September 24, 2015

This post is a long'un so make sure you've got a good playlist on, a comfy seat and a lot of a time to kill. Here goes.

To continue on from the previous post, we embarked on yet another treacherous journey through the deep jungle of French university administration. ERASMUS is basically a year-long exercise in dealing with mountains of ridiculous paperwork and bureaucracy. One of the most important parts of your ERASMUS is called your 'Learning Agreement' which you need to get signed by both your home university and host university in order to get your ERASMUS grant from the government. So you would think this form would be handled with care, eh? No. I arrived in Lyon to be informed that everyone else had had their signed forms returned to them, but me. So off I went, on search of the missing form. After going back and forth between various study abroad officers from both my universities who shifted the blame back and forth, it was realised that actually my form had been filled out but someone had failed to document that fact and inform me. Crisis #1 - averted. 

Dealing with the mind-numbing inefficient administration here can easily get you down and tire you out, so that night we decided to meet up with some of our friends and have drinks in the city centre to share rants and ridiculous stories. We all met up in Vieux Lyon (the old town at the other side of the city) and walked through the old streets. It was a dry night so loads of people were sitting out at restaurants having dinner (they have dinner super late here, weird.) After aimlessly wandering for a while, I looked at a pub sign that said 'Wallace' and jokingly suggested it might be a Scottish pub. It wasn't until I saw the tacky tartan clad tables outside and the massive menu of whiskies inside that I realised it actually was. Parfait. Although the special dish of the day was 'Foie Gras Burger' - not your everyday delicacy in Scotland, but you do you Wallace Bar. *moon emoji*

After that, we walked over one of the many beaut bridges in Lyon to the Presqu'île (the middle bit of the city - see post 1 for a map). We were walking up one of the main pedestrian streets when I heard some shouting. I looked back and saw a literal stampede of people, maybe 100-200, running towards us. My first thought: "shit, what if this is one of those bull running festivals..." however at 10:30pm on a Monday night in Lyon, France I ruled out that thought out. My second thought: "omg what is gang fights are a big problem here." Again, I don't think Lyon is a mafia stronghold so I ruled that one out too. It wasn't until I saw that they were all covered in whipped cream and egg, carrying dead fish and wearing university/school-branded t-shirts that I realised it must have been a society initiation. Crisis #2 - averted.

Now, if you've ever been to a foreign country, you will have spotted an english phrase (whether it be on a billboard, TV advert, t-shirt etc..) that doesn't quite make sense and, although humorous it can be quite infuriating and eat away at your every thought. This has been happening to me. The culprit? Double Shiny Bacon. Yes, you read that right. Double. Shiny. Bacon. "But what is that?" you may ask. Well, dear reader, it is a monstrosity of a burger from none other than McDonalds. After seeing it literally everywhere I went, I had to try one so off we went. After making the 20+ minute trip on the metro, Carly and I rocked up to McDonalds to try this grammatical, translated mess:

The verdict? Absolutely shite. The thing is huge - like actually massive. Maybe about the same size as my head, which is pretty big but all the pretty lettuce and lovely bacon seen in the photo above is missing. There are 2 pretty sad looking, dried out burger patties with a smattering of cheese topped with what must have come from the worst part of the worst pig. The taste was reminiscent of an old pork scratching I once tried and vowed never to eat again. Total letdown. After that culinary shitemare, we made the 20 minute return trip back home with our heads low and our stomachs cursing us. 

The next day, after the disappointment of the Double Shiny Bacon, I decided to treat my body to some good food and so I met up with my friend for lunch while Carly went shopping with our other friend. Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to then go a walk in Vieux Lyon again. At the top of Vieux Lyon stands the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, however the hundreds of stairs up to the Basilique would make even the most athletic person turn away. Nonetheless on we went, stair by stair, until I slumped my sweaty body onto a bench overlooking the most amazing view over the city. 

After recovering (just), we then walked down the winding roads (not the stairs, thank god) towards the Vieux Lyon and stumbled across the Roman Amphitheatre. It is basically a smaller, but still cool, version of the Colosseum in Rome. We sat in the shade of a tree for about 2 hours and just people-watched which was pretty cool. After walking back into town, I headed home and just chilled out which was long overdue.

On the Thursday of that week, we went on our first outing to a proper club in Lyon. It was an ERASMUS and International Students event called an 'Integration Party' at a club called 'Le Pop', which is essentially a boat which is docked. The problem is that it is in quite an awkward place to get to, especially from our flat, so after having pre-drinks at our flat with our friends we made the journey to the club. When we got inside, it was already quite busy so we headed straight to the bar. Unfortunately, my first thought that drinks are expensive in France was confirmed when the innocent barmaid stated that my newly poured Vodka Red Bull would cost €10. After a mild cry, I parted with the note and proceeded to sip the most expensive club drink i've ever bought. Once we all had a drink, we went to the dancefloor where we met some of our Spanish friends we had met at the boat party. We also got chatting to some people and said that we were 'ecossais' (scottish) when I was grabbed from behind from a girl saying "OMG ARE YOU SCOTTISH DID YOU SAY ECOSSE I AM SCOTTISH TOO OMG". What are the chances of being in the middle of a club in the middle of France and meeting someone from Greenock. (Dunoon and Greenock are really close - google it.) So cray. They were lovely though and it was so nice to hear a Scottish voice. We then left them and all went outside to the smoking area where they had some comfy seats. We took some shameless selfies and chatted some more. 

We started to notice that one of our friends (who I will call X to save her the embarrassment) was quite a bit drunker than the rest of us. After it was clear that X was quite ill, we thought it would be best to take X home - an easy task, you would think, considering there was 5 of us. Wrong. "Where do you live, X?" "I just wanna gooooo hooooome" "Yes, but where is home?" "Take meeee hooooome" etc etc. After getting a street name, my good pal Google Maps decided to help us on our way. After about a 20-30 minute wander (since we had an incapacitated friend) to the address on my phone, it was clear to us that perhaps all was not correct. After looking at the number given by X, I realised that was in fact a shoe shop. Fantastic. "X, where do you stay? Do you recognise this road?" "Nooooo where areeeee weeee??" Oh fuck. It was then that my half-drunk brain had a brilliant idea. I remembered a video I had watched on Facebook talking about how iPhones apparently track your most visited places and how creepy it was etc - note: it is a lifesaving tool for taking a friend home. On I went into the depths of X's iPhone's settings and found the tool, only to discover that the first street name was correct but that there are 2 - one on either side of a massive motorway/train station/tram station etc. (Oh also, this was at about 3:30am. The public transport in Lyon stops at 00:30 and doesn't start again until 05:00). So on we went again, walking to the new address when one of our other friends (Y) went over on her ankle. Three times. The same one. So with two of us helping X and two of us helping Y, we slowly but surely got going. As we were crossing what I first thought was a harmless road, I looked to my left and was shocked to see a motorway sign for Paris in front of us. "Oh my god, guys we are in the middle of a 4-lane motorway here...." Thank god for a lack of traffic at 4am. We eventually got X home, who then proceeded to sleep, so the rest of us decided we deserved a snack and raided her cupboards for cookies. A well-deserved cookie might I add. We then stayed up until 5am and got the first tram back home where I had the best sleep of my life. Crisis #3 - averted. 

Here is a nice photo from the night, before the madness started:

For the next few days, Carly and I just plebbed around our flat and took a few days of doing nothing. It was bliss. Then on Sunday, we decided to visit the Wallace bar to see just how "Scottish" it actually was...


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