Here I am, back in civilisation… the jury is out. Paris stinks. (I still love it.)

Some pictures of the Lyon visit…

crepe cart in vieux lyon

Rhone river


iannis and i in lyon

beautiful church in lyon

climbing a hill

So on the 24th in late afternoon Iannis’ family and I left for Grenoble. I was excited to be driving there, because I really wanted to see the countryside, but alas! it was dark and foggy. I caught a glimpse of some mountains when the sky cleared to show the sunset, but that was all. Grenoble (or what I saw of it) reminds me of Vancouver.

We arrived at Pascal and Patricia’s place which is a 4-story house smushed between other houses, similar to the parisian apartment buildings. The house is gorgeous and redone in a modern style, and Patricia is a florist so the house and table was decorated with fresh roses – a different flower every year for Christmas. The christmas tree is real, covered in white.

We quite honestly did not stop eating and drinking the whole time we were there. We started with champagne and nuts and things, and then when everyone arrived we started on the entrées. Fresh, live oysters, delicious whole shrimp, smoked salmon, don’t forget the ever-present foie gras on fig bread… after about two hours of eating, we took a ‘trou normand’ which is essential drinking hard liquor to pack everything down, forget how full you already are, and eat even more. We had ‘eau de vie de poire’ which is like pear calvados that Pascal got from a friend of his that lives in Brittany. Extremely hard stuff, that is.

Iannis’ dad made duck stuffed with foie gras, ground beef, pistachios, mushrooms, pepper – there was more in there but I can’t remember the ingredients.
There was also a potatoe gratin, which is potatoe baked in cream and a bit of cheese. I wish I could have been really hungry so I could have enjoyed it… it was so hard to finish my plate but with the help of several glasses of wine and Iannis to clean my plate with bread at the end, I did it! We started eating at 7 and we didnt stop until 11:30.

Then came presents! This was the most charming present-opening session I have ever seen. Everyone opens things all at once, and with every gift you must kiss the giver of the gift you just opened. There is more kissing than presents, however, because gifts are given by whole families. It was a wonderful flurry of kisses and joyous cries. Iannis’ parents gave me two Edith Piaf CDs, and a present from Iannis’ aunt and uncle addressed to ‘Copine Iannis’ revealed two cappucino candles in cappuccino cups.

Then came the biggest surprise… all this time I thought Iannis and I were going to Potsdam, Germany; but no, this was just a diversion. He told me that he is taking me to Vienna for Christmas!!! We are leaving tomorrow in the morning and staying for 4 days. He met some people when he was in the states that live close to Vienna and they are going to show us around the city on Friday. I am sooo excited!

We kept on eating after that – the buche de Noel which is the Yule Log was delicious, more champagne, more wine, more eau de vie, a bit of playing Wii sports, and petting the bunny, whose name is Framboise. Then to bed – I was the first to succumb to exhaustion at about 3am.

We woke up at about noon and it was immediately ‘à table!’ Iannis’ dad made a delicious lasagna – not that we were hungry. I only had one piece but Iannis said that I couldn’t be part of the family unless I had 2. lasagna, salad, cheese, more buche, wine, coffee, more buche…. my goodness. Then the relatives from S. Italy arrived and it was a party all over again. Iannis’ dad played guitar and him and I sang Yesterday Beatles and La Foule by Edith. Then I sang O mio babbino caro for everyone, and the Italian relatives said my Italian was understandable. 😀

We left at 7pm to drive back to Lyon and hop on the train to Paris – iannis’ uncle pascal works at the FNAC so i got a bunch of CDs to take home. It was sad to leave Iannis’ family, I hope I will see them again soon.