Thursday, May 30, 2013

Paris Part Quatre: Au Revoir

After a couple days of rain I was so happy to see sunshine the next day on Wednesday for our trip to Versailles. We hadn’t bought tickets for the train as we were able to get in the doors with our metro passes, but on our way there I was getting nervous that we would get stopped at the train station (they have these electric doors that you have to enter your ticket to open to get off the platform) but we lucked out and the electric doors weren’t working and we went right through saving a few bucks. Once we got to the village of Versailles instead of heading straight in we took a detour and went food shopping at Les Halles du Marché Notre Dame which doesn’t have anything to do with Notre Dame Cathedral, but is a large food market. 

It took us a while to decide what to buy, but I was set on packing food for a picnic in the gardens of Versailles. I had read online they say it’s not allowed but don’t enforce the rule. It was worth all of the trouble because later in the day we ended up eating soft cheeses, baguette, the ripest raspberries, and some really good Portuguese wine (strange I know, but it was a steal).

Back in Versailles we toured some of the inside of the palace first. Do you remember that Sofia Coppola movie Marie Antoinette from 2006? Well they had gotten special permission to film most of the movie at the actual place, so I kept imagining Kirsten as Marie Antoinette and Jason Schwartzman as the awkward Dauphin would come around the corner any minute.

The rooms were jam packed with tourists so we didn’t spend as much time inside (I don’t love being elbowed) but the Hall of Mirrors was really breathtaking in real life and there was plenty of room to enjoy it.

When we got out to the gardens I was disappointed as I’d read you can rent bicycles to ride around, but really it is only in a small area. Most of the gardens you are not allowed to bike in, but we walked around and  rented the bikes for a little while to go visit the Hamlet, which is a very adorable old-fashioned farm Marie Antoinette had built to live a more simple life than the lavish palace. We walked around the Hamlet visiting the animals and looking for rabbits (didn’t find any) and got a little lost but we found our way back. Overall, Versailles was definitely one of the most fun sights to see as they have restored it to really feel like you’re stepping back in time.

We headed back to the city to use the boat-tour tickets that I had bought before the trip. I love a good boat tour since you can see the sights while taking a rest. We were sitting on the top deck when it started raining so we popped up the umbrella and opened the second bottle of wine. The lady in front of us was getting up to go sit underneath for cover and said “you two know how to do the boat tour right!”
this bird was a pro, he came right up to us and ate baguette out of our hands

That night on the way back we walked around the outside of the Louvre and had a really late dinner at a pizza and sandwich shop near our hotel, but my three cheese panini  was still really good. It was next door to this strange reggae/punk/indie club. We had a drink there one night and it was definitely a dive but had lots of couches and Bob Marley playing. It seemed to always be packed really late at night. We thought it was really funny they were playing Bob Marley but the girl tending bar had to have her friend translate our request for Rum & Coke.

The next day was Thursday and it was crazy to realize that was our last day of the trip. I still had so much to do! I was supposed to meet up with my co-worker Emily, visit the Musée de Orsay, Musée Rodin, visit Deyrolle (the crazy taxidermy shop), and a million other things! But that’s how vacations go, they fly by. We knew we had to see the Louvre, both having art degrees, so that’s where we spent most of the day. I will be honest, we got lost walking around a few times, I had trouble working the crazy Nintendo 3DS audio guide, and the crowds were noisy, but I’m still glad we went. There was so much art there, we were only able to take in a little, but we hit some of the highlights and spent a lot of time in the French painting rooms.

After spending most of the day there we ventured across the street to a little outdoor market and bought macaroons and some jewelry.

Then, all of a sudden it started pouring rain and this was the one day I didn’t bring the umbrella. We hurried down a couple of blocks and were lucky to find a nice place to eat dinner under the outdoor heaters.

The rain let up so we walked around the hip shops on rue Saint-Honoré like Colette and found a few more Invader tags.

The next morning we got two lovely parting gifts from Paris. One, when I was checking out our hotel somehow had an extra credit of €198 over what we had paid beforehand for the 7 nights.  I asked him to double-check (since I am pretty careful with my credit card records) but he said we had overpaid. He used the credit to pay for the breakfasts & dinners we had and then refunded us €77. Basically it was like free food and $100, but I wasn’t going to complain! Then our taxi was quick and we got to our flight on time (long story but there have been many an instance of a missed or almost-missed flight in our travels). Unfortunately the way home was not so joyous, we spent probably 25 hours straight in airports and planes and our luggage was lost by the time we arrived in Phoenix. But it is much better for your luggage to get lost on the way home, as I spent the next day in pajamas anyways and they delivered it the next night. Since I’ve been home everyone keeps asking how the trip was and it’s hard to explain. I like to say we vacation hard-it doesn’t matter if I’m sick or my feet hurt I will keep going, but we had an amazing time. Je pense que je pourrais y vivre, c'est vraiment magnifique.

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