Friday, September 30, 2005

Nice is definate

I am off to Nice! My train departs Part Dieu in Lyon at 9:05am. I plan to take the number 1 bus there. I have my back pack all packed and waiting for me to walk out the door. I get to Nice at approx 1pm and the stay there 2 nights. Sunday I go o Marsaille on the way home! How fun and spontaneous! I am leaving with 4 other girls tomorrow (Natalie, Greta, Rita and Kate) and then in the evening 3 more girls (Nikki, Jane and Rachael) will meet up with us! We are planing to stay in a hotel close to the beach and the museums! It sounds great! Natalie looked for hours for this place. 18 Euros per person is pretty good. A hostel would only be acouple of Euro's less! I return on Sunday at midnight and will possibly be picking up Vanja and Nina (Aussie/Crotian twins touring Europe) who may arrive at the station at the same time! Crazy!

Thursday, September 29, 2005


More PHOTOS BELOW! Gosh I am good to you guys..... =)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Nice would be nice?!!

Nice sounds nice! How could it not!?! I think I have decided to be spontaneous and go to Nice for Friday and the weekend! I am going to stop stressing about my subjects and all and just bugger off!

Today (Wednesday, Sept 28th, 2005) was another day of craziness! I went to an 8am Latin lecture so I could decide that I do not Latin! After that I spent a half hour in my 1st year translation class and had to leave for my first 'compulsory geography tute' where we were assigned topics to do a 10 min presentation on. I then got a phone call from a French buddy who I was supposed to meet at 12pm (I thought it was 2pm). I met him and we chatted while eating Lunch. His name is Fatah and spent 2 and 1/2 years in Melbourne! Then I went b y train and tram to Lyon 1 to find a course booklet for Science only to find someone gave me wrong directions and it as really Lyon 2 (again....another campus)! I met Dhivya (Australian friend on exchange in London and visiting me!) at the Beaux Arts Museum and we went back to my place for dinner (pasta and salad with Ben) and packing. After dinner, I then took her to the Perrache Bus/Train terminal where we said sad goodbyes! I am sad to see her go! Come back soon and thanks for the cake....Dhivya bought Ben and I a cute little, perfectly decorated/shaped chocolate cake from a patisserie in Croix-rousse.

Yesterday (Tuesday, Sept 27th, 2005)'s really hard to remember what has happened! It seems like I just picked up Dhivya and yet it also seems that yesterday was a year ago! I jumped through some hoops, being sent to another university Lyon 2 (I am looking at doing some science subjects) and had to desperately change French Forigen Language classes as I was in baby French! Ben laughed when he saw my primary school equivalent exercises while I was thinking, 'I went in at 8am for that'! I was really lucky it seems becasue a lot of people are having similar problems and are not allowed to change! Incroyable! I think I was back and fourth at uni 3 times today! It just seems to be endless organisation. I did go to my Arts Plastique (Fine Arts) class which I LOVE even if I dont understand exactly what's going on! I have a petit cahier/ little exercise book now and I am drawing the paintings/sculpture that are shown so I can research later and create my own notes since French isnt really optimal. I am also going to create a list of essentail vocab....painting, background etc. In the evening, Dhivya and I went to the American-French relation Cocktail party. We ate cheese and little cakes and chatted to people. There were mayors and other little-big wigs present. I felt really posh because the public only gets to enter Hotel de Ville once a year on Patrimony day (which I did) and now I was invited for a Private Party! Hooray! At the end of the cocktail party Div and I ended up talking with 2 Americans. We decided to go exploring, pretending we were looking for the exit (I am not sure the upper floors is logical explanation when you get caught...) and walked through almost all of Hotel de Ville unattended, a place that is usually swarming with security. All the doors were unlocked! We photo copied our hands (and other body my idea...boys!) in the offices, waltzed in one of the salon and I tucked in my skirt and danced in the lavishly decorated main ballroom (full of chandlers) in the dark with no shoes! That was magical and I felt alive! We even found our way up onto the roof to see a very nice view (especially of the Church- the Fourvier)! Incroyable! It was even nicer because no one ever gets to see it! We decided to leave so we didn’t have spend the night there after being locked in (or get arrested). The guard at the gate was so nice and so sorry we were locked in. He hurried to let us out, not hold us up and practiced his English with a 'Goodnight'. That was even more incroyable! We all felt like we were being congratulated on going on our own private night tour of the a building which dates back to the renaissance and getting away with it! Now that I will remember forever….


This is the front of the building and the corner of the building that you see on the left is the Opera.

From the inside with the Opear in the background.

The room previously used in the renaissance.

Yes, this is where I danced! I can't believe it even as I type it! Look at it! It is beautiful!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cara says bonjour et regarde les photos maintenant!

Alright well I dumped a whole bunch of photos! See and enjoy! More writing later when McDonalds reopens (right now its 12 midnight and the buggers are closing)! Love you all! Hi to Mummy, here are some of the photos you requested! Hi Nonie I love you! Hi Kris, hope Clinicals are going well/are OVER! xoxoxox

Cara =)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Silly Stuff!

