Iceland Recap

This is a long overdue and a very long post because I get to share all about my week in Iceland over my spring break! J and I have been looking for locations that allow us to meet somewhat in the middle between France and the United States and apparently, we have a thing for I-destinations…Italy, Ireland, Iceland, you get the drift. We planned this vacation in January and read all about how Iceland is a wonderful place to visit in March and how the weather can be soooo nice. Even the venerated Rick Steves recommended Iceland in March so how could we go wrong? It turns out we could, but we had a wonderful trip despite all the challenges. So, with a warning on the length, I will recount our Icelandic adventures!

Mountain View from Day 4

I flew in on February 27th because there are regular flights from Paris to Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital, twice a day and both get in during the afternoon. Because J would be getting in early on the following Monday, I decided to get there a day early to check things out. I flew in around 2 in the afternoon and was able to take a bus from the Keflavik airport to Reykjavik proper. The two cities are a forty-minute drive apart and you need to have a rental car or purchase a bus ticket for 25 euros to get into the capital. I had been warned ahead of time by online research so once I landed, I got out my ticket and hopped on the bus. Once I made it into the city, I walked from the bus station to my hostel, which was no easy feat. A weird phenomenon that J and I experienced throughout our time in Iceland was that the streets and sidewalks outside of very well trafficked areas were barely ever properly cleared of snow or ice. Perhaps they don’t salt the roads for environmental reasons, but they don’t seem to do anything at all to clear sidewalks in parts of the city and roads in the rest of the country. It was occasionally extremely irritating and inconvenient so I’m glad I brought a pair of something like cramp-ons that I could strap to my feet. I forgot my yaktrax that I had in Baltimore, so I bought another pair at Decathlon, the popular chain of sports equipment stores here in France. I had also forgotten heavy boots and I’m really glad that I found a pair of tough, water proof boots with thick rubber soles at the thrift store. They were a lifesaver, and I would not recommend going to Iceland without a solid pair of boots, at least in the winter months. Once reaching the hostel, I spent most of my afternoon exploring Reykjavik, before grabbing a quick dinner at the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hotdog stand which is by the cheapest eat in the city. I had been forewarned about the high price of food and groceries, but it was still a shock. Iceland is an island nation that imports most products sold and that includes food. The hotdog stand was a comparative steal, costing under 10 euro for 2 hotdogs which were delicious. I ate them with everything on it and extra fried onions which was the move. After, I went back to the hostel and called it a night. The wind and the cold really wore me out so I’m glad I just rested.

The next day had some pretty horrific weather. We had planned on renting a car at the airport which J had arranged online when we booked everything. The rental place didn’t open until 8 in the morning, so he had to wait a couple hours after landing. At first, it was looking hopeless because the driving conditions were terrible, and they couldn’t even get the car out of the rental lot…not a good sign. The driving conditions that day ended up being some of the worst that either of us had to face and I am really glad that J made it through the white out in one piece. He got to Reykjavik around 10:30 and I was busy having a pastry at a café I had found the night before called Sandholt. The pastries were divine, and I wished I had been able to eat there another time before leaving. However, to give you an idea of prices, we each had a pastry and a coffee, and the bill was almost 28 euros. I joke a lot with J about this one time that he paid almost twenty dollars for two lattes and a pastry, but this really blew that out of the water. So, this past month I really went from the extreme Icelandic prices to the deliciously cheap Venetian ones! Fun times for my wallet! After breakfast, we wandered around Reykjavik in the bitter cold and wind but tried to make the most of it. We couldn’t check into our guesthouse until 3pm so we had to fill the time before we could rest and get warm. We visited the famous Lutheran church, the Hallgrímskirkja which was very cool and very big! We also walked down the “rainbow road”, which is the main tourist street. Once 3pm rolled around, we headed to the guesthouse to rest up for our very busy week of driving around the south coast of Iceland.

