by Kathleen, a Patriot Blogger
On my 1500th step on the Tour Eiffel, I looked up and saw a broken escalator. Only one was working and the line was much smaller and manageable if you walked two of the three “etages” or levels of the monument. France is where you go to get a work out, I thought aloud.
There was something about paris that enticed me to return. During my study abroad winter term, I took a train to paris for the day, visitng notre dame, watching the Eiffel light up and sparkle, cruising on Le Seine. But with the cobblestone streets, petite cafes, scenic metro stops, and of course, the beautiful language, I wanted to return once more.
So here I am, embarking on a mini EuroTour. Four days in paris, a week in Austria, another couple days in Italy, to return to back to work in NW D.C. I’ve realized just how much of a city girl I truly am.
But today I went to Versailles. I literally spent six hours at ce chateux, and didn’t get to see all of the beauty that is one of, if not the most, amazing places I’ve ever seen. The chateux has multiple rooms, and sides, and levels, full of such exquisite detail. The room of le dauphin was covered in a green floral pattern, with the characteristic door outlined in gold. But even if the small beds caught me off guard (our feet would be hanging off the edge), the sample plates and cups had my mother envisioning new European designs, and I got to take pictures in front of the infamous portraits of marie-antionette et lous xiv, the gardens (les jardins) were where I found a new home.
I’ve always enjoyed scenary, landscape, flowers. I’m not much of a camper and I don’t spend too much time enjoying nature, but when I do take the time, it’s not hard for me to be in awe. But at Versailles, it’s not just one garden. We are talking about one grande jardin, and another level below with little ponds, horse stables, and just past the fence, another lake. On the main level of the garden, there are two little ponds side by side (ponds are kind of a big thing there). But as you walk down, there is literally the largest structured pond I’ve seen, maybe it’s a lake, and it’s shaped sort of like a cross. People are renting boats (it seems that given the vast internationalities represented at Versailles, neither sex nor country was better at stearing a boat), feeding ducks, or finding little crevices.
Perhaps you don’t believe me when I say its huge. For those of you who’ve already been, you’re like “get on with it, we know.” But you can rent cars, golf carts, and ride a train! That’s how big it is! It takes literally a solid twenty minutes or more for an uber power walker to get from the bottom part of the structured lake to the domain of marie antionette. If you didn’t want to see someone back in the seventeenth century, you didn’t have to travel to another place, as this is it’s own town.
Nevertheless, after a brilliant day touring Versailles, taking the train and metro back to the hotel (wonderfully located by the champs-elysees and featuring a view of l’arc de triomphe), my mother found the house she grew up in!
Now, when I was hit with nostalgia after returning to my childhood house in Gaithersburg, I thought that was a big deal. But my mom found the exact level of the complex she lived in. She remembered the patisserie/boulangerie she used to by pasteries in, running from the metro stop “Charles de gaulle-etoile” to the house, paying for the pay phone still across the street…
Perhaps there is no coordination to this blog. In the most basic sense, it was literally the chronology of my day. Tomorrow I visit st. michel for some notre dame, take two, looking at the shops, and sending my “bisous” a paris as I leave for Vienna, Austria for a roommate reunion.
When I took my first solo trip out of the United States, which was also my first trip to Europe, I realized I had a taste for travel. I would save all my money and spend it, easily, on a trip abroad for a few days. To me, walking down the little alleys, figuring out the quirks of a country, learning if it’s possible to get used to the weather, trying to speak the language, is an adventure unmatched. While I was eating my crepe avec nutella et banane, I realized the city of paris resembles Washington, dc in some ways. But then you’ll notice the fashion, here, is dresses and neon pants. You sit next to the person, not across, from them when you eat. Tip is included. There are no shower curtains. You start each conversation with “bonjour” and then proceed.
These little things, and then the amazingly grand things like the arc, Eiffel, and Versailles, remind me of how vast the world is and how much I must see before the chance slips away.