Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 35: Fantastic French Food & Lyon

As soon as my fingers thaw out I'll write this blog entry.

France has made a wonderful first impression. My CouchSurfing experiences have brought me many new friends. I am grateful! While the locals are great, communicating with them is proving difficult. French bends my mind. I can't pronounce anything to save my life, save "Putain."

Case in point. Last night at the grocery store I was buying a loaf of bread. I gave the cashier more than enough but he said something in French and looked at me so I gave him a few more cents. He ended up having to count out the money from my hand. It was slick. At least he was nice about it. Time to learn how to count.

My gracious hosts Alice and Florent put me out to pasture two days ago. Leaving them was difficult. I have separation anxiety because Alice did my laundry before I left. I've been crashing at their friend, Antione's place. Antione's apartment is kind of like college dorms all over again. It's messy and there's no heat or water pressure, but remains charming none-the-less. Antione is a bass player in an up and coming reggae band that will definitely make it onto my 'Ross Recommends Music' list (soon to come). He's extraordinarily busy producing his cd, working a full time job, and taking care of his daughter. Whenever he's home we have nice conversation. He tries to help me with my French. I need to ask him how to say "It's hopeless!"

Boil the potatoes then slice them up. Cover in cream and cook.

While I was staying with Alice and Flo, they made me a classic French dish of potato slices baked in cream, gratin dauphinois. It was groundbreaking. Magnitude 11. Thankfully I had the pleasure of savoring a similar dish tartiflette, which Antione cooked last night. Tartiflette is a gratin base with the addition of ham and reblochon cheese. Ooohhrf. The French totally know what's going on in the kitchen and can magically turn a few simple ingredients into an amazing meal.

Two big cheese hunks on top. Yum!

On a personal note, I'm continuing to explore myself. Two days ago I chanced into this goldmine of a blog about self improvement. One of the articles that got my attention was about polyphasic sleep and becoming an early riser. Perhaps Sebastian's 10 day water only fast was inspiring to me, so I thought it's time to do an experiment for myself.

I've been a late sleeper all my life. It's like a superpower – passed down from my mom. I've slept through hotel fire alarms, people trying to wake me, you name it. One time my mom slept through an entire weekend. At Pratt I could have majored in experimental sleep studies. As wacky as my sleep schedule is, it's never been a problem for me. It's still not a problem, but reading this article made me curious.

Living in a tent and rising with the sun in Austin, TX made a huge improvement on my productivity and overall sense of well being. I found myself accomplishing more in the first two hours of when I got up than any other time in the day. After reading Steve Pavlina's article, I realized how much time I was waisting by sleeping. If I sleep 9-10 hours a day, I could save at 4 hours by waking up earlier. That's 28 hours that I gain of do-what-I-want time, per week! Steve wakes up at 5 am every morning, but I thought 7 is more reasonable because some nights (like tonight) I'll be up to 4am writing a blog entry. Normally I would be super cranky on 3 hours of sleep, but I have a secret weapon.

Bonjour Lyon!

Surprisingly, this morning when my alarm went off at 7 am, I was up no problem. Perhaps I got a perfect 6 hours of sleep and was in sync with my sleep cycles. When I woke up I didn't know what to do. It was still dark out so I checked what time the sun would rise, headed out the door, and walked up the hill to Fourviere. Despite the dark, I could see little snowflakes. My first European snow. Aw. The walk up the hill went well and I got there just in time but the clouds were still asleep, blocking the sun. It was mega cold this morning. You could freeze icicles on the devil's butt. Upon returning to the apartment, my hands were so cold I couldn't turn the key.

Bonjur Fourviere!
Down a super long staircase.
Lyon waking up.

Finally I got inside and prepared some lunch and worked until 12, when it is NAPTIME! This is the secret weapon I'm talking about. The only good thing that comes from Mexico other than the taco. Siesta! In an effort to better my blog, I've been reading other blogs. Believe it or not, this is largely new for me. One of my new favorites is Fluent in 3 Months, and they just published an outstanding article on how siestas can improve your life. In a nutshell falling asleep after lunch aids in digestion and gives your body the energy it needs to function through the rest of the day. Simple, right? Another benefit of the siesta is that you don't need to sleep for as long in one chunk every night. Today I slept for 20 minutes and I felt great afterwards, especially after my breakfast of 3 poached eggs!

Out of the sleeping bag and back into the cold. Oh the burdens I bare for you, dear readers. I wanted to make a general post on Lyon today so you could see what it normally looks like. Even bundled up, two hours of -4Âșc weather froze my soul. Texas made me a cold sissy. You'd better enjoy these pictures.

This building near my place has some awesome trompe-l'oil.
Apparently all of the figures are famous people from Lyon.
This camera man is my favorite. Action!

This fountain was made by the artist who made the Statue of Liberty.
Even the horses were cold.
Place Bellecour.
Little toy wheel.
Christmas markets suck when you don't have money.
Super creepy.
Still super creepy.
Walking south, out of the train station.
I wanted to see the rivers join but I just found old rail yards.
Great public transportation. Super clean!
Headed back to the apartment.
My first European snow.

I've adjusted my travel plans. Since people keep asking me where I'm going, I added My Master Plan to the blog. Check out my map because I've updated it with where I've been, where I'm headed, and where I want to go to.

Currently, I'm staying in Lyon till around the 18th, then headed to Geneva, Switzerland! From there I'm catching a cheap flight to Nice and making my way along the southern coast of France, into Barcelona, Spain. Niice!

Au revior!

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