If I had money I would buy gigantic French bear lamps and post them to all my friends!

Sorry Mate! But it's $7 AUD for how much vegetmite? And in the British food section at that!

Now look atop the cactus and you shall find Cara's brown pants which fell off the 4th floor washing line and onto the roof of the 'pub resto' below.....oh the hazzards of doing laundry in Lyon. Upon trying to re-obtain 'mes pantalons' (try explaining that in French!) I was told to come back after the football match.....oh the hazzards of dealing with Europeans! hahah

Ma cremaillere (house warming)

1)My house FULL of people!
2) Ben (my house mate) and I at our amazing par-tay!
3)The Aussie girls and I.
4)My first French friend (SO nice) named Ouardia! Yay!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Mon appartment! Grand yay!

Dhivya is here to visit from London!

Us at the ruins of a Roman Ampitheater in Vieux Lyon

Dhivya and I eating 'Rissoto a la Cara' with melted Raclette cheese (especially for melting....yummm French cheese Dhivya says!)

We were given free tickets to see the Lyon Symphony! It was beautiful!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The best letter that Mum has sent me...Thank you.


I bet you can relate to this now…

Imagine arriving in a new country (English speaking- fortunately), with only $184 and eight suitcases. Only one friend, no job and no car, just an empty apartment… your daughter….and a dream.

Throughout history, intelligent, strong independent women have struck out into the world, for life or for adventure, with little but their determination and wits. Keep one eye on your back and the other on the horizion. With your beautiful smile and perserverance, there is nothing you can’t accomplish. I have complete confidence in you.

Je t'aime.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My address:

Mademoiselle Cara Bradley
1 Place Saint Paul
Lyon, France

Let the sending of letters, packages and any form of mail begin! xoxoxox

Lyon is looking better

TUESDAY, September 13, 2005
Ben and I decided to go looking for furniture and really anything useful for our house, not too hard since it’s completely empty! The idea was to go to Op/Thrift Shop for second hand goods (everything is so expensive here and we only need it for 4 months) shops first and Ikea after that. Unfortunately Lyon has a severe lack of second hand shops. There doesn’t seem to be a St Johns/ Red Cross/ Salvo’s presence here. We toddled along toward what I thought was an op shop (saw it when try to meet Ricky). We stopped off at a privately run second hand furniture store and discovered that you could buy the Ikea furniture there for more then it would be brand new at Ikea! When we found my store I had my fingers crossed that it was okay since I lead us al the way there. It turned out to be great. We got almost all the things we need for our kitchen for 5E which is incredible! All cutlery, cutting knives, plates, soup bowls, 2 big cooking bowls, 2 fry pans and after that this really nice woman just started throwing in random dishes and sheets! Amazing. We were ecstatically happy! Ben and I dropped our loot off and Nikki’s and took public transport out to Ikea. We priced fridges and other things out there too. At Ikea we bought some more kitchen stuff but realized we would have to come back for beds anyway. I am tossing up between a futon with a frame, just a futon or a mattress.

WEDNESDAY, September 14, 2005
Went to uni during the day and then quickly jumped on the train and took the metro to Hotel de Ville which is northeast from Nikki’s. I ran to meet Ben and our landlord to sign the contracts for our house. We then went up to the apartment (which seemed smaller to both Ben and I for some reason) and singed contacts, did the condition report and forked over large sums of money.

The first time looked at the house I noticed the size of the rooms, the number of power points and the lack of shelving/storage. The main question I asked was ‘Could I live here, is it was feasible?’. Now seeing it for the second time I notice that there are hooks in the kitchen and on the back of the doors in one of the rooms. Also, there are little shelves in the shower and Ben and I almost bought some! Note to new renters hold off until you know exactly what you need.

I left with only 10E in my pocket! I then returned to Nikki’s with Ben and enlisted my friend Andy (British) and his friend Sebastian to help us carry our kitchen and wine boxes back to Vieux Lyon. Afterwards we all continued onto an orientation activity called ‘Soiree Pub’ which was at a small private nightclub. I danced the night away to a large variety of music (mostly some crazy fast passed Italian/Spanish and America R&B with some golden oldies thrown in), made new friends and walked back home with Nikki and a nice Italian girl as I was without a bed in my new apartment.

