Friday, January 21, 2005

Our trip to Europe - Chapter 4

Preface, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3

This morning after breakfast we went to catch the train to Versailles. On our way we encountered an open-air market next to the Metro station. We didn't have much time, but we couldn't resist, and wandered among the merchants. We bought some scarves to keep us warm in the cold winter air, and then continued on to the train station.

While we were freezing sitting and waiting for our train, an older couple walked passed and asked us about the train schedule. They were Italian. She didn't speak English. He spoke it a bit. Spiral speaks a bit of Spanish (similar to Italian), so between his English and working things out in Italian and Spanish, we had the nicest conversation with them. They were from Venice, and also on their way to see Versailles. They asked us about Denver (where we were living at the time) and the weather there. They were very sweet, and this is one of my favorite memories from our trip.

When the train arrived we separated from our new acquaintances, and sat down for our ride. I enjoyed watching all the houses and apartments hurry by. I forget how long it took to get there - not terribly long. Once we left the train station we had a short walk up to Versailles, although it seemed long because of the cold. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that many attractions are free on Sundays during the off season, so we saved some money on tickets today.

The one word that stands out in my mind when I think of Versailles is extravagance! It was amazing. I really wished I could have seen it in the spring or summer, because the gardens would have been glorious. I remember at one point in our tour looking out of the window down at a reflecting pool and acres and acres of gardens, and I could just see us walking about them, Gabriella skipping around behind us. There were some brave souls wandering around the gardens, but I value my ears and nose a bit too much, so we decided to just see inside the estate.

We spent several hours there, and then headed back toward the train station. We found the cutest little crepe place to have lunch. This place only served crepes, and in every imaginable way. I remember looking at the menu thinking some of the combinations were very weird! I had a buckwheat crepe with an egg over easy, salad, tomato and bacon with a cream sauce. It was different, but good - I enjoyed it.

We took the train back to the city and decided to spend the rest of the day at the Louvre. We knew before going that half a day to spend at the Louvre was not nearly enough, but like I said, we didn't have much time. Once again, we lucked out and got in free. We saw the Egyptian artifacts, the Greek sculptures, including the Venus De Milo, and of course we then went to see the Mona Lisa.

The building is beautiful, and art in itself. I regretted not having time to see the exhibit on the history of the Louvre.

I spent a lot of time finding restrooms, and luckily there were plenty of places to sit through-out the museum, because all that walking took a toll on my pregnant body. I so enjoyed feeling my tiny boy moving and kicking at me. I sat there looking at these amazing paintings, and I rubbed my belly lovingly, hoping that there was some way that he was getting something out all this history and culture we were experiencing. (Maybe this is why he's an old soul!)

After the Louvre closed we did a bit of shopping. Due to all the time we spent on our feet I wasn't up for much more. We decided to get some sandwiches at a corner bakery, along with some AMAZING strawberry and custard ├ęclairs, and eat in the hotel. I called home to my parents and Gabriella. Up to this point Gabriella called me "Mama", but also called her Grandma "Mama". When I talked to her on the phone she called me "Mommy" for the first time. I'm sure after spending all the time with her grandma, she was finally differentiating between the two of us. My heart melted as I heard her call me Mommy, and then my mom took the phone to tell me she was reaching out for me. (long sigh)

It was then lights out for us, for tomorrow we were going to explore the French country-side!




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