Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our trip to Lyon, France

I never expected to be on another trip so soon after my last trip to Europe in September 2013, but here I am, sitting in my sister's house in New Jersey, trying to complete my travel posts from last year. What can I say... the horizons keep beckoning and I keep following...

Now for a sneak peak of what I've been gazing at over the past month... 
Manhattan in the distance and the Hudson in all her serenely swaying beauty...

Now getting back to Lyon, the gastronomic capital and France's third largest city, which we (me, Nam and Vinod) visited one fine Sunday in October, 2013, by taking the train from Geneva and in a couple of hours you reach Lyon. After visiting Yvoire and coming to know that France has a list of the most beautiful villages, we made sure to scout for other beautiful villages near any city we visited. And turns out Perouges is about half an hour from Lyon, so we decided to go there first and then explore Lyon. We asked around and surprisingly no one knew how to get there, so we pored over our maps and found a train going in a similar direction and got into that. After a while we realised we took the wrong train, so we got down somewhere in between, at a station called Les Etets and thought of taking another train back to Lyon. Turns out we got down in a land beyond time, there were hardly any folks around... the station was empty, and taped to a window in the station was a paper that said the next train back was in the evening at 8pm, which meant we had to wait for ten hours or more in a village that wasn't even on a map! Taped to the same paper were a few car drivers numbers, my brother called all of them, but they were reluctant to come on a Sunday. So there we are stuck in the middle of nowhere, and wondering what to do... we decided to walk and find something to eat first. So we walk and walk and walk... and there are fields and meadows and then we spot a board with the words shawarma and falalfel on it. We walked into this little Turkish shop, spoke to the young guy behind the counter about how to get to Lyon, ordered our sandwiches and resigned ourselves to leaving at night on the only train back to Lyon. Mid way through our lunch, the young guy whose father owns the place,comes up to us and tells us that his dad is driving to Lyon and we could hitch a ride with him. We were like, Wow! a Turkish angel! And that's how we came back to Lyon in time to catch a few sights and our train back to Geneva... thanks to a beautiful Turkish family. 
Once we reach Lyon, we head straight to the Old Town of Lyon otherwise known as Vieux Lyon, located at the bottom of the Fourvière hill. Vieux Lyon or Old Lyon is the historical part of town that is a UNESCO World Heritage site having the largest intact Renaissance neighborhood in Europe. The church of St. John the Baptist, seen above, is a famous landmark there..
Right opposite the church is the Fourvière hill, and atop the hill sits the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière , or Our Lady of Fourvière Basilica... so as you stand there in the centre of the square, where I stood while taking this picture, you are surrounded by churches and you wonder if this is how the people of medieval ages felt, taking in the sights of a bustling town square where everybody mingled and discussed their kings, queens, princesses, knights and squires...  
The statue of Jesus being baptized by John... 
Inside St. John the Baptist Church...
Apparently in ages past, the Bishop of Lyon was a powerful man....and all these religious articles bear proof to that. The angel at the bottom of this benediction stand... never seen something quite like this.
The Bishop's robe... 
Depicting the angels with the Lamb of God... 
Another extravagant robe...
So after exploring this church we decided to head up the hill to check out the Notre Dame Basilica... to reach the top one has to climb approximately 800 steps. My brother immediately disappeared into a nearby Moroccan cafe, saying he would wait for us there. So me and nam started climbing these steps... after a lot of huffing and puffing, we reached the top and it was so worth it. 
St. John Paul II at the entrance...
The Notre Dame of Fourvière...
The beautiful altar inside... 
 
It was magnificent inside... these candle like lights imparted a certain ethereal charm to this massive church.
Beautiful stained glass windows...
A scene from the bible...
The ornate ceiling...
The intricate doors to the altar...
Mystical lighting inside... 
Another biblical scene...
From inside the confession chamber...
A four winged angel...
Another painting and candles... 
The holy water font...
Inside the holy water font... inlaid with design...
Angels holding up pillars...
A picture on the ceiling... 
An angel guarding the door... 
A winged lion, the city's namesake, standing guard outside the Basilica...
And the pretty view of Lyon from the Basilica...
It was a beautiful day... the city of Lyon is vibrant and welcoming, there are lots of cute shops to buy eclectic stuff, and little cafes to try out french food. We had a great time roaming the streets of Lyon... the city seems to embrace you, even now the memory of her warm embrace still lingers...  

Friday, August 15, 2014

And my trip to Gruyères continues...

So in the last post about Gruyères, we had just entered the castle and seen the medieval flooring and the ancient kitchen... 
Here are the suits of armour, only the kinghts are mising... 
The information given to the side of it: Burgundian Cope, third quarter of the 15th century
Part of the booty from the battle of Morat (1476). It bears the great ducal coat of arms of Burgundy (Burgundy Ancient and Modern, Brabant, Limburg, and Flanders) and the coats of arms of Zealand and the Franche-Comtè above three flints and steels (emblems of  Philip the Good, father of Charles the Bold).
 The knights conference room...
 With armours like that, chairs like these were probably comfortable enough... 

