Note: This entry has been created from notes and memories while on the trip.
A late start to my last day in Paris began with a trip out to Versailles. If you ever want to find an example of unparalleled wealth, go here. The walk up the cobblestone plaza to the entrance will leave you feeling small and insgnificant. The tour through the apartments, with the artwork commissioned and displayed by the occupants, the murals across the ceilings and the remanents of the furniture all overwhelm with their oppulance. Though far from at its best, as it turns out much of the silver and gold funiture was used to fund several military campaigns in the 18th centry, it demonstrates the overbearing and almost oppressive wealth that the ruling class had. No wonder the French Revolution occurred.
The gardens were truly the highlight of the visit. The views of the former hunting grounds, the Grand Canals, and the myriads of fountains, statues, hedges trees and flower gardens all provide an idea of how magnificent the palace must have been during its heydays. Though tourists roamed nearly every inch of it, it still took on a peaceful quality, and for the most part seemed more than able to absorb them without noticing too much (except along the main “street”). The photos are worth more than any description I could provide.
A too-late return to Paris kept me from doing more than wandering the streets, taking in the sights and smells of the city. Some last-minute tourist shopping, eating, and people-watching filled the final moments of the day, with an eventual return to the hotel and a night of rest.
The next morning brough a measured rush of packing, trains to the airport, security screenings, airline food, more security screenings, and an eventual 9 PM arrival in to Newark. After a painful drive home, bed and a return to “normalcy” awaited.
All in all, a very promising first visit to Europe, and one that will no doubt be followed by more.