Sunday, September 6, 2009

lyon, saturday

quel un bon weekend! saturday late morning nicole took me to the neighborhood fresh food market, where i bought a cherry tart, almond nuggat cube, several types of olives, fresh blackberries and she stocked up on cheeses for dinner.
we met up with christa at vieux (old) lyon and i ate my first intensely french restaurant meal, at a typical lyonnaise bouchon tucked away from cars and felow tourists. for 15 euros i got bread, an entree, main course, desert, wine and coffee- great deal. i ate ratatouille (famous vegetable dish), roasted duck, a bite of the scallopped potatoes (potatoes make me vomit), creme brulee, red, white and rose wines, and topped of the meal drinking expresso with chocolate on the side.
then we walked up to the most famous church in lyon, dedicated to Jesus' mom mary because the people believe she saved them from an epic cholera epidemic that swept over europe several hundred years ago. this church may be the most obscenely-majestic-distracting-misuse of money-famous tourist attraction in the city-cathedral i've ever heard of. the inside has remarkably detailed mosaics depicting famous moments of lyon christian history through time; a crypt dedicated to Jesus' dad joseph; gold plated or carved everything. in all the art and wording, mary is given more respect and worship than Jesus, which was unsettling: in case anyone wondered who the building was most about, a giant statue of mary sits on the highest part of the roof worth around ten million.
that was followed by a visit to saint jean's cathedral, which is a gorgeous and reverent place with stained glass windows dating half a millieum ago telling stories from the bible because most people were illiterate. we showed up 20 minutes after it closed, but an extremely nice north african man let us in for a private quick tour (his key to lock up looked like it belonged in a story book). also, for up to about 20 feet all the stone angels and saints were missing heads from mobs making statements during political uprisings.
and next to this lovely place was the ruins of the first christian church ever in lyon, from 170. the original baptismal rock formation/pool is still somewhat intact, but most had been destroyed by persecution and time. amazing. we also visited the ruins from two huge theaters from the thirteenth century.
christa i continued our cobble stoned historic tour of lyon and visited two theater ruins from the thirteenth century, which was great. then she showed me secret passageways that connected the entire section of the city, dating from the fifteenth century, used especially by spies during occupation and the revolution. the first one had a fantastic sprial staircase towards the end and what had become a medieval merchandise store. christa and i tried imagine what it would have been like to see actual knights in the same place we were, just hundreds of years ago. after some trinket shopping, we headed back and passed a church dedicated to saint gabriel (or george?). now gabe was canonized for slaying a dragon, so the most noticeable carving is above the entrance doors of him dominating the beast. we passed tons of more fountains; one day when it's warm, i'll come back and play in every single fountain in this city. the night ended with a cheese/wine/bread dinner with two of christa's el salvadorian friends from school.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I remember all the ornate churches I saw when I was overseas, and I always wondered the same thing. The cost of one church could feed a small country! They sure are works of art though, aren't they? Love you cuz!