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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 44: Versailles!!

This morning, we woke up bright eyed and and bushy tailed (as Uncle D likes to put it). It was moreso like I resembled an albino lion wish a mohawk... but his version sounds better. Anyway, despite me looking like a complete mare, we did manage to have a nice breakfast and even made a few friends. We met an older couple from Virginia who were very nice, and because we had such a good time talking to them we probably left a little later from breakfast than we should have. Then because I was in such a rush to get ready, I forgot to slather myself in sunscreen. Whoopsie. Um -- maybe I was so white I reflected enough sun to escape harm?

We had our passes already, so thankfully we didn't have to wait in the massively long line that stretches about a block and a half along the palace. We went to the gardens first, and rented a little golf-cart type mobile that trucked us around for an hour or so. It was stunningly beautiful! (the gardens, not the cart). KP tried sitting on the back but she was just so heavy it started to drag!! No I'm kidding -- and if she reads that she's going to hit me. We all had to sit up front because there must have been a malfunction of sorts in the back area... good thing we can squeeze three of us where only two are meant to be.

Unfortunately the fountains weren't on because it was not a weekend, but regardless of that it was still beautiful! We decided we would take another gander at the gardens on Saturday, and that way we could see the fountains the way they were meant to be seen (functioning!). Of course, there were many hedges and flowers, and statues abounded. When facing the garden, away from the palace, there is even an optical illusion that makes it appear as though the canal in the distance is rising upward at an angle. It's really quite fantastic.

After we had a glance around the gardens, we went inside the palace of Versailles itself. I have to tell you that this building is absolutely enormous. That, and there are busts and statues and gold gilded ornaments all over the exterior! Once inside, there are even more statues of even better craftsmanship and of course many paintings and furnishings. From what I gather, a number of the furniture pieces are either replicas or were returned to the palace at a later point in time after it was ransacked during the revolution. We saw the Hall of Mirrors, but it was so crowded with people it made it difficult to fully enjoy. I realized that my idea of what the Hall of Mirrors was and what it actually was were two very different things! I always imagined it as a big room full of mirrors that had secret doorways hidden away and confused you into seeing things that weren't there. Nope! I had far too complex an imagination, it seems, because this was just a hall with some large mirrors and a few chandeliers. Of course, it was still really nice.

Once we were done going through the palace, we took some photos outside and were stopped by a family from Serbia. Turns out they recognised us from Neushwanstein! It was crazy -- maybe we have unforgettable faces, or maybe the man's wife just has a really good memory. We stopped and chatted for a bit nonetheless, and then we went out to the gardens again because I wanted to see Marie Antoinette's place that was further out. Good thing we did, because I thoroughly enjoyed the walk as well as the cute little hamlet on the edge of the grounds.

I admit, I have a thing for trees. Apparently so do KP and Uncle D, because we all revelled in the beauty of the magnificent trees we saw! I should have known, though. Uncle D likes climbing trees and (apparently) falling out of trees! But anyway,  there was a giant sequoia, a Japanese pagoda tree, and a massive cedar. There was even a tree that Napoleon had planted, it had half fallen down, but still managed to cling to life somehow. Pretty interesting stuff -- it was all very nice, so long as you didn't walk on the grass. I was yelled at for that, haha. Yelled at twice, actually! I apparently opened a door in the Trianon that I wasn't supposed to, so got an earful of "Madame"s after that by a very loud french woman. Oh well, it was my own little adventure! We went to see the Trianon and Petite Trianon, but my favourite part was definitely this little area that had a pool of water and a cave-like formation alongside it. It felt very Disney, I'm not going to lie -- it was like something out of Sleeping Beauty. We went in to the forest just adjacent to the rocks, and walked along the cobblestone pathway there until we came to the hamlet. If I thought that the water and cave looked like something out of Disney, I was definitely seeing Disney now! The hamlet was full of these little cottages that looked as though the seven dwarves could pop out of the doors at any moment. Really, it was just like that. We definitely got a kick out of it.

Unfortunately the gates were going to close shortly, so we had to leave the gardens and headed back to our hotel. We went out to stock up on shampoo and conditioner, and then went out for dinner again. This time we had some rump steak, but it wasn't as good as the veal (in my opinion).

It was such a busy day; we just had to get a foot massage before going went to bed. Tomorrow will probably be just as busy!

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