|View through my window in Nans sous Ste. Anne|
Friday morning, I set out from Barcelona, as told. My objective was Lyon, France, where I hoped to rendezvous with Tim at the train station. He and his wife, Susan had graciously offered to host me at their home in Nans sous Ste. Anne, which is a small hamlet nestled in limestone hills in the Franche Comté region of France.
I arrived in Lyon just a bit late. The train from Barcelona came in a half-hour behind schedule, but still managed the 400 mile journey in 5 hours. That's an average of 80 miles an hour. When you consider that the trip included some half-dozen stops along the way, it's apparent that high-speed rail is a viable alternative to air travel. We need high-speed rail in the USA.
Tim was there, at the train station. We spotted each other as soon as I came in from the platform. It's difficult to describe the feeling that came over me, seeing an old friend in a place so far from home. Relief, happiness, reassurance... all of that, and more besides. Like finding a bottle of water in a desert.
|Roman amphitheater in Lyon|
Lyon, France's third most populous city, is young, by European standards. The Romans founded it in 43 BC, making it just a few years shy of 2000 years old. And, although the Romans are long gone, Lyon still has a lot of evidence of their tenancy.
A hill east of the city is the site of the remnants of an amphitheater. Next to the amphitheater (which is still used as a venue for concerts today) there is a museum that has a large collection of Roman antiquities: sculptures, tiled mosaics, weapons, coins, pots and vases, and more.
|Pottery shard: those Romans sure loved their pornography|
I was introduced to Tim's lovely and warm wife, Susan, and their much-loved greyhound, Ned. I did my best to be good company that evening, but I was exhausted and Susan, a very empathetic soul, got me settled into the guest room. The complete darkness outside and the silence of the country were quite a contrast from the previous weeks I'd spent in big cities (New York, Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona). I soon succumbed and slept the sleep of the dead.
The next morning, I awoke to a stunning pastoral setting. The air was cold, much colder than the mistral-warmed Mediterranean lands to the south. Wooded hillsides exploded with fall colors. Limestone cliffs framed the setting.
|Nans sous Ste. Anne in the fall|
|Tim and Susan|
|Limestone caves and waterfalls|
|Limestone and water|
|A painting of his homeland, by Gustav Courbert|
|Ornans on the river|
|Vines scale the chapel wall|
As a citizen of the United States, I was touched by this remembrance of my fallen countrymen. It endeared the people of France to me even more.
|Memorial to American airmen from WWII|
|Colorful French countryside|
I'm so grateful to them both for showing me a part of France that I never would have seen otherwise. And for providing a place for me to feel at home, a place where I didn't feel like a stranger.
Tim and Susan, thanks for everything! All my best to you. (And to Ned, too, of course.)