We took the slow train (which went quite fast) to Lyon. It was a scenic ride, passing some ruins of castles on the hilltops, quaint villages with stone buildings, vineyards, churches, and finished by following the Rhone river to Lyon. The haze, ironically made all the colors into pastels so the view resembled a giant impressionist landscape.
We arrived in Lyon after sunset and found our way to the Hotel de Ville area where we went searching for a cafe to wait until our hostess, Leo, finished work. Leo is a friend of another friend of ours. She met us outside Starbucks which was the most obvious place we could find to meet. Leo is a professional cellist and was busy working on an upcoming performance. She is into Roma and Turkish music as well and has traveled to both places to study.
I don't know if I just didn't notice it then, or if this is a more recent occurrence, but Lyon is swanky. There are loads of boutiques, slick furniture and design stores, lots of nice looking restaurants, and lots of travel agencies beautifully decorated to evoke their destinations. Everyone seems dressed very nicely and I feel like such a slob. There are loads of antique bookstores and lots of people walking around the pedestrian promenades. One of the river fronts has been transformed into a recreation area with wide paths along the river, skate park, soccer field and swimming area. Even though it is winter, there are lots of people jogging, walking and biking. In both Marseilles and Lyon, maybe other cities in France as well, there are bike stations where you can borrow a bike for 1 euro an hour. Lots of people use them.
It seems like a great idea, however I know in the U.S. they'd probably get stolen or vandalized. In the evening the buildings are lit up, especially the basilica on the hill and the Hotel Dieu on the river.
Rowshan and I spent a lot of time walking around the city. It is an easy city to wander around. The river kept us from getting lost, as well as the hill with the Basilica. The old town has cobblestone streets and lots of little shops, as well as the Gothic cathedral. Up the hill, the Basilica is a huge white edifice that reminds me a bit of a Mormon temple. Inside the decor was Byzantine and Renaissance inspired Art Nouveau mosaics. It was interesting to see mosaics using a color scheme of turquoise, rose and other light colors instead of the rich Byzantine colors I'm used to. From outside the Basilica we had a great view of Lyon including large numbers of chimneys.
While on top of the hill, we also visited the Roman ruins which included a couple amphitheaters. I couldn't visit them the first time I was in Lyon because they were closed off due to the summer concert series.
One afternoon we were passed by cars blaring horns with "Republic of Kosovo" banners. They waved and flashed victory signs. I asked Rowshan if there was a Kosovo soccer team called Republic (since it seemed like a soccer related activity) and when he said "no" we realized that Kosovo must have declared independence.
Toward the evening, we stumbled upon a Medieval abbey tucked in a more modern section of town. It was tucked away on a quiet plaza and was a pleasant peaceful surprise. We were able to look around inside right before it was closed for the evening.
On our last day in Lyon, we visited the Lumiere museum in the Lumiere house.
It is an interesting museum containing cameras, projectors and other film making equipment as well as an array of early moving picture and special visual trick gadgets like stereoscopes and magic lanterns. They, of course, had a huge selection of Lumiere films playing as well as other exhibits of photos and family related items. In the evening, Leo's friend David took us to a concert of French traditional music. The first band played great intense music with pipes, hurdy gurdy and guitar.