Zach and I questioned whether this trip would be a good idea, pretty much up till the day we left. We had the Hilton points saved up and figured it'd be nicer to use them up in Europe than in the US, and we'd already been to Lyon and this particular Hilton once before (back in December) so we knew that it was a decent set-up for traveling with a kid-- there's a really nice park right across the street from the Hilton, and buses that take you into the center of Lyon in about 15 minutes. However we wondered how painful the trip would be with a 6 month old.
This was D's second weekend trip within Europe (his first was to Avignon, at 3 months) and really he did great. The difficulty level of each day was no worse, and perhaps better, than it probably would have been spending the weekend at home, and we got the added benefit to explore a French city. The hardest part, as was expected, was when we wanted to sit down to eat and, understandably, D wasn't usually too keen on sitting in his stroller while we were stationary. We spent many meals trading off holding him, or walking him around the square trying to get him to fall asleep. But there were a few times when he'd go to sleep at the right time and we'd get to enjoy a blissful 30 minutes of enjoying our food and the views around, and some peace and quiet. It may have been easier if there were more fast food options available, as there will be in the US, but in a way it's almost nicer to be forced to sit down at a restaurant as you're making yourself get a better meal, even if it is a bit more painful at times.
We unfortunately hit a bunch of traffic on the way there so the supposed less-than-2-hour trip wound up taking closer to 2.5-3 hours, and D was clearly getting a bit tired of his car seat near the end there, but we survived. The hotel was nice, the staff is always very nice, we got a great room and thanks to Zach's status with Hilton (the bonus side of lots of business travel) we were once again treated to access to the executive lounge, something we took advantage of daily.
We arrived Saturday afternoon and after checking in to the hotel and spending a bit of time getting settled in, we ventured out to find some lunch. I wondered how our food experience would go this time-- Lyon is known as a major food capital for France. Last time, though, due in large part to it being the weekend of the festival of lights and thus the city being packed with people, we didn't get to try going to one of the fancier, better-known restaurants in town, and the meals we did have were not great (except for the one at Le Gargouille, that place was fabulous). This time went much better, though. After lunch at a cafe near the hotel, we walked over to the Parc de la Tete d'Or, which is HUGE. We'd explored it some in December but thanks to a very pregnant me and the not-so-great weather, we didn't really spend that much time there. This time it was sunny and beautiful, and the park was filled with people and families, not to mention the at least 3 or 4 sets of brides and grooms taking pictures at various locations throughout the park. We grabbed dinner at a lakeside joint, the type that basically has hot dogs and sandwiches, but the view was lovely.
We stretched D's bedtime back to about 8pm both these nights, which luckily he didn't seem to mind and helped make our evenings more manageable. The hotel had set up a pack-and-play for him to sleep in, and he went to bed easily and wonderfully while we kept the lights low in the room and read or watched tv quietly for a bit before hitting the sack ourselves. Kind of nice to be forced to go to bed earlier, really. ; )
Sunday we ventured into town. We explored spots we'd been to last time, like Place Bellecoeur and the area near the opera house, but also got to venture more into the old town parts which we didn't see much last time but are really adorable. We made a walk-through down one farmer's market and stumbled upon the Chilean empanada stand that we discovered in December, and of course had to buy some. I had the presence of mind to know I couldn't have the cheese empanadas, but didn't think till too late that the meat ones are made with, well, BEEF. This is why I don't do diets, people, I SUCK at keeping any food restrictions straight. Oh well, it's now been going on 4 days and D hasn't seemed to have a reaction to it yet, so I'm kinda hopefuly actually. And the empanada was friggin YUM and very worth it.
Later on we also enjoyed some very yummy crepes, stumbled upon an outdoor used book sale where Zach got a stack of French books for cheap, and debated attempting a visit into the fine arts museum but settled for having a drink at the museum cafe instead (which, btw, was really really cute).
By late afternoon we headed back down towards the hotel, partook in the sweets and snacks available at the executive lounge, I watched a bit of a a French circus show on tv which only made me feel really really bad for circus animals, and then we had a faux-mexican dinner at one of the other restaurants near the hotel.
Monday we got all packed up and checked out and then headed back into Lyon center for a last few hours. We found a cute little toystore where I bought D a super adorable wooden carousel musical toy that plays Dixieland (of all songs... there was one that played Frere Jaques, but the colors on it were kinda ugly). We stopped for lunch at Le Gargouille, remembering it having been such a great place before, and it did not disappoint, even if Zach and I did eat in shifts while trying to get a very tired D to fall asleep in his stroller. Afterwards we went inside the cathedral on that same square (forget which one this was) and it was stunning because the glass windows were actually exposed to light, and the sun was streaming in, causing these beautiful colored patterns to form on the floor. It's crazy how many stained-glass cathedrals we've been to and rarely ever seen this effect. It was gorgeous. I think after that we walked around just a bit more, and then were on the road again by mid-afternoon.
Travel has definitely changed completely with D, and at one point Zach was getting a bit frustrated by this aspect, how much more limited you are with a kid in tow (and D is still pretty easy to manage, I imagine it's a whole other world with a strong-willed toddler along for the ride). But as we were coming home we both felt really glad to have planned this weekend, and had a great time. To be honest I think our travel style now is a bit more like my own, slower paced and more relaxed, whereas Zach has always wanted to go out and see as much as possible to the point of sometimes trying to cram too much into a too-short period of time. Kinda nice to be forced to slow down a bit. ; )
See more pictures here.