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Touring in the South of France

September 2014

 

Lyon

Off the plane we are welcomed by a warm Autumn day in the south of France.  Fragrant and green.

Lyon is the first step on our short stay in Southern France, touring in leisurely hops by car, down the Rhône valley from Lyon to Avignon and then to Aix and Nice with various stops along the way.

Months earlier I’d booked a car from Lyon Airport to be dropped off at Nice Airport.  I’d tried booking town centre to town centre but there was nothing available.

This meant I got to drive an unfamiliar car, with no gearstick or ignition switch and various other novel idiosyncrasies, ‘straight off the plane’.  But I managed to work it out and we got to see the countryside between the airport and the city and quite a bit of the outer suburbs at our own pace.  Fortunately we had ‘Madam Butterfly’ with us (more of her later) else we could never have reached our hotel through the maze of one way streets.

The charment Hotel St Vincente near the river turned out to be well placed to walk to most places of interest so, after a little more exploration than I might have liked due to the maze of streets, I parked the car at the long-stay car-park at the Opera.

 

 

The Opera Lyon
The Opera - Lyon

 

Despite some early light rain we found the city delightful.  Lyon is a city of many fine buildings and a busy commercial area like a small Paris with friendly inhabitants.

 

Lyon Lyon2
Lyon3 Lyon4

Lyon

 

 

Across the Rhône is a high hill, once a Roman fort, topped by a cathedral, the Basilica de Fourvière; and a mini Eifel Tower/communications mast, La Tour Métallique. 

 

La Tour 
Métallique - Lyon
La Tour Métallique - Lyon

 

The Basilica is said to contain a golden virgin that I somehow failed to notice despite roaming around it for some time.  But there’s a nice picture on line (link). My days of noticing virgins have, apparently, passed.

 

 

Lyon5 Lyon6
 

Basilica de Fourvière

 

The Basilica affords a great view over the city.

 

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Lyon9 Lyon10

Lyon Panorama

 

 

I was most impressed by the local gallery, the Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon, that’s in an old Benedictine convent and houses what must be the finest art collection in France outside of Paris.

 

Lyon7 Lyon8
Lyon9 Lyon10
Lyon9 Lyon10

Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon

 

 

It provided a nice escape from the weather.  And Wendy too found a lot to like in it, particularly the antiquities and the extensive collection of sculpture representing Rodin, Maillol and a beautiful Odalisque by James Pradier.   

 

 

Lyon7 Lyon8
Lyon9 Lyon10
Lyon9 Lyon10

Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon

 

I’ve also posted a few more of the many photos I took there.

 

One of our first tasks was to find a nice little French restaurant for dinner.  This was harder than you might think.  There were plenty of middle eastern and Italian and even a Thai or two but where were the French eateries?  Eventually we discovered a nearby square with a choice of three but pizza, burgers and kebabs now pervade the entire European continent.  It’s the same in Germany.

 

La Tour 
Dining in Lyon
Dining in Lyon

 

 

The next day was sunny and we did a lot of walking, enjoying the architecture and the general atmosphere.

It's amazing, everyone speaks such good French here. Even the little kids, kinder, enfants. Almost no one speaks English.

Wendy se souvient écolière française.  Moi aussi.  Mais très mal.

Aber ich habe versucht, Deutsch zu lernen.  So that's all a bit confusing.

I don't know. Why can't they all speak one language?  English of course.

 

 

La Tour 
Strolling in Lyon
Strolling in Lyon

Leaving Lyon we aim to reach Mirmande for dinner and our next hotel.  We're travelling by the back-roads and an infinity of roundabouts. 

 

 

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Travel

Southern France

Touring in the South of France

September 2014

 

Lyon

Off the plane we are welcomed by a warm Autumn day in the south of France.  Fragrant and green.

Lyon is the first step on our short stay in Southern France, touring in leisurely hops by car, down the Rhône valley from Lyon to Avignon and then to Aix and Nice with various stops along the way.

Months earlier I’d booked a car from Lyon Airport to be dropped off at Nice Airport.  I’d tried booking town centre to town centre but there was nothing available.

This meant I got to drive an unfamiliar car, with no gearstick or ignition switch and various other novel idiosyncrasies, ‘straight off the plane’.  But I managed to work it out and we got to see the countryside between the airport and the city and quite a bit of the outer suburbs at our own pace.  Fortunately we had ‘Madam Butterfly’ with us (more of her later) else we could never have reached our hotel through the maze of one way streets.

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The Meaning of Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

'I was recently restored to life after being dead for several hours' 

The truth of this statement depends on the changing and surprisingly imprecise meaning of the word: 'dead'. 

Until the middle of last century a medical person may well have declared me dead.  I was definitely dead by the rules of the day.  I lacked most of the essential 'vital signs' of a living person and the technology that sustained me in their absence was not yet perfected. 

I was no longer breathing; I had no heartbeat; I was limp and unconscious; and I failed to respond to stimuli, like being cut open (as in a post mortem examination) and having my heart sliced into.  Until the middle of the 20th century the next course would have been to call an undertaker; say some comforting words then dispose of my corpse: perhaps at sea if I was travelling (that might be nice); or it in a box in the ground; or by feeding my low-ash coffin into a furnace then collect the dust to deposit or scatter somewhere.

But today we set little store by a pulse or breathing as arbiters of life.  No more listening for a heartbeat or holding a feather to the nose. Now we need to know about the state of the brain and central nervous system.  According to the BMA: '{death} is generally taken to mean the irreversible loss of capacity for consciousness combined with the irreversible loss of capacity to breathe'.  In other words, returning from death depends on the potential of our brain and central nervous system to recover from whatever trauma or disease assails us.

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

Gone but not forgotten

Gone but not forgotten

 

 

Gough Whitlam has died at the age of 98.

I had an early encounter with him electioneering in western Sydney when he was newly in opposition, soon after he had usurped Cocky (Arthur) Calwell as leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party and was still hated by elements of his own party.

I liked Cocky too.  He'd addressed us at University once, revealing that he hid his considerable intellectual light under a barrel.  He was an able man but in the Labor Party of the day to seem too smart or well spoken (like that bastard Menzies) was believed to be a handicap, hence his 'rough diamond' persona.

Gough was a new breed: smooth, well presented and intellectually arrogant.  He had quite a fight on his hands to gain and retain leadership.  And he used his eventual victory over the Party's 'faceless men' to persuade the Country that he was altogether a new broom. 

It was time for a change not just for the Labor Party but for Australia.

Read more ...

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