Originally posted 25/08/2013
The final stop on our eurotrip was to Stockholm, Sweden. Sam and I had a chill few days there, visited some museums but didn't do much else - it was so expensive! And by then we were broke and at the end of our trip. After that we split in Paris, and I moved in to the apartments in Lyon for summer school.
Stockholm was yet another beautiful european city. Like I said, we tried to conserve our money here and pretty much lived off fast food for a few days. We did stop by the Vasa Museum and the Abba Museum (mainly for mums sake, a few minutes of Abba music was enough for me), and went for a wander around old town.
The Vasa museum was really cool. It is a museum totally about one boat, the Vasa. It was built in the 1600's and was the largest warship of its time, with two full decks of cannons. Unfortunately they didn't have computer modeling back then though, because they didn't properly account for the extra deck of cannons and it was too top heavy. As it rolled with the ocean, water came in through the cannon portholes and it sank after sailing only around a kilometre. They didn't have the technology to dredge it back up, until the mid 1900's. It had been extremely well preserved because the water was brackish - neither salty enough or fresh enough for the wood eating worm to live in, and so it was almost untouched. They pulled it back up from the depths, pieced it back together and built a museum around the old drydock. It is 98% made of the original wood from 1628.
After Stockholm I eventually got to Lyon and unpacked my stuff, as well as met my roomate for the next few weeks, an american, Jesse. We had a few days off before summer school started so I spent a few days meeting people (lots of Brazilian and Chinese students, a smattering of Americans, Scots, Scandinavians and I think I'm the only Aussie here). The summer school I'm doing is an intensive french language course, to try to get us up to speed before we go to uni. Luckily, none of my classes are in French so it isn't totally crucial that I learn. That said, hey, it's why I'm here. I want to learn as much as I can while I have the chance to practice. We went and explored the town a bit on one of the days, got a decent pic from the bridge of my new home.
The public transport here is excellent. There is a tram and a metro system that between them cover the entire cities. Trams and trains come without fail every ten minutes or so. Best of all, there is a network of bike stations called the Velo'v. Every 300 metres or so there is a station and you can take a bike from any one and return it to any other one. A week pass is 5 euro. It makes it ridiculously easy to pick up a bike and get wherever you need to.
The food here is ok, although I haven't really had a chance to try proper Lyonnaise/French cuisine. Just what the dining hall gives us. It's been pretty good so far - random food like a tomato stuffed with meat, meatballs wrapped in bacon. The bread at the dining hall isn't so great, the baguettes and buns we get every day are like bricks. The Boulangerie's here though, the bakeries, are a french institution. The bread is delicious - I could easily eat a whole loaf on it's own, no topping required - and it doesn't have the same sort of preservatives we use in Australia. This means it goes rock hard within a day or so but that's ok - picking up bread from a Boulangerie when I need it is a great excuse to grab a bike from the velo'v and go for a ride.
We had a placement test on my third day here to determine what level of french we are at for the summer school. I of course got placed in the lowest class, being a total beginner, but I'm learning fast. The hardest thing about it so far is the fact our teacher only speaks french to us. So I'm learning french... in french. We got given an assignment to do over the weekend, to go to the nearby zoo, take some photos, and talk to random strangers in french. I've discovered that starting with 'Je suis Australie' makes it a lot easier - they are all very impressed at how far I've come, and the fact I'm trying to learn french is always a plus. On top of that, they seem more inclined to help you if you're from Australia compared to say Britain or the US. Silly, but I'll take what I can get!
So the assignment went pretty well. We just started with 'nous apprenons a parle francais, et nous pratiquons en posant des questions' (We are learning to speak french, and we are practicing by asking some questions) and the family we spoke to was all smiles and help. We asked some random bullshit questions in french, took some photos, and that was it.
I'm the only aussie of the summer school group so I'm taking every opportunity I get to troll. I've pulled out the old favourites - drop bears, riding kangaroos to school. Some of the students don't know what vegemite is so I've promised to let them try some whenever I can get a jar sent over from home. I'm sure it will be a nice surprise...
We went for a trip to Annecy today, the first weekend I've had here. It's a really nice, out of the way, old style town, set by a lake in the middle of the french alps (It was nice and warm in the afternoon so we got some time to swim). There was also a castle there. I think I'm all castled out after the last month of travelling but hey, it was still pretty cool.