Monday, June 1, 2009

Back to Paris!

For me, the time in Lyon was mostly spent at the hotel after my adventures with Ingrid on Saturday. Although most of the photos from the trip are of visits, tours and "fun stuff," there was work to be done! But first, Monday afternoon our group had the second portion of our competition...

Let me explain - at the outset of the trip we were divided into color groups and received trip t-shirts (which, I must say, were very well designed and something that I will wear again!). Once we arrived in Bordeaux, we had the Olympic Games which included an under the chin orange pass, a water balloon toss and some others, all conducted in a large park where lots of French passersby stopped to stare at the crazy Americans... In Lyon came the Spoons competition. We trekked to a small park not far from our hotel and managed to find some non-dog graced spots on the grass (the French are amazing with their love for their dogs, and for their lack of picking up after their messes...). The horse chestnut trees (that's what our tour guide Barbara said they were) were in full bloom and fluff that looked very much like cottonwood floated freely through the air. As a result, there were lots of sniffling miserable individuals in the group, but we managed to enjoy ourselves anyway.

We broke into groups with two or three members from each team and played two rounds, coming down to a final four person game for each group. The winning two went on to the final was so dramatic, I can't even remember who won (that's sarcasm, in case you weren't sure!)....But again, it was a good time!

On Tuesday afternoon, I stayed in the hotel and managed to get some work done, both homework for my study abroad class and made some progress on my dissertation. One of the huge advantages to being on this trip with a member of my dissertation committee was having unfettered access to brilliance as soon as I needed it!

On Wednesday, our final day in Lyon, I went with some friends to complete a class assignment at the French Resistance Museum. It was surprising to me how little I knew about the role of France in World War II. While I would not say I'm a history buff, or even very knowledgeable about history, I do have an interest in it. For all that, I had absolutely no knowledge of the French Resistance, so the visit was definitely welcome for me. The museum was well designed, and although not chronologically ordered (which offended my very concrete sequential learning style) it was quite effective in portraying what life was like in France during the war, and how life as a member of the French Resistance was dangerous to one's health...

That evening our group had a "farewell to Lyon" dinner on a river cruise. As Lyon is a city with two major rivers running through it, we had plenty of time to travel up and down the banks of the city. As we moved further north and out of town, the banks became greener and more populated with beautiful houses that almost looked Bavarian in their design. The group had a great time together and lots of folks were dressed up - many photos were taken! It was a great experience because we essentially had the lower deck to ourselves and the food was fabulous. We were a bit puzzled when what we thought was dessert turned out to be a kind of cottage cheese with fruit sauce on it - we had not been exposed to the "cheese course" previously! When gorgeous chocolate lava cakes started coming out on large trays from the kitchen, cheers went up. This group sure loves its chocolate!

Thursday morning we departed via train back to Paris. The TGV, France's fast train service, got us there in just about two hours! Each transfer between cities had previously been on coaches with long rides through the countryside, so we were pleased to get somewhere so fast this time! Luckily this gave us an opportunity to have the afternoon to do whatever we wished. After settling in our hotels (we were back to being split between two hotels due to our group's size) I met some friends for a bite to eat and then trekked back to the Eiffel Tower for a quick souvenir trip. By then we were doggone tired! It was nice to be back in Paris - we knew how to get around and all of a sudden the sun had come out, there were more tourists in town and people were wearing colors other than black! (In my estimation, black is the requisite Parisian uniform color....until summer comes, that is!)

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