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The little things

April 19, 2011

In 10 days, I will officially be moving out of Lyon and embarking on a final month of travel before heading back home. To mark the occasion, I’m going to make a list of 10 little things I’m going to miss about Lyon (with the emphasis on little). The daily minutia is often taken for granted, so I’m going to rectify this by immortalising it in a blog entry read by perhaps all of four people (at a guess). Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Julian Assange.
    It’s not really him, but the guy who manages/owns the copy shop a couple of doors down from chez moi bears an uncanny resemblance to the former most-wanted. Perpetually out the front on a smoko, he never fails to give me a bonjour when I pass to and from the tramstop to and from work. I feel kind of bad that I do all my printing at a place up the road.
  2. The French nose.
    One could make the argument that this has become my raison d’être. You all know what I’m talking about: that slightly raised piece of rhinal perfection found on the faces of essentially every young French female I pass in the street, on the metro, at the bakery, etc. It does funny things to me. Oh God, how it does funny things to me.
  3. Sunny walks along the Rhône.
    Particularly since March, when spring kicked in and made the days longer and warmer. I altered my route to include wandering along the banks with the sun hovering over Fourvière. Include in this section drinks along the Rhône for the same reason.
  4. Café at La Renaissance.
    My local café, where many an hour was spent in the sunshine, coffee on the table, nose in a book. I’ll miss being able to order one coffee without the subsequent harassment that I buy something else every 15 minutes. In fact, the whole café culture belongs in this section. I’ve bought my drink, therefore j’ai le droit to sit there for as long as I want.
  5. The alimentation next door.
    Without the ability to go on a quick booze run next door, my glass collection would never have gotten so out of control so quickly. Not to mention the owner, forever puffing on a sheesha out the back while the delicious smell of apple tobacco filled the store, and his seemingly unflappable personality.
  6. The dude at the Orange store.
    Infinitely helpful in those early quests for internet and a landline, I often marvelled at his complete inability to spell my surname. All sorts of creative attempts were made in the three or four times I went down to the branch. It became a running joke, and one of those things that puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day.
  7. Reliable public transport.
    Although there is no order of importance in this list, if I had to rank them, this would be number one. Once again, I am confounded as to how Melbourne has so utterly fucked up what seems to be a relatively simple operation by comparison. Lyon has a smaller population than Melbourne, yet the transport system could almost account for the same number of people. Frequent services, a sprawling network and next to no cancellations. The longest I’ve waited for a train has been 10 minutes, after midnight on a weekday.
  8. Cheap booze.
    Again, I’m reminded of how much tax we pay on alcohol. I can buy 24 250ml bottles of beer for €4.50, yet Foster’s cries foul when Safeway/Coles mark a slab at $28, which is below cost. Fuck me. Deal with the culture instead of the symptom.
  9. Tarte praline.
    A Lyonnais specialty, this has become my favourite baked good. Luckily, there are markets within walking distance on Saturdays and Sundays, meaning my weekends are always filled with tart-y goodness. How I will cope without these back home is a worrying mystery.
  10. The French language.
    It almost goes without saying, but it will be strange to hear English in the street again. I remember getting excited when for the first time I could understand what people were saying as I passed them in the street. Snippets of conversation are no longer whooshing over my head! I’m well aware of how quickly language skills can be lost, so the challenge will be maintaining them for as long as possible once I’m back home.


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