Thursday, November 17, 2011


I'm continuing to reflect on our trip to Lyon - not so much on Lyon itself, but on the whole idea of travel and what it is that I get out of it. 

Of course, it's wonderful to go to places that are home to particular historical sites of interest, or are just so completely different from anywhere you have ever been.  The thing about Lyon is that it isn't different from places I've been. In fact, it's a lot like Paris, though smaller.  And in some ways, a bit like Strasbourg, where we went a few months ago.  Yeah yeah, they have this whole silk industry thing, and the food thing.  But really, isn't all of France a gastronomic delight? (Correct answer - yes).

Part of me thinks that one huge privilege of being able to do all these weekend trips is that some places will be amazing and some places not so much.  Not every trip can be the best trip, right?  There was nothing wrong with Lyon, but I can't say that in 5 years from now, I will remember much about it other than being there with good friends.

Of course, I will remember the cola-flavored macaron

Another part of me thinks that the kind of travel we are doing in France allows us to really focus on getting a sense of what life is like for regular people (unclear whether we are regular people in this particular situation - probably not).  The Lyon Greeter program definitely furthered this idea for me.  It's a brilliant concept - the city, in an effort to promote tourism, allows you to sign up for a free "guide" for an afternoon.  We thought this would be like a free tour guide, but it turned out that Guillaume, our greeter, didn't seem to know all that much more about Lyon's history than what I had read and geekily memorized from the guide book.  But we all loved hanging out with Guillaume (we prefer to call him Guy - pronounced "Ghee" - though we have no idea whether he's okay with that nickname) for the afternoon.  Around our age, he's currently expecting his first child.  So we had some nice conversations about how to travel with kids, and whether traveling must end after you start a family (obviously, we don't think so - or we are just crazy).  We talked about his job (works for a free weekly paper), about why he lives in Lyon, about where he likes to travel, about what is different between Lyon and Paris.  He led us through Vieux Lyon while we had these discussions, and it's not to say that he didn't take us to some nice sights. He did.  By the end, though, it really felt more like we had just spent a few hours hanging out with a cool guy from Lyon as opposed to a tour.  Which was probably preferable, to be honest.

The third part of me thinks I am way over-thinking all of this. So Lyon didn't blow my mind. Fine. What I'll take with me from the weekend is images of a lovely city and memories of restaurants with seriously intense food (blood sausage and tripe are just two super meaty items that appeared on almost every menu), some awesome games of Settlers of Catan, a cranky baby, and one luxurious 30 minute bubble bath.

Our next trip will be our first trip to another European country outside of France since we moved - we'll be spending a week in Portugal at the end of December.  The next five weeks will be all about soaking up the Parisian holiday spirit, and feeling inordinately pleased at the cuteness of Baby Oil's new uber-French navy blue pea coat.