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November 9, 2010

Toussaint Vacation Days Five and Six: Grenoble and Lyon

I got a little slowed down in my constant updates. I've suddenly become very popular. In the past few days I've had so many meaningful interactions with the townsfolk that it would make your head spin. In fact, I'd much rather write to you about that than about my last two days of vacay, so I'm going to make this one a bit short so I can move on to bigger and better things.

Back to Grenoble. Our first stop on Saturday morning was the Musée de la Résistance, which details all the things Grenoblins did to resist the Nazis. As it turns out, they did a lot of things. Many, many things, none of which I can remember, in fact.

Rabbit trail: I've started picking up some of the English phrases the Frenchies are fond of using. It's very common for them to say "En fait," (in fact) at the beginnings and ends of the sentences, and it makes sense they would translate it when speaking English. I had lunch with some of my students today, and one of them said, "In fact, I do not like making my homework on the weekends, in fact." FACT.

After a stop at Gus and Line's to have leftovers for lunch, we returned to the Musée Dauphinois to check out the ski exhibits, which we had skipped the day before. They had ski examples from all of time and from every conceivable material, which were probably fascinating if you had actually been downhill skiing more than once, and if that one time you didn't end up in hospital. Ahem.

We went to one more exhibit on the Holocaust called, "Spoilé!" and then raced to get our bags so we could make our train to Lyon. Kelly accidentally left her scarf there, and Line's going to send back it to her for free. That's how cool she is.

We arrived an hour and a half later in soggy Lyon, and went on a forced march to our soggy hotel, where our room smelled like gerbil food. Despite being totally exhaustified (vacations are hard!), we dragged ourselves to the Old City to eat dinner in a bouchon, a type of family-owned restaurant that Lyon is famous for. On the way there, I stopped at a supermarket to stock up on some staples, since I knew everything in Digoin would be closed when I got back Sunday, and they would remain closed on Monday in observance of Toussaint. We spied a bouchon that advertised a 15E fixed price meal, but only until 8 p.m. As it was 7:55, we hurried inside and asked the hostess if we could still get it.

She took one look at my sac en plastique with a bag of roasted chicken potato chips and cans of tuna inside and promptly sat us between the kitchen and the bathroom, warning us that we could only be there if we promised to leave by 9. I ordered a delicious smoked salmon salad as my entrée, and was desperate for a basket of baguette to nom the last morsels of sauce. As we were situated directly adjacent to the kitchen, I could see the waiters bringing bread to every other patron in the place but us. Our waiter managed to whisk away my plate before I could make my request.

Just before he was about to scurry off after bring the main courses, I asked for some bread. I saw him go into the kitchen and remove all the bread from one of the baskets save for three slices. Shocking treatment, I tell you.

One stop at a crepe stand for a chestnut cream confection later and we returned to Gerbil Land.

Notre Dame de Fourviere
The next day we hit up the Roman ruins, the beautiful basilica Notre Dame de Fourviere, and the Musée des Tissus et Arts Decoratif. We were bone tired. Could-not-bear-to-hit-up-another-tourist-site-if-our-life-depended on it tired. So instead we decided to go to Quick (France's version of McDonald's) for lunch and see The Social Network afterward.

When you order American food in France you have to try to say it with a French accent. You can't order a hamburger; you must request a 'amboorgahr. You can't order the rustic fries on the menu; you have to ask for frites roosteek. The cash register lady recognized that we were Anglophones and insisted on practicing her English, though when we responded in kind she couldn't understand us. It was a total communication melt down.

We headed across the street to the theater and stood in an epicly long line, only to find out that they only accepted French debit cards (carte bleue) and American Express. Thus we were forced to go to a cash machine and milk our American bank accounts even drier with the terrible exchange rate plus ATM fee. We stood in the ginormous line again and finally--finally!-- got into the theater and had the pleasure of being the only people laughing at many of the jokes.

Lyon really got me down, man. I suppose it was a good way to end an awesome vacation, though, because it made me look forward to going home. And Digoin really does feel like home now. More on that later.

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