date: Fri, Feb 6, 2009
subject: the end of the 4th week . . . a LONG one!!!!
Greetings to you All from rainy, and I do mean RAINY!, Lyon.
It’s Friday afternoon on the 6th of February and I have now completed 4 weeks à l’école suisse de langues.
Sigh. Wow, where has the time gone? . . . time to take a pause. My grand café crème décaféiné has just arrived!
Back to the topic at hand–time. In all honesty, it feels like I’ve been here for 3 months or more. My life has settled into a pleasant routine and life on Kaua‘i seems far, far away (yes, I know it really IS far away!):
• 6 a.m. – Get up on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to go for a 30 minute jog along la Saône.
This I’ve done for 2 weeks now. After diving into the shopping frenzy–who could resist all the SOLDES signs everywhere?–and finding some absolutely fabulous and fun lingerie (yes, lingerie-and again, who could resist buying FRENCH lingerie on SALE in France!!!!) and noticing that my muscle tone was practically non-existent after being in Tennessee for almost 2 months and in France for 2+ weeks, or so, I decided to start an exercise program. Hence the early time to me lève!
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying jogging along la Saône. It’s quiet and dark. I’m alone with the dozen or so poor souls who are waiting at the various bus stops I pass. I get to see the top secret things like the vélo man stocking the stations with red and grey bikes, the road cleaning guys who (I think) are hosing down dog poop, and the dog walkers who loyally treat their canine pals to an early morning stroll. For 4 times now (but who’s counting,) I’ve seen Fido, Emma and Yanda’s younger sister taking a stroll and early morning pee. How that warms the heart of a dog lover like me!
• 7:10 ish – Shower in the incredible shower along an authentic rock wall with artistically placed adjoining stone.
Though I had to pass on washing my hair this morn. Yesterday as I waited and waited for the water to turn warm, I decided to just wash the “necessary” parts when lo and behold the water turned warm for an instant. I then proceeded to VERY quickly wash my hair. I had just about made it when it turned cold again.
Right about then Madame knocked on the door and said, “Susan, ATTTENTION the heat isn’t working!”
“I know,” I replied.
Ends up the heating throughout the entire apartment wasn’t working. The repair man was supposed to come by this afternoon, but when I stuck my head in around 3:30 p.m. there was no sign he had arrived. Alors, I might just have greasy hair for the weekend . . . ca va.
• 7:30 ish – Make tea and prep my lunch.
Oh my goodness!!! did I ever find the most wonderful camembert this week!!! It’s made from sheep milk. Tones, I bought the last one they had early this morn. It went off in the mail around 13h. . . . I’m sure you’re already waiting with bated breath!!!
Fix my muesli . . . though the other morning Madame was out of muesli and j’avais très faim! So I boiled an egg and then picked up a croissant on the way to school . . I wasn’t about to eat that horrible white bread . . .
• 8 ish or so – Depart for school.
• 8:30 ish to 8:50 ish Arrive.
Depends on how I feel that morning, sometimes it’s nice just to wander a bit.
Something pleasant: a beautiful morning in Lyon
Something not so pleasant
• 9 to 12:30 – Class (with the half hour break, which starts at 10:30)
Today was Marion’s 29th birthday so besides the croissant we were treated to each Friday, we had some gâteau au chocolat that Marion made this morning and a bit of wine she brought. It was all very nice.
We also didn’t return to class after the break but rather stayed in the petite cafeteria to play a game, loup-gour (not sure if I have that completely right—I didn’t, it’s loup garou
or werewolf in French. It’s essentially a game where 3 people are werewolves, 1 is the sorcerer, and the rest are villagers; we’re given cards which determine which part we play; it’s all TOP secret. Alors, BOTH times they voted me DEAD in the first round!!!!
Either they really like me or really hate me. I’m not going to think too hard on that one . . . both times they did not find nary a one werewolf, though BOTH times I guessed 2 of the 3. They thought I was a werewolf because . . . well, I’m not exactly sure why . . . maybe you can figure that one out for me!
