For someone who isn’t at all a morning person, I’ve sure been doing my fair share of waking up early. And, as a result, I’ve been falling asleep everywhere. On the Chunnel, on the Metro, on the train, etc. The worst part is that it’s happened in the middle of conversations. On the train to Versailles (which I’ll get to in a minute), I told Clare to “look over there, because that’s really cool.” After she looked where I was pointing, she turned back to ask me what was so cool, and I was fast asleep.
I still have no idea what was so cool — and it’s driving me bananas.
And, yes, Dad, I know this means I need to go to bed earlier. There just honestly aren’t enough hours in the day!
Today was the earliest morning we’ve had thus far on the trip — we needed to catch the Eurostar Chunnel from London to Paris at 4:20 a.m. because we wanted to get into Paris with enough time to make it to Versailles.
Well, if you know me, I don’t exactly wake up all that easily to alarms. But, because this was such an important venture, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. because I was so paranoid of sleeping through the alarm and missing the Chunnel. Of course, then I struggled (and failed) to go back to sleep, but, hey, at least we made it to the station on time.
We weren’t the only ones in the hostel room who were up at that unholy hour. Three of our roommates (actually from Mexico) were taking a flight to Amsterdam. Clare also heard a group of people (from Spain) coming back around the time we were leaving complaining that there were no clubs open. I’m pretty sure I’m in for a big culture shock when we make it to Spain.
But the early morning was totally worth it because I got to satisfy my inner child and ride a double-decker bus, which made me feel like Rose Tyler in the first episode of the “Doctor Who” reboot. (Yes, I’m a total Whovian. You should have seen my cry in my dorm room after the Doomsday episode. I think I freaked my roommates out.)
Because the Chunnel’s standard premier tickets were somehow cheaper than the regular tickets when we were ordering them, we were treated to amazing service, super duper comfy seats and a delicious breakfast. The person helping us in our car, Dorette, was so great I think I’m going to name my first-born child after her.
The ride on the Chunnel didn’t seem that long, and Clare and I got to enjoy a very pretty view of both the English and French countrysides.
When we got off the train, we had to take a Metro to our hostel, which was made difficult by the size of our packs. At one point, I dropped something and went to pick it up, and I just about tipped over. Clare was no help; she stood there just about dying of laughter. Thanks, Sis. (The packs may or may not be heavier due to the fact that we picked up a couple of souvenirs — including a gift or two, but no spoiling the surprise!)
Because of the packs, we got a few angry glares from other people on the Metro — who, I’m sure, could tell we were most certainly not French. (I already made an enemy at the ticket office.) Plus, our packs made the 10-minute walk from our Metro stop to the hostel feel like we were climbing Mount Everest.
But once we got to our hostel, the hike was totally worth it. This place is absolutely adorable. As we walked up to it, Clare informed me that it was considered a guesthouse, and it’s just so charming; it seems like it came straight out of a children’s book. The owner was so cute and sweet, running down to let us in and taking our heavy packs up to our room for us.
We then had to figure out our trip to Versailles. We were spoilt by having our first stop in an English-speaking country, and my French is incredibly minimal. I’ve got “bonjour” and “pardon” down pat (as well as a certain phrase from the Moulin Rouge), but my limited knowledge of the French language makes reading signs very difficult.
Clare and I then had to take a train rather than a Metro to Versailles, and we ended up getting on the wrong train. Luckily, I (yes, you read that right, I) figured it out, and we were able to quickly fix that.
Our lunch in Versailles consisted of these adorable little sandwiches on a baguette that you can eat on-the-go out of a brown paper bag, but I’m pretty sure I confused the poor woman taking our order as my language progression quickly switched from French to Spanish to English. I’m going to imagine that makes me a polyglot rather than a very confused American tourist.
The ticket line at the palais was obscene, but we finally made it in. At once, Clare’s eyes were bigger than saucers. She wasn’t able to make it to Versailles the last time we were in France because she, unfortunately, was sick in the hotel, so this was quite the thrill. While it was my third time here (I came once with my mom and once with my dad on that trip), it was still just as amazing, even more so this time because I was older and understood the history more.
I think my favorite detail from the tour was that the king had a bed gilded with gold in his stateroom that he never used. If I had a bed of gold, you wouldn’t be able to ever get me out of it.
The palace gardens were absolutely spectacular. Clare and I decided that we could have spent days and days there, and we would have if not for my bum knee and the fact that the grounds close at 5:30 p.m. The gardens were so vast and lush and seemed like they’d never stop. I couldn’t help but let my imagination get carried away as I pretended that I was a French lady in the 1700s walking the grounds.
There were fountains and other waterworks galore, and each inch of the park has something intricate that makes it so special. Every inch of the grounds is manicured, and the fountains gleam. I was in heaven. Clare says Versailles is her favorite spot thus far.
Sadly, we had to go home, and our trip back to the hostel was more uneventful (I kept falling asleep on Clare). When we finally reached our metro stop at the end of the line, we were both starving. Luckily, our hostel has complimentary Korean food for dinner (the owners are Korean), so Clare and I got to enjoy that. It was her first time eating Korean food, and we had a delicious soup, rice, yummy potatoes and a kind of egg pancake served with soy sauce.
But the best part of dinner was the ambiance. There were 10 or so of us around the table talking. There are people here from Dayton (Ohio), L.A., Australia, Italy, China, Colombia, South Africa and even guy who just graduated from Cal. Small world, right?
It turns out the Italian is one of our roommates, and she’s amazing. She speaks Italian, French, Spanish and English fluently, and she’s working on trying to learn either Portuguese, Chinese or Japanese. She’s been in Paris looking for a job (she doesn’t know what she wants to do, but she knows what she doesn’t want to do, she says), and if she can’t find something she likes, she says she’ll go to either Australia or Canada next.
I kind of sort of want to be her.
She told us that our other roommate is a guy from Brazil, but we have yet to meet him. I’m hoping he’ll have lots of great World Cup stories.
Louvre and Notre Dame tomorrow!
As usual, here are more pictures!