Well, you will all be interested to know that I learned five really valuable lessons today. Of course, I will share my new-found knowledge with you!
1. Versailles is supposed to be a 40 minute ride on the RER (train).
2. The RER is not as easy to navigate as the metro.
3. If you go the wrong direction on the RER, you will wait a REALLY long time to get a train that goes back the other way.
4. If number 3 happens, then number 1 turns into a 4 HOUR trip to Versailles.
5. Sunday is creepy dude day at the metro/RER stations.
Yes, today was another crazy adventure. Despite the getting lost part and the creepy dudes, Versailles was amazing. Just so you know what I mean by creepy, one dude freaked out (as in yelling and what I will assume was cursing at us in French) on us because we wouldn't talk to him. In our defense, he was really dirty and was showing us his bloody hand and telling us the police did it to him b/c he's Yugoslavian. More likely they did it because he was a criminal, but I didn't think it wise to point out that fact to him. Normally, I would have offered him a band-aid but it was just me, Stacey and him on the car and I was honestly too frightened to do anything but look at Stacey with a deer in the headlights look. He was scary enough that at the next RER stop, we jumped off the train and into the next car where there were other people who looked far less disturbing. Anyway, we ran into some other sketchy characters during our 4 hour mishap, but the Yugoslavian dude took the prize.
Once we got to Versailles, we walked for about 6 hours straight. We got to see some amazing sights, but the best was Marie Antoinette's hamlet. There was a large pond there full of what I think were catfish. They were Pavlovian fishies because they all hovered by the bridge where people walk and stick their mouths up out of the water looking for food! It was hilarious. All I could think was how much my kids would enjoy that part! Dad Switala - I looked for birds for you, but there were only ducks, ravens, and swans there, so it was no different than America...I had hoped to bring home a photo of some rare French bird for you...sorry!
I was also able to use my amazing French skills (cough, cough) to get a private tour of Napoleon's apartments at the Grand Trianon. Actually, when I asked they told me they only had French-speaking tours, so I told them that was too bad and then explained I was a US history teacher (I did that in French!) who taught about Napoleon, so they were kind enough to hook us up with a guide who spoke some English. She was very nice and I couldn't tell her enough how grateful I was for the opportunity. Even Stacey who is not the history buff I am was impressed with the apartments, so it was a great experience.
The gardens were wonderful and classical music was playing while we walked around. It all felt very regal, and we decided we could do the princess thing. At around 3 PM, they turned on the fountains and it was fantastic! It was SO hot here today and so we loved standing near the fountains and feeling the mist.
The inside of the palace of Versailles was very hot and VERY crowded, but I got to see several parts of the palace that I did not get to see last summer. Bill - I even got to see the room in which Mme. Pompadour lived (and died). You know how much I loved that moment!!
Although it was a wonderful day, it was long (I left at 8:15 AM and got home at 7:30 PM) and I was very happy to eat some amazing quiche Loraine, take a cool shower, and talk to Bill, Gabby, Will, and Maddie. Tomorrow is class in the AM and more touring in the PM...most likely the Conciergerie where Marie Antoinette was held prisoner before her execution.
I am starting to get a little homesick, so any posts on my blog will be cherished!!! (HINT HINT people!!) Au Revoir!