• 12:30 to 13:30 – Lunch break
I chose to eat in the cafeteria (in name only, it’s simply a room for dining or hanging out in; it’s up to you to provide your own lunch) each day this week; though today I spent a good bit of the time sending off a very important package! Seems Jean-Laurent likes camembert too so I shared some with him today. (I very discreetly knocked on the door of the teachers and officer workers’ space, it’s a real no-no I think to bother them, but the times I’ve frapped on the door they haven’t minded (again, I think!) because I had a treat to share.) BTW Tones, Jean-Laurent thought it was a most excellent fromage too!
Lunch has been really fun this week hanging out with the other students. In fact, this week has been my favorite so far. It was the most “steady”. This one woman who had a big heart but was incredibly fragile and was here week numbers 2 and 3 for me, fortunately left on Monday. Without going into any detail, I’ll just say that I was very nice to her, patient, kind, listened to her stories etc. SOME! . . . but I’m very glad she left . . . nuff said. Though Torun is gone and she and I had three really fun evenings together . . .
• 13:30 to 14:15 – Conversation class
Today’s activity was a little “test” regarding what’s proper when you go to a collègue’s house for dinner. (someone who you work with but don’t know real well, not a buddy).
Here’s what I learned: taking your shoes off is considering SHOCKING and a real no-no (okay my Kaua‘i buddies, we’d flunk out right away!); you should arrive 15 minutes after the time you’ve been invited, NEVER early, and not longer than 30 minutes after; NEVER go into the kitchen, another real no-no (it might be a complete mess! and probably is); bring an ODD number of flowers as a gift (as in an odd number, not strange flowers Dan!), and they should be wrapped in pretty paper; don’t start eating until the hostess does . . . I think that was the most of it. So fortunately Marion has saved us all from committing some major faux pas!!!
• 14:15 à 15h00 – Two days a week I do an extra session with Jean-Laurent on the computer/internet for gratuit. I’ve always gotten something out of these sessions. Sometimes it’s simply reviewing the basics, as in the present tense verbs.
• 15h00 – Each Mercredi there is a DVD to watch all together in a class room if you want.
The first one (L’Auberge espagnole) was GREAT! I definitely recommend that you watch it. It’s about a group of foreign students studying in Madrid; they’re sharing an appartement. The second film was also very good (Odette Toulemonde). It’s about a lady (qui s’appelle Odette) who adores an author, she travels to see him and have her book autographed . . . it’s a very fun story, especially for women. Then we saw (Un balle en plein coeur). It’s a very good but very sad movie about two friends in Sarajevo who have to choose different sides during the war in the 1990’s. Tony and I had already seen this one. And this past Wednesday we saw (Le coeur les hommes). It was okay. It was very difficult to understand and there were nary a subtitle. Believe me, we ALL needed subtitles!
• 15h00 – Each Thursday there’s an excursion.
I’ve been to the musée about the frères Lumière who are from Lyon. We toured their family home (a beautiful 3, or was it 4?, story home with incredibly high ceilings, and magnificent broad staircase, large rooms . . . I especially liked the “Florida” room, which they called their room for winter. There were all kinds of old film cameras to took out and lots of old movies rolling in each display room. Needless to say, it was very interesting.
One week we walked to the Parc de la Tête d’Or. I’ve been back to this park several times. It’s quite large with wide wandering boulevards and smaller meandering paths through the gardens, animal park, etc. and around the lake.
Stefan, Hugo, moi et Marie
If you want to see the video to match this shot, go to youtube. Search for l’amour Lyon. Bear in mind that this video was a hit with teenage boys.
Another week we went ice skating. I think that was my favorite by far in terms of an activity. Jean-Laurent accompanied about 6 of us. It was loads of fun, though not necessarily for Ricardo (the 26 year old Brazilian who works in advertising) who fell many, many times. Though by the end he was doing very well.
He actually showed us his bruise the next week at the rip-roaring party that Friday night in the students’ apt. It WAS rather large!!! And this was more than a week later!
A drawing of how this area of Lyon appeared in 1550
Another week we week to see the Greco-Roman musem but got shut down because of the teachers’ strike. And then yesterday we went to the Museum of Tissues. There was a special exhibition of paper dresses, models made for making designs. They were extraordinary. There must have been at least 50 of them. They filled two large rooms bordered with displays of ancient tapestry (some we saw were from the 3rd century!! VERY old). All the dresses were very colorful and formal, long gowns to be worn to a fancy ball, I think.
