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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

SUnday 3rd October

On Saturday our first stop was the Palace of Versailles. This amazing building exudes opulence from the initial sights at the front gate. We waited in the queue for tickets for about an hour and couldn’t believe the number of visitors to the palace. We were later told that it was a quiet day. Sometimes the wait for tickets is 4 hours. As you can imagine, it is very difficult to see much and the crowds moved through each room shoulder to shoulder. We did get the story on the audio guide and surprisingly were able to take a few photos. Such opulence was evident and one can only imagine what the peasants outside the gates thought of it all. Once we were outside in the garden and courtyard, the crowds spread out a bit. We walked around a large part of the gardens but by no means did we do it all. Gardens were beautifully kept and the many water fountains were complete with statues. There was still evidence of recent rain with puddles all over the foor paths.

As we were about to leave after about 3 hours, the ticket queues seemed even bigger than they were at 10am. Glad we weren’t there at the height of the summer tourist season. Bus loads of people gathered together in the forecourt and guides did the best they could with the huge crowds.

We set the GPS for the airport as we needed to return the car. As there was no street address, it was very difficult to find our way but eventually we did manage to return the car around 4pm. The shuttle bus took us over to the train station, and then the fun began all over again! Due to work on the train line, no trains were running to Gare de Nord for the weekend. Instead we were taken by bus to another station, where we then headed to Gare de Nord- Paris. With three bags and two people, the challenge was huge especially with many sets of steps to climb. We were very fortunate to enlist the help of people passing who were willing to help with our luggage. Graham did a fabulous job with the luggage – it wasn’t an easy task by any means. Eventually we found our way to the metro station and walked through crowded streets, looking for our hotel. We booked in around 6pm and we were very relieved to find that we were expected as I’d made the booking in April. We’d heard stories on our travels that sometimes bookings were unknown when some were booking in! We were handed the key to our room 52 at Comfort Inn – Saint Pierre, 10 Rue de Clignancourt in Montmarte. Relieved of our luggage at last, and coffee for revival we were soon ready to hit the streets again. We quickly found a familiar street and walked up to the Sacre Coeur area. There were shops everywhere all selling the same souvenirs and numerous cafes and restaurants, large and small. After a quick dinner at an Italian restaurant, we headed back to the hotel and made plans for Sunday. Quite exhausted but ready for the last few days in Paris.

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