Dinner at Lyon

What an extraordinary period we are experiencing! The BLM movement which is happening globally is, for me, a very positive event and I love it to continue growing until racial discrimination is eradicated. Yes, we are still in amidst of the coronavirus crisis. But something as important as this can’t wait because it will be inconvenient for someone else. The tide is taking over all of us…

Now, let’s go back to one evening in Lyon two years ago.

In the past, I visited more than a few largish French cities such as Rennes, Strasbourg, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, and they never failed to impress me. Unlike their largest counterpart, Paris, their streets were litter-less and beautifully maintained, and I loved their relaxed atmosphere. And if I were pressed to choose one French city I found the most charming, my answer would have to be Avignon. The city was packed with charm – their pedestrian friendly streets, leafy squares with cafes and restaurants, private boutiques with unique offerings, etc. I loved the place because they had everything I expected from a historic French city in one handy package.

A mellow early evening in Lyon

Having said that, I still recall good vibes which I picked in the late afternoon air of Lyon’s city centre. Lively but civilised, sophisticated yet not snobby, I liked the place very much.

‘So what do you fancy for dinner, mum?’ I asked her as we left our hotel room. ‘Anything. I don’t mind as long as it is not too herby or spicy.’, came her usual reply. ‘Well, it’s very helpful, mum.‘, I sighed.

Can I tell you how my mom can be a real pain when it comes to food? she has so many foods she dislikes, and choosing a restaurant in an unfamiliar place can be very tricky. Her most pet hate is Asian herbs and spices in general therefore Thai or Vietnamese or Indonesian are big no-no. With her, there won’t be any culinary adventure. How sad…

‘Let’s check out rue Mercière. It looks like there are lots of restaurants, according to Google!’

The street was lined with many eateries and some restaurants’ alfresco dining areas were already snapped up by early diners.

Too many places to choose from!

Mum started to say that she wanted Moules-Frites with beer and we sat for a while at one of the outdoor tables of A Belgium restaurant. However, they seemed to be not quite open for business yet and we didn’t see much activities in the inside of the eatery. After sitting around 15 minutes, we gave up and started looking for somewhere else.

‘How about Italian, mum?’ We found anItalian bar/restaurant on rue Thomassin which looked inviting.

Lively but not too raucous…

We were swiftly ushered to a table next the open window by a smiley staff and we eagerly ordered well-earned cold beer…

Ahhh, we missed you!

For dinner, we opted for a platter of antipasto and a plate of multigrain and roasted vegetable salad…

Voilà! Bon appétit 🙂

Mum seemed to enjoy her beer and food. ‘Italian is the safest bet if we are not sure what to eat.’, she smiled as she munched on.

After dinner, we made a detour to a mini supermarket before heading back to a hotel.

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière in the distance

‘Look at these apples!‘

We would have bought a couple of them if the season was right…

Light traveller

This morning, I saw a traffic warden on our street for the first time since the lockdown has started.

They were standing a lot closer…

While the warden was issuing a ticket, a few construction workers came out from a building site nearby and approached him, protesting about the penalty. At one stage, the distance between them was less than 1m even though the confrontation lasted nearly 5 minutes. ‘Gee, is it really necessary? Where is the social-distancing rule?’ I was biting my lips while I was watching the exchange.

Issuing parking fines to construction workers, who weren’t banned from working but also were discouraged to use public transports, was one thing but also sending out those traffic wardens to the street without appropriate protections was another thing I really wanted to question Hackney Council. Sure, they would want to recoup some revenue they lost during the lockdown. But they must also remember that they had their duty to protect everyone from the virus.

Ok, it’s enough for my corona moaning.

As I mentioned in the previous post that mum and I were not light travellers even though we wished to be one. We would love to travel with a minimum luggage like a small carry-on each, instead of being laden with multiple bags of all sizes and makes like Samwise “Sam” Gamgee in The Lords of the Rings and trudging on down the street.

Sam, you travel in style…

When I fantasise about being an light traveller, one image pops up in my mind is a TV advert I watched when I was a teenager. In it, a guy in a pair of faded Levi’s 501 slipped his passport in to the rear pocket and casually walked towards a departure. Needless to say, he had no luggage to hamper his style. Oh, how we would love to be unshackled like him but sadly it would not gonna happen. Do you know why? Let me explain.

We stayed at Le Boulvardier and this was their reception / bar area.

Funky decor, huh?

We didn’t see the staffs when we arrived because the bar was closed then.

A view towards the bar entrance from the street.

During our road trip, we discovered that the majority of the hotels we stayed didn’t have a coffee maker or a hairdryer in the room. We, especially mum, loved drinking coffee and having no facility to make one in our room was a big headache. I imagined that the hotels expected us to go out and have our caffeine fix at cafes nearby. But mum didn’t like French style coffee (she preferred American style) and also she wanted to drink it and relax in the privacy of our own room. ‘I don’t want to go out for coffee first thing in the morning!’, mum would moan.

So, my solution was storing everything we imagined we would need during the holiday, such as a kettle, a hairdryer and a yoga mat(!) in the boot, and bring it (or them) to our room when necessary.

Le Boulvardier’s room was one of those minimalist kinds with very basic amenities – no coffee maker and no hairdryer.

‘Good job that we decided to bring a kettle and a hairdryer from the car then!’

If the car park was near the hotel, I wouldn’t have minded doing a few trips to transport our necessities to our room. However, the parking at Lyon was more than a few streets away from our hotel and therefore I decided to bring everything, a kettle, a hairdryer, cups, etc.