The next day was a bit tricky. We had plans to drive down the south coast to our next place to stay, a little cabin in Vík, but the night before the online road guide was showing all the roads to Vík as closed which was not reassuring. We decided to head out anyway and try driving the Golden Circle which is a ring of tourist sites closer to Reykjavik. However, once we got there, the road was covered in snow and we were able to four wheel drive over it until we got to a section that was backed up because someone else got stuck. We decided to cut our losses, turn around, and  head towards Vík and see how far we could go. Surprise, surprise we made it all the way! We stopped for many sites on the way such as Seljalandsfoss, a famous waterfall. It was here where we got to experience the terror that is Icelandic tourist site parking in the winter. The parking lot had more potholes than the whole city of Baltimore and the areas where tourists walked to see the falls were covered in ice. I was happy for my crampons, but it was still a rather precarious experience. The sites are all cool but it’s not cool to have to risk life and limb to get to see them. Perhaps this is where we should have learned our lesson about visiting Iceland in the winter months. We also decided to go further than initially planned because the weather for the next day was looking really rough. We ended up seeing every single site on our itinerary but had to make some significant adjustments to make that happen. We drove all the way to Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoon which was wayyy further than we had planned on driving that day. From the Golden Circle spot where we turned around to there was a five-hour drive which we had not planned on. However, we made a last-minute change and were able to go see it! We saw both the glacier lagoon and the diamond beach right before the sun set which was magical. From there, we had a long drive back to Vík on the dark and somewhat twisty Icelandic roads but thanks to my superior driving skills, we made it back in one piece!

The next day was more relaxed. We ended up driving around a bit in the afternoon because of the high winds in the morning. It was shocking to both of us that from our cabin, we could see people in tiny cars and tour buses just zooming down the road at upwards of 80 kilometers with really strong winds. I guess the Icelandic people don’t mind as much but we were worried about being flipped over on the road!! We left the cabin after lunch and headed to Skógafoss, a nearby waterfall. From Skógafoss, we drove to Dyrhólaey which overlooked the black sand beaches and the very fierce ocean. From there, we drove back to Reynisfjara or the black sand beach. It was an otherworldly site and I think one of my favorite places we visited. Both J and I stood transfixed just looking at the waves pounding the volcanic beach. It felt like we had left earth and we wondered what could have possibly made people think that settling in Iceland was a good idea. From there, we just drove for a bit past Vík and once I was too cold to stand being in the car anymore, we drove back to Vík and got soup for dinner from The Soup Company. 10/10 would recommend the lava soup and if you stay in the restaurant to eat, you can get as many soup refills as you want which is nifty. From there, we went back to our cabin for the night. 

Thursday was our last full day of driving. We had accommodations near the Keflavik airport for that evening and we had to get back to there eventually for our mid-afternoon flights on Friday. We decided to try our luck with the Golden Circle and were much more successful this time. We were able to see all the sites, from the Kerið crater to the geysers and then to Þingvellir National Park. I loved Þingvellir because of the waterfalls and pleasant hiking. I also let my Game of Thones fan out and made Jason hike through part of Þingvellir that was used as the entrance to the Eyrie in the show. It was definitely the day of the our adventure where we ran into the most tourists, but the sites were worth it. We wrapped up by heading to our hotel for an early dinner. 

I still have mixed feelings about this trip. It was both super neat and it tested me like nothing else. The weather was unpredictable and impacted our plans a lot. If I did this again, I would do it in a much warmer month like July. The country is also absolutely overrun with tourists which was super disappointing to me. I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect but I felt like the country was being used as this outdoorsy Disneyland for tourists who did not respect the land they were visiting. It was saddening and I don’t think I would come back because of it. I have heard similar comments about Venice but when I contrast the two experiences, I felt like Venice retained some character that Iceland may have lost along the way. I’m glad I visited but I think I’ll steer clear of Iceland in the near future. I would also say that overpacking helped a lot. I brought a ton of snacks that I purchased ahead of time as well as a ton of outdoorsy gear. I felt that I was prepared for the weather but even I ended up asking Jason to buy an additional neck scarf for me before he hopped on his flight. And that’s all I have to say about Iceland! And for now, that’s a wrap on Iceland. Happy travels!