THURSDAY September 15, 2005
Woke up early even though didn’t get to sleep until 3am. Went to uni. Went back to Nikki's for lunch (so nice to be so close) and woke here up! We had lunch and decided to meet up later to visit every students dream location, Ikea. Nikki wanted to buy a carpet and I needed a bed. We met at the International Office (my favourite place *sarcasm * and second home *unfortunately not sarcasm*) and took le metro et le tramway to the massive shopping complex where Ikea lives. I decided to buy a mattress instead of a futon I found one half price (due to a tiny rip in the fabric on one side). I also got 2 packs of really cool postcards because I love images, tiny little glasses to hold tea lights (a luxury item for 0.95E) and an extra pillow for when everyone comes to visit me and stay over! To get the mattress home, Nikki and I wheeled the mattress to the tram, took the train to Grange Blanche station where we got on the train with the mattress and took it to Vieux Lyon where we pushed/dragged/lifted it all the way to my apartment! It helped that Vieux Lyon has old drainage tiles down the middle of the cobbled road. People were very nice about the giant mattress on public transport and the streets. They kept saying things like ‘Bonne Courage’ and making jokes about being sleepy! We even ran into a big group of Aussie and British girls from uni! Ben somehow miraculously heard us from a shop and helped me take the mattress up to the 4th floor. That sounds easier then it was without an elevator and only a narrow spiral staircase. Nikki and I then went to her place with the intention of getting the last of my things and taking them back here but decided to chill and sleep instead. Nikki watched the worst American movie I have ever seen (about a giant lizard which bites people and turns then into zombies- If you think the plot is bad you should have seen the acting and the tight shirts + cleavage!) and I called home and talked with Mum and also talked with my Auntie + family.

FRIDAY, September 16, 2005
I have been here for 2 weeks! Hoora! I received an email from my friend Vanja who is currently in Holland with her twin sister. They are thinking of coming to Lyon around the end of September or the beginning of August so I am really excited about that. Maybe not so good for my French though. Went to uni in the morning and then hauled all my stuff to my new apartment! Finally! I will never have to haul that suitcase again! I vacuumed the whole house, unwrapped my mattress and started unpacking my suitcase finally. I have wanted access/closure with that for ages! It feels like I have been here for ages! I cleaned my coat rack (thank you landlord) and started hanging stuff everywhere. I also decided to fill my big Ikea worm with stuff which was a great idea until it got really heavy and fell off the wall…time for a solution (get back to you on that one). I decided to do some washing and after painfully forking out 3.20E for dishing washing soap. It took a bit too figure out the washing and 2 more loads to turn on the water tap so that the clothes would actually wash. I used string that I found randomly the other day stung between the doors to hang my clothes. Who says scavenging is not effective. Somewhere while I was on my hands and knees with the vacuum an Aussie guy from uni arrived. I invited him to stay with me earlier during the day as he is without accommodation (another case of ‘Ooops!’ by the International Office). Nikki turned up and we deiced to go meet friends at Hotel de Ville for ce soir's activities. We missed them but my new British friend Bumble was there and we ended up at the top of the Opera eating dessert and chatting with a beautiful view (perfect for a post card -in fact I have a post of exactly that) and good conversation. Bumble is hilariously funny and after taking we decided to go back to see his place which he claimed was small and made him feel like a giant (he is full of funny phrases like that. ‘I try to keep at least 2 or 3 addictions going at once’ is another one). He said he is bored in Lyon in his apartment alone so he smokes like a chimney. Nikki and I have now volunteered ourselves to help him quit. We talked into 3am when we walked back to my place, both wearing Bumble’s jumpers in the rain. It was freezing actually and we sang songs along the way to keep warm. Finishing off with ‘Advanced Australia Fair’ (both verses!)

SATURDAY, September 17, 2005
Hey guys! The 17th and 18th of September are called ‘Journees Europeennes du Patrimoine’. I have to research this some more but it means lots of things here are free entry like museums and movies are buy one get one free I think. So people queue up everywhere to see things that normally are not open to the public or you have to pay for.

Hey there! I woke up today in MY own bed. I woke up feeling really comfy. I then took a shower in my own shower where the showerhead is affixed to the wall (the majority of the places you have to hold the handle and soap it up). So nice to be clean! There is a soap rack in the shower and everything! I opened the window and felt a chill in the breeze, like ice. I think yesterday was autumn and now today it’s winter. I was happy to try out my new coat and ugg boots (still with the tags on)

We started out today as all days do here…at the bakery. I decided to buy a ‘brioche au chocolate’ which is like the offspring of a croissant and some bread with chocolate chips (not average Aussie choc chips- they are darker and more powdery….hard to explain) of course. Its yum and more substantial then a croissant. We took the metro North to Croix-Rousse where we heard there was a market with free food. It turned out to be free freshly pressed grape juice mais c’est d’accord. At the local market I decided to buy another cheese to try ‘Brie de Meaux Donge- Appellatan d’origine’. I later decided that this cheese tastes like decomposition has set into much for me but with no food in the house I intend to eat it regardless. Nikki and I bought some hand painted tiles the market (a little expensive but very unique). We then trained it back to Hotel de Ville to see the Hotel de Ville (lavishly decorated Town Hall). We went in saw the first room, were bombarded with brochures for the arts and then kicked out because they were closing for lunch (bizarre). We headed back to mine, Nikki decided to go home and rug up and then rendez vous-ed with Rob and I at McDonalds for much needed internet access. I needed to find out what was going on with my finances! Having money access problems = not good! Nikki and I decided to go see a free puppet show (a big thing here) at 3pm but having missed it we milled about until 4pm to watch the next one. Bumble joined us and once again I wished I could understand better what was going on! On our way back we bought a ‘Coussins de Lyon’ which is a famous lollie here. It doesn’t taste like much as it’s almond paste filled with chocolate. Back to McDonalds to collect Rob and my computer and then stop by a church on the way home. Ran into Nikki’s friend Jeaana on the way (amazing to run into someone you know in a city you have only been in for 2 weeks!). Couldn’t find the church so settled on some random church and then Rob and Bumble I am went to MY apartment.

