Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lovely Lyon

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When I arrived in Lyon, I only knew one thing about the city.  That it is where our Renault Trucks headquarters is.  I was so excited about two things - test drive and learn more about our new range (trucks) and spontaneously explore the city with my friends at work (who were great tour guides and photographers).  

Lyon is a beautiful city. It has so many things that I love about France, like architecture and amazing food. It's a cozier version of Paris - tiny quaint streets and I've encountered the friendlier French peeps (not that I'm saying that people in Paris are rude, I guess they just keep to themselves).

Our journey was off to a good start.  We arrived at the hotel on time and checked in very smoothly.  The temperature came as a surprise, it was like Dubai less the humidity.  Also, at 9 pm the sun was still shining brightly.

My room, Novotel Bron

It was Kaya's first day of her grade 3 school year and I was able to send her off.  I was still awake when she was waiting for her school bus.  She was so excited to meet her new classmates.

This little girl is off the school

On our second day, we geared up for the city tour.  Milan and Rami offered to show us around the city.  After breakfast, we immediately started our exploration.  

Lyon lies over the top of two rivers, Rhône and Saône.  They meet just below the old town center. That's where we started the tour, a great location to walk to everything you wanted to see. 

The bridge and I
Cumaziye, the bridge and I
Masarap talaga mag-emote dito
Selfie daw
So calm
Love this =)
Nice view

In the Renaissance-era cobbled alleys, you will find historic buildings, stores and traboules. "A traboule is a narrow passageway which connects two streets via a block of houses. But, more precisely, we should add that they are covered passageways enabling pedestrians to go from one street to another through a block of dwellings" ("Courtyards and Traboules of Lyon" by Gerald Gambier.) They have more than 300 all over Lyon and were created by the silk industry. It was originally made to protect delicate silk from the elements. It then became a hideout by the French Resistance from the Gestapo. There are brass plates on the walls next to the entrance doors, you just have to find the unmarked button to open the doors.

Cobbled alleys
Vintage door
Lovely windows
Residential building
Rami and I

Cathédrale Saint Jean-Baptiste - The Cathédrale St-Jean was built over the course of several centuries, from about 1165 to 1480. The apse and choir is Romanesque, while the nave and facade are Gothic. It was founded by the first bishops of the city, St. Pothinus and St. Irenaeus.

Fontaine Bartholdi - The magnificent fountain located in Lyon France's central square (Place des Terreaux) was created by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Does it ring a bell?  His other famous masterpiece may help you recognize him.  This sculpture is named "Liberty enlightening the world" commonly known as "Statue of Liberty".  I guess you know him better now.  

On April 1857, there was a competition organized by Bordeaux city council to create a fountain for Place Quinconces.  Bartholdi was only 23 when he won that contest.  Unfortunately the city hall did not carry out his project.  It was right after he made the Statue of Liberty in 1886 when the mayor called him.  It was in 1888 when the project materialized but it was too expensive for the city so they sold it to the city of Lyon.

Milan and I by the fountain
Fontaine Bartholdi

The Place des Terreaux is a square located in the center of Lyon, France on the Presqu'île between the Rhône and the Saône, at the foot of the hill of La Croix-Rousse in the 1st arrondissement of Lyon.

Place Neuve St. Jean is located at the heart of Vieux Lyon or Old Lyon.
Street art
Graffiti love
At the Carhartt shop. Since it's a men's store we passed time taking selfies. Stylish clothes btw. =)
Shopping makes you hungry
Had to feed these monsters
I had pappardelle pasta
Shopping commenced after lunch
Eye candy
A much needed coffee break at Nespresso
Rami bought capsules here as the price is ridiculously cheaper compared to Dubai (fact)
Love that they have a coffee bar where you can taste all the flavors that you want
Giant tomato
Loving all the pig stuff
A necessary trip to the wine shop - when in France
Chocolate Iphones
Satisfy your sweet tooth

After a tiring yet pleasurable day at the old town, it was time to get back to business.  We went to the headquarters for a brief introduction on what we will do in the next few days. It was the first time I saw the new range and the feeling was arousing.  There was a lot in stored for us in the next few days, after this experience I think I'll apply for a position in sales (hahaha, yabang lang).

Caught on cam
Truck simulator (I was so excited)
Very serious stuff going on here, hahahaha
All dorky

After the introduction, we were brought to a beautiful barn just beside the lake.  We were divided into teams and were asked to participate in a culinary challenge.  They say Lyon is a culinary genius, the gastronomical capital of France and the world.  I've read an article stating "In a dining establishment in Lyon, you can eat pig fat fried in pig fat, a pig's brain dressed in a porky vinaigrette, a salad made with creamy pig lard, a chicken cooked inside a sealed pig's bladder, a pig's digestive tract filled up with pig's blood and cooked like a custard, nuggets of a pig's belly mixed with cold vinegary lentils, a piggy intestine blown up like a balloon and stuffed thickly with a handful of piggy intestines, and a sausage roasted in a brioche (an elevated version of a "pig in a blanket") Need I explain more? 