So after the  medieval ages, a noble guy inherited the castle and his artist cousin, took up residence here...
He kinda went overboard with his talents and painted...
Lovely whimsical pictures like this on every surface he could find... 
Check out the painting behind me... it covers the entire wall... 
Impeccable aesthetic sense...
There were a few religious paintings like this too... Jesus raising the little girl from the dead. Look at her, in her white clothes, it's a beautiful picture. 
Another room... with coloured paneling 
Vestiges of the past... a cannonball with the wood it splintered 
 The gardens outside...
The church near the castle...
Inside the church...
The candle stand in church...
After taking in all the sights it was time to shop... my brother specifically told us to get Gruyères products like the famous Gruyères cheese, the meringue and the double cream all made here in Gruyères. The cheese was quite nice, I used it to make French Onion soup. The meringue and double cream were scrumptious... of course they weren't in the least bit healthy but they dissolved wonderfully in your mouth.

Bought this toilet roll holder there... cute, right?

So that's it about Gruyères, a beautiful little village... I bet it looks even more beautiful in winter, everything covered in fresh blankets of pristine heavenly powder, snow. Should plan a trip there one winter season...

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

World Cup 2014, Brasil... so far

This world cup is proving to be far more exciting and entertaining than usual... I started watching the world cup in 2002, that was when college had just concluded and there wasn't anything else to do. So as I was switching channels, I came across a game on TV and Brazil were playing and I really didn't know any of the players or the rules of the game... but one guy kept me hooked, Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, and that is why I started watching the biggest game on the planet, solely because of this one guy. Brasil winning the world cup that year cemented my interest in this once-in-four-years event that takes over the globe. 

So anyway, this year with whatsapp and instagram, the world cup experience has gone up a whole new level... there are continuous discussions on whatsapp with cousins and friends while the match is going on, hilarious memes are shared and passed around, goals are discussed, cute players are discussed even more... in short, we are having a great time hanging out together despite being separated by oceans and continents. Here are some moments of the 2014 world cup that entertained us and took us on a gamut of emotions as we witnessed the game on a global arena.  

Van Persie's diving header goal
This was amazing, the term 'flying dutchman' was inevitable after this... I liked the way they used his name creatively in headlines like: 'Spain got Persie-cuted' or 'Is it a bird! Is it a plane! It's Super Van!' People started doing the #persieing and apparently his grandfather got in on it too! Check out these meme's... 
 His goal was a work of art, a three way high five... read this meme
This was quite funny, Persie soaring above Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil...

Ochoa's brilliant saves
I like this guy, Guillermo Ochoa... after the amazing saves he made while playing Brazil, he was dangerously close to forming his own religion. The ochoa meme's are quite funny too... too bad his defense was breached by the Netherlands.
This is how the Brazilian team saw Ochoa... 

Torres shirt tearing spectacle
Even though it was tough watching the world champions leave, Torres made the last match memorable... someone tore his shirt so he stepped off the field to change and the temperature in the stadium just went up...
Look at him, wow! Pretty neat caption too...

Messi's last minute curved shot
This had perfection written all over it and only the likes of him could have spun magic like this at the last minute to save his team...
 Our whatsapp group icon was immediately changed to this after that goal... still awed by him. 

Suarez biting
Haha, this biting episode unleashed another torrent of internet meme's...

How Suarez sees his opponents... 

If this wasn't funny enough, Suarez released a statement saying that he lost his balance and fell on Chiellini's shoulder and hurt his teeth in the process.

Brazil and Chile penalties
What an unbelievably nerve racking match, of course I wanted Brazil to win for old time's sake... but Chile losing to them was quite sad. Chile fought well, played really well and they deserved to go through. Even the first goal that Brazil scored was an own goal... I wonder why Luiz was celebrating.

The Chilean and Mexican coaches
I liked the Chilean coach, Jorge Sampaoli, with his perpetual energy stalking the sidelines like a tiger sizing up the prey. The Mexican coach, Miguel Herrera, is probably the most entertaining and feistiest coach out there... every time Mexico scored he went nuts.


USA thanking Cristiano Ronaldo for helping them qualify
 I thought this was pretty funny...
Hehe... poor guy...
And then there's Germany, who are very good... but we don't want them to win. So we were discussing Miroslav Klose and how he should never score another goal, cause we don't want him to break the real Ronaldo's record... 
There has been no dearth of drama or the disappearing foam (every time the referee uses this I stop whatever I'm doing to watch the players fidgeting and trying to stay behind the magical disappearing foam) these past few weeks... and what with discovering James Rodriguez, and reading articles like this, and wondering how much these players spend on their hairstyles... I wonder what more is in store..

All pictures have been taken from the internet... well, except the last one.