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Lyon - Old Town - Semi-Finals

Heat gives way to gorgeous day

sunny 86 °F
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It is a gorgeous day today as the temperature dropped to very warm. Jerry is more of an earlier riser like me (or maybe because of me?) so we decided to go out exploring before the main troups are up. Also, the group had not figured out the local public transporation yet either. For some reason, google doesn't show any of it as an option. So we just went to the Tram and started looking at the maps and used the ticket machine (which did offer English) to plot a roundabout course to the old part of town.

Saw some pretty cool buildings and areas along the way as well the sights up on the hill. And of course I know that it is hard to believe, but there is an old Cathedral in town as well.


Jerry and I venture upward to the ancient roman theater. It is pretty cool as they have integrated modern equipment and hold shows there still - would be awesome to see something there, but there doesn't appear to be anything until after we leave.


The Basilica further up the hill in Fourviere is yes, you guessed it, yet another old church. Their interesting wrinkle is that they have a mass or something going on with singing and talking, etc. They were happy to have guests during it. They also have a rather unique crypt (almost more of a chapel in the lower floors). Naturally, there are nice views back down to the old town as well.


We meet up with Phil and Kate for lunch. At the same place Phil and Kate had eaten nearly 20 years ago - on the square just beside the Cathedral - La Gargouille. Sally decided to skip the metro/tram and make the entire walk, so she joined after a little while. And Ivan and Diana finally arrive as well.


A bit of strolling through the Old town and I really enjoyed all of the fancy presentations and specialty shops. We run into Rich form Dijon and meet his daughter as well. They are heading out to Mont Blanc. Super nice people, they invited me to go with them (they have 1 seat left in their car and a sofa sleeper in Chamonix - but alas - I can't ditch my friends, but it was tempting :)


GAME DAY BABY. They are all big games from here on out. The stadium in Lyon is much newer, but way out away from the town. We knew we were in for another long trip home. The stadium area was laid out in a strange manner. There were tons of stadium food vendors outside of the stadium. We weren't sure if we could get drinks/food inside the stadium. Once inside, there were much smaller lines for drinks, restrooms, etc. We found out at half-time you could go in/out to the stadium purgatory, which was really odd.

For whatever reason, I was a bit hit with the camera's and photo crews. I got interviewed by Telemundo/NBC - but I guess I wasn't so interesting as no one told me that they saw me. We saw the Fox Sports crew and lived through Jerry's crush on their crew. Between photo bombing and actual requests to be in pictures, I must have been in about 20 photos or camera feeds. Phil later told me he saw me on the big screen in the stadium as well....


It was a much tighter/closer game than it should have been. We played well in the first half, but kind of phoned it in for the second. I thought we would get over this attitude that we "should" get through and really play well. Just doesn't seem that we are clicking on all cylinders - and I thought we would for this game (hopefully for the final). We squeak through which is great - never been to a World Cup Final before! Super excited about that.


As expected, the public transit is horrific after the game - not really sure what they were thinking. We made it back, but would here later that some didn't (and were left stranded as the public transportation ran hour(s) after it's normal end times). For a big city, the public transportation just doesn't seem very straight-forward. It's a long day/night and we just crash well into the wee hours of the morning.

Posted by M6-Greg 01:31 Archived in France Comments (0)


Hot travel day

sunny 99 °F
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Today is travel day to Lyon for us in the afternoon. Ivan and Diana will join us in the evening. The path to the train station from our hotel to leave is an easy one with all the pavement. And luckily, Jerry had bought a girly fan to have as it was already getting warm today as well (no A/C in train stations either).


This is the only city where we will have some separate, but nearby accommodations. There are 3 together and one a few blocks away. Jerry and I decided it would be better for us to be separate rather than Sally, so we took the separate place. Turned out to be more of a condo in an apartment building than a hotel (or an AirBnb kind of thing) and one full sized bed - but the main issue was no air conditioning (still very hot today) - "no good deed goes unpunished". We did scan a bit for another option, but didn't find anything (reasonable).


Even though it was hot, Jerry and I took off exploring (or maybe because it was hot). There is a make-shift canal nearby and a huge shopping mall (including many American chains: Burger King, Steak-n-Shake, etc.). We choose to have a snack at the Hippopotamus (which we quickly dubbed the French version of Chili's).


