Ooh La La

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yeah we had trouble waking up this morning, we're getting old and can't stay up that late anymore.  Michael left for the airport early, I slept right through it, but Jacki said he looked pretty dead too.  Still, we were out of the apartment by 10am and dropped they key back off with Denis.  Tonight we are taking the overnight train to Madrid so we took the metro to the station we are leaving from and left our backpacks in a big locker there.  Then we hopped on a train to Versailles.When we got to Versailles we grabed a croque monsiuer for lunch.  I don't think I'd ever had one before, but they're awesome.  Translated, it means 'chrunchy mister' but really all it is is a ham and cheese sandwhich that they put a bunch of shredded cheese on the top then toast the heck out of it.  They use good French cheese, which makes it even better.  No velvetta slices (not that there's anything wrong with those.)  While we were having lunch we noticed long lines outside small ticket offices selling tickets for Versailles.  We were still about half a mile from it though so we didn't really know what the deal was with those, we figured they were just for tours or something.  Then when we got there we figured out why.  The line for tickets to get in looked like a line at Cedar Point to get on the Magnum back in 1990s.  Apparently going in Versailles is the thing to do when you come to Paris.  We decided to forget about going inside, even though I'm sure it's pretty cool.  It will be around next time we come to France.  We weren't too disappointed though, since the main reason we came was to go to the gardens anyway, and there was no line for that.  The gardens (jardins in French) were huge.  There were around ten main displays, most of which were big mazes with tall walls made of bushes with fountains in the center.  There were long walkways in the middle and around the edges lined with dozens and dozens of trees, and everywhere you looked there were marble statues, litterally hundreds of them.  While walking around they had music playing at most of the main areas that were supposed to go along with the theme of that area.  It was amazing how many fountains and pools there were.  Most of them were turned off when we got there, but then after a while they turned them all on at the same time.  It was pretty impressive.  We spent a long time wandering around.  It was a lot better than some old house. Around 4:30 we left and we really didn't have any plans on what to do, so we just hopped on the train.  The plan was to go to Notre Dame, but then the train stopped at the Eiffel Tower and we decided to hop off there.  You can't go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower.  It is still huge and awesome.  We picked up a gift from one of the street sellers.  Around 6pm we jumped back on the metro, we got day passes which really paid off, and went to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elyses.  Since it was Sunday they had a small parade to replace the wreath at the bottom of the monument.  We walked all the way down the Champs Elysees, which is a long wide street with a ton of top end shops along it.  There were a lot of cool car stores too like Peugot, Mercedes, Ferrari, etc.  At the end of the road was the huge Egyptian obelisk that the French had taken from the entrance Luxor and that we had seen where they took it from a few months ago.  Some people think that those sorts of things should be returned to Egypt, but they have lots of that junk, and it looks pretty cool in downtown Paris, so I'm good with it. From here we just had to waste time until our train leaves at 11:30.  There is another big park right there near the Louvre that we walked around and took a break in, then got dinner nearby.  Every dinner we have had in the last few weeks has taken forever, so we were expecting this to be the same, but of course when we have nothing to do and want a long dinner it went by really quick.  We did get French onion soup (which they just call onion soup) which was pretty awesome.  Since we had some more time to kill we walked over to Notre Dame, even though it was closed, it is still fun.  There is a plaza out front and there were a bunch of rollarskater/bladers that had set up cones and were dance skating through the cones.  It was pretty funny.  Notre Dame is pretty cool too, it is really nothing like the churches we saw in Italy.  It is much shorter but really wide and thick. It is a favorite of Jacki's. At this point we walked to the train station, which was a bit of a hike, but we were still early when we got there.  The locker that we had our bags in wouldn't open, but there was a guy working there that took it apart and got it fixed.  We have never done a night train, so we really didn't know what to expect.  It definetly wasn't the fanciest train in the world, it seemed pretty old and small, but extremely long.  In our car there was a long corridor with rooms off to the left.  In each room there were 4 bunks, we were hoping to have the room to ourselves, but there was one other old guy in there.  We got the top bunks though.  Really that's about all there is to them, they turn off all the lights, and it is pitch black in the car.  You sleep in whatever you were wearing.  I stayed up for a little bit reading from a tiny light, but it was surprisingly easy to fall asleep.The problem is that the overnight train didn't go all the way to Madrid, so around 6 or 7am they start picking up other people and it gets really loud, then they drop you off at a station on the France/Spain border (Irun) and we had to get on another train for the rest of the way to Madrid.  If the train would have went all the way to Madrid, the night train would have been great, but how they have it set up, you really don't get that much sleep.  Still it was fun and a very different experience. 
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