Monday, March 29, 2010

The Griswalds do Versailles - Paris Day 2

We woke up on Tuesday Morning to ANOTHER beautiful spring day in Paris! Wow - our luck was turning out to be amazing - especially since the forecast was for rain the whole time!

Well... maybe we shouldn't have been giving each other high-fives so quickly. We should have known the day was going to be a bit strange when a BUM TURNED DOWN MONEY from Tim! Seriously?! Granted Tim was going to give him just the copper coins in his pocket, but one would think the equivalent of 75 cents (even if it was in "pennies") would be good enough for a bum! Hell - I would take 75 cents right now! Awfully hoity bums in Paris!

This "Bum Incident" took place in the metro station on the way to catch our train to Versailles. We were all joking about this when the train came (headed in the right direction) and we got on. About 10 minutes later the train stopped and these very sweet girls came over and asked us if we were going to Versailles. Why do we look like tourists? I mean YES.

When we said yes they told us that we needed to change trains because we had all gotten on the wrong one. Okay - even though we were sure we were headed in the right direction. Then the girls asked one of the metro employees (they spoke French) which train to get on - he said "That one". A train headed in the OTHER direction (as in the direction we just came from). But the screen appeared to say it was headed for Versailles so we got on. Finally just as we were pulling back into the station where we began our morning, the same girls came and found us on the train and said we had gotten on the wrong train - AGAIN- and that we could catch the correct train from here. Okay.

Then a guy with REALLY bad teeth (as in "I have been smoking crack for 10 years" bad teeth) asked where we were going, so he could "help". He told us that we should just stay on this train (even though we were just told it was going in the wrong direction) and that we would get to Versailles in about 30 minutes - not to the train station we wanted, but another one "close by". He also informed us that there was a strike going on and that we were "lucky to have a train". As he was leaving the woman sitting across from us (in business clothes and with nice teeth), looked at us and said "you need to get off". All very strange and we weren't sure who to believe, but the nice girls were franticaly waving for us to get off - so we did.

Now what do we do? Well the cute girls (that Kate has now named the Fab Force 5) ask another guy and he tells us to get back on the very first train we started with. Are we on candid camera? No WORSE - I think we are the GRISWALDS on Vacation! We all laugh about this and joke that "Walley World" will be closed when we get there - ha ha!

During our 30 minute wait for the correct train, we see "Teeth" and decide he must be a pick pocket or something. It then occurs to us that if he is a pick pocket and he rides the trains ALL day EVERY day - then he probably was giving us accurate information on staying on the train! And if we had listened to him we would already BE there by now! MORAL OF THE STORY: Never judge a person by their teeth.

Are we in some kind of Vortex? Waiting for the train to Versailles for the 3rd time...

Either way - we ended up in Versailles around 11 am (we started at 9 am - but deatils - right?) Upon arriving in Versailles we met up with the Fab Force 5 again and they told us that there actually was a strike going on in Paris and that Versailles was CLOSED! Um - excuse me? Walley World - I mean Versailles - can't be closed - it took us 2 hours to get here! We really ARE the Griswalds (although I already knew that:))!

However, LOTS of people had gotten off the train and were headed in the direction on the Palace so we thought we minus well go - hopefully the closed information was bad information. After waiting in line for 45 minutes and thinking how wrong those girls were (why would there by a line if it was closed - right?), we finally get up to pay for our tickets. How much for the "full package" Nathan asks. "Only middle section is open - the two wings are closed due to a strike." Nathan - "No we want the full package - we want to see everything." Strange look from attendant - then she draws two "x"s over the parts that are closed and says 15 Euros. Well I guess that is settled then - no "full package" for us!:)

We made it - Chateau de Versailles!

The part of Chateau de Versailles that we saw (including the Hall of Mirrors) was very beautiful. The gardens were magnificient as well and they seemed to go on for miles (maybe they did - we didn't try to find out). Although I will be honest - if you've seen one Palace you've seen them all - sorry again French people but I really did feel like I was having a flashback to Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. Granted Versailles is BIGGER but same concept - totally over the top rooms, over the top decorating, and over the top gardens. Not that I'm saying anything is wrong with that - I would live in either one - I'm just sayin'.

The Hall of Mirrors

Just so you know - I want this bed! The sign near the bed said "The King's Bedroom - In this room the royal rising and going to sleep ceremonies took place." - I'll take those too!

The Gardens - I'm sure they were even more beautiful in Spring when everything is in bloom!
(Pictured L to R - Rusty, Audrey, Ellen, and Clark!)

Just because I thought it was a perfect ending to our trip to Versailles - I thought I would share that we had to wait for 45 minutes for a train to take us back into Paris because the train people were on strike too - gotta love the French!:) Not sure what everyone was striking about but it only lasted one day (of course the day we tried to go to Versailles but that would happen to the Griswalds:))!

On our way back we stopped off at the Eiffel Tower -you can't go to Paris without getting a picture in front of it - right? At least I wasn't going to!:) It was very awe inspiring to stand underneath it and see it up close and personal!

I heart Parks!
(So everyone is walking around in "I heart Paris" shirts - of course it's Paris - right? Well, Tim - out of no where - is like I love all the "I heart Parks" shirts - very cool. Okay - seriously? Well I do love Parks too but we are in PARIS - hello!?! Sorry Tim - never gonna live that one down!:))

Cheesy Paris Photo made even better by my mad photoshop skills!

We finished the rest of our day shopping near the Opera before heading to dinner to see Alison (one of Nathan's childhood friends) who has been living in Paris for 10 plus years! (Note to self - do not try to ride public transport at 5 pm on a day that the train people are striking -you will NOT get to your destination in a timely manner. Oh - and you will definitely be touched inappropriately as 20 rows of shoulder to shoulder people try to cram onto the train.)

We met Alison and her family at their flat before heading out to dinner. I am so mad that I didn't get a photo of her adorable family! I am completely smitten by her two year old son Benjamin! I want a little two year old who understands english but speaks french - does anyone know where I can get one of those? Benjamin had me at "Merci"! Soooooo cute!

We then headed to a restaurant near Alison's home and had another fabulous French dinner! Thank goodness we all decided to share our desserts because they were all so good - especially Alison's cheesecake - seriously the best I have EVER had! How about we just eat the rest of the time we are in Paris? Sounds good to me!

Nathan and I with Alison!

We ended the night with a Taxi ride home (I was done with the train for the day) and just thought I would mention that if you call a Taxi in Paris the meter starts running from where ever the taxi is when you call them, all the way to you, and then continues to your destination. Just a little FYI to close the day!

Bonne nuit!

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