After their daily naps, the others were ready to get out and we decided to meet them at My Beers - which had an incredible selection of bottled beers, barrels for tables, metal carved seats and a fair amount of beers on tap. Still very hot, no a/c here either.


But the forecasted rain and associated front does finally come through and the heat gives way to warm. Ivan and Diana arrive about 2-3 hours late (something about Ivan not booking his train in advance or something). But the group's hotel restaraunt is still open and we have a nice meal.


Even with the drop in tempertature, we had to open the patio door (no screen) and use the fan to create some breeze. We have kind a "Rear Window" kind of view and not sure about it, but wasn't really any choice. Luckily, it worked out fine, was cool enough and no bugs in the morning either.

Posted by M6-Greg 23:39 Archived in France Comments (0)

Dijon - Mustard

Yes, it really is a thing

sunny 105 °F
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Their main shopping mall (Hall) is having a brunch today. We decided to partake, not really understanding what we were getting into. It was a very nice buffet with a wide variety of bakery items, salads, fruit, meats, cheeses and desserts. I had to avoid alot of the "salads" because some definitely smelled of shrimp or fish. The food was mostly very good - but I think we all over ate. The rest of the market was also open for wine tastings and a funky smells area.


The other adventure on the agenda was to visit "the" mustard shop in Dijon. They really do have tons of different kinds of mustard - from the very good to the outrageous (super hot or super weird). Phil enjoyed the tastings very much.


Kate didn't go on the whole Owl Trail, but did manage to grab some luck...


As advertised, it is a very hot day - nearly 100 and well over 100 with the heat index. Without any breeze, it is difficult to find any places that are decent in the shade. Looking for something to do "indoors", the price for their Fine Arts museum was right - free. It was air conditioned, not too cool, but much cooler than outdoors. Additionally, it was a good museum with some famous artist - Monet, Manet, Rodin, Marie De-Silva, etc. as well as some others that I enjoyed (and didn't know before) - like Lapicque, Pompon, etc . I really enjoyed it (of course, being out of the heat might have slanted my viewpoint).


One by one, we all end up struggling to find places open (Sunday) to get water or drinks - seems the grocery stores close around 1pm. And end up at our quirky hotel. They have water and an array of quooky snacks/desserts. Might also be a good time to also mention the interesting patio as well.


Siesta time for Phil and Kate, we decided to go back to the Irish Pub and picked up a couple of Americans from our hotel along with way. We had a good time visiting - and even better time once they started picking on Sally :)


Jerry wanted a "good" french meal so we settled on a bougie place on the main square to meet Phil and Kate for dinner. It was very nice with lots of good, varied French offerings. I had some eggs prepared unlike anything I have ever had - which is the thing that I really love about French cooking. One egg was with mushrooms and the other with some cheese sauce or something. Duck with raspberry sauce and tiramasu for dessert. I think Kate fell in love with her crazy black vodka as well. Definitely gained some poundage today.


We went for one final stroll through town to find everything but the other Irish pub open - a quick nightcap and back to the hotel.

Posted by M6-Greg 01:13 Archived in France Comments (0)

Dijon - Owl Trail

Just follow the Owls

sunny 98 °F
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It's an early-ish trip to Dijon for 5 of us (Ivan and Diana are staying in Paris for a few more days and will catch back up with us in Lyon). We talked of taking taxi to the train station, but Jerry, Sally and I take 1 metro and a walk across the bridge (nice view). The train to Dijon is very nice (looks a little retro even).

When we get to Dijon the trams seem like they will only go about 1/2 the way to our hotel, so we decide just to hoof it. The town is almost complete paved (very little green even) - reminds me of something that Las Vegas might do - guess this town was renovated more recently (at least streetwise). They have tons of pedrestrian areas - albeit "city" vehicles can raise/lower poles to get in/out. It is a bit unexpected that our hotel is closed from 1pm-3pm, arriving at 1:30pm, but we crash at a nearby restaraunt for a nice lunch (I finally have a Croque).


As typical, it is hard to finish a lunch in 1.5 hours here, so the hotel is easily open for check-in when we are done. We drop off the bags in the room, along with Kate :) And go out exploring... At the tourist office, Phil gets the offical Owl Trail map for our exploration. Their Notre Dame Cathedral is next store and a good first stop (stop #8 on the trail)...