Shame, we didn’t drink at the bar!

One day, we should try to be light travellers by setting a baggage allowance, like one carry-on each. I bet it won’t be easy but we probably can learn to live with a little bit of inconvenience and even enjoy it as an out of ordinary experience…

Exploring Lyon

We alighted the metro at Hôtel de Ville and came out to Place des Terreau. As we approached the square, we saw some white tents and an event was underway.

What is this all about?

It turned out that the event was promoting Paris 2024 Olympics game, letting kids ride stationary bikes and doing some ball games on a makeshift turf.

How could anyone in the square ever imagine Tokyo 2020 would have to be postponed? I sincerely hope we all can cheer the Olympians and Paralympians in 2021 without the fear of COVID-19.

Musée des Beaux-Arts
Fontaine Bartholdi
Hôtel de Ville

‘Shall we walk around the south side of the square as they recommended it?’

One of the shop assistants, who helped mum to choose a pair of sandals after our unsuccessful visit to Monoprix, suggested that the area would have more private shops than Rue de la République area.

Looks promising!

True to her recommendation, we saw more than a few interesting shops along Rue Romaine and Rue Saint-Polycarpe. I bought a canvas tote bag and mum bought some beautiful cards.

Vintage and handmade gems!

After satisfying our pleasure shopping urge, we strolled down Rue Désirée and came out to Place Louis Pradel…

Warm Saturday afternoon
Lovely weather!

As we headed towards a metro station, we encountered a crowd coming out of Opéra National de Lyon and much to our delight, they started singing and dancing!

Carefree joy of pre-coronavirus…

I will most definitely dance in the street when the world is free from this nasty virus, COVID-19!!

Lyon, oh Lyon…

The lockdown has entered its second week and we are coping OK so far. We have established a kind of routine and started to feel less stressed about the new normal. Having said that, having too much time on our hands isn’t that great, is it?

Bella is sad about having to stay indoor…

During the time like this, I should be diving into updating my blog. However, I end up fiddling with my iPhone, checking Facebook, Instagram, BBC app, etc… instead. I must be more disciplined and productive.

So here we go. I’m gonna recount our time in Lyon!

Mmm…, I have only myself to blame but the memories of our stay in Lyon are rather hazy and patchy. For nearly two years, they have been left alone in my head and now I find them fading fast like vintage photographs!

A hotel I booked at Lyon was a rather strange one. I can’t recall how I got hold a key to our room – maybe it was through an instruction via Booking.com – we had to let ourselves in and find the room.

Staircase was rather sweep…
The decor was eclectic and fun!

Our room was simple but pleasantly decorated and had a high ceiling and a tall window.

Airy and inviting

Our window was filled by the view of a local church. Would a church bell wake us up the next morning, we wondered.

Beautiful, huh?

After sorting out our luggage, we decided to visit another Monoprix on Rue de la République for mum’s favourite top.

I wished if we were light travellers!

‘Shall we have some lunch here?’ We saw a vegetarian cafeteria around the corner and decided to grab late lunch.

Yummy!

We ordered two lasagnes, one with mixed beans and another one with courgette.

After lunch, we strolled towards the Monoprix…

Early summer in Lyon…

It was Saturday afternoon so the streets were busy with locals and tourists.

The style of the buildings reminded me the one in Paris…

Ornate and elegant…
A tram!

The video reminds me how precious our “ordinary everyday” is. Under this COVID-19 lockdown, we can’t do anything normal, such as sauntering in town, meeting up with friends or going out for drink. Streets are deserted and filled with the fear of virus. How sad is that!

The street then was filled with pedestrians…

The sun was shining…
Balloons!

We looked for mum’s top at the Monoprix but it was sold out. She was disappointed but I consoled her that we would try another store if we come across it.

‘Let’s catch a metro from here!’

On y va!

The ride would be only one stop to Hôtel de Ville but I wanted to reduce the burden on mum’s knee…

Where is a car park?!@Lyon

I am feeling very good after finishing practicing stick-handling drills, shooting pucks and riding an exercise bike. Now, I’ve completed stretching and I am ready to update my blog!

After passing Laragne-Montéglin, we traveled along A51 northwestward. At Grenoble, we took A43 and continued another 112km towards Lyon.

Lyon was the largest city we planned to visit during the road trip (we omitted Paris because we visited numerous times already), so we were duly excited.

Lyon, on y va!

We reached the outskirts of Lyon around 13:00.

Traffic was getting busier…

We continued towards the city centre and crossed the Rhône.

The Rhône! Beautiful!!

Once crossing the river, our sight was filled with tall buildings and trees.

So where is our street?

For the road trip, I booked all of our hotels through Booking.com and one of my criteria when I came to choose lodging was how easy it was to park our car. Mum had a bad knee and we weren’t exactly light travellers – our baggage snowballed as we continued the journey! – so I wanted a public parking to be near the hotels if they couldn’t provide a private one.

Lyon!

Navigating through a large European city on foot would be confusing if you were new to the place. And the task would be even harder if you were behind the wheel and negotiating one-way streets in an unfamiliar city. I tried my hardest not to smash anyone’s side mirror as well as any pedestrian while desperately looking for a sign “P”!

All parking bays are taken!
Our street but no parking!

On Google map, there were a couple of parkings but one was only open for limited period and another one was closed except contract parkings. Eventually, we managed to find a spot in the car park which was more than a few large blocks away…

Sorry mum!

I promised mum that I would bring a car near the hotel when we were leaving the city so she would have to walk a minimum distance next day…

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