Europe: Day 14: Paris – Versailles, Orsay Museum, Napolean’s Tomb

We originally thought that we would head out early, but decided to sleep in a little this morning since we were so tired yesterday.  We left our hotel around 9:30 after eating breakfast and made our way to the RER station, Pont D’ Alma.  We used a regular metro ticket, and grabbed the train to Versailles.  It was about a 30 minute trek.  When we arrived, we couldn’t get past the turnstiles to get out of the station.  We found out later that we were supposed to buy a special ticket to Versailles.  There were a bunch of us, in fact, that apparently made the same mistake.  We eventually found a way around the turnstiles and were on our way to Versailles.  We had to walk about a mile to get there.  It was quite a sight to see!  The palace is enormous!  Unfortunately they are in the middle of reconstructing the palace, so there was a lot of construction equipment all over the grounds, but it was still impressive.  Fortunately we were able to bypass the long line to buy tickets since we had our Museum Pass.  We had originally planned to do a live guided tour, but after finding out that we would have to walk a ways to the ticket office, we opted for the audioguides instead.  The audioguides led us through the different parts of the palace and gave interesting facts about each room.  It was pretty good.  After the tour, we headed out to the gardens.  It was extremely hot, so we decided to be lazy and take the tram out to the gardens.  We thought that the tram took us through the gardens, but we were mistaken.  Instead, we went along a dirt road passing by cattle and horses in fields with no views of the garden.  The roundtrip took 45 minutes.  We (more I, Tenille) were so disappointed!  We walked out to the top of the garden and found out that it wasn’t that far of a walk, and we could have skipped the tram ride altogether.  Oh well.  We took in our last views of Versailles and made our way back to the train station. We had lunch at a Spanish Tapas restaurant and grabbed a blizzard at McDonalds before boarding the train.  This time we figured out getting the right ticket.

I wanted to get the most out of our Museum Pass, so Don agreed grudgingly to go with me to the Orsay Museum and Napolean’s Tomb.  We had to hurry because of their closing times.  The RER train stopped one stop short of the Orsay Musem stop (because of construction we guessed), so we finally found a lady who told us to go outside and follow the signs to a bus.  We made it to the museum and went straight to the Impressionist floor.  I wanted to see the Monet paintings.  They were so beautiful!  I took pictures of all the artworks I liked so that I could get prints of them.  I really enjoyed our short stay!  We had to leave earlier than I would have liked in order to make it to Napolean’s Tomb before closing.  We decided to walk rather than chance a bus.  It started raining on the way, so we arrived a bit wet.  The rain felt good at first, but it didn’t really cool the heat of the air, so rather than being hot and sweaty, we were hot and soaked.  Oh well. 

We arrived at Napolean’s Tomb to find that it closed 45 minutes later than we thought, so we could have stayed at the Orsay longer.  Darn.  Anyway, we saw Napolean’s gigantic tomb made of red marble.  It is quite a sight to see.  It is placed under the dome of the Invalides Building surrounded by wall carvings of his battles.  The actual tomb that you see holds multiple other tombs stacked inside one another until you reach Napolean’s corpse.  Crazy!  I have never seen a “casket’ like it before in my life!

It had stopped raining by the time we left the building.  Don wanted to go check out the jazz scene, so we headed that way.  We found a couple of clubs, but we had a hard time figuring out who was playing and what time.  And, there wasn’t really anyone to ask.  I had to go to the bathroom, so we spent about 30 minutes trying to find one.  Finally I went inside a restaurant and helped myself.  They were all pay toilets except for one, so I opened the door and found not a toilet, but a floor bin that you squat over.  I recalled discovering these same “toilets” in Korea where I opted to hold it.  Unfortunately holding it was not an option this time, so I went for it.  As I was “going” the light turned off on me, so I had to finish in the dark.  It was quite an experience….one I will undoubtedly never forget.

Don and I walked back to the jazz scene along the same streets we had walked up and down looking for a bathroom.  We stopped in to get a gelato because my blood sugar was low.  Finally we found a club that was playing jazz music, but when we peered in we saw that it was standing room only.  We decided to pass on the jazz and head home early.  We were both very tired and ready for some sleep. 

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