Our Lyon apartment hangs off the side of a plateau, some 300 steps up from the Rhone river, in a part of town that used to be the home/worksites of the silk workers, which was the town’s main industry for several hundred of its two thousand year history. As with the textile industry in England and elsewhere, the introduction of steam power and automated looms caused much dislocation, unemployment and worker protest. Our neighborhood is called Croix-Rousse and was a center of such protest. Today there are other reasons to protest. Here is a photo of a café where we ate lunch a few days ago.
We’ve spent the first week finding our neighborhood boulangeries, patisseries, epiceries, charcuteries, chocolatiers, and poissonniers. Also bistros. Lyon considers itself the center of French cuisine, as it is the home of Paul Bocuse. (why are my notes so often focused on food ??) Our Croix-Rousse neighborhood has a farmers market six days a week—today it was full of endive, parsnips, eggplant, many kinds of potatoes, apples, olives, cheese, wine, breads, leeks, fish and Spanish tangerines.
However, we’ve only been here a few days because we spent a long weekend in Heidelberg visiting friends from Peter’s German Microsoft projects. They live in the Pfalz wine district of Germany, quite close to the French border. We took several lovely walks in the vineyards (mostly Riesling—quite dry and wonderful, and inexpensive too) and the hills around them. German food, need I say more, is very pork and potato based. Also cabbage.
Learned and saw a few things about the plight of the refugees. Actually, mostly didn’t see. There are several million of them in Germany, mostly living in stadiums and gyms and such—sounds like New Orleans after Katrina. Obviously the first step for them is to learn German—our friends say that many people are volunteering to teach them. But, interestingly, the refugees are not allowed to get a job for 3 years ! This seems like a recipe for disaster.
In the various train stations and airports we transited we saw fairly light security—very young policemen and army people with variably large and small weapons sauntering around. But not as many or as alert-looking and dangerous as I would have expected.
This past weekend was Carnival, which for some reason they celebrate in Heidelberg. Costume balls, etc. But people were told not to dress as cowboys or pirates—no weapons allowed.
One very fun thing : we saw several of these in our drives and walks. The Germans have renovated their unused city water towers as apartments. Here is one you can see from the backyard of one of the friends we visited.