My train from Nice‐Ville to Lyon was scheduled to leave at 9:25am, so I slept‐in till around 8:00am, knowing that there’s a free shuttle from the hotel to the train station (so I’ve been told). That should leave enough time for a proper wake‐up / repacking cycle, I thought—and followed that exact plan. On 8:30am, I went downstairs for great breakfast at the hotel, but I thought to myself—hey, maybe I should first ask the concierge for the shuttle’s schedule?
It’s always good to find out information as early as possible, because you can never know what you’re going to end‐up finding out, or at what angle exactly is the shit going to hit the fan. Approached the concierge and started the discussion as any properly polite Canadian would.
– “Good morning. I understand that there is a free shuttle from the hotel to the train station?”
That’s “fuck you” serial number 001 for the day. Gee thanks. So… how should I get to the train station then, I thought.
Thoughts mutated into words.
– “So… how should I get to the train station then?”
– “You can take a taxi…”
That cost me €20 the day before. No thanks; I might as well have stayed in Monte‐Carlo.
– “Is there a bus going there?”
– “Yes, bus #12 right behind the hotel.”
I guess the worst part of being a perfectionist is that you almost consistently see the empty half of the glass. Instead of being happy for finding a way back to the train station that costs €1, I started feeling bad about not knowing this the day before, so I could have saved €19 and the interaction with a mildly annoying taxi driver.
But I guess that any learning process involves a price. It cost me €19 to get motivated to look at public transit schedules before arriving to uncharted territories, just as it had cost me €150 a couple of weeks ago in order to escape Poland on time. You live and learn; and you pay, too.
Dreams of proper breakfast faded away with every step I made towards the hotel’s exit. a couple of minutes to circumnavigate around the hotel and I found the bus‐stop—or what I thought was my bus stop. Bus #12 went through there, yes, but it was located in some sort of a strange intersection between three lanes and I couldn’t figure out which direction buses approach this station. I know it sounds silly—perhaps I should have taken a picture to demonstrate—but the very location of the bus station and the layout of the lanes around it puzzled me.
Bus #12 arrived about 10 minutes later. Approached the driver.
– “To the train station?”
– “No”, he said, gesturing with his hand towards the other side of the road.
That’s “fuck you” serial‐number 002 for the day, aimed at the concierge. Bus #12 towards the train station is not—I repeat, NOT “behind the hotel”, unless “behind the hotel” means “about 50 metres north of the hotel, to the back”. I rushed there carrying 17kg worth of my world on my back, and arrived 2 minutes before the bus did—that would be the very last bus I could take while still making it to the train on time.
You see how quickly can a beautiful relaxed morning turn into a day from hell in Kosovo? It doesn’t take much, really.
When you ride the bus while being short on time, it’s easy to be led to believe that the public transport system, the bus driver, the other drivers on the road, the passengers, the traffic lights—all are against you and you’re trying to fight them all off just so you can make it to your train on time. Every time the bus stopped, I looked at people boarding bus thinking to myself “come on, wouldn’t you walk to your destination instead?”.
At the end I made it, 15 minutes ahead of time.
Nice’s main railway station, Nice‐Ville, is a mess. This is one of the worst train stations I’ve ever been in, considering the fact that Nice isn’t exactly the unknown fuck‐in‐the‐middle‐of‐nowhere city. It’s a major tourist attraction, known all over the world for its beaches—and still it maintains a train station so small and poorly organized—sort of like Wroclaw Glowny with a few enhancements. Bought myself a bottle of water for the ride—there is only one shop at the train station for buying food, and they sell drinks and snacks only—no sandwiches. Good thing that most TGV trains have cafeterias in them.
Four and a half hours ride to Lyon, during which I did some blogging and ate a sandwich and a croissant way too greasy and buttery. At around 2:00pm, I arrived at my destination—Lyon Part‐Dieu, one of Lyon’s main train stations (the other one being Lyon Perrache).
Lyon (sometimes called “Lyons” in English; Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyon) has the second largest metro area in France, after Paris. It is a major industrial and economical centre in France, and also the capital of the Rhône‐Alpes région.
For foodies like myself, Lyon should be a good destination as it has the reputation of being France’s gastronomy capital; unfortunately though, as you will see, I had no chance to experience much of it.
My hotel, Best Western Charlemagne, was located in Cours Charlemagne which is sort of a major shopping street. To get there, I needed to get three different subway trains—two stations each. I bet there was a shorter way to do so (maybe a tram) but I stuck with whatever Google Maps told me. Arrived at the hotel 20 minutes later, and… Ladies and Gentlemen, a first timer: This was my first time ever to receive an upgrade to my room. Well done, beautiful lady at the reception. I will probably remember you forever, Paolina.
