Thursday, January 02, 2014

The weather is quite nice here in Lyon, France

7pm, Lyon

So Lyon is spelled without an 's'.  Took me two days to realize this, but all is now well. :)

Sadly, there was a family emergency at home, but my sisters and I are talking again as a result as we try to remedy the situation.  For whatever that is worth.  Every cloud has a silver lining, I suppose.  I'm really upset about what happened though.  It makes me very sad.  Particularly because I am just 2 days into my 15-month adventure, and already things seem to be falling apart to some degree back home.  I'm grateful that my sisters are there, to help out.  If they were not there, I wonder if I would have to go home to take care of this.  One of my sisters told me that my mom called and left me a voicemail saying that the reason we couldn't Skype was because she had the flu; but that was a lie.  I never got the voicemail because my phone is off.  Apparently she felt bad about what really happened, and didn't want to worry me, given that I had just arrived.  That was sweet of her. 

My friend Dan just asked me about the weather here.  Funny: I didn't really mention it before.  It's warm.  At least by New York City standards.  In NYC now it's something like 30 degrees.  Here, it's like 50.  I'm walking around with just a sweatshirt.  No hat. No gloves.  Simply not necessary.

The city has about 3 million people.  Paris and its environs have about 12 million from what I understand.  The five boroughs of NYC about 8.  So Lyon is fairly big.  Two rivers flow through it: the famous Rhone, and also the Saone.  I am in a small inexpensive 3-star hotel about a 20-minute walk from the rivers/central area.  The train station (and that Starbucks) is but a 10-minute walk from here.  It's a really nice hotel, actually.  I like it a lot.  Small, and petite, but clean, a SUPER comfortable bed (nice and hard mattress--I love firm mattresses), 50 channels of all French tv (awesome!), free wifi, and very nice overall.  I'll be here until Sunday morning: then Eva and I are driving about 5 hours to Castres, where I will meet my French family, and start teaching at the high school.

Haha, funny: my friend Debbie said she tracked my flight!  Apparently if you know what flight someone is on, you can track it.  She told me it was like NORAD tracking Santa!  haha.  She watched as my flight took off from NYC, and saw when it landed in Paris.  Now THAT's a friend who cares, haha. 

Eva and I hung out last night, and today.  She got a tad upset because after breakfast at 9:30am, I sorta ended up sleeping until 4pm.   I was SO tired.  So jetlagged still.  Eventually I got up and we went for a walk around the city a bit.  Then she went to work. 

I'm solo now for the next few days.  Which is fine.  I feel at home in France, and speaking French, and I have many things with which to occupy myself: this blog, language study, watching French tv (I watched Coming to America in French yesterday!  It was even funnier in French, particularly the little bit at the end with the Jewish customer who talks about 'tasting the soup'.  Ahhhh-hAAHHH! :D), and of course the city itself.

Tomorrow I think I am going to figure out the subway system.  I'm going to take it to Place Bellecour, which is a part of the city that is virtually landlocked between the two rivers.  When looking at it, it reminds me of Manhattan, buttressed on either side by the East and Harlem Rivers.  I think this is why the area (Place Bellecour) is known for some of the city's best restaurants, museums, and theaters: I'm sure it's really pretty precisely because of its relative inaccessibility.  I will find out soon enough: I'm going to have lunch there tomorrow, and then jump on the tour bus (in French) and see what the city has to offer.  I might go see "The Wolf of Wall Street" too.  Also in French.  Aside from this blog, and this book "Americans in Paris", I am not speaking or involving myself much in English.  And I'm perfectly fine with that.

OH: yesterday, at the train station, Eva and I ended up speaking to this women who was 93 years old.  Which seemed impossible because she looked so much younger and had a spring in her step.  A French WWII veteran (like dad), except she was an Army Nurse.  She was also in Vietnam, she said.  Crazy.  She smiled at my wryly and said, "D'ou venez-vous?  Vous venez de quel pays?"  (Where are you from?  You come from which country?)  I replied with a wry smile because it meant that she didn't know my origin from my accent.  And that made me so happy.  When I told her American, she was shocked: she thought I was Swiss or German.  The same thing happened here at the hotel with the receptionist.  It means my accent is good enough that I sound European, and not American, and that's a good thing: they won't immediately start to speak English because they don't know if in fact I even speak English, which means I don't have to worry about others trying to improve their English with me; just me and my French.  Tres bien!

As for Saturday, I don't know.  One day at a time, I guess.  Oh, I need to send out my newsletter to my email list: "Your 2014 To-Do List -- Monroe Mann style"  I have done that every new years without fail for the last 6 or 7 years.  Can't stop now!  Particularly because it seems like a lot of people enjoy getting it.  Can't disappoint the fans!

Well, it's about 7:30 now and I'm famished.  Haven't eaten anything since breakfast.  Gonna do my best to find somewhere inexpensive to eat, but it just doesn't seem possible: The euro/dollar exchange rate is not so great, and things just seem more expensive here.  A small personal pizza last night cost 9 euro, or 12 dollars.  After tax, it was 12 euro, or 16 dollars total.  That's a lot for a little lunch.  I may have to adjust my spending plan based on how expensive everything seems to be here. 

But 'here', I am.  And I'm smiling because of that.  I spoke with Veronique (my French host) again today via email, and she is prepared for my arrival in Castres on Sunday.  Gosh, if it's 50 degrees now here in Lyon, how much warmer will it be five hours south?  Very interesting.  Oh: my Eurail pass arrived in Castres, c/o Veronique.  That's good to know.  I still need to figure out which city I will start from, and how I will get there.  I am thinking Oslo, Norway, but I don't quite know yet.  In time...

A toute a l'heure!

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