Bye Bye Study Abroad, Hello Backpacking Through Europe

Paris Travel Blog

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Versailles
After another quick French breakfast (bread, jam, juice), it was time to begin another busy, busy day. Agenda: Versailles, meet Clark and Sarah, final dinner with the class, Montmartre, Sacre Coeur, and saying goodbye to the great friends I had made over the course of the past month.

But the day began with a 45 minute bus ride to Versailles. We had a choice to visit either the Louvre or Versailles. I chose Versailles mainly because of its distance from downtown Paris and I would get free transportation to and fro.
One of the lines we had to wait in
The atmosphere inside the bus was more like a morgue rather than an excited group of college aged tourists. We were all exhausted from the week of traveling combined with the draining first night in Paris. It didn’t get much better once we arrived.

In order to be considered a “group” at Versailles, you must have more than 15 people. We had exactly 15 people with us. Therefore, we all had to individually get our tickets. This comprised of waiting in two massive lines, each about an hour long (see the picture). My friend Barry and I got sick of standing around, and ventured off to find a French pastry to keep us satisfied. We found some delicious cheese pastries and returned just as the group was about to enter. Perfect timing, and we didn't even have to wait in line!

The chateau was built by King Louis XIV back in the 1600’s.
The other line we had to wait in
It is full of elaborate decorations that symbolize the French royalty of the period and the beginnings of the French Revolution that came about in 1789. We all received our audio headsets (I felt like the epitome of a tourist) and off we went to explore King Louis’ former house. We explored golden rooms, large halls with elaborate paintings, and various other nooks and crannies of this massive place.

Then we entered the hall of mirrors. This large area is home to fancy chandeliers and mirrors. Even though the place was packed to the gills, I was still able to enjoy it and imagine what it was like to have been there just some 300 years prior. After strolling through the rest of the hall and chateau, we went out back for a quick look at the gardens and then back out to the bus.

After a short stop at McDonalds to grab some nasty but oh so tasty burgers, we made our way on to the bus for a short nap before the rest of the group arrived.
Inside the chateau
The way home again turned into a hearse as everyone was completely exhausted by that point.

Back at the hostel, most people decided to take a nap or go explore the area around the hostel. I had to pack. At first, I thought our program was finished that day and I had booked a hotel with Clark and Sarah on the other side of town. Little did I know, I still had another night with the program so I had two places to stay that night in Paris. I just grabbed a few items and hopped on the metro to the hotel. Check-in was easy and I was hoping I would catch Clark and Sarah (from now on I’m going to refer to them as CS because I’m already sick of typing both of their names out). I received a key and off I went to room 43.

Then I walked into room 43. There was only one king bed and a bunch of Asian stuff all over the place.
Paintings covered most of the walls
As I investigated more, I found a boarding pass and on it was a name I had never seen before and that person had just arrived from Hong Kong. I didn’t know what was going on. I picked up all my stuff, dropped the key off at the desk, and went to meet CS at our secondary meeting point. I didn’t want to raise a fuss about receiving the wrong key so I was going to wait until I found CS to ask what room we in fact were in. Five o’clock in front of Notre Dame was the next meeting point.

I arrived around 4:45pm and stood right in front of the beautiful church among hordes of tourists. I was worried that I wasn’t going to find them, but just after the five o’clock bells rang, CS spotted me. I hadn’t seen them since our trip to China last summer so we did a big bit of catching up as we strolled back towards my hostel (I also found out that we were staying in room 53 as opposed to 43).
A section of the gardens
The third part of the journey was just beginning.

We grabbed a drink at a café right down the street from my hostel and I told them I still had a night with the group. We parted ways and I told them I would meet them back at the hotel around midnight. I went back to my hostel to go grab dinner and get ready for the trip to Montmartre.

Montmartre is the art district of Paris, well known for its small boutiques and famous steps heading up to the Sacre Coeur church. Our group took the metro and walked up the crowded stairs through rude street salesmen and dirty streets. However, once at the top, the view was awesome and the place was teeming with young people. I spent the final night with my newly made best friends (you don’t have much of a choice when you spend a whole month together non-stop, but luckily they were all amazing people) passing a bottle of wine on the steps of Montmartre.
More paintings
It was a gorgeous evening and a perfect end to an awesome month.

After saying the final, bittersweet goodbyes, I headed back to grab my stuff at the hostel. I took the metro back to the hotel and met up again with CS. It was a somewhat emotional night, but one I will always remember. Now it’s back on the road. Three college kids backpacking through Europe for the rest of the trip.
jamesta917 says:
ahhh here begins the backpacking! i'm so pumped for you!! keep me updated on your adventures
Posted on: Jul 01, 2009
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Versailles
Versailles
One of the lines we had to wait in
One of the lines we had to wait in
The other line we had to wait in
The other line we had to wait in
Inside the chateau
Inside the chateau
Paintings covered most of the walls
Paintings covered most of the walls
A section of the gardens
A section of the gardens
More paintings
More paintings
Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors
One of the chandeliers
One of the chandeliers
Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors
Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur
The steps of Montmartre looking ov…
The steps of Montmartre looking o…
Crowds of people
Crowds of people
Paris
photo by: Sweetski