A WHOLE NEW WORLD
13 Jan 2014
Remember how I was telling you in my last post about my bout of travel-agoraphobia? While that lasted for about a millisecond after I walked out of the metro and into Vieux Lyon - Lyon's medieval precinct.
As soon as I stepped out of those gates, it was like I had walked onto another planet. Oullins has character, but it could still be a small suburb anywhere. On the other hand, when you step into Vieux Lyon, you know you are in France! For me, that moment felt oddly like coming home.
And this is what I saw:
Buildings, rows and rows of them in all different pastel colours. Like dutch cookie tins, they looked perfect.
A glimpse of a church spire in the distance, and I was off - a moth to a flame, I headed in that direction.
Wonky cobbled street stones.
Two large rivers.
An odd collection of clanky red bicycles, that turned out to be one of the best city-based-transport-systems I have ever seen: the Velo'v.
The West Portal of a church, a stoneworked figure of St Micheal, and inside, a little old lady blessing a picture at the main altar.
A puppet show performed by a busker, a bed sheet as a backdrop, and an accordion accompaniment.
A man spreading nutella onto thin crepes for passers-by, his breath icing up in the cold winter air.
A ferris wheel, lit up against the night.
I am curiously watching myself for signs of culture shock, and I would say I am in the "critic" stage: where I end up being very critical of the place and the people. But culture shock really is an ongoing process, and when one moment you are over the moon, the next you find yourself very frustrated. Actually I haven't gotten too frustrated with the French bureaucratic system yet, despite having had many opportunities to be so. I knew what to expect and I have learnt over the process of visa applications that excess worrying about paperwork is literally just excess - you can live without it. I find myself more constantly exhausted by the effort of just even being in a country where the language is not your own.