I do feel quite super slightly delayed this year blogging about my birthday, but last weekend I turned 20 – and it had to be one of my longest celebrated birthdays I think I’ve ever had, as far as I can remember!
But this year it was a truly amazing birthday I had, we (as in me and my sister) basically went to Lyon for the weekend to celebrate, flying out on the 20th and returning on my actual birthday day (22nd) and then being surprised at the airport by my mum and boyfriend to come home to loads of presents – was absolutely magical! (And there are galleries midway between this all!)
So let’s perhaps start from the beginning? Well Friday we flew out to Lyon… I have to admit I was kinda nervous as we’ve never been there before but so excited at the same time. We landed all safe and sound looking out to the views of what I would like to think was the French Alps in the background on the plane but then my geography is terrible so I’ll stick with mountains. It was GLORIOUS SUNSHINE! When I mean glorious, I mean like you feel like you’ve stepped into paradise it was that nice sunshine. We eventually jumped onto the trains and metro heading into central Lyon after attempting to break 3/50 euro notes successfully, and we were absolutely amazed at how beautiful it was. Similar to Paris of course, but different in so many ways – not as touristy, no dramatic beggars on the street and so much more humane.
So of course we headed to the hotel, detoured around the same block 3 times in 6 different ways before we actually reached the hotel, took a million pictures along the way and realised we absolutely SUCK at speaking French (ironic), eventually checked in and headed straight back out for a wonder round. We were smack-bang in the middle of their main shopping area – Hotel Mercure Central Plaza Republique – and it was super conveniently located. We were surrounded by big label names like Sephora, Zara, Mango, Michael Kors, Cartier, Humphreys, Wolford, Jaegar…. the list went on. We were also definitely not short of places to eat – that was for sure!
Our mini first venure took us as far as Place de Bellacour where we looked up to Fourviere and thought “Holy S we’re climbing up to the top of there tomorrow” and came across more restaurants and brasseries and even a Paul’s Patisserie – yay Pauls! And we went on further to local shops, a supermarket to stock up on munchies and loads more places we didn’t know the names of, but knew they had value to Lyon. We came across so much and knew instantly it was so different to Paris but it was so gorgeous.
We went out for a meal on the first night to a place called Hippopotamus – original – and indulged in steak, rose, ratatouille, chips and even had casual awkward “we don’t speak French” conversations with passer-bys which often ended with “bon-apetit” – tad bit awkward. But after we went for a mini walk to see Lyon by night, it stretched down to the areas we visited earlier and then all the way back up in the opposite direction as if we were heading past the metro station Cordeliers which was came from earlier in the day.
Day 2 – so considering we did a lot of walking on day 1, day 2 was even more! Today was the day we went to visit the Notre Dame at the top of the hill – Basilisque de Fourviere via the mini market and the cafe where we bought our pain au chocolats at the bottom of the first big crossroads.
So we began the journey up – it was taxing on us to say the least and we stopped multiple times, but we began to see Lyon from a different perspective (literally), but we came across parts of their old town, their student halls, student areas and other, older churches and cathedrals. It became more authentic, more original and less touristy and minute by minute it became increasingly beautiful. But beauty was when we reached the top – when we actually reached the mini Notre Dame, mirrored to the one in Montmarte, Paris. The detailing of the church was absolutely stunning, but so were the views of Lyon from the top. We could mark out where our hotel was, which road we started out on and saw all of the little coloured buildings and rooftops the city had to offer just from one hill.
We bought sandwiches the day before from the local Monop supermarket so we perched on a bench after and ate, took a few selfies and saw the brilliance of their parking skills in action, and then decided to start making our way back down through the form of various detours around Lyon to start to explore the city in full. We ventured across old little cobbled streets offering multiple various cuisined restaurants, macaroons, chocolatiers and gelato stores and saw the hustle & bustle of Lyon in action.
We eventually reached back to the hotel and decided to chill out for a bit – our feet were absolutely killing by this point and we managed to do I think around 11k steps, so we thought we deserved it by then. Only to venture out an hour or so later to see Lyon city centre in action! We detoured around to buy a huge churro covered in Nutella – which my sister failed to eat but did a damn good attempt, worked our way around Printemps and other huge department stores, bought more icecream, saw a local street performer in action after the casual brass band by Bellacour metro station and just experienced their daily life with them – it was so amazing and still so surreal how different one part of France could be to another.
We ventured back to the hotel again after about another 2 hours of wondering around and decided to get ready to go out for yet another meal to a different foodie/restauranty area we passed by earlier that was only a 5min walk away from the hotel – the debate was between Le Bistrot de Lyon and Eden Rock Cafe – we settled for Eden!