Venice

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen from our intermission. Midterms were r-o-u-g-h and I’m overjoyed to be joining everyone again from my corner of the internet. I’ll be posting an update on my Iceland trip soon because I can’t leave you all in suspense for that long, but I’m happy to fill you guys in on my most recent trip to Venice!

I headed to Venice because it has long been a dream of mine to visit and it was there. Tickets were incredibly cheap, so the lodgings and the flights for this trip were under 100 euros. Which is a STEAL for Venice. I’m also trying to take advantage of the downturn in travel due to the pandemic and enjoy some places that have very high tourism rates. Venice is a destination that was described to me as a historical Disneyland for adults and it did deliver. I found there to be quite a few tourists, but according to my gondolier, it wasn’t that many people for this time of year. I have also noticed more tourists in Paris in the past few weeks, so perhaps it’s confirmation bias on my end. I left for Venice on a Tuesday evening around 7pm and this was an earlier flight than originally planned. My friend encouraged me to skip class and I took her advice although the class I was supposed to skip got cancelled so lucky me! I came back on Friday morning and even got a shower before my afternoon class! Look at me living my best life!

The hostel from my first night, très bougie

I got into the Venice airport around 9pm and while I thought this was pretty early, to the Italians this was the equivalent of midnight. I had to wait an hour for the bus to come to take me to the train station and seriously contemplated walking…it may have been quicker. Thankfully, J was up for a chat and I was able to while away the time on the phone. The Venice airport is a fair distance from nearby lodgings and almost 40 minutes away from Venice which you can take buses to. I chose to stay across the causeway from Venice on my first night because the hostel I was staying at in the city had strict check in times that I was arriving after. This ended up being a not great decision for buses because the buses were running much more frequently to and from the city center of venice than to Mestre Train Station which is what I needed. The bus ticket cost about 8 euros which I paid for twice because there are two different transport groups, ATVO and ACTV which run buses from the airport. ACTV is the public transit agency for Venice and I bought my original ticket with them, but when their bus didn’t show, I bought another ticket from ATVO. I also took the chance to buy a vaporetto pass at the airport which was very convenient because they don’t get activated until the first time you swipe. The vaporetto are the ferries that run all around the Venetian lagoon and I made good use of my two day pass, which was 30 euros. The hostel I stayed in outside of Venice, Anda Venice, was a very nice hostel for the price and very modern. However, as J has pointed out while I grumbled about my lack of sleep on these trips, hostels may not be for my delicate sensibilities. However, my budget does not really care about my delicate sensibilities so hostels it is for now! I had picked up a sandwich on my way out of Paris and ate before my flight so, once I finally made it to the hostel, I crashed but set an alarm for an early morning the next day.

