We are now in our first period of “vacances scolaires” (school vacation) – for the Toussaint holiday. We have a week and a half off from school.

Yes, we have only been working for 3 weeks. Yes strikes have canceled many of our classes.

Welcome to France.

So, as I am off from school, today I went to Grenoble, a very beautiful city situated in a valley of the French Alps, just under two hours from Lyon by regional train.

Shivering as Jovani, another English assistant, and I exited the train station, we both realized that we were not properly prepared for today’s cold temperatures and the mountain wind chill.

The train station is in the “Chinatown” type area of the city, but our first stop was the Office de Tourisme to find out places of interest, i.e. tourist attractions.

We learned that Tuesday’s in France are not only the accepted day to have strikes – but also the national day of museum closures. Not that there were demonstrations or anything, but the guy at the tourism office, who would not give us any of his own opinions on must-see attractions or delicious restaurants, told us we could not visit the main museums because it was Tuesday so they were closed.

He did however point out three museums that would be open – one of which was the Museum of Natural History.

In a desperate measure to get out of the cold, we decided to go there – as it was the only one open in the morning.

It turned out to be really interesting and cool! The main focus was on animals found in the mountains and other regions of Europe – with preserved animals on display. The museum also featured a section on minerals – complete with glowing rocks in an UV light display-case. Another exhibit showed countless species of insects including butterflies, moths, beetles, fossils of insects, insects that looked like leaves, and many more.

Teleriferique in GrenobleAfter leaving the museum we eventually settled on eating lunch in probably the most touristy restaurant the town had to offer – the restaurant on the top of a mountain.

We took the Teleriferique – basically, bubbles on a wire that carry you up like a ski lift – to the top where we took pictures of the incredibly breathtaking view over Grenoble and across from the snow-capped Alps.

Finally we went for our food. I had a dish with some type of pork, vegetables and potatoes. The sauce on it reminded me a little of mayonnaise.

After lunch we happened upon a really unique art exhibit (Token Omen) of an American artist named Johnston Foster. The works were all created from items found in the garbage. The following pictures showing the works can describe better than my words.

Shark from Token Omen by Johnston Foster

Beehive from Token Omen by Johnston Foster

Dogs and Cactus from Token Omen by Johnston Foster

Snake and Cactus from Token Omen by Johnston Foster

Skeleton from Token Omen by Johnston Foster

For the third and final museum, we went to one on the top of the mountain, and the topic was the troops that guard the Alps. It was pretty interesting and I had not even realized these troops existed.

Upon our safe return to the valley, we walked around and ended up at Haagen Daz where we ate some unbelievable dessert.

We finished the day zig-zagging through the pedestrian streets and entering, browsing, and exiting the countless boutiques along the way.

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