Was good to be in a quiet, air‐conditioned room; did some blogging, caught up with the world and enjoyed doing very little.
The time has arrived to leave the hotel and go to the venue, not before stopping for an early dinner. A tip from the the hotel’s receptionist led me to a nearby Sicilian restaurant that turned out to be closed—open for dinner starting 7:00pm, thanks a lot for that. On my way to Lyon Perrache station, I came across a place selling Shawarma and other middle‐eastern goodies; €10 and I got myself a delicious plate filled with goodies—could barely finish everything and I was all set to go.
Two subway stops, change to another line, one stop and I arrived at Vieux Lyon—or “The Old City” for you English‐speakers (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vieux_Lyon). That’s one of the more interesting parts of Lyon, as history attacks you from each and every corner. Beautiful area that I wish I had more time to explore; took some pictures from along the way.
As usual for old cities of this nature, streets here are convoluted, narrow and winding. I used Google Maps to chart my way to the venue—this time it worked OK, except for the fact that I had to take a 2,000,000 stairs stairwell to climb up the hill where the venue was located. Should have taken a taxi‐cab—it’s about 2–3 minutes ride from Vieux Lyon subway station; but then you wouldn’t have seen these images…
Went up the wrong road at first…
Upon realizing my mistake, I backtracked a little bit (downhill, so not a huge problem) and found the narrow street I was supposed to take. Looks like an alley with 2,000,000 stairs leading up to heaven. Here’s a picture of the view you get about half way through:
… And there’s so much left to go:
I guess this cardio workout was one of the reasons for my almost‐collapse later (see below). See the grades I had to deal with while walking after the stairs were done and over with:
Finally I arrived at the venue—Théâtres Romains de Fourvière.
The Théâtres Romains de Fourvière is an ancient Roman amphitheatre… slightly in the ruins, though, which gives it some sort of a majestic look. One of the prettiest outdoor venues so far and I have evidence—see pictures below. It can hold around 5,000 people before things start getting really crowded in here.
Upon arriving at the markknopfler.com ticketholder meeting‐point, there was already a bit of a line‐up there. I was, however, immediately recognized by a few fans, who belong to AFMK (Association Francophone Mark Knopfler; see link at the right‐hand side‐bar) who stood right at the front of the line‐up and were courteous enough to invite me to join them, which I did.
Apparently as this journey is coming to an end, more and more people find it hard to believe that I actually managed to attend all shows so far (the concert in Lyon was the 79th). You know what? It is indeed puzzling, thinking about the challenges I had to face throughout. Quite the honest and sincere interest in my condition on behalf of the AFMK members, for which I was thankful.
The first line‐up—outside the venue’s area—was soon converted into a line‐up inside the venue’s area. We were told to line‐up in two columns and wait until a few minutes before the doors are open for general public. Once the gates opened for us, we walked quickly (some ran) into the venue.
The way this venue works is that there’s a standing‐area just in front of the stage, and the seating area all around. Well, an amphitheatre so that shouldn’t come as a huge shock. The front line was dominated by AFMK members. I began feeling tired already; sat down for a few chit‐chats, and two AFMK members invited me to squeeze‐in between them so I can enjoy the show from the front, while leaning on the barriers. That was very kind of them—a wonderful gesture and I can only be happy that this blog helps people in a way that they’re willing to help back.
However, for once, I did not want to interfere and make a crowded situation even more crowded; and second, I started feeling a bit weak and decided that standing up may not be a good thing to do today, so I thanked them all dearly and went to the tribunes.
Before getting seated, I decided to walk outside to buy some drinks and take a few shots… not necessarily of beautiful sights, but more in order for you to feel as if you were there.
This next picture is a favourite of mine:
Lyon from above:
… And back to the amphitheatre, which started to get a bit full. The almost‐empty side that you see was actually a reserved part in the tribunes, for VIPs and invitees.
Forecasts called for potential rain. Before leaving Trento last week, Daria armed me with a Poncho “just in case”; at first I had doubts whether I should take it with me, but then decided that women always know better so I took it. As I checked the forecast before heading to the venue, I was happy to finally find use for the Poncho so I carried it with me. At about 8:30pm, it started raining—not too much but enough to cause discomfort. Pulled my Poncho out (that doesn’t really sound too good for someone who doesn’t know what Poncho is, does it) and I was happy. Thanks Daria, again.
