Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Rain Rain go away...
Well, we were bound to get at least one bad day. You know, the kind where everything goes wrong. We took the advice of the consierge and walked to the closest train station that would take us out to Versailles. We SHOULD have taken the metro TO the train but instead got to walk a few miles in the RAIN. Then when we got to the train station we had to wait in line to buy tickets and missed the train we wanted and ended up getting on another train and spending the next 15 minutes trying to figure out which train we wanted. We asked a few people who weren’t sure so we got off and figured out the mistake then waited for the right train to show up. We got on and within a few stops we were at our destination. Finally, still raining, we walked up to Versailles.....disappointedly under construction. Not a very spectacular scene. We made our way inside, through security, and bought our audio tour headsets. Okay, I am ready to be awed. Versailles was what I was most excited about seeing. Let’s just end the suspense here and I’ll tell you it was basically a waste of time and money. We squeezed our way through roped off rooms and listened to the audio telling us about various paintings and the artists. Little of the furniture was original and the rooms were mostly about the walls. We were surrounded by hoards of Asian tourists and there basically wasn’t much to see. We learned that all the queens gave birth in public for proof of the actual heir. Our question: Did they “make” the actual heir in public too? Suddenly the tour of the palace was over. Wait, we have only been inside for about an hour! The train ride was longer.... Here is the worst part. When we got there on the outside of the grounds was a huge sculpture that looked like a big balloon animal - yes, like a twisted up light green balloon. We walked up closer to it and saw that it was indeed meant to look like a balloon animal. Well, that is strange.... When we started the audio tour we soon found out that there was an artist who was displaying his artwork throughout the castle. Apparently, his “style” was similar in some way to the overall feel or architecture of the palace. The first room had a very large pink balloon dog - yes, DOG, incased in plexiglass. The next a bunny and the next a lobster water toy hanging from the ceiling. Um....what the hell is going on here? The next room was our favorite. There were two turtle pool toys (something VERY similar to what we bought at Wal-mart for Dylan to use when he was about 4 years old. It even had handles) attached to a section of a wire fence just sitting in the room. It was such a distraction from the traditional look of the palace that I kept wanting to scream out. It ruined the whole thing. We could not believe it. I was so mad that I refused to take pictures of any of it, whereas others were standing in line to photograph a life size figure of Michael Jackson with his monkey in white porcelin. Yes, I said it. What it had to do with Versailles I will never know. There was extra commentary on each piece of “art” but I refused to listen to it out of sheer revolution. Where is my Les Mis music now? Ahhh, it still makes me mad!
We left the main palace and headed down to Marie Antoinett’s “mini-palace”. It was at least an half an hour walk through the gardens.....in the rain....did I mention it was raining? I have carried an umbrella with me for the last 4 days but did I bring it today? Nope. Todd had his so we shared as much as we could. The rain made the roads muddy and we kicked up dirt onto the back of our pants with each step....painful steps - we are on day 5 of walking all day! About half way there we spotted a restaurant and decided to sit down and eat something. The waiter was pretty rude and the food was not good but at least it was a rest. We continued to Marie’s house. After the main castle we were a little worried but we were also a bit more understanding of why she loved her house so much. It was built for the King’s mistress (Marie’s grandfather in law’s mistress) and when the King died Marie’s husband gave it to her. She took it on the condition that NO ONE would be allowed inside without her permission. Let me tell you, if the castle was as crazy back then with tourists and strange artists as it was today I am sure she was thrilled to have a get away place. The larger of the two “buildings” was actually the King’s summer house. Marie’s house was even further down. We picked up our audio I-touch (after leaving a drivers license to be sure they would get it back) and headed into her little palace. The tour was very interesting and was told in her voice. She had a small church, her own theater (our favorite part) and in the house she had included a little bathroom (which answered our questions about THAT). I say “ewe” when we have to sit on an outhouse type hole but it would probably be much better than a pot under the bed! It was made from smooth wood and I am sure the servants took care of keeping it clean right? Her own little gardens were well thought out and beautiful and if it weren’t for the cold, the rain and my sore feat and back we would have wandered around some more. The problem with this audio tour is that once you left her house there were no instructions on how to find anything else. So, we spent too much time wandering around trying to find the church and the other outlying buildings on her property. There were no signs either. We couldn’t figure that out. Why not put up small signs with arrows pointing the way? A little help here people!! Shuttles around the massive grounds of the estate would be helpful too while you’re at it. Anyway, we managed to get more tired but did enjoy her little life she built away from the court. On our way out we did see a shuttle service back up to the main palace. It was an expensive ride but well worth it. We made our way back to the main train station and rode back to Paris without any problems. Although, there was a VERY chatty little American girl on the train and after a day of cold, wet, exhaustion we were just wanting a little peace and quiet. We nicknamed her “Elyse” - the Lawson side of the family will get that one! When we got back to our “neighborhood” I bought another chocolate crepe just down the street from the hotel while Todd left to go find the rental car place. I usually split a crepe with Todd but this one was all my own! I soon realized why we split them. It was too much to eat alone but I did it anyway! I crashed on the bed and took a nap while waiting for him to return. Here is the good news/bad news part of the day. Turns out the location Todd booked the rental car is outside of the city; not where he thought it was. There are two streets with the same name, one in Paris and one outside in the suburbs. So, long story short....he figured it all out and found another rental car place behind our hotel and booked a different car.....a more expensive car though and that is the bad news. I am over this day already!!! I guess I was just expecting so much more from one of the most amazing and historically significant palaces in the world. I figured out if this was in the US there would probably be people in period costume wandering around, clearly marked signs showing the way and many more bathrooms. Does that make it worse or better? I sure won’t make fun of getting into the “spirit” of any place again. A little music from the time being played would have been nice too....oh, well.
Tonight I realized what “losers” we are. In our rooms each night even before the turn down service ladies come by. We are so tired and sore we can’t even think about taking advantage of any Paris night life. Todd keeps trying to talk me into going to the Moulin Rouge telling me it is part of the “Paris Culture”.....yeah, right. He doesn’t understand what the difference is between bare breasts in a painting and bare breasts on stage. He has me there......
Tomorrow we check out of the Marriott and head to Disneyland Paris. I am looking forward to a little AMERICAN food, lifestyle and attitude. Even a dancing Mickey will make me smile.....as long as it doesn’t rain that is!
By the way.....I can’t figure out the best way to spell check on this computer AND I don’t want to take up valuable internet time (we only have an hour tonight) working on it so there you have it.....sorry that I am a spelling dunce!