Okay, so I’ve promised you all a long entry with a few more details than the little snippets I’ve been giving you, so here goes …
I flew over here with Thai Airways (they have a “student” airfare, which is quite cheap). When I booked, I chose my seat (33H, an aisle seat) and my special meal (“Asian vegetarian”), so I was all ready to go. The first flight was really good – I played “Super Mario Brothers”, watched “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Mary Poppins” … and then I discovered the TV shows, and watched “Arrested Development” and “Doctor Who”. So there was plenty to keep me busy.
The second flight, however, wasn’t so wonderful. There were no personal in-flight entertainment screens in the back of the chair in front, and it was night, so they weren’t even playing movies on the shared screens. Luckily I had my two “Torchwood” audiobooks, and “The History Boys” radio play to keep me amused – I find it incredibly difficult to sleep on planes. Still, I didn’t enjoy that flight at all. And – when I was in Bangkok, they made me take off my Docs and put them through the scanner, and then dug through my bags for no reason.
I arrived in Paris with many hours to spare. My suitcase was one of the last ones off the plane (which had me in a little bit of a panic), then I got changed, hung around the airport for a bit, then took the train to Gare de Lyon. I paid a ridiculous amount for a bottle of water, was hassled by a beggar, and then, fifteen minutes before my train was due to depart, I realised my printed ticket (which I bought online) wouldn’t validate. So, I lined up in the ticket queue for about ten minutes, but was still nowhere near the front. I decided that I’d just get on the train anyway, and if there were any problems, I’d play dumb. Luckily all was well, and the only issue I had when the inspector came along was that my passport was in my suitcase, and I needed ID to confirm it was my ticket.
And then I was in Lyon.
I arrived in Lyon on Monday, and on Wednesday took the train back through Paris, up to Villers sur Mer in Normandy. There were three of us – Alex, Raf and myself, and we stayed in Alex’s grandparents’ holiday “apartment”. We were right opposite the beach, and it was a gorgeous little town. I loved all the old buildings and houses.
It was also a fairly dead town, full of old people and their grandchildren, so we were lucky to find the Hurricane Bar, which I mentioned before. I’m not going to go into detail about our night out there, but it was a nice little place, and the boardgames were a thoughtful touch (and a great way to pass a rainy afternoon).
The weather wasn’t terribly wonderful. We were able to spend a few days at the beach, but often it was too windy, or a bit cold. We took a day trip in Deauville, an incredibly rich town (lots of designer stores), with a famous beach – lots of coloured umbrellas and little beach shed things named after celebrities.
We also watched a lot of TV, particularly “Desperate Housewives”, “Malcolm”, “Falcon Beach” (a Canadian show starring the guy who was Rick – the one who shot Jimmy – on D:tNG), “Friends”, “Nip/Tuck”, and “Le Destin de Lisa” (a German show, which I think is their version of “Ugly Betty”).
Alex and Raf had reserved copies of the new HP at the bookstore there, and I woke at 8:30 on the Saturday morning to find they’d gone to collect it. Then Alex came home, said I could read her copy, and went back to bed … and I’d finished it by mid-afternoon. I didn’t like the ending.
Back to Lyon:
We took the train back to Lyon, after meeting Alex’s grandparents (who took us out to dinner the night before we left – mmm, crêpes). I had a day in the city with Alex, and then she started her summer job on the 1st.
I was given keys to the apartment, and the bagde to open the door at reception, and I bought a monthly bus/metro/train/tram pass. I’ve spent my time shopping, going for walks, taking photos, and relaxing. It’s quite lovely.
I organised the tickets for Mum and I to Paris (70 euro for the two of us), and myself to London (75 euro). And I was going to buy a lovely pair of Docs – they were purple biker/cowboy boots (I don’t know exactly how to describe them, and I can’t find a photo – they’re not on the Docs website) – but they only had size 38 left, and I’m 39. So that was rather disappointing.
We went to the last two “Nuits de Fourvière” concerts. For the first one, we were first in line outside the gate (we arrived at about 5:30pm, when the show was to start at 8, so were weren’t that early). There were four acts:
1. Nicolas Nourrit – described by Alex as “roots” and “festive”, I’ve no idea what I’d call them, but they were lively and animated performers, with vocal harmonies, and the percussionist had a monkey-like facial expression which reminded me of Chas (from “The Chaser”). And the guitarist was this older-looking guy in a hat and kilt. I really enjoyed them.
