Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday, October 13th, Lyon


If there were ever going to be a day when we would drive a long distance, see beautiful, geologically-fascinating mountains, and deep canyons - this was it. France has a couple of gorges, but only one it calls it's Grand Canyon. The Gorges du Verdon don't have the Colorado rapids, nor the length of ours, nor the colors of the rocks, or the age of the rocks - wait - why do they even pretend to compare? Oh come on, it's the French, didn't they fly first, and invent the telephone first, and ....
It is a great stretch of deep canyon, with narrow winding road. In fact, the side we chose to drive on turned out to be closed half way to the end.

So we got an earlier than expected start from Moustiers Ste-Marie for Lyon. Pat wanted to drive, so I could take photos of the Canyon. We got to test out my navigator skills again. As you may remember, I need to remember that she only needs to know the immediate information (what the next turn is, what road we're turning onto, etc). When I am driving, I think about the information two or three turns out, and want all details about towns, railroads, etc. I sometimes provide far too much info, and I'm working on not doing it. Greta (we've come to call her Greta garmin) has been very helpful, especially getting us through the larger cities. We finally have her designing our routes with filters which emphasize no toll roads, smaller towns, and scenic views.

Our drive up through northern Provence to southern Burgandy brought us even more magnificent mountain scenes. Limestone layers from deep within the earth have been lifted up to line the top halves of the western side of Burgandy's southern zone. It's like following the Great Wall of China for a hundred miles. On our right, we get an equally awesome view of the foothills to the Alps.

We finally stopped just short of Lyon, at Bourgoin-Jallieu. Not what I'd call a cute town, but it had a hotel with wifi, a hot shower, and a comfortable bed. Tomorrow, we'll go deeper into Burgundy and find a place for a couple of nights.


To see the photos we took today, click on:
Tues, Oct 13th

To see the photos we took yesterday, click on:
Monday,Oct 12th

Bull-running and coastal nature-hunting were our adventures today. And Pat wanted to see the Mediterranean again. Last night, we were warned by the hotel staff that our car might be safer to be moved. Thinking we were parked in the square out in front, they said that that early in the morning the square would be emptied of cars, and a series of barriers would be erected to facilitate a circular track fed from just outside the neighborhood. Bulls would be brought in to run the circuit, in association with an end of season bullfight in the town's roman coleseum.
We checked with other locals, and learned that our car's location was just back from the racetrack's needs, but we were very intrigued by what would come to our neighborhood the next morning.

The work began early. Barricades were connected. Food for workers, participants (more later), and tourists was prepared. A band arrived and warmed up. Lots of youths began to stretch and do what appeared to be pre-running exercises.

Our curiosity was over how the bulls were going to get from our neighborhood track circuit to the Coleseum bullring? The answer we found out from a shopkeeper near the bullring was that they use different bulls for the running and the fighting. Later, it seemed apparent that the bulls in the run were smaller and leaner.

The participants were of all ages (and sexes), and ranged from experienced and agile young people to older and more risk-averse adults. Most stayed close to the holes in the barricades, and reached for the ribbons on the bulls horns from a distance. Only one person was gored, and seriously wounded.

In the afternoon, we drove on some very narrow dike-top and salt-flat roads to three coastal estuaries, ponds, and beach areas. Lots of birds, horses, and bulls use the pastures and grazing meadows. We enjoyed the weather, scenery, smells (mistral winds), and the people we came across enjoying a great Sunday on the Mediterranean coast.

Tomorrow, we head east again to the top of France's Grand Canyon.

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