Tonight I cooked my own meal in my own kitchen with my own dishes! Rob and I ate Pasta, which Bumble added onion, garlic and tomatoes to the sauce. Then Rob went to look at a mezzanine in someone’s house (they turned out to be smokers who usually don’t smoke in the house but were tonight and have a cat which he may be allergic to). Bumble departed for home and I got to try and sort out all my stuff (my laundry is DRY! And now I am looking for somewhere to put it…hummm…?), write what’s been happening and update my list of important info on my computer. I keep a print out in my wallet in case I lose something or forget to bring a document. Also, if I lose my wallet I have all the details and numbers necessary to survive and cancel cards (no passwords or anything on this list). And then let there be decoration and clean up! Operation ‘make Cara’s room look like Cara’s room!’. And it is going fabulously! Hooray for that! Hooray for me. My Wine box idea is working very well I will have all you skeptics (what skeptics?) know! I have a tiny 2-box high bookshelf and it looks great. Nikki has the others since she let me stay with her. The large wine boxes are in the kitchen on the pantry shelves and are going to be filled with food soon when Ben returns after visiting his family! Right now the sum total of my food: mostly gone cheese, sultanas and almost finished bag of pasta. Can wash the dishes, neither soap nor sponge. Can’t even light the stove, neither matches nor lighter. The little store below is outrageously expensive so I guess it will all happen Monday.

September 18, 2005
Today we slept in (oh mon dieu)! Rob and I went down to the little bakery near me. I bought a baguette for later and a brioche de praline, which is like a croissant, covered in sugar and red sugary lollie things. Then we made our way to Hotel de Ville. We decided to go to the Opera after realising the queue was longish and the place would close for lunch in half an hour (something which I still find amazing and wonder why the word roster never came into effect). At the Opera we saw the elaborately decorated foyer while a man explained its history (would have been very interesting but I didn’t understand a lot and found myself investigating my feet/nails). We then got to go into the auditorium where the Opera is held. After running into some fellow exchange students we decided to go to l'Eglise (church) Notre-Dame Saint-Vincent because it was close and not closed for lunch (no, this is not the case with all the churches!). After that we decided to continue on along the river to see the other stops. The first was ‘Les Subsistances’ an old restored monastery/military building that is now a new center for contemporary art. It is hard reading things in French because you don’t really understand what you’re looking at! I looked at the buildings, took some photos and ended up taking to this French guy for a while. He might know somewhere for Rob to live. He was really nice and our conversation wasn’t too bad in French (YAY!). Got his number for my house warming. Rob decided to retire at this stage so I continued up the river to visit CAUE (Conseil d’Architecture d’urbanisme et de l’environnement du Rhone) where I saw an exhibition on Tony Garnier, a famous architect in Lyon (would have been great to understand more). There are free postcards here that I have been picking up and one of them was for this exhibition so that was cool. After that I visited ‘Le grenier d’abondance’ which is another restored building and saw exhibitions about performing Arts. After that I climbed a hill to Fort Saint-Jean, which has been remodeled, into a school (l’Ecole nationnale du Tresor public). I saw a nice view, saw a video on the renovations, picked some lavender for my house and left. I would have liked to walk around the grounds some more but they were closed. Back to the flat and ate my second meal of bread for the day with some of the nastier cheese which I am getting used to. Rob and I then decided to try and see the rest of Hotel de Ville on our way to McDonalds to use the wireless internet. The queue was HUGE now but we saw some exchange students and decided to wait it out with them. The inside was very pretty. We saw lots of rooms on the first floor and on the ground floor were bombarded with more leaflets and brochures like yesterday. The number of different musical groups and performing arts companies stuck me in general. So many tables and brochures and they are all really cheap for students (because we have no money). We then finally got to McDonalds where I am now!