The "famous" Owl is on the side of the Notre Dame - touch with the left hand for good luck. The Owl trail is imprinted on the ground once you find it with plate markers when you arrive at most, if not all sites.


The trail takes you passed churches and residences that are either still active as such or converted (or partially converted) into offices, theaters or art museums and such. Not sure how long the trail really is, but we are pleased that the end of the trail (stop #22) dead ends into an Irish Pub (they must subsidize the trail :)


It is a very warm (humid) day, but we know that tomorrow will be worse so we forge on after being revived to hit the first 7 stops that we haven't done yet. The first stop on the trail is a nice green park with a large fountain - Phil can't resist getting into local water.


There are some young men playing in the deeper part of the foundation and on our way out of the park, we see them jump out, the Police talking to them. But the Police have not even made it out of the park when the guys are back in the water - kind of funny. But Phil narrowly escaped any reprimand himself.

The rest of the trail is fairly easy to complete and we enjoy the town, the tiny electric city buses (seeing, not riding) and the uber eats delivery guys (on bicycles). After completing step #7, we found Mr. Mustard (Moustarde Monsieur) and decided to go it. Once inside, we were surprised to find a very trendy bar with a very chic courtyard (but it was still very hot without any breeze).

Kate caught up with us here, our "squirrel" waitress was fun and hunger overcame us so we got some food to go with the crazy Coconut, Lime and Rum special drink of the day. The courtyard had plenty of interesting features - hanging bike, giant bonsai olive tree, retro sitting rooms, etc.


We wandered some more and found a different Irish pub - the coldest one in all of Europe with some interesting features (see through floor to the kegs, table with pour your own taps, etc.).

The hotel room was hot and the floor wet when we returned. Apparently we turn the tempertature warmer instead of colder on the mini-frig and we had to find the correct combination of buttons to turn on the A/C. But it worked well after that.

Posted by M6-Greg 23:19 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris on the down low

Jerry arrives to take us back up to 7

sunny 96 °F
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Ivan leads the charge for "American" things to support the "team" today (but that has really been his mode of operandi the whole time). He leads us to "Breakfast in American" chain where he is delighted with the Menu which is in English first and French second - eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc. Perhaps it is because we are tired of picking places after so long, but this is definitely not a place I would have ever picked...


Jerry arrives while we are out running errands (ATM, supplies, etc). Diana isn't feeling great so needs a rest day. Sally has St Chapell in her sites. Phil and Kate make their way to the Panthelon.


Having been to Paris, Jerry just wants to relax and take in some of the local vibe. We just see wander around the hotel area grabbing some nice snacks and drinks (including the fancy French marshmallows in incredibly interesting flavors). Just unwinding from the long trip and hanging out.


After some "encouragement" from me, I finally convince Jerry and Phil to make the trek to the L'Absinthe Cafe (it is not too terrible far, but just one of those "can't get there from here" routes with a few metro hops). But finally, I get some really great abinthe!


Very exciting game day today - France vs USA. The local are finally getting excited and interested - it is kind of a shame we have to meet so early (we like cheering for the local team - but cannot do so anymore). This is the first game where we see tons of ticket scalpers and people trying to pick up tickets to the game.

After a decent meal near the stadium we enjoy the crowds and excitement to the game - groups singing, waving flags, etc - closer to the World Cup experience that one expects... One of the biggest differences in the Women's world cup and the men's one is the "family" based crowd here - lots of young kids and such (might be the reason for no beer in the stadium?).


The seats are incredibly small in this older stadium - perhaps not made for American sized people - but it is hard to believe that this is where Paris St-Germain plays (but maybe it works out for smaller people or those that stand for the whole game),


The game is thrilling and exciting with some decent play. The French really rocked the stadium when they were attempting their comeback. To the point of the jumping up and down and we could feel the stadium moving and swaying (at least in the upper deck) - it was incredibly loud and almost overwhelming - good thing the USA players kept their cool and held on for the win!


Guys beer from plastic bags allowed us to have a Victory Beer during the long wait for the subway to clear out some. It's a Friday night and things were packed back at the hotel as well - and it is the wee hours of the morning as well (and a quasi-early train ride), so... bonne nuit

Posted by M6-Greg 15:02 Archived in France Comments (0)

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