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I have really been loving Lyon. I met with a friend of the friends I just stayed with and I’m so glad I did. Zoe took me to lunch before she went to work and we got along immediately. She has traveled a lot, so we talked really easily about our experiences, and we are both at pretty similar points in our lives so it was really cool to connect about that. She told me some cool nearby spots to check out, too, so I went to wander as she went to work. She also invited me to come by the cinema where she works, so we agreed to catch up later. I was in a really cute area apparently so I wandered up the super gradual stone steps up to a terrace on a hill overlooking the city. I went in and out of adorable stores, down a big boulevard, ran into a carnival, and made my way back to my hostel through jardins and ruins and passed cool graffiti.
I like that Lyon is not very touristy, and if any, the tourists are mainly French it seems. It reminds me a little bit of Chicago, more domestic tourists than international ones, acts like a small town, but is actually a big city, is the 3rd largest in its country, and its inhabitants are pretty proud proud to be there.
I was going to see a movie at Zoe’s theatre, but I walked over a little late and the board showed it was sold out, so I went back to wandering. I made it back to the hostel in time to find they had room for me at the dinner they were having, so I joined in and met some of the other guests. Eva was from Spain and was studying French there for a few weeks. Jack was from Canada and traveling a bit after finishing grad school, and he was super friendly and looked Korean, and had another one of those laughs that seems to overwhelm him with each giggle. John was from Alabama and had spent 6 weeks in Spain doing the El Camino and a couple in Italy, before he starts working more full time as a lawyer. The boys were extended traveling because they didn’t know when they would have the chance again. Eva was really sweet and was a bit homesick for her boyfriend, but wanted to have a trip of her own before settling down more, I think. We had some good conversations, of course a little bit about American politics, and man, I can’t wait till these elections are over. But also we chatted about our travels and languages and good things.
There were some Dutch boys at the table that were talking about going out and Jack wanted to go out, too, so we planned to go to a club that Robert had heard of. We went around the area by our hostel and it was pretty happening, and we found an Irish pub to have a quick drink. Robert and I got along well as he talked about wanting to go into counseling, mainly to help youngins who don’t know what to do, because he didn’t either. The four of us had fun wandering around the neighborhood and all the boys were impressed with my navigating skills; I was better than Jack’s Google Maps. We found the club, but they had a cover, so we went in search of somewhere that did not. We went back to this jazz kind of bar that had a lot of people milling aroung it and ordered a pitcher of punch before finding out that the back room was a little dance floor with old school tunes and jazz and pop playing on a turntable sounding like system. It was so cool. We felt like we had found a little secret spot, it was so fun and so jam packed. But then it was too packed, so after a couple pitchers, we hopped on. We went back to the Irish pub area and went into this bar that looked like a pirate’s ship with its decor and ambiance, and the special was rum, of course, and in particular a little wooden ship of 12 different flavored shots. We just got some more punch though because the boys were tipsy, and Jack was adopted by some French boys and it was so funny to watch. He spoke French a bit because he studied it school in Canada, and he had no qualms really about trying to speak it or ask random French people questions. He was braver than I! We found the plaza of the hotel de ville and the bar Boston that my friend had recommended, so we got in line and got in to get our dance on.
Along the way I saw the Cubs game on, and in the bar Boston, the Bulls were playing. :p
A French girl saw my Eiffel tower tat and loved it and loved me and that I was from Chicago, so that was fun.
We stayed for a bit at Boston, but it was also super packed and harder and harder to move, so after the Dutch boys left, and people started making out around us, and I got uninvitedly groped slightly, so me and Jack were like okay, time to go. I think France is like the hardest country to be single in. Its really true that they do not mind pda, and that they are more forward than elsewehere. I was glad to be out with boys and not have to deal so much with thwarting advances. Having even one boy in the mix makes all the difference.
I had breakfast at the hostel and said goodbye to all the Dutch people checking out and told them to hit me up if they ever make it to Chicago. I truly wonder who will actually take me up on this someday.
I walked through the market along the river; all the books and produce and flowers and wines that anyone could want. So cute. On my way up to the basilica I passed the Roman ruins ampitheatre and it was so freaking cool. I had no idea. And also saw the city again from up high. I wandered down the hill through the old town and wanted everything I passed by; all the plat du jours and verre du vins, all the candies and cookies, ice creams and crepes. I resisted and got a cheap classic croque, well, and a nutella crepe, and I couldn’t resist the collection of local beer and got a few bottles for the day and went to go sit along the river. A French girl asked me to roll her a cigarette and her friend asked me for a lite for his joint and offered me some, also surprised that I was all the way from Chicago.
I wanted to go check out the big park, Tete d’Or, and it was getting dark, but I went anyway, and had a beer with the deer, because, again like Chicago, they have a free zoo in their park. I walked up and down the well lit shopping district street waiting to see another movie, Captain Fantastic, because Zoe had set aside a ticket for me and it was Sunday night and I didn’t have anything else to do, anyway. A guy asked me for a paper and since I was in a good mood I let him chat with me before I went into the movie. He seemed fine and of course asked me to hang out further, but I went to see the movie, and it really was fantastic. I enjoyed this cinematic experience a little bit more because the theatre was smaller, the seats weren’t numbered, and the popcorn seemed fresher, (but was a little more expensive). I was feeling really good after the movie and went to walk back across the river back to my hostel, feeling that there were still enough people around and feeling pretty safe, anyway, in Lyon. And then I noticed someone following me and realized it was the guy from earlier. I had my wits about me, but he still startled me, and I called him out on it and it seemed like he tried to play it off, but still, he hadn’t just come right out and said hi, so that was weird. And he continued to be weird and I told him I was just going home and wasn’t interested, and seemed to walk away only to still be behind me. I managed to lose him and there were people around that I walked closer to, and got back to my very safe hostel and it didn’t seem like he had followed me. I don’t say this to worry anyone, I’m fine, and I feel stupid for not being safer, and thinking that I could be nice to someone without them expecting more. It’s a thing you really have to be careful with as a woman. It’s not really fair that I feel this irresponsible, but I can’t deny that I do. I’m lucky, but I’m also smart, and this incident just reminds me that I can’t let my guard down just because I’m really enjoying a new place and suddenly feel comfortable. I have to remember that I’m not home, and even when I’m home in Chicago I have to be safe. I don’t say this to worry anyone, I’m just trying to be honest about my experiences.
So I’m taking it easy this morning and hanging around my hostel, drinking coffee and listening to them play Beetlejuice on the projector, (happy halloween), before heading by bus to Marseille. I really do enjoy Lyon and look forward to coming back, only slightly unsettled by last night’s creep. It can really happen anywhere and I will be better about wearing my ‘resting bitch face.’ I remember from when I was in Paris learning that French girls are seemingly bitchy because they have to be, because it’s really true, here more than other places, give em an inch, they’ll take a mile.
I am really looking forward to being home in a few weeks. But I will try to enjoy these last 3 weeks as much as I can! I’m one lucky bird, but I’m not trying to push my luck. I will remember what Spiderman learned, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility.’ I think power equates to freedom sometimes. And with my freedom, I am trying to be responsible and productive. I’m trying.