Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Paris Day 5 or That's One Big House or Blown Away

After a lot of research and back and forth and changed decisions regarding whether or not we'd take a trip out of Paris (maybe Brussells, Bruges, Amsterdam, Spain), we decided we'd go to Versailles this day.  The weather was supposed to be moderately good and Versailles is only a 45 minute trip from the apartment so we would still have time to do Paris sightseeing and eating in the evening and we wouldn't have to make it to the train at the crack of dawn to get to where we were going.

The train ride was painless although we were a little worried we'd left too late as once again, we slept a little too long and piddled a little too much in the morning.  We arrived in Versailles around 11am.  First stop- McDonalds to see if we could find some wifi and a potty.  In true European fashion, the McDonalds bathrooms are unisex (well, there's a men's side and a women's side but it's all in the same space). I don't know why this bothers me so much, but I just think its so strange to wait in line with a man to use the restroom. Even better- there was a homeless man living in one of the stalls- sad but strange..and annoying because it slowed the line down.

McDonalds and the neighboring Starbucks were both having technical difficulties with their wifi so we were off to feel our way through the town as best we could.

For our trip to Versailles, we downloaded an app by Rick Steves on the recommendation of our family friend, Steve Happ.  There were some ups and downs to this app, namely that their was a hand drawn map attached to it which was pretty, but not so functional.  It did lead us right to another AMAZING creperie (another Brittany style crepe maker) which I can't remember the name of.  No one spoke English there and we were pretty sure we were being discriminated against as people all around us were being served and we sat without even water for about 15 minutes.  Just as we were deciding that maybe it wasn't worth it, another steaming plate of delicious smelling crepes would pass our table and we would decide to wait a little longer.  Our waiting was no mistake- when we finally got to order, our lunch was to die for.  From the extensive menu, I decided to  have a ham, cheese, and egg crepe- the egg was over medium so the yolk coated everything and upped the yumminess.  Russell had ham and cheese with no egg.  We followed that up with an amazing dessert crepe that we shared.  I honestly can't remember what was in it but let's assume that it was some fruit mixed with nutella because that seems to be what we always order!

Just as we were leaving, an older couple (probably in their 70s) started a conversation with us.  They were so nice and excited to use their English.  Their English was about as good as Russell's French so with their combined skills they were able to have a decent conversation.  I on the other hand, was out of luck as I still know no French.  I think they were asking us if we were married and if we were on our honeymoon.  They also wanted to know if we were from England or Australia.  They were so surprised that we were from the US (this seemed to be a trend in France, no one believed we were Americans).  After they bid us luck in our marriage and we bid them luck on their vacation, we were off to the palace!

The Palace is truly breathtaking.  At some point, the golden gate was "misplaced" (let's get real, someone hocked it for all of the gold) and so for years, no one was able to take in the grandeur of its presence.  The gate has recently been restored/replaced and it really is unbelievable.  It's hard to believe that it was even thought of.  It's seriously a huge gate covered in shiny gold.

Before we went inside we acted like true adults on this windy day and of course we played in the wind gusts in the courtyard.  The wind was SO strong that you could just lean back and relax and it would hold you up.  If you walked into it, you got a major resistance work out!  Here's a picture of me being cool:

It is unfathomable to me that this Palace was actually a home to people.  It's so elaborate and uncomfortable looking...and expansive (and expensive).

The Rick Steves app came in very handy for the tour, without it we would've just walked around with our jaws dropped staring at the fancy stuff.  Rick had some interesting facts for each room that really gave us a feel for what life was like in the time of the Louis(es). Here are some pictures:

The biggest bummer was that the gardens were closed due to the weather.  It was a bit rainy and like I said before VERY windy. We were so sad about this because it was what we wanted to see the most at Versailles.  So much happened in these gardens and they're beautiful all year round.  I really wanted to see Marie Antoinette's little cottage.  Oh well!  Next time :)

We were back on the train and headed "home" to Paris.  When we got back in town, we had plenty of day left to explore so we did a little bit of shopping (window shopping that is...at this point we hadn't made any souvenir purchases) and headed off to dinner.

Russell had done some research and found this great restaurant called BAM!.  We were setting ourselves up to be disappointed with another closed restuarant, but guess what- it was actually open!

We squeezed into a tiny table, Paris style and took in the wonderful scenery of the tiny restaurant.  It was a little whimsical and eclectic and their menu matched!

Sadly, I can't remember everything that we ate but I know we had some outstanding steak (bordering on rare since in France they always seem to cook your food at least one level lower than what you asked for) and really great wine!

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