We also saw the standard display in this incredible 4-story home which was built around 1750 for a very wealthy family. They occupied the 3 bottom floors and rented out the top (where their kitchen also was). It was similar to the Lumière’s home–large chambres, high, high ceilings and a beautiful wide staircase. The design was of a square with the private courtyard in the center.
And then once a week there is an outing (if you want) for a dinner. I’ve already bored you with the many details of the two restaurants I went to with the group (the first week it was for fondue, and I’ve had fondue en Suisse and really didn’t care for it), so I won’t venture there again. BUT, I will tell out about this past Wednesday evening. A small group of us women (6 to be exact, 4 Suisse (one of Turkish origin and one of Albanian origin), 1 Irish young lady and moi, ages? 19, 19, 19, 35, 19, 48 in that order–I’m really enjoying hanging out with such young people!) decided to find a less expensive restaurant. Two of the four Swiss chose an Italian restaurant. It was perfect.
Two of us had a pizza (moi-champignon, fromage avec un oef, I loved eating an egg on a pizza! Janine-quatre fromage),
the others had pasta . . . carbonara and I’m not sure what else.
Our waiter was an absolutely adorable man of about 60; he kindly took a photo of us . . . with EACH camera! Très adorable.
AND when I talked about the food I forgot to mention a couple of things.
1) Madame prepared a lentil dish one evening with sausages. It was very good. Apparently it’s a native dish where her parents live.
2) Last Friday I joined 3 other ladies for Gambas à GoGo.
Essentially it’s a heaping mess of all the shrimp you can eat with pommes frites (very good Dan, but I’ve yet to go to kebab place and eat frites . . . I think that’s where they also rock.)
The restaurant was an Irish Pub the German gal who now lives in Ireland with her Irish husband had chosen. The restaurant portion was in the basement. It was a really cool cave with stone archways with boxing paraphernalia hanging all over the place. We essentially closed the place down. Fortunately there was no school the next day . . .
And then I’ve searched out music . . . I had actually thought today as I was walking to school that today’s subject line would read “la musique” and Char had even put in such a request . . . alors, that will have to wait for a later date.
And another petit sujet is le sculpture . . .
To close I have BIG news to give . . . I’ve been speaking a bit more, well . . . I think I’ve been using a bit more complicated sentence structure AND I did better on the test today . . . . so . . . Marion has invited me to join the more advanced class next week ! ! ! I could sense a great deal of hesitation on her part. She said if it was just conversation, no problem, but she’s worried that they may speak too quickly for me to understand. Alors, I told her, “Je voudrais essayer.” So, try I will!! I think most of you know that I like a challenge now and then . . . and they made it clear that if I’m completely lost, I can always return to Jean-Laurent’s class. So, I shall give it all I’ve got and see where I land. Personally, I think it will do me good to be around people who speak fast (with a teacher in the room, the only catch is that the Swiss can be very hard to understand with their accent). I told Tony last night that the biggest problem I’ve had is understanding the French when they’re together because they talk SO VERY quickly. One-on-one isn’t so bad because they hear right off that I’m an Anglophile, and they then speak more clearly and slowly . . . Alors, je vais voir!
So, now I shall venture forth into the POURING rain!! and work my way back home. On my way to this very chic café (which I had noticed on other promenades) I meandered past some very cool art galleries and shops. BJ, I got a couple of cards for you . . .
These shoes move . . . or talk, if you will !
These shoes fly . . . more or less !
And these shoes are a little stuck in a rut . . .
AND the agenda for tonight is BLUES at a club qui s’appelle L’Absinthe. Tony recommends I order an absinthe!
They were good; the girl was especially good !
Last night was BACH! And last week was bluegrass! So you see, there’s quite a bit on the agenda for “la musique à Lyon.”
Un bon weekend! Have a blast at the yacht club opening Tones! I look forward to being able to check out some photos next week!
So, for now, au revior mes amies!!!