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Breaking an Entry: Erasmus Diary 5

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Kevin has been getting out and about in Lyon in the hopes of curing his homesickness.

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"while it’s easy to forget about home when you’re out with your friends on the beach, sitting alone in your room for a few hours can make you miss the strangest of things"

It’s now week four here in Aix, a town which is starting to become more and more like home. The shortcuts, sides treets, mannerisms and opening hours (which consist mainly of lunch as far as I can tell) are all becoming more familiar to me as everything has started to feel a lot less foreign. One would expect, with such an adaptation, that homesickness would be slowly disappearing but these last few days in particular, I’ve found myself pining for home like I had never done previously. I’ve been reminding myself of home in the strangest ways and my accent has become more broad than ever, in some sort of tragic outward display of my nationality.

My Spotify history consists of nearly every ‘Discover Ireland’ song of the last few years, while I’ve rediscovered the likes of The Walls, The Frames and Damien Rice in an attempt to re-connect with my home country. This was always going to happen and while it’s easy to forget about home when you’re out with your friends on the beach, sitting alone in your room for a few hours can make you miss the strangest of things.

I’ve been trying to get out as much as possible. Last Saturday saw me visit Lyon “tout seul” to see what the city had to offer. The first thing that struck me was its size. It took 25 minutes on the tram to get from the airport (where the TGV station was situated) to the city centre, and that was with only three stops along the way.

The Basillica (in which the Hail Mary was displayed proudly As Gaeilge under the Tricolour) was discovered along with one of the city’s main attractions, the Parc de la Tête d’Or. The 290 acre park was opened in 1857, and houses a huge lake, a zoo, a botanical garden, a velodrome, mini-golf and even a mini-train to transport everyone around.

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From there it was out to Stade Gerland for my own personal sightseeing therapy. Never before had I the chance to stroll around a ground at my leisure, without a game to focus on, or somebody with me that I had to think of. This was my version of an art gallery.

There had been a game the night previous in which the hosts had beaten Monaco 2-1 and as I came out of the metro station the ground looked shut. Undeterred, I took a stroll around the corner to the other end of the ground where I found a reception. They looked at this young man like he had two heads for turning up at the ground a day late for the game but I was kindly told that I could look around the closed grounds if I so wished. That suited me fine, and off I went up to the stands to have a nose around and see what I could discover of this stadium I had seen so often before.

There were locked gates all around the stand but I was determined to get in somehow, so I decided to keep exploring until I saw a little barrier covering a passage. Being a tourist and not knowing any better, I moved it aside and carried on. I came through and saw, opening up in front of me, the Virage Sud. I was on the halfway mark so I decided to go down to pitch level first (unfortunately there were crowd blocks to prevent people coming on the pitch) and then went all the way up to the top of the upper tier to regard the view. Having read my l’Equipe (in which there was a detailed match report of the game that took place on the pitch below me mere hours before) I was content enough to head away.

However I suddenly had the idea to go to the other side of the ground, just to make sure I had it fully explored. I arrived at the Virage Nord (bear in mind the 48,000 capacity stadium was completely empty) and took a look around to see what I could find. Then I spotted it. An empty gate. On the pitchside.

I abandoned what I was doing (namely tucking into one of my brioche) and went on the hunt. I came around the back of the far stand, and spotted the gap. The grounds staff from the night before must have left it open, and I was thanking my lucky stars as I came through the gate onto the hallowed turf.  Nobody was there but the idea of being caught trespassing on one of Lyon’s favoured monuments didn’t seem like the best fun, so I quickly placed myself in the goal, took a good look around at each end (on that point the pitch is quite small) and hot footed it back to the metro station for the train home.

The adventures don’t end there though. The whole lot of us have booked flights to Croatia (40 quid return from Marseille airport) for the second weekend of October, while myself and a few friends will legally take our place in the ‘Virage’ of Stade Vélodrome to see Olympique Marseille take on Saint Étienne next Sunday. I’m also trying to get college work done (including a 45 minute group presentation on the media’s portrayal of Scottish Independence), get forms signed and sent back to Ireland for grants, and dealing with the administrative system here (I still haven’t got a debit card or a phone plan *sigh*).

So, on that point, I had better get cracking…

Tags: travel students erasmus

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Published September 23, 2014
Updated October 08, 2014
Kevin Galvin
Proud Corkonian. Music, Cork City FC and travel keep me (somewhat) sane.
  • Breaking an Entry: Erasmus Diary 5
  • Kevin's curing his homesickness by getting about and about in Lyon.

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