The next day, I walked back to the Mestre Train Station, where I had been dropped off by the bus the previous evening. I bought a train ticket for the train that takes you into the Venetian city center which was about 1.40 euros which was a deal! Once in Venice proper, I took the vaporettos and started exploring the city! I purchased a ticket for a Secret Itinerary tour of the Doge’s Palace in English, which I had to purchase the ticket more than a month in advance. The ticket is a steal for a student because you get a tour in english and access to the Doge’s Palace after you finish the tour. I got to Piazza San Marco earlier than my tour so that I could explore and see the Basilica. There was a huge line, but you’re able to skip that if you make an online reservation which I was able to do the same day. I also stored my backpack in a nearby church, thanks to a Rick Steves recommendation because you cannot take items beyond a certain size into the basilica. I was told the storage was free, but it ended up being 2 euros. Perhaps prices have gone up with the pandemic. Inflation is everywhere! I got into the Basilica on a reduced fare because I am a student, a fact I exploit regularly for all my museum visits. It was a little underwhelming because the Basilica was under a bit of construction so you couldn’t see everything super well but the mosaics inside gleam as beautiful as ever. After my visit, I took the vaporetto up and down the Grand Canal for about an hour so I could ogle all the sites from an easy angle. I used the vaporetto early and often and spent probably half my time in Venice on these boats. I just love being on the water and would be seated outside rain or shine. For lunch, I used another Rick Steves recommendation for Calle de la Russe to find a bar with cheap coffee and sandwiches for a quick bite. The place I went was Osteria da Barco and the service was great as well as the fried rice balls. I returned to St. Marks for my tour at the Doge’s palace and got a close up look at the prison and closed offices in the Doge’s Palace. I walked around the front rooms afterward and marveled at it all. I’ll also mention that the palace has a coat check which was super useful to me because I was carrying around all my earthly belongings after checking out of my first hostel in the morning.

A lovely Venetian garden

After touring the palace, I checked in to my second hostel which had really restricted check in hours starting at 1pm and going until 7pm. The second hostel was called Ostello Santa Fosca and was a converted piece of property from the Church run by volunteers to create a student hostel. The location was amazing! It was really spacious and clean and I loved it! After checking in, I went off in search of gelato and more sites to see. I ended up getting on a vaporetto to the Rialto Bridge and found some gelato nearby. Fortified by sugar, I wandered through the streets of Venice for a few hours, admiring all the beautiful buildings, canals, and churches that I came across. I let myself walk around and get a little lost in the city. My maps were really helpful in getting me to my intended destinations, but Venice is a maze to be explored and enjoyed. I always knew that I could find a vaporetto stop and be back on track easily so I wasn’t scared of getting too lost. I enjoyed getting to wander and see the little beauties of the city. I ended up at a bar called La Palanca for dinner on a more residential island of Venice. It was a lovely, low-key and cheap meal courtesy of a recommendation from a New York Times travel writer. I ordered up a few of the Venetian speciality of cicchetti which are different spreads on toasted bread. Most people know of my enduring love of open faced egg salad sandwiches which is essentially American cicchetti so, I was in heaven. I also really enjoyed the prosecco which at 3.5 euros a glass was cheaper than a pint of beer at a Parisian happy hour. Some people complain that Venice is a bit pricey, but compared to Paris prices, it was a bargain. After my evening repast, I headed back to the hostel for another night of not so great sleep. Again, cheap accommodation but at what cost??

Day Two was just as full as my first day. I set another early alarm to be up early to get in line at Accademia, the famous Venetian art museum. I didn’t purchase a ticket in advance to try and avoid the surcharge added for online transactions, but the Rick Steves recommendation was to get there early if you didn’t buy a ticket in advance. I didn’t make it that early, around 10 am, but slid in just in time to avoid the line. They only allow 400 visitors at a time and it’s a popular destination on rainy days and it was predicted to pour. I got in on a student ticket (2 euros!!! I cannot make these prices up!!) and spent the next two hours wandering around admiring the Venetian art. The art told a fascinating story about the rise and fall of Venice’s political power as much of the artwork centered around religious works with patrons from Venice or allegorical paintings of Venetian history. I really enjoyed looking around and zoning out with some beautiful art so I headed to Frari church afterwards to take in more of Titian’s paintings. It was incredible to see the hodgepodge of masterpieces housed in a single church. After taking in the sites at Frari, I went to grab some more cicchetti for lunch at a bar near the hostel called Teraferma. Absolutely delicious and good value for good food. I used the break to rest up for my lengthy afternoon tour of the lagoon.

