Day 20: Versailles

Woke up around 7 (still used to early mornings from the camping) after a good night's sleep. The bed was really comfortable.

For our second day, we booked the Versailles palace, a possible Top100 wonder. As the palace is usually less crowded in the afternoon, we decided to take a slow, relaxing morning. No need to rush.

Today was even a worse day than yesterday. Really cold and rainy. We went to a nice mall area in search of French restaurants. It was really hard finding somewhere to eat for decent prices. We finally found a bakery/cafe shop inside a bigger mall, where we had salads and a Croque-monsieur. Strangely, the croque didn't taste good at all. Have the French forgotten how to cook (or have our standards increased)?

After lunch, we wanted to get to Versailles and headed towards the RER (Paris Train, not Metro). As mentioned, the weather was terrible and we got caught in a rainstorm. We tried using the umbrella we bought the day before, but it broke as soon as we opened it. So we had no choice but to open up the bright red ponchos with the huge SAS logo in the back. Must say, we got some very interesting looks walking down the streets of Paris like that ;-).

We bought return tickets to Versailles (€7 per person) and were off on the RER. We sat on the top floor and got some nice views of Paris' suburbs. When we reached the palace, we decided to buy the 48h museum pass, as we would probably visit at least 4 museums/palaces, in which case the pass is cheaper. Still €48 per person! Paris turned out to be quite an expensive city.

The road leading up to the palace was horrible as the wind and rain had really taken off. We were in pain, and both of our colds and coughs started acting up. We hurried to get inside.

We started with the main halls that lead up to the hall of mirrors. We stayed for a good hour for some decent photos, but it was simply too crowded. So we decided to visit the other exhibitions and return later. Unfortunately, both the gardens as well as Marie Antoinette's residence were closed today. Too bad because some of the best photo ops are supposed to be there. In any case, it was a rainy gray day, so we probably wouldn't have enjoyed the garden tour anyway.

By 16, we were quite tired. It was freezing, and we were still recovering from colds. We took a break to have some coffee and water by the cafeteria. At 16:30, 30 min before closing time, we rushed back to the main exhibition, as Vedran had read (on Google Maps) that the crowds are more sparse towards closing time. His strategy was to stay until we get thrown out, and it was a good strategy. We got much better pictures and videos from all the rooms in this last half hour. The hall of mirrors was still a bit tricky, but Vedran had taught Dilek a good trick = step in front of people if needed and take what you need. Dilek tried this out and got a really bad stink eye from a tourist ;-). The picture turned out good, however. Just like Vedran predicted, the best pictures are taken as security is chasing you out. because that's when the crowds disparage. Mission accomplished!!!

When we left the palace, our bodies had a lower temperature (really terrible weather today) and Vedran's left arm started aching. This worried us a bit and Vedran had to sit by a bus stop and rest a bit. We decided to enter a warm place and get some food. Vedran, of course, wanted crepes, but all crepe places were ridiculously expensive. We had to get warm quickly, so we just entered McDonald's and satisfied our hunger. Just what the doctor ordered.

We took the train back to Paris around 18:40. Vedran was still experiencing some pins and needles in his left-hand fingers, but he said he could perform one more activity before going back to the hotel. We knew that the Arc would be open late tonight so we decided that would be an appropriate last activity for the day. Dilek had visited the Arc about four times before, but never actually been inside so this would be a new event for her as well.

When we arrived, we noticed a big TV crowd just outside the Arc, and Champs Elysees had been closed off for traffic. Turns out, Paris was announcing its candidacy for the 2024 Olympic hosts. There was a big projection on the Arc itself, drones flying and heaps of people. It looked quite nice.

We crossed to the square and entered the Arc using our Paris museum passes. It turned out to be quite an extraordinary experience. As we ascended on to the roof we saw all of Paris lit up before us: the star-shaped streets, the Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse, Sacre Coeur. And as everything was lit up, it looked quite spectacular. Unfortunately, Vedran's last camera battery died just as we ascended. Dilek's camera would have to be enough this time.

The roof visit was so nice, so when we descended we felt we had renewed energy for one more activity. Vedran had still not eaten a proper crepe with Nutella, and we recalled a really nice street vendor 10 years ago by the National museum overlooking the Eiffel Tower. We were so energized so we decided to walk there at about 20:30.

Throughout the way, Dilek kept telling Vedran not to be too disappointed if the Vendor guy wasn't there, or maybe closed for the night, or perhaps not as delicious as he remembered. But Vedran was certain we would find him. And once again he was right. There was a crowd by the museum, and that same kiosk was right there, selling Nutella crepes for a reasonable price. Finally, Vedran got his favorite treat, the way it is supposed to taste, and he enjoyed it in front of a lit up Eiffel Tower night view. What more could we want ;-)

Before heading home, we tried to recreate some of the photo shots from 2005, but they didn't turn out so great in the night shot with Dilek's camera.

The walk home was a bit less than 15 min, but by now our hands and feet were really freezing. Vedran crawled into bed immediately to warm up and Dilek took a long hot shower to thaw up her fingers and toes. If this cold and rain keeps up in Naples, we will get sick again for sure. By 22, we were both sound asleep in the comfortable hotel bed.