2. The Green Olive – Alex actually knows this band personally, as she goes to so many of her shows. We ran into the bassist on the fourniculaire on our way to the concert, and he was really nice. And we spoke to the singer (and his girlfriend) after the show, and he was really nice too. Alex calls their music “festive”, too, but they were nothing like the previous act. But they were damn good – easily my favourite performance of the night. And they sang “Nelly the Elephant”. Yes – “Nelly the elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus …”, which made me squee a little (and brought to mind images of a cartoon elephant with a suitcase).
3. Prohom - French rock. Kilt-man from the first group was rocking out at the side of the stage which was amusing. The music was good – nothing overly special, but still, fairly decent rock music. So that was good.
4. Mei Tei Sho - (there are accents, but I can’t be bothered working out how to do them). With lyrics like “the sky will touch the ground and fear will know what it’s running from” spoken over and over in a booming voice, accompanied by trippy electro dub music, they were clearly a group for stoners. Not being stoned, I didn’t like them at all, and after the third song made my way out of the ampitheatre and over to the bar. We left early.
The final night (Saturday) was a cultural spectacular, featuring four incredibly diverse acts:
1. Les Doights de L’Homme - whose music I’m unable to describe. Let’s just say three acoustic guitars, of sorts (occasionally a banjo), and a double bass. They played quickly, and the music was fast-paced, intricate and complicated. With a bit of a swing to it.
2. Mark Atkins - some random Aboriginal bloke playing the digeridoo. Alex and I went out to the bar during his bit.
3. Raul Paz - Cuban music, singing about revolutions and things, in Spanish – so I didn’t understand a word. He was really good, though.
4. Orchestre National de Barbès - I didn’t really enjoy them at first, because I was hot, bothered and uncomfortable (we were near the front of the mosh area, and the crowd was rather intense, considering the median age would have been over 30 and the style of music was, well, different). In the brochure, this lot are described as performing a mixture of “rhymes du Maghreb”, “jazz funk” and “chants traditionnels”. All the performers were Arab (except for the saxophonist, who reminded me of Matt Lucas, and while he was clearly a talented musician, and was very enthusiastic, he looked incredibly out of place). Vocal duties were shared between four, and lyrics were in a mixture of French and Arabic. Alex was really having a good time, and after awhile, I found myself getting into it, too, especially after the tall guy in front of me who’d been giving me the shits left. The music was unlike anything I’d thought to listen to before, but that didn’t mean it was bad, just unfamiliar, so it took me awhile to get used to. Their final song was a multilingual (French, Arabic, then English) rendition of “Pleased to Meet You”.
We were given these blue “cushion” things (square pieces of foam), because the concerts were in a stone ampitheatre, and therefore not terribly comfortable. Not sitting for either concert, I used mine as a fan. Other people, however, during the second last song of the night, decided to throw them in the air, and at the stage – it was a pretty amazing sight, all these blue squares flying around, but I was hit several times (we’d managed to weasel our way to the very front). And there was confetti at the end.
Our night didn’t end there. Alex and I then walked down to a “boite” (small club) who were having a rock night, and spent a couple of hours listening to the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Nirvana, Babyshambles, Indochine, The White Stripes, and The Strokes. Quite different in comparison to the concert we’d been at, but GOOD music. We were with a couple of Alex’s friends – Indochine fans. Intense Indochine fans.
We left at some time after 3am, went to a 24 hour bakery (mmm, fruit tart), and then walked across to the other side of the city (from Vieux Lyon to Villeurbane), to Cecile’s apartment. When we arrived, at about quarter to six, I slept, while the other three played Uno and baked a cake. Alex and I made our way home on the Sunday afternoon, and then ended up at Raf’s house in the pool, because it was really hot.
We went to see “Ratatouille” (VF) on Wednesday, and I found it quite enjoyable. And after all my French TV watching, my comprehension has really, really improved, and I found myself able to understand the whole thing, without a problem. I really hate rats, though.
Friday night we went to Raf’s house for crêpes, with Camille and another friend, and I found myself watching “Weeds”, and playing Bach’s Prelude in C on the piano – Raf had the music, and it’s one of my favourite classical pieces, and she was playing it, and then they encouraged me to sit at the piano, and I hadn’t played a proper piece in over a year and a half, and hadn’t played that particular piece in something like four, maybe five years. So that was amazing – I was able to sight-read my way through the whole thing with only a couple of mistakes, and I didn’t sound too bad. It makes me miss playing the piano.
I sent an SMS to Clem – because they finally fixed my phone (hurrah!) – and discovered that she’s in London at the moment! But she gets back on the 23rd, so hopefully I’ll get to see her before I leave (the 3rd).
If anyone has any suggestions of what I should do during the day, or any “tasks” you’d like me to complete during my spare time – and I’ve got plenty – please comment with your ideas. (Someone, please make me a scavenger list of things to take photos of).