A Visit to Versailles (Day Ten)

Trip Start Aug 16, 2012
Trip End Oct 01, 2012

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Flag of France  , Ile-de-France,
Sunday, August 26, 2012

Right now, I'm sitting beside the large canal on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Families are having picnics on the grass, rowboats and swans are on the water, a couple of boys are kicking around a ball, and people are biking and jogging along the path behind me. The palace is visible in the distance. I just finished eating a ham and cheese baguette and am thinking about getting some gelato. I'm not sure if I will make it inside the palace. Getting into the gardens already costed 8.50€ because of the musical fountain show today.

Getting to Versailles was fairly straightforward. I took the metro to St. Michel and transferred to the light rail train called the RER. Once you get to the station, Versailles Rive-Gauche, the palace is about a 15 minute walk away. I was going to check out the market in the town square, but decided to head directly to the palace instead.

Yesterday was the last day in Europe for Sam, one of my roommates at the hostel with whom I went to an Irish bar with on my second night in Paris. He's the same age of me, but has a good job in New York City. He took a two-year software engineering program rather than getting the traditional four year degree. He felt he missed out on the "college" experience and had to work really hard to get to where he was. He said he felt intimidated working with people a lot older than him at the company he helps manage.

We chatted last night with the two others in our room, an Irish guy working on a short film and Mariano, an older teacher from Santander, Spain. We discussed how both Ireland and Spain were deep in debt and struggling economically. I like how hostels give you the chance to meet and talk to people from different parts of the world. You can always find things in common with people you would never meet if you weren't travelling.

UPDATE: I'm currently sitting on the steps in front of the palace waiting for the fountains to start. I checked out the line-up to get inside, but it was still too long. I may just catch a bit of the fountain show and then go in when its less busy.

As I quickly discovered, the grounds of Versailles are massive. You are able to rent golf carts to drive around or you can take this mini train that will take you to the smaller estates. It was a little cloudy this morning, but is beginning to clear up now. It's still very windy though, which kicks up a lot of dust off the ground.

Earlier, a Japanese lady asked if it was okay to share my step in the shade of the palace. We ended up chatting for a short while. She was part of a tour group and got to skip the line-up to get into the Palace of Versailles. She said it was very nice inside with lots to see. She was visiting from Amsterdam where she was working for two months. She had studied in Portland, Oregon for seven years so her English was quite good. She left after needing to catch a train back to Amsterdam that evening.

UPDATE: I'm back at the hostel now after a long day. Versailles was a very nice break from Paris. The gardens are beautiful though there weren't many flowers. Just hedges, statues, and of couse, the fountains. There were dozens of them scattered around the grounds and they all came on at 4:00pm accompanied by classical music. It was very cool to see the gardens come alive, but I was tired from being outside all day and decided to head back to Paris. I guess I'll have to save the palace interior for my next visit to the city.

On the train ride back to Paris, I sat across this guy and started talking. Rafael was from Mexico and was travelling around Europe for a few months with his sister. He had visited Versailles without her and said the inside of the palace was well worth seeing. They had already been to Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Stockholm, and were heading to Rome. They fly everwhere using Europe's cheap airlines.

When we got back to the city, we ended up having a drink at a Spanish bar near Notre Dame. He was 26 and originally from Mexico City but had travelled extensively already by working on cruise ships and saving up for his trips. He lives in Cancun now, but plans on moving to Ireland, his favourite place he's been so far. It would be amazing to live and work in Europe! Imagine all the places you could go to on your days off!
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Anne on

Meeting fellow travelers enhances the experience of discovering new places, doesn't it? Looking forward to seeing your photos.

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