MONDAY September 19, 2005
I didn’t sleep well last night. Rob is still here so I shared my (fabulous) bed when I really just wanted to sprawl! So I slept in until 8:30, got ready quickly (Ben left a half of baguette which I turned into a vegemite and cheese sandwich), bought a Viennoise for breakie, and walked to Hotel de Ville. I took the metro to Sans Souci (without worries) and went into uni. I went to he international office where I asked a few people how to choose subjects (the staff have no idea either), complained a bit with the other exchange students about it (heard lots of ‘back home its organized and we just….’) and then decided to get to it and find timetables. This is really the only thing to do without subject descriptions. Look at the timetable, find something interesting and write it down. As I was looking at the timetables for letters et langues (arts and languages), 2 French guys approached us (I was standing with 2 Americans) asked us our names and then one professed ‘I love you’ repeatedly to me with big eyes like he was enamored. Now I don’t know about you but I find this hard to believe since I had met him 3 mins earlier! He whispered in my ear that he wanted to see me after classes and that I was ‘tres jolie’ et ‘belle’ (an impossibility since I had not even brushed my hair this morning) while all the time I said ‘C’est tres syampa. Merci’ while giving him non believing looks followed by ‘I have to look at the timetable for classes’. Kind of unbelievable really! I then when to my baby French class where we talked about the media and wrote paragraphs which the teacher corrected one on one (really great, that never happens).

After my class I looked everywhere for gestion (business) timetables. I ended up feeling pretty defeated by the time I met Ben at 2pm. The system is really disoragnised. You are just supposed to wander around until you bump into you’re the timetable that you want.
Ben and I decided to go look at transduction (translation) classes and then go to the computer room. I wrote invites for our housewarming party and emailed (my Aussie friend Dhivya is thinking of coming this week from London) until 4pm when I had the baby French class again. At 6pm after my class, Ben and I made our way by bus to Part Dieu to shop at Carrefour for food and house things (like dish washing detergent and sponges). I pinched more wine boxes (little ones this time- one for cutlery, one for clothes and one for Ben). We bought pasta, couscous, beans, cereal, milk, fruit, veg, yogurt, cheese, chocolate and more! We got home at almost 9pm lugging 3 wine boxes, a backpack and shopping bag of groceries. Ben cooked dinner (frittata- eggs, mushrooms, capsicum, green beans) while I loaded up…you guessed it….wine boxes with food and took some photos to celebrate our success and permier repas (first meal). I felt like I had not had a decent meal in ages (which is so true, bread, bread and more bread) and was so happy! No really, so so happy. We both were. Now that we have food it really feels like we live here. We now have a fruit bowl (from the op shop) with bananas, apples, a pear, peach, and an even an avocado. We also now have 5 kinds of cheese in the fridge (YAY! I love cheese), we must be in France! Rob arrived looking defeated, still no place to live (the accommodation woman didn’t turn up to work at all today). We then ate cake (Gateau Marbre Cocao- produit en Bretagne) and milk (which I set a trend by dipping) and felt like absolute kings! Calcium! I was actually able to wash dishes with soap and that too made me feel very happy! All the dishes are clean! Yay! More wine boxes! Yay! I am full! Yay! It is the simple things in life you treasure….and for everything else…C’est la France and that’s why its not simple.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Photos of Lyon for you:

This is the Le Rhone river! (looking North)

This is the Le Rhone river! (looking south)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mc Donalds and I have a date tonight!

I will try to get to McDonalds tonight to write more about what I am up too! I got my appartment yesterday so there is lots to tell! I am also trying to dig up soem photos!


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Cara is Lyon...Oui Oui

Okay everyone! So I am here and alive! Sorry to drop off the map for a bit but its been a really new/horribe/crazy/fun


interesting/complicated experience so far. Here, take it all (it’s a lot):

DAY 1: Friday 2/9/05
I arrived in Lyon last Friday (Sept 2nd). Everything started off really well with no probs at the airport and a free cab ride to the centre of Lyon with a fellow traveller ho was here for business (Thanks're the best!). Be friendly and make the most of it and look what happens! After that, unfortunately, it was all down hill. I arrived at uni and they couldn’t’t find me on the computer system. Then, they told me I was at the wrong campus and could I just haul all my stuff 20 mins south! So I hooked up with some English girls who were lost too (says something doesn’t’t it?), dropped my stuff at their hotel and found the other campus. When we got there the woman in charge of housing or 'lodgement' had gone home! Oh, and P.S., Cara wasn't on the list for lodgement anyway!!! Ooops for them Big time! I expected something like this but hoped for better! And in fact I wasn't on the computer system at all! They didn't know I was coming! Because I deferred my exchange last semester I think they completely forgot!

So I collected all my stuff and went to the ‘Venissieux’ Youth Hostel I booked just in case! There are 2 HI hostels in Lyon. The other 'Vieux (Old) Lyon' was full when I tried so 'Venissieux' was my only option! It was awful! It was empty, depressing/old/dirty and gave the impression that every ounce of happiness and life had been sucked out of it! I hated it! After I found my room and cried, I decided to be proactive and find food. A random guy said Hi to me in the foyer and I decided to ask if he was going dinner shopping too. He ended up giving me 5 Euros and told me to buy wine and charcoal for a BBQ. I went across the road to Carrefour (a giant Safeway+Kmart and reminds me a bit of Costco in the USA). There’s like a butcher counter, mini fish market, deli and everything. Wine is so so so cheap here, cheese too, but everything else is expensive!). When I returned he had salad and asparagus and a baguette! Free dinner….make the most of every opportunity (in a safe way of course!-that’s for my family). We ate, talked a little and then I decided to bed, maybe things would look brighter! I didn’t’t feel like taking any pictures, writing about my adventure or contacting anyone since I was sooo unhappy/surprised/disappointed.