The atmosphere & food was AMAZINGGGG inside – it wasn’t what I expected for a mini rock cafe in Lyon, but I didn’t know what to expect so either way it was cool. But the service there was incredible, the staff were so friendly once they worked out we couldn’t speak French much and well their Salmon…. OhMyGod – so it was salmon, raw, cut up into tiny pieces mixed with mayo or something similar, served on half of an English Muffin, with loads of Rocket and Lettuce and a big portion of chips. All of that alongside a strawberry mojito – yeah it was a damn filling meal! And I still went for half a dessert of a Peche (peach) melba sundae – oh yeaaaahhh I felt like a huge pig by the end of it.
And after that it ventured back into another half mini detour night walk again to the hotel but we didn’t come across much this time so we headed straight back knowing it was our last night in Lyon, and we were pretty shattered by this point.
It was our last morning in Lyon so we indulged in a tiny bit of a lie in before realising we seriously needed to get up, and me waking up to multiple birthday texts, whatsapps and Facebook messages. We packed up our stuff and checked out, and began our hunt for a Costa to have breakfast – which in the end failed and we ended up in another French cafe instead – Vidici – and by far it was the most graphically satisfying cafe/sandwich bar I have ever laid eyes on. One thing I learnt about Lyon – everything there is art. With them having a museum dedicated to print and graphic communication, everything was art. Graphic design, fine art, print was promoted everywhere with huge stores of art supplies located in every mini block you went to and all of the cafes looking like they were from a graphic designers dream.
We ate up admiring our surroundings and then hit the metro and rhone express to head back to the airport. Word of advice – Lyon airport does not require a 3 hour check in like Birmingham does – we got a bit bored and stuck on what to do but we sat there and caught up with whatsapp and Facebook quick enough. Eventually we went through security, had the most thorough frisk of my life, boarded and set jet to head back to BHX! We landed messaging mum and my other half, only to come into arrivals after being rained on heavily to see mum standing there hugging us and my boyfriend popping up from around the pillar to surprise me – I don’t think I’ve ever almost cried to see him before! So it was a lovely journey home filled with loads of hugs and laughs, and when we got home I was brought into our living room to see my little birthday cake sat there ready for me on table with my presents and cards all laid out ready for me to open!
It was such a lovely little surprise and warm feeling to come back home to, so we cut my cake and opened my cards and presents – with my mum being a genius and hiding loads of little presents inside a gorgeous pastel blue bag she bought me. I got a Canon EOS 1300D SLR, a matching gold statement necklace and bracelet from Accessorize, 2 bars of lindt from the other half as mini present 1, money from the rest of the family relatives, a heavily illustrated notebook from Paperchase (one of the vintage floral ranges I love), a summer snood, a Ralph Lauren perfume and a statement ring. And then my sister told me my present was in my car…. so I went out in pouring rain, to see a ‘car kit’ in my boot filled with: one of my favourite oldest blankets ever, bags of propercorn, my mini breadsticks, lindt bars, a tom tom, tom tom case, mini toiletries emergency kit and lots of other little bits all packed neatly. It was incredible to see how much thought she put into it knowing everything I eat and snack on!
We all chilled out watching how to train your dragon, opened the bottle of wine I bought back from duty free, had dinner which mum cooked and ended the night feeling stupidly overwhelmingly happy! Until the next day….
Well as this was a round-up – the next day me and my other half had booked off work so we could spend the day together. It was our 16 months anniversary and a little day to make up for my birthday so we had some time to chill out together.
So I drove to his in the morning, and got my second present – the Hunger Games trilogy in books! We sat in bed and watched Game of Thrones (we’re both huge fans slowly working our way through the books) and then eventually went to the gym. We came back, ate, got ready and headed into town to buy my last present…. he bought me a Pandora! We spent what felt like at least 1.5 hours in there trying to decide which charm to get but settled for a simple silver bracelet and a diamante encrusted heart charm.
After that we were absolutely starving so we headed over to Chimichanga and decided to order in a couple of mojitos – strawberry and passionfruit and settled for a sharing starter and for mains I went for chicken fajitas! It was absolutely gorgeous – Chimichanga literally has to be one our favourite restaurants ever! And we still had time left in the day… so where else would we go apart from to go watch X-Men Apocalypse! Heads up it is slightly long but definitely worth the watch – the graphics on it were incredible and they’ve done a hell of a storyline and a well deserved build up!
We called it a night from there but it truly was the best birthday I can actually remember. I came back into work the next day to see 2 of my colleagues have a mini chocolate cake with M&Ms surrounding it on my desk and a lovely little bunch of flowers sitting in from of my Mac – the birthday celebrations kept on going!