A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Palace at Versailles

We took the regional train from Paris to Versallies about an hour away one overcast morning. We hoped to have an earlier start but didn’t arrive until 10am with the line already out the door exposed to the drizzling rain. This would be one line of many we would endure that morning as Versailles is one of the most poorly planned tourist sights I have ever seen. It must have been those systems engineering classes I took in college but the bottlenecks of throughput between the ticket line, the security line, the baggage line, the headset line, and on and on and on meant the planners had absolutely no foresight into human behavior or even made any attempt at flow optimization.

Two hours after we arrived, we were finally in the palace and battling it out with the thousand other tourists. It was madness, there were people literally everywhere, swinging off the priceless crystal glass chandeliers, climbing the brocade curtains, even hiding under Louis XIV’s lavishly decorated bed. Suffice it to say, we didn’t really enjoy the interior too much, and the audio tour was hopelessly boring made worse by a stuffy British accent. We did our rounds through the King and Queens rooms and the Hall of Mirrors, diligently trying to get our moneys worth, at nearly $20/person that’s rather tough to do and still leave with your sanity.

We hightailed it to the gardens, which was more our style even as the rain quickened into a steady flow, and blew right past the ticket station. We figured it was free admission due to the weather, and only later found out when we were returning that we still needed to pay for a ticket. At that point we had spent all afternoon in the garden and instead of paying $10 each to exit post haste, we opted to walk out and around the palace, adding several more miles to our exhausted feet.

But back to the story. We sat on a bench overlooking a lovely groomed garden and enjoyed our picnic lunch of brie sandwiches and paprika chips. Later opening a bottle of red wine at the very fitting Bacchus fountain, offering a libation to the god of wine. We had to keep the eating and drinking on the down-low as they (almost inconceivably) don’t allow picnics and rather you spend fifty dollars in one of the three restaurants not provided for your wallet’s pleasure.

We bundled up from the rain, and Ron put his backpack on his front before zipping up, making him look pregnant or inordinately fat. Passerbys snickered a bit at his rotund belly and yes, so did I getting a sneak peek of twenty years down the road.

Instead of renting bikes and dealing with the muddy backside that would surely follow, we opted to walk the 6 kilometers around the entire grand canal. In hidden corners of the forest, I imagined a place where Marie Antoinette may have walked, alone and contemplative, and filthy stinkin rich.

At the furthest end of the canal, we made friends with some hungry swans, their slender necks straining out of the water (that for some dark and primordial reason you yearn to grab hold of and strangle) and their orange beaks eagerly pecking food from my hand.

Unfortunately, just like Venice, Ron lost all of his pictures in a computer mishap, and some were sensational like a crane just taking flight over the canal and a creepily lit desolate forest path, so you will have to imagine them in your minds eye and send him compliments.


corina September 24, 2009 at 8:58 PM  

lmao at Ron and your glimpse at the future

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