I am also in a bit of a culture shock! It’s not so much that everything is different it’s just there is a huge language barrier and I can’t read or understand anything! I am coping okay but when people speak its really difficult! I have now learned to ask questions really specifically with yes or no answers and to use simple words to try and get people to say things I can understand.

DAY 2: Saturday 3/9/05
Decided to go see Lyon all day to escape from the hostel. I was told to go back to the International Office on Monday when the accommodation woman would be there so I was free all weekend. I took a bus to the metro station of Venissieux, which is the end of ligne D in the south of Lyon. The metro here comes like every 4 mins (even on Sunday). It is clean, underground and without drivers, it’s automatic. I decided to visit the Park de la Tete d'or (Park of the Golden head) because Appley (an Aussie girl I met at an RMIT info session) said in en email it was pretty and had zoo animals. I didn't see any zoo animals but it was very pretty. However I was still feeling depressed. I left and took the metro to Ampere station where I met the British girls. The aim was to get phones and sort out our lives but Appley, who was going to help us, couldn't come. We looked at phone deals and I decided to think about it rather then buy a prepaid sim (shows you how great I was feeling about Lyon. I figured I might not stay. The girls decided to go to Carrefour and we parted ways. I wandered around Lyon next to the river. I was sitting next to the river (probably looking forlorn) when some random Algerian Parisian French gut started talking to me (I had become used to this). He didn't speak much English so it was good practise. We ended up eating grapes and peaches by the river and talking. He was keen to have dinner too but I was keen to be cautious. I decided to go and see if Ricky (the lift from the airport) was free for dinner and if not meet up with the Frenchmen. At Ricky's hotel I couldn’t’t remember his last name and even though the hotel was small the owner decreed it all to complicated to find his room number for me. I went back to Ampere to meet this French guy and the best thing in the world happened to me! He didn’t show up!!!!!! Nope, that’s right !

I was sitting there waiting and this random guy sat down (I noticed he sat at a safe/respectable distance and didn’t look at me which made me think he wasn’t French…isnt that weird !). He was wearing a jade pendant from NZ and I decided that was my ‘in’ to strike up a random conversation in French. It turned out this guy (Doug) was American (from New Jersey) and staying at the OTHER hostel! I said that he was lucky to have a reservation but he said that there was space there and he had just arrived today and gotten a bed! We decided to hang out and had a beer at an English Pub in Vieux Lyon. After we ended up at this posh French restaurant eating a 2-course meal for 15E! It was great! Especially the ginger chocolate moose cake for dessert. We talked for ages! He said he had gone on exchange to Italy and for the first couple weeks he hated it, talked about leaving and almost cried (sound famillar ?) Talking to him I felt so much better. He said acouple of times ‘Youre going to love it here’ and ‘I cant believe you get to live here’.The street was alive and vibrant with everyone out on thre streets on a warm summer night with diners being enterntained by a violynist ! This was the turning point for me. I asked Doug to see if there was space at the other hostel and we aggreed to meet up the next day at Bellcour train station (in the middle of the city on the Presqu’ile).

The train ride home was interesting! I have since learned/decided that Venisseux is NOT a good area. Anything in the south and east of Lyon is considered poorer and tends to be inhabited mainly by Algerian families. On my way to the station (with pepper spray in pocket) I was whisteled at. On my way down to the platform a guy grabbed my arm and started propositioning me, not sure what he said because I wrenched my arm away after a quick ‘Je ne parle pas francais’. On the train a guy made overly done disgusting kisses at me, mouthed the words baby before getting off and winking. After that a random Algerian French guy told me that French men were not bold, aggressive and upfront as I said. He said they were practique? (practical). He then proceeded to get off the train with me and ask if I wanted his number repeatedly! When I declined and asked him which bus he was waiting for he said he was going back to the train in the direction we just came from. He missed his stop to talk to me! Ahhhh, Zut! Les homes francais!

DAY 3: Sunday 4/9/05
Met up with Doug the American. There was space in the hostel!!! Said bye to Doug who was off on another adventure and beat it back to Venissieux. Packed all my crap (suitcase, giant backpack, little backpack and a lap top) as fast as possible and pretended to be a pack horse (4 things, 2 hands, 1 back = bad) while walking, catching a bus, taking le metro (train), another bus, the funicular (a train that goes up a hill) and then walking to the youth hostel! (P.S. The guy working at the train station told me to stop by anytime, that I was his friend and did I want his number?) Every step I kept saying ‘it’s going to be worth it’ over and over again. The hostel was soooo much nicer! Vieux Lyon is beautiful and a very nice area! The hostel is on a hill so you can see out over all of Lyon. I was so excited I nearly ran all my luggage up 4 flights of stairs and proceeded to help 3 other people with theirs (great way to make friends). As soon as I got there I asked about finding food and was invited for dinner with some randoms! What a nice place! I started talking to lots of people- Americans, Germans, French, Italians, Quebecois (my neighbours). I saw someone who looked familiar and it turned out to be Ben, an Aussie from RMIT session! Hooray! I went to bed late, tired but happy and relieved!

