I can’t believe I’ve only been here for 4 full days and I’m already falling in love with this city. Every day I’ve managed to explore some new part of the city and without fail, at the end of each night I have thought to my self, Minh, do *you* really live here? Are you really living in Europe? And each night before I go to bed I think that it’s crazy that I’m actually here, living abroad and experiencing things…en France! I have many stories to tell, but we’ll start with one of life’s basic needs. Food.
One of the things I was most excited about experience in Lyon was the food. Supposedly the “gastronomic capital” of France, the Lyonnais region is famed for dishes such as the “salade lyonnais” – salad with a poached egg, sausage, croutons, and tiny little pickles, “les saucissons” – sausage prepared in the Lyonnais fashion, and fish cakes called “quenelles.” Of course these dishes are always paired with wine or whatever, but did you know that a crepe is supposed to be eaten with cider? I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is actually a really delicious combination.
Tonight, I dined at a restaurant called “Chez M’man,” otherwise known as “Mama’s house” which had an excellent 3 course-dinner for all of 14 euros (this is a steal in Europe). I had the ratatouille + salad pictured above which was absolutely delicious, and my main entree was a halibut quenelle. Now I know that I’m not a big fan of fish cakes by nature, but I just had to try this quenelle. It was pretty good, but not enough to win me over from my aversion to fish cake. But it was quite quite tasty.
These meals, among others, have provide much fodder for me on my adventures. I call them adventures not because I think of myself as some glorious Robin Hood traveler, but simply because my idea of exploring a city is to wander around streets going no where in particular but instead just going wherever the path looks interesting. This method of travel I suppose I must attribute to my experiences with my Vietnam street life research where I just wandered the streets of Ho Chi Minh City observing what happens there.
Geographically, Lyon is built around two rivers, the Rhone and the Saone. The rivers effectively cut the city into unequal thirds, with the west side of the city (Vieux Lyon – old Lyon) and the middle (Lyon Centre) as the oldest parts of the city. The east of the city, where I live, was built later. These rivers remind me a bit of the Charles, but not the Charles I loved by MIT. I’m thinking the Charles maybe at the BU bridge or at Harvard- the rivers are not very wide which makes walking across them a cakewalk. The panoramic picture at the top of the entry is a small glimpse into the heart of the city. This city has such a small “big city” feel in my opinion because it’s supposedly the second largest metropolitan region in France, second only to Paris of course, but there’s practically no skyscrapers. There’s maybe 3 buildings that have ~30 floors, but that’s hardly what what you see in other comparable sized cities.
Ok, you get my point. I’m loving this city more and more each day and I hope the beautiful pre-fall weather holds up so I can keep exploring. More later.