Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Springtime in Paris- Day 2...

Paris- day two (April 2, 2011) we woke up, got dressed and headed out the door to catch the metro to the closest station at which we would be able to catch the train to Versailles. At the station we followed at the signs and got the section where we could buy the tickets. After some fumbling around with the machine because we didn't have cash, and it didn't take our credit cards because they don't have some ubiquitous smart chip that European card have, we got smart and realized someone was sitting in the booth and could in fact sell us tickets using our non-smart chip card. (Note: I have no idea if the chip is smart or not, but the machine didn't like our cards cause they were lacking the chip.)

We got through the turnstiles and realized we had about 20 minutes until the next train which meant we had time to get a bite to eat (a sandwich) and grab some water (I was definitely still dehydrated.)
Metro Stand Macaroons!
Since the train ride was to take 30 minutes and I was relieved of my navigating duties, once again with a full belly, I went to sleep.  Justin woke me up as we approached the station so I could try to rub the sleep lines off my face.
The palace in the background.

The palace, closer but still, in the background.

The gates between the courtyard and the palace.
The day was gorgeous, no jackets needed, and we walked up a street that was a little shadier than the main avenue to the palace. Once there we were able to hop straight into line and skip the ticket purchasing since entry was covered by the museum pass.

Wouldn't you know it we had a Rick Steve's audio tour to cover this awe inspiring place in history.  We were a little thrown off course in the beginning because there were so many people around the entry, but once we got into the palace and started going from room to room, things were a little smoother and the tour was pretty accurate. (Audio tour after audio tour, Rick will remind you of the fact that some things may have moved and some things have changed/moved). One of the things that seemed most interesting to me was that you go through the room where Marie Antoinette was holed up and hiding out, trying to wait out fate and then you walk into the next room and like a shrine to Napoleon with a copy of the painting of coronation that we had seen the day before in the Louvre.
Justin in the Hall of Mirrors.
The coronation photo. Napoleon's throne sitting in front.
After we went through the interior we went to quickly explore the grounds.  Justin had read about the fact that at 11 a.m. they were going to have all the fountains going and music playing in the background.  We paid the 8 euros for him and I whipped out my UT student ID and got a 2 euro discount.
In front of one of the fountains with the palace in the background.
 The gardens are immense. Huge. Giant. So big you can rent a golf cart to drive around the grounds. 
Immense. Huge. Giant.

The fountains going full blast.
We took advantage of the lack of the line at the restrooms that were conveniently located across the path from a snack stand selling Nutella crepes. So we shared a crepe.

After the snack we went back to the main path leading the grand canal and decided that we weren't in France long enough to spend the whole day there, though we easily could have because as I said the gardens are immense. Huge. Giant.

Awe struck by the it all.
Us blocking a gorgeous view.
The gorgeous view.
Fun hipstamatic picture of the gardens.
We took the train back. I promptly fell asleep.

Back in the city we went to Musée Marmottan Monet.  There was not a lot of Monet there and we left hungry. For both more Monet and lunch. We knew we could take care of one of those appetites.

Once done with the museum, I led us into the part of the trip Justin would much rather forget.

We went to look for a restaurant in the St. Germain area that someone recommended to me and we had marked on the map and everything. We just marked it in the wrong place. Like 1 hour worth of wandering around hungry and tired in the city wrong place. We found a cafe (duh!) and ate croque madames. Yum. They helped to heal the wounds.

The Cafe in St. Germain.
It's a croque monsieur with an egg on top. Who doesn't love that?!
I split the wounds open not more than a hour later. How? By convincing Justin to trust me and hop on the metro and go with me. Where did we go? To the end of the train line to get to the flea markets (we never made it to the cool stuff). What's the first thing we see upon getting up to street level? A man lying in the ground on the street with a crowd around him.

Justin almost left me. Like our relationship. At the end of the line.  Because who would take someone they love to this place.

So I said, ok, my friend told me about this place with cool performance artists.  I struck out again.

Basically I was benched.

Justin became the leader and we went back to the St. Germain area to find a beer place that Justin had read good things about.  The people lied.  So we went across the street to another place- La Pinte. We tipped them when we left and they rang a bell.  We think it meant- "Look at the stupid Americans who tipped us."
Beers at the place that sucked, but my first (and definitely not my last) Monaco.
Resolved to salvage the day and and end things on a high note, we went to La Caveau du Palais on Île de la Cité.  We ate a delicious meal. My escargot was awesome. My beef tartar was awesome too. But be warned it is not steak tartar. It is a raw hamburger patty. It was seasoned beautifully. But there was something that prevented me from eating the whole thing.

The beautiful menu.
Upon finishing the meal Justin wanted to see Notre Dame at night, because, well, we were never going to see it again.  Despite the fact that my feet hurt so much I thought my toes were bleeding, I said "yes!"
Those kids hanging out on the river in Paris drinking beer on a beautiful night have rough lives.
Some nice Parisian took our picture.
An unobstructed view of Notre Dame.
See- a high note! Those smiles mean business.
The plaza was packed. Notre Dame was beautiful and totally worth it. We even saw a guy getting chased down by the cops!  Now that's an action packed Saturday night.

We agreed to sleep in the next day and get totally refreshed so that we could reboot me, the metro navigator, and start anew the next day.

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