I went to visit Chris in Lyon one weekend. Unfortunately I forgot that my school was having an open bar party on the Thursday night before I was supposed to go. Open Bar parties are taken very seriously (in a similar way to the seminare). You get together with your association to pre-drink (which we're very good at in mine) and then they rent buses and bus all the students to a club in Belgium which they rent out exclusively for the evening. And then you drink. Plain and simple unlimited drinks of whatever they happen to be serving. I ended up taking the last bus home that night at 5am and its about an hour bus ride back so I got home at 630 in the morning. Thursday had also been a giant strike in France (the gist in they want to take early retirement away from train drivers, which to be perfectly honest makes sense because their jobs are really not that tough, but in standard French practice, they had a nation-wide strike). So the trains had not run at all on Thursday and many travelers where stranded in different locations.
When I finally managed to pull my life together and get myself to the train station I got the delight of standing in the world's longest lineup because so many people had to change train tickets etc. When I finally got to the front I asked for a ticket to Lyon. The man replied "there are no trains to Lyon today" as if it was impossible and I could not get to Lyon at all. The thing about France is everything goes through Paris and there are a million trains a day to everywhere so that was a ludicrous statement. I then suggested to this man that I could just take one to Paris and then another one to Lyon from there which he did for me. Unfortunately I had to pay a bit of a premium because the trains into paris were quite busy that day but I it meant I got to sit in first class (my first time!). But another side affect of the strike was that none of the rain cars were where they were supposed to be. So I had a seat in car 12 but my train only went up to car 8 sooooo I got the glorious pleasure of sitting on the ground in first class. I have no idea why I even bothered buying a ticket.
Getting to Paris was no problem but I did have to switch stations which normally is no problem. They have two systems of intra-city transportation, the metro and the RER. The RER is generally easiest to use if you just want to get between the different Grande Lignes stations and you use the metro to get to different places in the city. However because of the stupid stupid strike the RER was not running. And since my mastery of the French language is lacking to say the most I had no idea what all the signs were saying so it took me a while to figure this out. Then to get to the station I needed I ended up having to take 3 different metro lines and do a frantic run through the train station to make my train to Lyon. Luckily the trains also weren't running on time because I was 10 minutes late getting there. I even managed to get a seat which was GLORIOUS.
I managed to find Chris in the train station, which is unbelievable because there were so many people sitting everywhere in the Lyon station evidently still stranded.
My Lyon trip was great, the city is very beautiful and they have a giant hill with a beautiful basilica and old roman amphitheater on top. At the bottom of the hill there's another church and I guess when that church was being built they discovered the ruins of an ancient church so they had to change the architectural plans to not ruin the ruins. The long and short of this is that the church isn't straight. I took a picture down the main isle and you can actually see it curve. Its pretty hilarious.
Now french people LOVE their parks. That might have been the understatement of the century, because actually that is what you do on sundays in France. Its like they take attendance. Anyways because of this, their parks are amazing. In the middle of november they're still filled with beautifully cared for flowers, even rose gardens, and!! They had a zoo!!!! And its free! The zoo was really impressive too, lions and elephants and giraffes.
They also have AMAZING shopping in Lyon and I got knee-high boots for 20 euros that are outrageously comfortable! We also watched the finals of the Rugby world cup in an adorable British pub called the James Joyce. I think they may have one of these in every city. I'm going to go ahead and claim that my boots were integral in our beer purchasing system that night.
Oh and the trains still hadn't sorted themselves out by the time I went home on the Sunday night so I got home an hour later than originally expected. Good old European efficiency.