This post has been a work in progress for so long that it has undergone several revisions to reshape it each time a milestone of some sort passed. I have basically given up and am well aware it is a mess.
Casting aside the title of the post for a moment, I shall pickup where my last post left off at the beginning of April. In true French fashion, April involved a week of work, two weeks of holidays, then coming back for one final week to finish off our contracts. But more on that later…
The plan for the April holidays was ‘try not to spend money’ and ‘be proactive and start organising stuff that needs organising’. Neither of these went particularly well. Though I stayed in Lyon the whole time, I still got up to a fair amount of hijinks with the gang which were not all cheap – high ropes climbing, trampolining, and a fair amount of eating/drinking/general merriment making the most of the fine weather, which I’m not proud to admit included the first sunburn of the season. All in all a good time, however there were a few special highlights which deserve their own mention:
An unexpected highlight came on the first weekend of the holidays where I discovered, thanks to good old facebook, that an old friend of mine was going to be in town for the weekend! Aislinn is one of my former dancing teachers, now based in London, and comes to Lyon every couple of months to give workshops with a local school. The last time I saw her was in London after my exchange in 2013, and it was a few years before that that she was last in NZ. Miraculously, the fates aligned and a late night facebook comment on the Friday turned into serious hang time the following evening. I had a wonderful time showing Aislinn and her Irish colleague Marcus around some of the tourist essentials, before we found dinner in between several rounds of drinks. We were later joined by Sébastien who is in charge of the dance school here. Six hours certainly passed in the blink of an eye, which was an especially impressive effort as the others had been in workshops all day and had an early start in the morning. All in all it was a wonderful evening catching up with Aislinn as if no time had passed, and making the (hilarious) acquaintances of Marcus and Sébastien. Hopefully there will be a repeat event in the not too distant future…
Sur les toits de Fourvière
That weekend went from strength to strength as a definite highlight of the holidays followed the next day with my visit up Fourvière. Starting in April, there are guided tours offered a couple of times a week behind the scenes and up the roof of the basilica. The reason I was really wanting to do this was for the literal postcard view of Lyon ft the statue of St Michael, but the tour itself was well worth it before we got to the pièce de résistance. Our guide, being a volunteer retiree, was predictably eccentric, but by and large what he had to say was very interesting. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
The one actual excursion of the holidays was a day trip to Geneva with Rose, which was primarily to avoid going stir crazy in Lyon (and also due to the fact that I had never made it across the border despite living next door for over a year). Unfortunately for us, the UN was closed for visits due to important Syria-related talks that were happening. We did know this in advance, and though it was a big part of why I wanted to go to Geneva we went anyway as it was still the best timing. We went to check out the grounds anyway, and spent most of the day strolling back towards the city around the lake. I was really impressed by the sheer number of sculptures there were, especially round the lake front. It was a beautiful day and all the locals were out running in their lunch hour. While we were mostly in shelter, it was quite windy, and due to this the ~iconic~ jet d’eau fountain on the lake was not working. Not exactly what we had gone there to see, but still dommage on principle. We were overall very thrifty visitors, bringing our own sandwiches from France. Our one splurge was visiting the Patek Philippe watch museum (when in Rome…) which had come very highly recommended on tripadvisor. The collection of thousands of watches was certainly impressive, however just not that…interesting. I would have preferred a more informative exhibition more about the history of watches and how they actually work, for example, whereas this was really just showing what the company had produced over the years. Also it was really stuffy in there which definitely had a direct correlation to our level of enjoyment.
Overall though I was very impressed with Geneva, which was both bigger and generally more interesting than I had expected. I would have come back anyway to do the UN tour at some point, but there are definitely enough other things left to explore to make another visit worthwhile.
End of school
In amongst all this larking about April also brought about the end of school. This was an unremarkable event really, as I mentioned half of April was taken up by holidays, then we had one week back at school (the same way all our contracts began on the 1st of October, a Thursday 10 days before a set of holidays, so it ended with no sense of logic whatsoever). Unsurprisingly, my last week was rather anticlimactic for this reason. The fact that my last class ended at 4pm on a Friday when basically everyone had left didn’t help matters. However, that wasn’t really ‘la fin’ as last Friday (two weeks after I finished) I went out for a lovely dinner with all my English teacher colleagues. It was at a restaurant across the road from my house that I’d been wanting to go to all year, so worked out perfectly, and it was just so nice to have the whole gang together! That had been the week that all the Terminales had their oral exams, so it was great for everyone to everyone to blow off some steam. It was a little weird that it was in honour of my imminent departure, though the fact that I knew I would be back somewhere in the vicinity around September definitely made the whole goodbye business a lot more casual. The next day I went out for afternoon tea with the teachers from my other school. A very nice way to end what was overall a wonderful seven months working with them all!
On my last day of school I finally bit the bullet and attempted some surreptitious snaps of the place, so without further ado here’s a handy visual aid that would have come in handy way back when:
In the two weeks since I finished work I have once again been up to all sorts. The first week was amazingly productive; nothing exciting to recount but I got all sorts of stuff done that I needed to before I left, which was very satisfying.
My disciplined week paid off with ‘Catherine and Kate’s Day of Fun’ on the Saturday where we had a big day of activities. First up was a visit of the Opéra’s open day, where we miraculously didn’t spend too much time queuing and were able to explore a lot of behind the scenes areas. It was a beaut day, which we made the most of visiting a food truck market (that didn’t actually have any food TRUCKS), and chilling outside at the parc de la confluence where there was a free concert on as part of the Nuits Sonores, a big music festival held all over the city. The music while we were there wasn’t fab but the overall vibe of everyone chilling the grass was akin to a Wellington summer at the soundshell, so I was happy! The night finished off by popping in to a Kiwi friend of Kate’s birthday drinks down by the river. While it was dark by then it still wasn’t cold, and once again there was just a really great vibe among all the different revellers just harmoniously chilling out. There was even a firebreather, because pourquoi pas.
My final week in Lyon came to the perfect end as I had one last visitor; Catherine whom I had visited in Carcassonne in the February hols. This worked out perfectly as by this point I had been ditched by most of my friends! Highly rude. Unfortunately the weather decided that it would like to cloud over the exact five days that she was here, but luckily the rain held off just enough that she could have a decent explore of the place. It was a really nice way to round out my time here, having an old friend from home to catch up with and share where I had been living for the past eight months. Merci d’être venue Catherine!
Much like my last minute photo expedition at school, I also went on a quick jaunt to grab some of my neighbourhood before leaving, so voilà:
As the title would suggest, tonight is my last night in Lyon – for the time being! Serendipitously, I just found out today that I have been successful in a job I have applied for starting in September! It’s not signed sealed and delivered yet so I don’t want to say too much, but if all goes well my contract starts on the first of September, essentially working as an English tutor at one of the universities here. Full deets to come when they’re set in stone!
On the agenda now is:
- Mannheim, Germany to visit my exchange friend Sevil I haven’t seen since 2013
- Tallinn, Estonia to meet up with my NZ friend Michelle with whom I will be visiting
- St Petersburg, Novgorod and Moscow
- Vilnius, Lithuania
- Riga, Latvia
- England for three weeks of downtime
- Switzerland to start my summer camp job at the end of June
So it’s all go, not looking forward to living out of a suitcase again but I suppooooose that is a fair price to pay (speaking of price, I am spending all my money, so it’s a good thing I have some future employment on the horizon).
Next update to come probably mid-June while I’m in England. It should be a goody though! A suivre…
Gros bisous les amis,