Starting off with the Juice round
My teammates: Ananthan, Tomi, Rami and I
Hall where we had dinner
Dinner set-up
Keep 'em pouring

99 Route de Lyon

Our second day was quite a heavy one.  We had to learn all the technical things about the trucks.  Trucks specifications: from the cab, the engine down to the chassis (that's right, I'm an expert. LOL).  They gave us iPads packed with the basic manual, we had classroom discussions then we go to the trucks to understand further and then we get to play "who wants to be a millionaire" to test how much we learned.  Our team was so competitive, we almost aced the contest. It was information overload, but I had fun anyway.

Classroom discussion
 One of the new trucks
My boss, LEF giving the welcome speech
Nag-feeling mowdel
Group huddle
After all the activities we all went to a Moroccan restaurant in town. I met a Japanese guy here working for UD trucks in Japan.  We Asians should stick together (Indonesian, Japanese, Filipino plus the two beasts)

The third day was the most exciting day off all.  We took a trip to the Renault Trucks test center in La Valbonne.  It was based in the middle of nowhere, place was so secretive they had to give us plastics for our smart phones so we can't take photos.  I was so ecstatic to be able to test drive the trucks in the track, and more elated when I got to the off road area.  I drove it on different conditions - rough road, uphill, muddy road, flood, etc.  It was such an indescribable experience.  We also got to play fun and informational games the rest of the day.

My boss summing up the day, congratulating and thanking everyone
Waiting area by the track
The new range
Have a break, play foosball
The ME team and others
The gang with Mr. Mina
Best team ever

We were so exhausted but still we decided to hang-out after the day's activities.  Majda, Rami, Milan and I went back to the city to have dinner and drinks.  We went to Rue Merciere, the street for restaurants in Lyon.  Both tourists and Lyon's residents alike love Rue Mercière as the atmosphere is so friendly and festive. During the summer months, the restaurants open their terraces out onto the streets.  The outdoor sitting was full so we ate inside.  

We chose a Japanese restaurant, and sadly I forgot it's name.  All three were craving for sushi and I was in deep need of a ramen fix, thus came the decision to go Japanese that evening. The ramen was so flavorful and pairing it with Asahi beer sent me straight to heaven.  

Beer mafia
The perfect combo
Paki-explain, thank you.

We needed a good walk after eating like animals.  We felt that the night is young and so are we. We decided to grab more drinks before calling it a night.  Milan knew the perfect place to hang out.  He knows what kind of music I listen to, so he suggested "the perfect bar" as he described it.  He was right, it was superb.  We all had a fantastic evening. 

This is Rue du Président Édouard Herriot, the famous shopping street in Lyon will tell you more about this later.

Street full of restaurants
With the band
Getting crazy
Margarita x good music - life is good
Can I take you back to Dubai, that city is in serious need of good music
Thanks Eden Rock cafe, we had such a great time

Our fourth day was solely dedicated to shopping.  This time only Rami, Milan and I went. We went back to Rue du Président-Édouard-Herriot, which is one of the most important shopping streets of the Presqu'île in Lyon. It links the two most famous places of the city, the Place Bellecour (south) and the Place des Terreaux (north).  I have to admit, I had fun shopping with the guys.  They are living examples of guys who love to shop - they know where the premier shops are, would give the best opinion on whatever you would purchase, unashamedly went in and out of the dressing room to model some clothes and ask what you think about it and most importantly no complains of any sort.  These two are the best shopping buddies ever!!

Happy to be here
Kid at heart
My kind of Jeep! With Skulls!
Refuel, we had to
Most amazing street art I've ever seen
Oh yes, I was inside a men's underwear store, totally overwhelmed
Street dancers, love them!
  The busy street
My last glimpse of the city center
On the way to Saint Exupery airport

If Paris is the heart of France, Lyon is the stomach.  The food alone is worth a visit to Lyon. What I love about the city center is that most attractions can be reached from each other on foot, buses and trains are surely not needed.  I love the farmer's market in Saonne, it was fascinating to look, touch and taste the fresh produce.  The cathedrals are amazing, you'll feel every pinch of history when you enter one.  The enigma that surrounds the traboules makes it so inviting.   

With all that being said, Lyon is indeed an adventure I will never forget.  I can't wait for my next visit.

Sharing this video from our Renault Trucks experience.

“The French say you get hungry when you’re eating, and I get inspired when I’m working. It’s my engine” ― Karl Lagerfeld


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