The view from Vaporetto 4.2

Due to the rain, I chose to take a tour of the Venetian lagoon via vaporetto. I thought it would be easier for me to do that, rather than continuing to trudge through the very damp streets of Venice. I was correct although it was a very chilly experience! I took the 4.2 Vaporetto to Isola San Michele, the cemetery island. After admiring the cemetery, I took the same vaporetto line to Murano, the glass makers island. I walked around Murano for a little bit and admired the window displays. After Murano, I took the 12 to Burano, the lace makers island. I loved zooming around Burano via vaporetto because it was such a tranquil island and very picturesque. I took the 14 from Burano around the lagoon and just stared at the smaller islands that we passed on our way back to San Marco. Altogether, it was a two to three hour tour and took up most of my afternoon. I had decided to try for a gondola ride after getting back, but it was unfortunately still raining. I passed the time by taking a vaporetto to Salute Church to admire the iconic church from up close. The church was built after a devastating plague outbreak in the 1300s and felt apropos for the moment that we are at in this pandemic. After visiting, I headed back to my hostel for a warm cup of tea and a break from the rain. After my tea, I walked outside to discover it was no longer raining!!! I was terribly excited and ran to the vaporetto stop to take the vaporetto to another stop with gondoliers.

My gondola ride ended at Rialto Bridge

My original plan was to take a gondola ride from the Accademia stop, but I was so nervous that it would start raining again, I got off early at Rialto and found a gondolier who would take me for a quick ride. The normal price for one of these rides is around 80 euro and that price goes up to 120/135 euros after 5pm which had come and gone by this point in the day. I was also nervous to be taking one alone as a single female traveler, but figured that taking one in a crowded tourist area would be safest. After agreeing to a lower price, I jumped into a gondola and was whisked down the Grand Canal. My gondolier Emmanuel was kind enough to take some of the wonderful photos featured in this post. I am glad I did it, but it was a little awkward to do solo. Maybe next time I’ll have my partner along for the ride! After that ride, I practically sprinted through the city to try and make it to the restaurant I had chosen for dinner before it closed. In Paris and France in general, restaurants will often stop seating people within an hour of closing which is annoying and frustrating when you’re looking for a bite to eat outside of normal eating hours. However, the waitstaff at Trattoria Altanella were incredibly kind and seated me with no questions. This trattoria was another recommendation from the New York Times travel section. I felt so lucky because I got to enjoy a fabulous meal undisturbed and listening to the happy chattering of local venetians. I started with a grilled octopus salad, then squid ink pasta and finished with a delicious semifreddo with almond biscotti crushed inside. It was divine!! This dinner was where I had my only pasta dish while in Italy, but I’m hoping to rectify this in the near future!

The semifreddo from Trattoria Altanella

And that was a wrap on my Venetian travels! I left the city around 6am the next day, taking the vaporetto to the bus station to catch a bus to the airport then catching a flight back to Paris. Honestly, I was so nervous for this trip and it turned out better than I could have imagined. Beyond the rain and the very late night bus from the first night, it was a phenomenal experience. I can see why Venice is inundated with millions of tourists each year. It’s an incredible city, but we need to savor it in small sips so we leave room for the locals. Happy travels my friends!

Le Retour En France!

Hello everyone. It has once again been a minute since I’ve posted because life gets in the way of me constantly updating my blog! I realized I’ve been using this blog more as a travel log for myself which suits me just fine. I still have been reading at my usual rapid pace but as the school year gears up, it gets harder and harder to keep that pace. I do have a few books from break that I finished that I’m hoping to review soon! However, let me fill you in on my latest adventure, a 45 hour whirlwind tour of the French city of Lyon, renowned for its gastronomy and its beauty!

View of Fourvière from the River Saône

I’ll start off by sharing my travel wishes which since I’ve got here has been to take a few weekend trips by train from Paris. That has NOT happened as often as I thought it would before I came here due to a terrible confluence of events making my class schedule not ideal for such travel. I really enjoyed my longer trip for my fall break (which I believe my last post is from right before), I might do a retrospective and share the photos and adventures from that trip if I ever run out of material but that was about the only large travel I got in during the fall semester. This semester is turning out to be a wee bit more friendly to travel and I’m ready to take full advantage! That being said, I had a last minute class cancelation and thought it would be the perfect time for a getaway! I got lucky with the train ticket pricing and was on my way!

