Friday, October 14, 2011

Paris day 7: Versailles

First this picture of a train stop on the way to Versailles. You probably need to be Norwegian to appreciate it:

Today was time for our dose of history. As expected, Pam loved it, the kids hated it, I thought it was just okay. Old palace, old stuff. I like the gardens, but they were so HUGE that you need to walk a long long way to appreciate it. I’d like something a bit denser where you could take more in. They do rent electric golf carts, and if we were feeling rich this would have been the way to go.

We signed up for a guided tour and that was all right. We all had earphones so we could clearly hear the guide at all times. The highlight was at the beginning when the tail end of the group, including our family, got cut off from the rest of the group. We were in the courtyard frantically looking for the group, when we heard the guide saying over our earpieces “Hello, we are over here!” “Where?” I yelled waving my arms. “Over HERE!” she said again, over the earpiece and not yelling or giving us any kind of clue as to which direction 'over here' was. It was amusing and irritating and utterly unhelpful. Finally she walked up to us. “Couldn’t you hear me on the earphone?” she asked.

The other good part when when she explained how Louis XV would gather no more than 20 people together for dinner each night and they were allowed to talk about anything except for politics. It was these dinners, she explained, that started the tradition of enjoying conversation at meal times. So we have King Louis XV of France to thank for thinking of the idea of having conversations while eating. Yay! Thanks King Louis!

The most impressive part of the palace was the opera house, built in something like 10 months. Absolutely gorgeous. A raised floor could be placed over the main floor seating to transform the room into a ballroom.

My favorite parts were the statues in the garden of half-frog, half-men creatures. Weird.
My least favorite was the art exhibit where chunks of rusted iron are strewn about the palace. In another setting, the art would be quite nice. In this setting, it looks comically out of place!

We spent a good chunk of the day at the palace, then back for our own meal times and conversations. Pam and Anna went on an outing to a Japanese restaurant while I stayed home, still feeling sick.

Tomorrow, back to Norway.

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