DAY 4: Monday 59/05

Got up and went to the orientation class. Became registered as a student. Felt like I existed! Went to the exchange office to Elise about ‘lodgement’. After waiting forever with a million other people she said she would try to find me something and could I wait until tomorrow! Ok, what to do about that? Nothing. Wait.

DAY 5: Tuesday 6/9/05

Back to the international office. Melb uni is apparently shocked at the situation (I would think this would happen all the time) and I spoke to someone up stairs who was really nice but I don’t think is a ‘do-er’ she’s an ‘I’m here for you’ type of person. At this stage I was still hopeful and expecting something (should have known better). Spent the entire day looking for housing on the net!

DAY 6: Wednesday 7/9/05

Okay well the situation is now clear to me! There is nothing left in Lyon! You really have to look and the market is now getting really expensive because there aren’t a lot of places left. All the residences are taken! I got 2 names today from Elise and one is really far out while the other is far too and expensive! Chantal, one of the women who works here gave me the number of one of her friends who supposedly is renting an apartment. It is close to the station Guillotiere which is a bad area. I decided to go look at the location and outside, since the woman never retuned my call, and to see if I wanted to pursue it. There was lots of graffiti and it looked pretty average! I decided to ask some locals and one girl when I said ‘C’est dangeroux?’(It’s dangerous?) I couldn’t remember 2 seconds later if she said ‘pas du tout’(not at all) or ‘pas beaucoup’ (not a lot)! A asked some police who were there (always a good sign!) and he made a motion with his hand meaning not too good not to bad. He then proceeded to make the actions of dinking and injecting drugs. I also understood the word ‘Squatters’. Maybe no! Went back to the hostel. We had a cocktail party for the exchange students. It was fun I got to talk to a lot of new people and found I knew a lot of people already. Returned to the hostel. Stayed and chatted with the Canadians and ended up walking around Vieux Lyon and the rivers with Charles for ages! Until like 4am! He was great to talk to and may pass though Lyon (I offered my non existent apartment floor of course) on his way home. He and his 2 Canadian friends rode bikes from Paris to Lyon (in 4 days I think) and are currently on their way to pick grapes! What a great idea! They got to bring their bikes form Canada for free so they thought why not!

DAY 7: Thursday 8/9/05

Actually went to my orientation classes today! All of them! FLE (French for foreigners) Class, Historie de la France and Literature (Moyen age au 18e seicle). Talked to Elise again today. Nothing. Continued to look on my own. Ben and I went to look at more ads at some youth place and then at 7:30 we pretended to be a couple and looked at an apartment in Vieux Lyon! We loved it! It is huge for an apartment here and compared to the residences it is gigantic. It has big windows a spiral staircase leading up to the apartment. It is not furnished so that will be an interesting adventure. But the guy didn’t seem to care if we left in January which is a massive hurdle here, everyone wants you to stay for a year and if not then they want 6 months which for Ben and I means February. We were SO happy and relieved! We cooked dinner with a Japanese girl in my room (she was alone and I wanted to include her). We were and still are delusionally happy! Talked with some new people and some Aussies! Yaya! They sounded REALLY Aussie to me! Went to bed late once again! We have an apartment! We can move in on Wednesday! The Youth Hostel is all booked out for Sat, Sun, Mon weekend which means have to find somewhere to stay until I can move in! I won’t go back to that other hostel either! You can’t make me!

DAY 8: Friday 9/9/05

Hauled all my luggage to uni! I am going to leave it there and then stay with my Aussie friend Nikki (RMIT session) for as long as I can! Went to class: FLE (French for foreigners) Class. Confused still, must revise all! Historie de la France. The teacher speaks with wacky intonation but he pronounces things clearly even if the words are pretty big. I then decided to skip (Yes, Cara is skipping class!) Literature (Moyen age au 18e seicle). I then tried to find Nikki who is an Aussie girl I met at an RMIT info session. She has offered to let me stay with her until I can move into my apartment. Once again I remind people to take EVERY opportunity. If I had not spoken with her and exchanged email addresses then I wouldn’t have somewhere to stay! I ended up walking to her place- a residence called St Jacques, 10 mins from our uni. I am happy my apartment is so big because Nikki’s is small (maybe 15m2) and she is paying a fortune (600 E/month). However, that is the only down fall! She walked off the plane and walked here. She gets her place cleaned (and they give her new tea/bath towels and little hotel soap), she has a balcony and little kitchen and there are washing machines downstairs. Wondering what it would have been like to have everything sorted out. Couscous for tea and then Jane and Jaana (pronounced Yana), exchange students from Finland and Canada, came over. We went to meet up with some more European Girls and then took the bus to a boat nightclub on the Rhone called Fish. We danced and I met another exchange student who goes to our uni (what a coincidence) who I proceeded to invite to my upcoming house warming! Back to Nikki’s! Bed!