Exterior of La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière

I got into Lyon around 11 in the morning, early enough to get a whole day of sight seeing in. On the advice of L, I headed to the hostel that I had picked (SLO Living Hostel) and dropped my stuff off. This was my first time staying at a hostel and L really helped with loads of good advice before I left for Lyon. I was able to store my bigger backpack in their storage room and set off! Armed with my Rick Steves recommendations, I was ready to tackle the city! The first order of business was lunch and this was not so successful. The tricky thing about going to a French city over a Sunday-Monday timeframe is that a lot of things close on either Sunday or Monday so you really have to plan your work and work your plan! On the recommendation of Rick Steves, I headed towards Lugdunum, the Gallo-Roman museum that also houses some really cool architectural ruins of a Roman amphitheater (closed on Mondays). This museum happens to be in the hills overlooking Lyon and is accessible by walking or by the funicular. Being hungry and in the mood for adventure, I chose the funicular and enjoyed the smooth ride up. Unfortunately the stop closest to the museum is closed so I went to the other station and  I chose a restaurant for lunch nearby but for reasons unknown (probably because it was prime lunch hour on a Sunday) they turned me away, saying they couldn’t serve me. I was pretty upset as my stomach had been growling since I stepped off the train but didn’t let it stop me. I have two very wise friends who remind me regularly to always bring a snack and was prepared with two tangerines! While this doesn’t sound like much, it got me through until I was able to scrounge a sandwich from a boulangerie later in the afternoon. The museum was amazing, and I learned a thing or two! They showcase some incredible mosaics in the museum that were worth the trek up the hill by themselves! I wandered for a bit then headed to the other major attraction on the hill, La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. Try saying that four times fast! Entry is free and there are guided tours of the roof but only during the summers, so I was unable to avail myself of this! Walking around the cathedral was an incredible experience. The stained glass is gorgeous, and the walls are decorated in the most ornate mosaics. It was a very awe-inspiring and I was really glad I stopped by. Finally, I headed down the hill to try and grab a bit to eat before I fell over. 

Interior shot of the ceiling of La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière

After a brief stop at a boulangerie for a sandwich, I checked the time and saw that I had more time than I thought and with some luck, could make my third stop of the day. I was hoping to stop at the Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation Musée de Lyon which is also closed on Mondays. This museum does have audioguides in English but I chose to try out my French skills and do without. This worked out well as large parts of exhibits featured video testimonies from those who experienced the war. I had no idea that Lyon was the center of the Resistance during the war as well as a major hub where both resistance fighters and Jews were targeted for deportation. I enjoyed walking through the museum and was happy to learn something new about history! I did a bit of internet sleuthing about Klaus Barbie, a name featured heavily as he is known as the Butcher of Lyon and was the head of the Gestapo in Lyon during the occupation. I found out that the United States helped him to evade French custody until he fled to Bolivia, which was just a little reminder that the United States actions both during and after the war didn’t always follow the high-minded ideals of our representative democracy. After the history lesson, a brief stop for goûter! I followed Rick Steve’s lead and headed back to Vieux Lyon to try the patisserie of A La Marquise, a well-known patisserie and tea salon. Pictures of the food below! I enjoyed a lovely light herbal tea alongside a porte froc, made of chocolate mousse with a base of praline. Praline is a local delicacy in Lyon, with bright pink flavored praline showing up everywhere! From what I’ve experienced so far in France, praline seems to be congealed globs of sugar that sound not so great but really taste good! They often make dessert loaves with praline studded throughout and they’re delicious! I didn’t have any on this trip but it’s nice to know that it is out there! After a restful repast, I went back to my hotel for a bit of a rest because traveling can take the mickey out of you. (Pun entirely intended) I was also absorbed in the book I had brought alone which I’m hoping you will all get to read about sometime soon! 

