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.


  1. These pictures remind me of the Count of Monte Cristo -- now where's his hot air balloon?


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