We awoke extra early that day so we could make it into Munich to catch my train to Paris.By early I mean, 4am early and I’m still not sure how Julia forgave me for making her wake up so early to drive me into town and help navigate me through München HBF, especially when she had to go to work right afterwards. Have I mentioned how much of an amazing person she is and how lucky I am that she let me stay with her? If I haven’t, you can be sure I’ll expand on that even more in my last Out-Takes post.
The train was thankfully caught well on-time and I was beyond grateful it would be a one way no transfers journey as I was sure I would have messed something up otherwise, given how tired I felt after a pretty sleepless night (as the night before I had gotten a call from work regarding a job I had applied for the week before I left on this trip-so fun). My fellow passenger was a bit of a weird guy but we left each other alone and apart from peeking over at my journals as I wrote in them, he was a perfectly fine silent travel companion.
The plan had been, once I made it to Paris, to meet up with my friend Rachid. Things of course rarely turn out to plan and by the time it was 3pm I had only just managed to check into my hotel and catch a breather. At this point I had to really consider, do I have the energy to meet up with my friend for the first time ever and make a good impression or will I end up very tired and stressed and hating myself a little? There were also some documents for work I needed to look over and sign so I ended up staying in, getting room service and enjoying the beautiful view (and the incredible sound of the bells from Notre-Dame just a bit down the street) from my room while resting my weary body from the last 12 days of constant traveling. At this point I had been in 3 different countries (4 if you count my unexpected prolonged stop at Dublin airport) and was appreciative for a chance to rest. Rachid was incredibly understanding as well and we made plans to meet up the next evening after I made it back from the Palace of Versailles.
The next day, not quite so bright and early as the day before, I made my way to the tour company that would take me to visit Versailles. I wouldn’t normally have gone for a tour but I was traveling alone and transportation to and from Versailles was included and it was skip-the-line entrance so I figured, well why not?
It wasn’t a guided tour, so once they got us out there and through the metaphorical front door, we were set loose with our maps and audio guides and told to meet back in about 8 hours at the front of the main gates.
To say it was packed inside would be a severe understatement. It was filled to almost overflowing with people and at first you really think, alright, is this worth it? And if you’ve read even a couple of my posts on here you’ll know i’m the first to say, “Yeah ok, lets go find somewhere else” but, truly this place is worth sticking it out for. Marble, granite, gold leaf- you can’t turn your head without being confronted by it. Decadent art and wondrously beautiful paintings upon paintings everywhere as far as the eye can see. Every single inch of what you walk through is like being submerged headfirst into a whole other realm of existence.
What was especially interesting to me was being here after having visited places that were so heavily inspired by it, from Herrenchiemsee to Linderhof. I thought I understood well enough the language of opulence but, being here made me understand exactly how little I knew of it.
For those of you unfamiliar with the history of Versailles, here’s a handy link for you to read over . For those of you that are familiar with it, we can dive right into the surreal experience that is being in the Hall of Mirrors.
The crowds fade away into insignificance when you step into the Hall, and nothing else matters- not the noise, the people bumping into you, nothing. For a good minute and a half your brain is completely riveted by the majestic beauty of the room and the tribute it embodies to the artistic and political triumphs of France. Unlike the palaces I visited in Germany, photography is allowed here and as you can see , I full took advantage of it.
357 mirrors adorn the 17 arches opposite the windows encapsulating and showcasing the economic prosperity of France since at the time these were great luxuries (even now I doubt you know anyone that just has a whole bunch of opulent mirrors everywhere in their home just for show).
All in all, even with the crowds, the experience of being here is by itself worth the price of admission.
I walked around a bit more inside for about an hour until I realized with an almost frightening jolt- there’s a whole bunch more to see outside. The immense gardens and other residences just waiting to be visited. And so outside to explore I went.
(P.s If you’re wondering about the tour I took, the hotel I stayed at and such, i’ll be covering all that plus detailing out some very big do’s and don’t for whenever you first travel to Europe in my last post.)