Goûter from A La Marquise

Taking a bit of a break in between adventuring and dinner meant that I had some time to recover from the fierce Lyonaise winds that were blowing through as well as some time to research my dinner options! After perusing the reviews for a few recommended spots from Rick Steves, I realized that reservations were the move for a nice Sunday dinner and since I do not yet have the confidence in my French skill to make a dinner reservation over the phone, I had not made any! Some places (such as my lunch spot the following day) do take online reservations which is very helpful! I decided to change around my dinner and lunch choice so I went to the more casual, Bistrot a Tartines for dinner and made a reservation for lunch the next day at La Bistrot de Lyon. I laughed a little as a I walked up to Bistrot a Tartines because the two restaurants are right next to one another. I had a chill dinner at Bistrot a Tartines, opting for a simple croque monsieur and a honey mustard salad with a small glass of local wine. I was glad to have gone more lowkey and afterwards, called it an early night. 

Breakfast from Boulangerie Saint Paul

Unfortunately for me, all my roommates at the hostel also decided to call it a night. I chose an all female dorm room which made me very safe but does not guarantee a good night of sleep! The girl underneath me snored so loud and at such a pitch that I was able to hear it through wax earplugs. If I hadn’t gotten so little sleep, I would be impressed! Due to her and another of my roommates getting up at 7am for their days activities, I was able to snooze a little longer and checked out about an hour before the 11am checkout time. At hostels, you’re also able to leave your bag in staff monitored storage after you check out which I did! Unfortunatley for me, it was pouring rain! This slightly changed my plans for the day which had been to head to the largest park in Lyon but I settled for exploring Vieux Lyon and its churches and covered passageways until my lunch reservation! I started by grabbing a pain au chocolat and a black coffee from the Boulanger de Saint Paul which was so good I came back to grab a sandwich for my dinner. I then walked around Vieux Lyon, darting into any open covered passageway that I could find to marvel at the inside look into many buildings.

Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

I also went to the main church of Vieux Lyon, Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, which was gorgeous but a bit drafty! After there, I high tailed it to my lunch reservation at La Bistrot de Lyon where I enjoyed a nice traditional lunch with an appetizer of a hard-poached egg with a mushroom stew and quenelles for my main course. Quenelles are the traditional fish based dish of Lyon and I could not tell you more than this. I enjoyed them for lunch but don’t think I’ll be looking for them for my every lunch. I REALLY enjoyed the gravy that came with the quenelles and could eat that everyday!

Une Quenelle

After such a heavy lunch, I paddled on over to the Musée de Beaux Arts de Lyon and was pleasantly surprised by the vastness of the collection. I spent over two hours looking at everything from ancient artifacts to Art Nouveau furniture. I was glad that the Rick Steves guidebook warned about certain floors being closed during the traditional French lunch hour (12/12:30-2pm) because this turned out to be true! I entered just as everything was re-opening for the afternoon and happily wandered through the galleries for hours. I almost wished I had picked up the English audio guide which was only an extra euro but I usually don’t like them so I abstained. I worked on my French skills from reading all the plaques! After that, I walked around the river for a bit and enjoyed the last strands of daylight. After picking up a sandwich, I headed to the train station. It was rush hour and I was not as careful with my belongings as I should have been. I was pickpocketed but the thief was unlucky and grabbed my chap stick which he sheepishly offered back to me. While I was not worried about my stuff, I should have been more careful! I did have my phone in the other pocket and should have put it somewhere more secure before waiting with a huge crowd of people at the train stop. I can get complacent and it was a good reminder to be aware of my surroundings! I did have a bit of a chuckle over the return of the chap stick but I appreciated having it back! At least the thief can agree with me that dry lips are the real menace to our society! 

And that was my whirlwind trip around Lyon! I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures and are along for the rest of my journey! Be safe and keep traveling!