Thursday was Versailles day, which we all had been looking forward to. In order to take the train from Paris to Versailles, one must purchase a ticket that is different from the ones that allow you to get around within the main part of Paris. We carefully consulted our guide books and purchased the tickets. However, when it came time to transfer from one train to another, some of the tickets (which were all bought from the same machine at the same time) let us through the turnstiles while others did not! I think the magnetic strips on the one-use tickets must just be flaky and unreliable because the people around us seemed unfazed, as if this is a common occurrence. Some of them were nice enough to hold the turnstiles when they used their tickets so that we could all get through.
We got to Versailles and toured the palace. I got some wonderful decorating ideas to use in case I ever come into a huge amount of money lose my faculties. But seriously, Versailles is impressive and beautiful an an over-the-top fussy sort of way.
We stopped for lunch at the palace before going out to explore the other buildings on the grounds. When we headed downstairs after lunch, Carol, who has had a couple of knee injuries and was hurting a bit, decided to take the elevator, while the rest of us took the stairs. We planned to meet her at the elevator and proceed out from there. That would have worked out fine if we had been able to find where the elevator let out on the first floor. Elevators typically travel straight up and down, so you’d think this wouldn’t be too hard to discern, but not only could we not find it, we were directed to a number of different (and incorrect) locations by people who worked in the palace. After looking and waiting for a while, we figured we’d catch up to one another eventually and went on our way.
We went on to see the Grand Trianon and the estate of Marie Antoinette, all the while hoping we would run into Carol. We did not. Meanwhile, my mom misplaced her ticket, which was required to be shown at entry to both buildings. After she completely emptied her purse to search for the wayward ticket, we managed to convince the ticket takers at each place to let her through sans ticket. Later, she would discover the ticket in the zippered pocket of her pants. She had put it there for safekeeping. It had indeed been kept safe, even from herself!
By the time we finished up, it had started to rain, pour actually, and we had a soggy walk back to the palace, where, once again, we hoped we would reunite with Carol. She was nowhere to be found. Then we figured we might encounter her at the train station. We did not.
We had heck of a time buying tickets back to Paris. The machine declined to accept a credit card and two debit cards and only took coins as cash. Thankfully, we were eventually able to scrounge up enough change to buy our tickets. In general, it was not a good day for anything ticket-related.
Before we departed, we called the apartment phone, just to see if Carol had left earlier and already arrived home. She had! Our minds were much more at ease as we set off to back to Paris inside a train car that was decorated in a way that gave one the feeling of being inside a tea cup.
When we transferred to the Metro in Paris, we got our first (and thus far, only) taste of French rap, as provided by a group of youths on the train. It was a full day indeed!