Monday, June 25, 2012
I have to say I had a bit of a fright in the middle of the night when I awoke flushing hot and then cold and then hot and then cold again. I became aware of a dull pounding in my head and mild nausea and realized I was going through the frequent squeamishness I experience whenever I have exerted myself physically just a little too much. One Crocin later, I fell asleep immediately and only awoke at 8. 30 am with my medical crisis averted. Thank Goodness!
Off to the Park (and Zoo):
My young escorts were waiting for me to finish with breakfast to get on with our plans to go to the Museum. But I realized just in time that most museums in France are closed on Mondays. And right enough: The Musee de la Resistance et Deportation which used to be the headquarters of Klaus Barbie, known as The Butcher of Lyon, and which Charles de Gaulle then christened the headquarters of the Resistance, was closed. We had to make alternative plans and my young friends suggested the Parc du Tete D'Or (literally, the Park with the Golden Head!).
I was certainly up for it, not really knowing what to expect there, apart from great sculpture which is what one usually finds in France's great public gardens. We were all set to take public transport to the park: 16 (almost 17) year old Louis, son of my friend Genevieve and his friend 16 year old Remy who had a sleepover, were to be my handsome company for the morning. Just when we were ready to leave, Dad Frederic stepped in with the offer of a ride to the park on his way to a dentist appointment. The offer was eagerly accepted and exactly at 10.00 am, off we went by car.
The park is only a short 15 minute drive away and within a few minutes, we were walking into its grand ornamental gates past the sculpture that I had expected. Louis and Remy were disappointed that the bicycles that they hoped to pedal, with me as a passenger, were not going to be available until mid-day. Which turned out to be just as well. For we started walking through the park--and it was at this point that I realized that the park included a Zoo! How wonderful! It was the second time in a month that I'd be visiting a zoo.
Well, needless to say, we had a great time as zoos bring out the kid in every one of us. I regressed to my teenagehood in the company of my sweet escorts who insisted on trying to improve their English with me. The park was full of kids brought by their teachers for a day trip. It was delightful to listen to their squeals and their expressions as they watched the animals and their antics. Right after they saw a golden money swing through the length of his cage, they broke out, as a group, into spontaneous applause. I have never seen anything like it. After we had seen a vast part of the zoo and needed a bit of a rest, Louis decided to find out if the bicycles were available--and indeed they were!
Except that having spent so much time on our feet, I suggested we rent a pedal boat instead and enjoy the vast lake. The guys thought it was a good idea. And that was how I ended up having one of the loveliest mornings of my travels so far. The weather was simply perfect: neither too warm nor too cool. The sun occasionally put its hat on; but for the most part, shone happily upon us. Pedaling offered light exercise and a glimpse of the vast perennial gardens that comprise the park. After a most delightful hour on the lake, it was time to return the pedal-boat and go out in search of lunch. It was great that the bicycles were not available when we needed them, because we'd probably never have hired a pedal boat if they had been.
Lunch was ham and fries in a park stand with a nice hot chocolate. Just as we finished our meal, Frederic arrived to pick us up and take us back home. My queasiness of the night persuaded me to get back to my room for a short nap and within seconds, I was out like a light. When I awoke, it was time for a cup of tea and as we sat around the table in the kitchen, I felt sorry that my time with the Ducote family was coming to an end as I had enjoyed a great weekend with a varied lot of experiences and memories to take home with me.
At about 5.00 pm, we went for a last walk around the center of St. Didier Au Mont D'Or where my friends live. It was an opportunity to take Edna the dog for a short walk and to visit the local church--with its impressive cathedral-like proportions--before we returned home to stack my back pack in the car and leave for the train station.
Au Revoir Genevieve:
I was delighted that Genevieve arrived from a long day at work at Lyon Part Dieu train station in time to see me off. My train left at 7.00 pm. I have no idea when I will see her again, which makes our partings always rather sorrowful. But I know that if our friendship has survived for 40 years, it will no doubt thrive way into the future. For her generosity and the gifts of her time, I am always grateful.
Back on the TGV train to Paris, I captioned all the photographs I had taken over the long weekend and, literally, by the time I finished, the train was pulling into Paris Gare du Nord at exactly 9. 15 pm. It was almost magical. Those TVG (Tres Grande Vitesse) trains are miraculous! What a convenient and easy way to take on long-distance travel! Thankfully, the RER trains connect beautifully to my residence and I was in my apartment by 9. 45 pm. Incroyable!
In 15 minutes, I finished unpacking, got myself ready for my NEH session tomorrow, had a salted caramel and hazelnut yogurt and caught up with my email and my blog. It was a weekend to remember but it is now time to call it a night!