DAY 9: Saturday 10/9/05

Today was a good day. I slept in!!!! It’s and amazing miracle. Nikki and I split a ‘trios fromage’ quince and a ‘Venetian’ that had really good dark milk chocolate chips. This was my first time at a French Bakery. I ordered in French food in French. How French! Then, Nikki and I walked to Carrefour (safeway + kmart+ Harvery Norman) in Part Dieu (shopping centre), met some of Nikki’s exchange student friends Jaana (Finland) and Jane (Canada) and went shopping. Like a good little economist, I wrote down the prices of things that Ben and I will need for our new apartment. I am going to compare at other stores (especially Ikea) and see if I can find an op shop too. I managed to get 2 wooden wine boxes in the wine isle for my new apartment!! Definitely a highlight of my day! Nikki really wants the cute small one (when you are deprived of everything wine boxes become cute) so now I am on a permanent mission in France to search and destroy wine boxes! I see bookshelves, drawers, cupboards for food…..oh the possibilities are endless! Nikki has agreed to go and stalk wine boxes at the supermarche’s here. Tonight we had dinner with Jaana and Jane and afterwards went to Nikki’s German friend’s house for wine and cheese. I am keen to meet French people here. I met a girl on the train already named Claudine and a guy in the supermarket named Alban, both of which I invited to my future house warming party. Ben and I decided we are going to have a massive house warming party because it took us so long to find a place and had to go through so much. I think Nikki seems happy for the moment to stay with her etuident etrangere (exchange student) friends and in her comfort zone. I am keen to meet new people and want to meet French and talk French. After dinner we went over to Nikki’s friend’s Julian and Pierre’s apartment (2 Germans who drove to Lyon and brought their entire houses) and ate cheese (Roquefort and 2 others) and bread, drank wine and talked! Everyone is speaking English all the time! It’s awful and will soon be rectified! Although it is nice to feel included and be making friends. Pierre has offered to lend me one of his 2 hammers he brought from Germany (!) when Ben and I buy furniture from Ikea here! Make the most of every opportunity and be nice! Nikki and I decided while walking to Jane and Jaana’s that I get a lot of looks! Even when my hair is up and I am not wearing shorts (something here which attracts a huge amount of attention!)! I think I must look foreign, that or I look at little bit like some famous French person because it’s incredible!

DAY 10: 11/9/05

I can’t believe I have been here 10 days! It feels like years! I ate a banana and plain yougurt today which was good. I have been eating 3 stable meals of beard a day since I got here. Both Youth hostel’s provided a ‘petit dejuner’ (breakfast) of Cereal, long life milk, bead, butter, jam and hot choc/coffee which the french drink out of a bowl. I have been taking the bead and eating it will vegemite or butter and honey for lunch and then for dinner eating pasta. Needless to say that’s a lot of bread! I have been at McDonalds most of today bludeing off their free wireless internet (called wiffie)! I refuse to buy anything while I am here too because that’s what they want me to do! Ha! Once again, it’s all about who you know and how friendly you are and the effort you make! I didn’t know this was here, Nikki, Jaana and Jane did! Everything here is closed on Sunday pretty much so I was going to go to ‘Fnac’ (electronics store) but they are closed! On the way here, I was hasteled going down to the station….something which I have come to expect now! Ignore completely is my motto and seems to work the best! As I am sitting here in McDonalds by the stairs guys are looking at me as they come up and down. One guy just said something to me involving ‘syampa’ which means nice.

Natlie Imbruglia just came on French radio here (they play A LOT of English music). Class tomorrow. Maybe I can go instead of looking for housing! Ha ha! I have to choose my classes at uni soon. That is also an incredibly complicated French process! Nikki said yesterday ‘They say ‘C’est la France’ here all the time when things are really complicated like instead of fixing it they are just going to adopt it as a nation’. Haha. Too true mate! Too true! I find it odd that at Carrefour they recycle batteries, every hostel/house/apartment/residence is equipped with water saving showers (you have to hold the shower head in your hand so you end up getting wet, soaping up,and rinsing- Aust should follow this example), power saving lights in the residences (only go on for 5 mins when you push the button) but people don’t recycle in their homes at all! If you want to you have to collect it up and take it to giant bins located randomly around town.

P.S. Everyone is invited to my up comming house warming party so just tell me when you fly in and I will pick you up !

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Bonjour Lyon!

Yesterday I left JFK airport in New York (after being taken there in style by private car). Fancy!...except I was so tired I slept the whole way to the airport. After travelling this long and trying to organize Lyon, I am exhausted! I was tired all of New York! I am sure my family friends thought I was a zombie!

Hello Lyon! CRAZY!