, we stopped for oysters and a glass of local white wine, both of which exceeded any prior expectations we may have had. We continued on for some ice cream, more street wandering, and then a lovely dinner.  Dinner was concluded with THE BEST creme brûlée I think I’ve ever. I anticipate that this will reappear in my dreams! 

One thing that continues to arise in my mind is the quality of the food here: both in Spain and France. It’s been four years since I’ve eaten any form of refined sugar, dairy, or wheat, primarily due to the digestion issues that I had with it. However, since being here I’ve eaten (literally) everything and anything I’ve wanted and there have been no issues. What’s wrong with our Canadian food? Perhaps that’s a whole other topic for discussion. 

Tomorrow brings a site-seeing filled day and more delicious eats! I can’t wait!