First up, Versailles
We took an overnight train from Vienna that left at 8:02 pm. We arrived (by cab) less than 10 minutes before the train left, which was quite stressful. We had to run down to the platform with our tons and tons of baggage and boarded the train with less than 2 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, this pretty much set the tone for the rest of our Paris travels. Fortunately, we had a sleeper car, and that was thrilling enough to overcome the trauma of the near-miss.
There wasn't a lot of space and the beds were very narrow, but all of the luggage crammed into the space between the bottom beds meant that the girls couldn't roll off and onto the floor, so that worked in our favor.
We were awakened for breakfast at 5:30 am and our train arrived in Frankfurt about 15 minutes later.
Here we are on the Frankfurt train. That's hot chocolate in Nina's cup by the way, not coffee. We didn't get that European!
Germany looked just like Austria, so the first half of the train ride was pretty uneventful. But France really did look very different. Exciting! The fields were just beginning to turn green, the hills were rolling, and the houses and villages had that adorable provincial France look that's hard to describe or even accurately recall (sleeping on the train wasn't exactly comfortable or refreshing). It was beautiful though.
We arrived in Paris and then brilliantly decided to take the subway to the commuter rail to Versailles. Let's just say that this was inconvenient and the Parisian rail system needs more elevators, but we survived. Actually, we did fantastically. The girls were amazing, rolling their suitcases through the tunnels, on the escalators, and on and off the trains. There are many adults who can't travel as well as they can.
Finally, we were in Versailles! Erik and Isabelle had planned to be by our hotel at around noon, but having just the other day themselves navigated the subway system from the airport to Versailles, they knew we'd be in later than planned, and the rendezvous occurred at closer to 2. What a joyful reunion it was!
Also, Versailles was really something. I mean, wow. What a palace. And the grounds! Insane. You read about how huge it is, but it reminded me of the mall in DC. You know, the one between Lincoln and Washington's memorials, with the reflecting pool and all that. Just miles and miles of beautiful gardens and fountains.
We took more pictures of the grounds, swans, and sheep than of the palace, because the palace was too big to even fit in a photo. Behold our few Versailles photos:
This is just one wing. The center part was about this long, and then there was another wing on the other side. Crazy big.
Here's an example of the gardens. So elaborate.
The French birds were rather ill behaved and poo'ed on both Maggie and Nick. Poor little Maggie got it worse than Nick, the poo landed right on her sweet little face. Fortunately my purse was stocked with napkins and water, and I cleaned her right up. Maggie said that I shouldn't have told her what it was. She's just rather not know.
Finally, we walked back to Erik and Isabelle's insanely beautiful former-palace hotel, watched a movie, drank some coffee, re-charged, and then went out to dinner at this delicious crepe place. Then it was back to our hotel (which suddenly seemed rather shoddy!) for some well-deserved rest.
Tomorrow I'll start writing about Disney!