Kate Walsh was scheduled to be Mark Knopfler’s opening act in London, as well as all shows in France. She went on stage a few minutes before 9:00pm and it was the first time for me watching her act. Beautiful songs—she plays the guitar and sings, and an amazing lady‐cellist plays along. Seems like great music to play at home in front of the fireplace for a serious chill‐out session.
After Kate’s 30 minutes performance, it’s intermission time as the the stage was being readjusted for the band and audience continuing flowing into the venue.
It was around that time when it happened, all of a sudden. One after another, each part of my body started screaming “I’m tired” and before I knew it I had severe trouble keeping my eyes open. Wondering whether this journey had already stretched my stamina to its fullest, I took comfort in the knowledge that, after the concert, I’m bound to a long night sleep as tomorrow’s train to Nîmes wasn’t going to depart before 11:30am.
The concert started a few minutes before 10:00pm, with the rhythm of Border Reiver injecting some more adrenaline into my tired, weary blood flow.
A pretty good concert, however, having been to the two Monte‐Carlo concerts prior, I have to say that there was a bit less “excitement” in the air, at least for me. Sitting at the centre, about half way to the top in this gorgeous venue, the sound was very good but didn’t feel as much energy from the stage as I did the two nights before in Monte‐Carlo. Maybe it was because I was very tired—but having said that, I was dead‐tired at the first Monte‐Carlo concert as well.
For sure, though, the concert yesterday proved once again that the venue contributes a lot to one’s overall enjoyment of a concert. My choice to sit at the back rather than stand at the front turned out to be a very wise one as the experience was quite majestic. Here are a few pictures to demonstrate; imagine listening to Mark Knopfler’s concert while watching these spectacular surroundings, a cool breeze caressing your face every now and then. Terrific, outstanding feeling.
While the two evenings in Monte‐Carlo gave one the feeling of watching a concert in an intimate, super‐rich venue overlooking wealth and glamour, the Lyon concert gave one the touch of the past: the ruins around, so much history and so well lit, made all the difference. Fantastic.
After two nights playing short sets in Monte‐Carlo, the band went back to the normal sets. Fourteen songs, dropping Prairie Wedding from the standard setlist.
There are a few ancient, semi‐ruined posts at the amphitheatre, located right behind the stage—another element adding to the superb atmosphere around. See:
After Romeo and Juliet, the French audience went for the traditional “oe‐oe‐oe‐oo”, which the four‐piece (Mark, Richard, Glenn and Danny) accompanied. This has happened before, but that particular performance of this unnamed “song” was particularly phenomenal due to some funky, amazing Stratocaster work by the leader. People looked at each other with disbelief, and the entire audience cheered immensely afterwards.
It appeared as if many people were filming during Romeo and Juliet, which triggered a fair bit of activity by security staff during Sultans of Swing, to locate violators and stop them. While they may have succeeded at the tribunes, obviously they had no chance whatsoever at the standing area. You can’t send people to the middle of an area populated by a few hundreds humans and fish violators out; a bit unfortunate, as here’s what it looked like (notice the lights amongst the audience members):
The show proceeded to a wonderful Marbletown performance… as almost usual, Marbletown was the best demonstration of musicianship by everyone.
Once Telegraph Road was over, I became familiar with a long‐standing tradition in this venue: the ass‐pillows, given to patrons before the show so their asses don’t wear the shape of a tribune, came flying in the air. Concertgoers threw those pillows between each other and onto the stage, with the band taking part and throwing the pillows back at the audience. Here is what it looks like:
Some photos of what this venue looks like when everybody’s on their feet cheering:
The concert ended, and evacuation was very fast. At last, people who know how to get the fuck out of a venue once the concert is over, without making people behind them wait forever.
The venue and its surroundings looked terrific at night; very well‐lit, makes for a pretty pleasant experience to the eye. There you go… the last pictures for the day, and sorry if they’re a bit blurry—I was too tired to hold a camera still.
Prior to the concert, AFMK’s members invited me for a drink at the venue after the show. I was actually invited to post‐concert drinks after the Paris concert as well, but couldn’t make it—I did make it, however, this time. Was nice to get to know them, as we had a drink right outside the arena.
Lyon’s public transport works until 12:20am daily; the concert ended at around 12:00am, so the venue had a few buses arranged in place to deliver the masses back to Lyon’s city centre. I missed both deadlines as it wasn’t 1:00am before we all departed our ways; one of AFMK’s members suggested that I get a ride with him, which I was very thankful for.
Back at the hotel, I did nothing but transferring whatever was on the bed—to the floor, and just crashed. It took me seconds to fall asleep.
Hope I don’t get sick again, with all of this tiredness…