Friday, September 5, 2008

The mystery house (part 3)

We went back to the corridor and tried to open the doors again. There was this big wooden one close to the entrance. This time we pulled hard.

Hurray, the door opened!

On the other side there was a landing, and a staircase. At least we could go down, even if carrying the luggage and the baby down four floors wasn't something we looked forward to.

The staircase went up too. There was a 5th floor after all.

There were doors on the 5th floor landing. All of them had a tag with a person's name on it: they were apartment doors. Unfortunately, none was our friend's. So where did he live?

At the end of the landing, there was yet another metal gate leading to yet another staircase, probably leading to the roof. I didn't have the key.

I went down to the 4th floor. We couldn't still figure out how to get to our friend's place. I left my family on the 4th floor landing and went downstairs to find a solution.

I got in the elevator again, and it dawned on me. There was this weird circular key on the keyring. I put it in the circular keyhole next to the "4" button, where the "5" button should have been.

The circular key was used only to get to the fifth floor! The elevator needed one key to call it when one was on the ground floor, another key to go down when one was on the 4th floor and yet another key to go up to (and down from) the 5th floor.

This time I was able to go to the 5th floor, where I found a little terrace identical to the one on the 4th floor, with a view on a roof covered with nice, varnished tiles.

There was also a dark corridor on the right.

At the end there was a door.

It was lit by a small roof window.

Next to this door was another one.

I had the key! This was our friend's home.

I still had to go back to pick up my family, who were still stranded on the 4th floor. I was going to take the elevator down, when I noticed a door similar to the one we had opened previously and that had led us from the elevator terrace to the 4th floor landing. It was closed, but I had the key this time.

And I found myself on the 5th floor landing, facing the staircase.

Then I realized that the door I had just opened had a tag with people names on it. These doors weren't apartment doors, but allowed passage from the staircase landing to the terrace and corridor on the other side. The names on the tag were the names of the people living in the apartments in the corridor!

So the mystery was solved. I took the elevator down to gather my family and we went up again to go to our friend's studio. Later, we had to struggle with the windows (that were controlled by a not-so-smart automatic system) and the main door of the building failed a couple of times to let us out (the mechanism got stuck at random), but otherwise we had a good week in Lyon.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

The mystery house (part 2)

The lift rose slowly to the 4th floor. When it arrived, a door opened on each side. We were on a little terrace over a deep well.

The side with the flower pots was promising, so we went there.

There was a door. It was closed. We didn't have the key.

We crossed the elevator cabin to the other side. There was a similar door there, also closed, but it opened when we turned the handle.

The door led to a long dark corridor. The light was broken so we couldn't see where it went. We tried to open several doors to no avail. There were no stairway up or down either.

We went back to the elevator. It was gone, and its door had closed automatically behind us. We tried the key that we had used previously on it when we were on the ground floor. It didn't work. The elevator needed different keys to go up and down.

We were trapped on the landing of the 4th floor, unable to go up or down. Did I say that we had a baby in a carriage and a few pieces of luggage? (To be continued...)

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The mystery house (part 1)

Last August, we were invited by a friend to spend a week at his little studio in Lyon while he was away on vacation. He emailed us a short list of instructions detailing how to get there and left his keys at the bar downstairs.

His flat is on the fifth floor of a 18th century, slightly decrepit building facing the Rhone river. Like all those houses, it has a beautiful front door with wooden carvings and a metal knocker.

We entered the long hallway. Like many old buildings in Lyon, this one has a second entrance on the other side. In the oldest parts of Lyon, these long passages are called traboules, and sometimes open into small, beautiful Renaissance yards. Our building was more recent though.

We had to find the lift. But where was it? There was a small, fenced off yard on the left.

Later we discovered that this was the concierge's private yard. His only outside view was the bottom of the pit. Here's a view from the first landing.

The way forward was the continuation of the passage, crossing through the building. There was a metal gate on the right side that looked like the door of an old lift.

On close inspection this was not an elevator shaft but the entrance of a deep, deep cave.

Later that week we found the gate opened. It looked like a torture chamber and we didn't get inside. We didn't have the key anyway.

Right after the cave door, there was a door and another yard.

There was a strange sign on the door. What's a "WC BAR"? We didn't have the key to this one either so we never found out.

There were two other doors after the WC BAR one.

The first door was the lift! And this time we had the key! We got in.

We had to go to the fifth floor, but the lift didn't go higher than the fourth.
We got out and tried the next door. It was open. Behind it, there were a small, very small yard.

It was the garbage area.

There were steps, and yet another door. We didn't have the key.

We had a last look at the garbage yard. There were windows and people behind it.

We entered the lift again. It was extremely small and smelled of wet dog hair. We pushed the "4" button, thinking that we'd figure out later how to get to the 5th floor. (To be continued...)

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