Date: Thursday, July 10, 2014 (for Tuesday, July 8, 2014)
Time: 11:12 am local time (5:12 am EST)
Place: Train from Paris to Leiden (just past Rotterdam)
I woke up Tuesday morning in France, on the way to Paris. Our train was supposed to stop at Le Gare de l’Est at about 9:30, but we didn’t stop until 10:30. It turns out that the Police either stopped our train or made us wait while they handled something at the station. My theory is that the person that was to be in our car was arrested for murder, so it was a good thing we gave him the other ticket.
I’ve just been informed that we only have 7 minutes until our stop, so I’ll get back to you…
Love to all!
Time: 8:58 pm local time (2:58 pm EST)
Place: Hotel Mayflower, Leiden, The Netherlands
We unloaded ourselves from the train and made our way to our hotel, which was on the Rue de Magenta. As we were walking out of the station selected ones of us were given box breakfasts to compensate for the hour that we were late. Unfortunately they didn’t hand me one and I wasn’t sure if I was eligible, so I didn’t push. I was hungry later.
Our hotel was quite nice, and Joel and I had a room to ourselves, though we didn’t know this at that point. We weren’t able to check in until later in the afternoon, so we put our luggage in a closet and went on our merry way down into the Paris Underground (subway system). Kaiti tells horror stories of the Underground system, but I found the trains as easy to navigate as Washington, D. C. or Vienna (my favorite transport system). The stations were a different story, however.
We managed to find our way to Versailles, which was about 30 minutes away. The trains seemed quite dirty at first, but they were easy to navigate and I felt quite safe. It was either on our way there or on the way back to the hotel in the evening that an accordion player got on the train and played for a stop or two. He played songs and tangos, and lots of fun music! I enjoyed it a lot!
We managed to miss our reservation to Versailles, so we had to wait in line which wound like a snake and was at least five or six columns wide. We heard rumors of a two hour line, but it only took one hour. The only hitch was that it had started raining, and it was that cold, misty kind of rain that is just absolutely miserable. No one was happy about needing to stand in line, but we all did it, and, at least my group, made the best of it. I was standing with Kathy and Allison, with both Laughlins right behind us. Kathy told us stories and we all chatted, letting the hour fly quickly by.
We went into Versailles and were given about an hour to go through the wing that we had bought tickets for. It was fine, but way too crowded. I have no desire to go back. It was every inch a French Baroque palace, with gilding all over the place. There was a statue or a bust or a painting of Louis XIV in just about every room, reinforcing his absolute monarchy at every opportunity.
I walked down the Hall of Mirrors, which is a very famous room, though at this moment I really don’t remember what went on there. I want to say there was some famous wedding, but I can’t tell you at this point. The ceiling is gilded and painted, and there is one wall of windows and one wall of mirrors, making for an incredibly well lit and happy room. If only there hadn’t been that many people.
We hopped back on the Underground and made it back to our hotel by about 6 o’clock. Our next appointment was 8 o’clock to go see the Eiffel Tower. We went back down into the Underground, went down a few stops, changed trains and got out after another 11 stops or something. We came up and went around the corner, and there it was. Some 900 feet tall (in comparison, the Washington Monument is only about 555 tall, or about 2/3 the size of the Eiffel Tower). We were at the perfect place to take great pictures, which we did.
Wohlers had told us that we needed to pay attention and know how to get back to the hotel in groups (since he has been to Paris many times and didn’t want to wait out until 1 am like he had done in the past). I finally found my leadership niche in our group of 5 chiefs: I’m the one who navigates the subways, so I took my job very seriously. I marked on my map exactly where we stopped and changed trains, so later on I was able to get us back to Gare du Nord (the North Train Station), which is just a few blocks away from our hotel.
I keep getting ahead of myself, though. We walked down to the Eiffel Tower, which was another 10 blocks or so. I wanted to go up (at least to the first level), but when we got down there and saw the line and the price we all chickened out (and Joel gets nervous in cities after dark), so we decided to head back. But I can say that I stood under the Eiffel Tower in France!
We walked back to the hotel, and I went to bed! The next day was quite full of great, fun, and exciting things to do!
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.