It was 7:30 a.m. Dazed and confused, I struggled out of a peaceful sleep to hop in the shower. It was decided that today would be the day we saw the Palace of Versailles and climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
By 9:45 a.m., we were on our way to Versailles. Only we ran into a couple of problems…The RER, the regional train was down for the day. So we had to take a bus, then another train to get to Versailles. Total trip time increased to about one hour. Not a big deal, but time wasn’t exactly on our side either.
We jumped off the train and started walking to the Palace. In the distance we saw something sparkle, we saw a palace filled with so much history – a place where an international treaty was signed, where leaders of France worked tirelessly to preserve – in our gaze.
Versailles itself is loaded with paintings, temporary exhibits, and some original works, but also a great deal of them copied over the years. Over 1500 in fact. I walked through Versailles relatively quickly, much quicker than I wanted, but time was not my friend this day. I saw bedrooms and paintings lined from wall to ceiling. Paintings littered the ceilings of many rooms and ancient sculptures commanded the floor.
The hall of mirrors, always a big draw at Versailles, was majestic. The chandeliers glistened from the sun, and warm rays of light soothed my skin. I didn’t want to leave. But I had to. So I recovered and quickly fled a place I knew I could call heaven on earth.
Outside, the gigantic garden was being worked on. I assumed authorities might be planting flowers and grass for the upcoming spring, but I couldn’t be sure. I snapped some pictures, stood there for a while and thought about my life. I thought about what I was doing here, how I came to be where I am, and what I might consider doing going forward. Gardens always help me clear my head.
I clumsily boarded a train from Versailles hoping to reach Paris again before the sun went down. Lucky for me, I did. Not without some help, though. I got off at the wrong stop, but realized I could take the metro right to the Arc de Triomphe, which was the place I was trying to go at the time. A young woman who seemed to have no worries on her mind held the double doors so I could hop the turnstile and get to the metro. I’m not saying it was right, but I wasn’t trying to be stranded either.
When I arrived at the Arc, I climbed the spiral staircase back to the top just to soak in the moment. Ok and I also wanted to take some clear pictures of the Eiffel Tower. Thirty minutes up top, and it was time to go. Hannah was waiting for me at the Eiffel Tower to do a photo shoot for her. I promised her weeks ago that I would do it, and I always follow through on my promises.
While taking photos for my friend, I was laying in the middle of the street with my camera. Tourists were taking pictures of me in the middle of the street and locals were screaming at me from their cars to get out of the road. It was a pretty ridiculous experience and I’ll definitely remember it for a long time. I really enjoyed the experience. It’s one of those stories I’ll be able to tell my kids one day.
An hour-long photo shoot quickly concludes and I find myself in line with Savannah, anxiously waiting to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower. We spent three hours atop the tower. Just soaking in the beautiful view and enjoying each other’s company. We laughed and talked like we were back in Massachusetts, but the more we did that, the quicker we realized that we were at the top of the Eiffel Tower!
It was magical, unforgettable, memorable, and amazing all at once. Thoughts of disbelief and excitement crossed my mind faster than Superman can run. I couldn’t believe I was finally here. I felt infinite, invincible, and otherworldly.
Back at the bottom, Savannah helped me heckle with a peddler. He tried to sell me a ten-inch replica of the Eiffel Tower for 15 €. Nope, not happening. I finally worked him down to seven Euros and I had myself a very cliché souvenir. Determined to make it my own, I blessed it in the Seine River down by the waterside. I was proud of that, too. Happy with my souvenir, we searched for a place to eat.
We took the metro to the Latin district and had a three-course meal for 20 €. I had escargot, which tastes a lot like chicken heart, filet, and crème caramel, another signature dish in France. It was also one of the best meals I had in Europe to date.
After a long dinner, Savannah and I said our good-byes and went our separate ways. Ready for an early morning commute to the airport, I crashed as soon as I got back to the apartment. Sunday ended much like the first day: I was tired and hungry by the time I got back to Viterbo at 5:00 p.m., but the trip was worth it.
But I can say without a doubt that I saw what I wanted, did what I wanted and had yet another unforgettable experience abroad.
If you haven’t seen my gallery of pictures from Paris, you can see them by clicking here.