Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Palace at Versailles (and a HAPPY BIRTHDAY)

This is the finale of all things Paris, at least for this trip with my parents. Versailles was a magical place to visit. If you've been following along, a great deal of it has already been seen through the posts I've shared before today. This is a general idea of the Palace as allowed to be seen by the public. Could you imagine walking into this entrance and thinking, "this is my house" because...I can. Imagination only takes me so far, though.  Mostly I was thinking of what I'd be wearing...

I imagine I would have this face on a lot though. Slightly amused, because while I'm thrilled this is all mine, I'm sure it was pretty chilly with all that marble, stone and huge glass windows everywhere. 18th century me would hate being cold. Unless it was summer I'm guessing I would keep a real smile under lockdown until the temperatures allowed me to traipse around in the gardens.
and now for a few lesser-quality iPod pictures:
 Hi, I live here.
Grafitti from the 18th century (at least I hope so)

Goodbye Versailles. See you next time. Aaaaaaaaand, last but not least by any means, drumroll please....

This photo is from our last time in Ecuador. The next time I see him we will gallivant through another country (or two or three) when he comes to visit us with Megan in the fall. Love you tons(a) Sean! Sending birthday wishes your way. Not a real present yet though. I'll save the shipping for what might have been and take you out to a few dinners!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hall of Mirrors

Dad, walking through the almost empty room 
 Pretending we own the place

I'll never forget seeing the Versailles Hall of Mirrors in real life for the first time. I walked into the corner room, following my parents and my Dad turns to look at me and says "wait for it....1, 2..." and then I see it behind his head. The. Room. It's so beautiful and though it's cloudy outside every once in awhile we're blessed with a glimpse of sunlight breaking into the room and setting all the crystal chandeliers sparkling with rainbows.

Oh you lovely golden ladies. I will see you next time. I hope everyone had fabulous weekends, we definitely did! But more on that after tomorrow. See you then with the last of Versailles. Oh, sigh.

Friday, April 26, 2013


That's the sound of me hitting the bed last night and not moving a muscle until this morning at ten. I sort of felt like this kid trying to get through dinner last night without dropping my face into my spaghetti.

Turns out running is tough. I think I forgot that in the last four years (!?) since I stopped truly competing. Feels good but exhausting to be back. But that kid cracked me up. You could just imagine what he's thinking about his vacation day being spent looking at the gorgeous, historic Palace. For example: "Where is THE PLAYGROUND??"

It wasn't my intention to introduce the Hall of Mirrors to you this way but I've only got a few minutes before I need to go into super-clean-mode and get this apartment ready for Anna and Rich! They'll be on their way here from London soon as part of their European vacation. Check out here what they've been up to so far. Their latest post takes you to the Chatsworth House which, as soon as I saw the pictures, thought "hmm that looks like Mr. Darcy's estate" uh, yeah, it was.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Versailles Gardens (and a funny train story)

The gardens at Versailles are probably the far and away the most extreme bit of landscaping I've ever seen in real life. The vastness of it, the statues e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e, it's intense. But serene. After a very long day of walking in Paris we weren't too keen on going the distance while there but we had to explore at least a little bit before the rain set in.

A family asked if we could take their picture, we did and then they suggested a trade. I would've picked a better background buuuuut, there you have it.

As you can see it was getting pretty dark by the end and we needed to head for shelter and the train. As we took it back into the center of Paris, the sun dipped below the clouds and we were treated to a lovely glimpse of it setting before our last journey on back to Belgium. Oh, story!

As we were pulling into the station in Brussels from Paris that night, I'm checking the time for the next train back to Leuven and seeing that we are actually coming in a few minutes ahead of schedule. Our arrival time was supposed to be 11:18 and the next train to Leuven was at 11:19...we were definitely not going to make that so the original plan was to hold out for the train to follow, the last train of the night, at 12:06. Quite a long time to sit in the station and wait. But now I'm seeing that it's only 11:15 and we're about to disembark. I tell my parents the deal about these last two trains and ask them if they want to make a run for it. They discuss, agree and we get in line to get onto the platform as quick as possible. I'm first in line, ready to make moves for us. I start to do so as soon as the doors open and a few seconds later I realize my Dad got stuck behind a family with small children. My Mom and I keep running. Literally, running through the station.

We get to the escalators that are already bottle-necked with people and I realize I've lost my Mom too but my Dad has caught up to her. She manages to squeeze onto the escalator (which is actually a moving downward-sloped ramp, no stairs) and she's running and weaving in and out of people. My Dad is not so lucky. But as I'm waiting at the bottom I see him dash onto the "up" side and run down it! He's keeping pace with my Mom and as they reach the bottom I yell "Hurry! One minute!" (He later tells me that everyone on the "down" side was laughing at all of us but I didn't notice a thing)

We sprint for platform 17 from 6, that we came in to, and I take the stairs up two and a time, calling encouragements behind me the whole time. I see the train's employee waiting by the doors and call back to my parents one more time while I put a foot on the steps in, so he knows there's more coming.

The doors close, we find seats, and give out-of-breath high fives.

That's right, guy. Major fist bumps. (Or discus throws...)

Maybe on a return trip I will wander all the way to Marie Antoinette's estate. We didn't even know existed until the following day, seeing it while perusing our map given to us with our tickets. Looking back I'm thinking now, "that would've been so cool!" but if I actually put myself back in that day I remember my aching feet and the dark rain clouds descending and know we would never have made it there even in full knowledge of it. They would have found us on the grounds of Versailles, laying on the beautifully landscaped pathway and with our eyes towards the prize, asleep.

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