Moving slow today, our hectic schedule has caught up to Heather, so we decide to lay back down and take another couple hours of sleep and just deal with the crowds instead of running ourselves into the dirt.
Out the door by 11 instead of 7:30, breakfast is a stop to the grocery store bakery for a couple of croissants and coffees. The train to Versailles is on the other side of the river directly adjacent to Notre Dame Cathedral...it's a pretty good hike and Heather's feet are killing her (I blame it on her terrible choice of footwear, she says it's because of all the concrete and they would hurt no matter what). The trains are not very straight forward here, luckily the ticket lady is nice to us just after she cusses the guy in front of us out, so we got on the first leg of the train without incident, but were pretty confused when it stopped 2 stops later at a terminus...but found the right train somehow and arrived at Versailles about 25 minutes later.
We've fulfilled out tradition of eating Macdonald's in another country while on our trip, in the town of Versailles, directly across from the train station is one of the busiest Macdonald's we've ever seen. Not much unusual on the menu here, except a more robust dessert and ice cream menu and a normal sized Big Mac and an extra large sized one.
On to Versailles Palace, its a short walk up and around the corner where we see a flood of humanity across the courtyard as we approach...the price you pay for sleeping in. At the entrance into the palace we are informed that you cannot take strollers into the palace, nor snacks, nor much of anything regardless of the age of your child or pregnancy status. Yet, somehow wheelchairs are allowed...which makes us seriously consider renting a wheelchair for Heather and Maclaren to ride in. Up 1 flight of stairs and into the palace, it's like a cattle shoot from one room to the next with barricades on both sides and multiple personnel monitoring your every move. The hallways are at least 8' wide and there are no art displays or anything else that could possibly be run into with the stroller. We make it as far as the Hercules Room before Maclaren had enough of the palace and people...2.5 year old temper tantrum commences and requires immediate evacuation to the outside. The Gardens is our safe zone, where our rambunctious child can run free; however, we can't walk back into the stroller check area to pick our stroller up, we have to completely exit and walk around the plaza. Come to find out, strollers are allowed in the Gardens but wheel chairs are not; makes a lot of sense huh?
The Gardens are vast and phenomenal, with statues everywhere, tons of tree species, complex roads, a massive manmade canal, flowers galore, etc. ...everything you've seen in pictures. But what doesn't come across in the pictures is the gravel, dusty roads; when the wind blows there is a small dust storm. Even though the gardens are huge, they are pretty crowded and Heather's feet are beat so our only 2 options for seeing anything more than the first vista are to ride the overcrowded tram around the park after standing in line for an hour or rent a golf cart (32E/hr) and see it on our own (within the confines of the designated path). So we opt for the golf cart, which is extremely slow, but fun anyhow. We were able to stop at both the Grand and Petite Trianon for a quick run through; the Grand is definitely much more impressive, while the Petite is really just a super small French Chateau with some stone flooring and walls. On the ride back Heather took us the wrong direction and the cart automatically shut off, which then required me to drag it around 180 degrees so that it would work again.
Only 15 minutes late on returning the golf cart, so another 8E on top of the 32E for the first hour (totally overpriced) but it was fun none the less. The best way to spend the last hour on the grounds before it closes is to play hide and seek with MD in the hedges...we had a blast!
On the way out, the workers tried to tell Heather that there was no bathroom for her to use that they were already closed; boy did they regret telling that to a tired pregnant woman and her annoyed husband from Texas!
The train ride back was easy and quick, then a bus ride over to the Louvre, where the weather was begging us to take off our shoes and walk barefoot in the grass lawns of the Louvre :) Check out the awesome photos of Heather and MD lounging in the grass. Got our schedule right tonight, the Louvre is open late so we slipped in with an hour and half until closing and caught some great photos with "The Slave" (by Michelangelo) and the "Mona Lisa". Much to our dismay though, as we are snapping solo photos in front of the Mona Lisa, 5 or 6 museum agents appear out of the woodwork like cockroaches and start shuffling everyone out of the gallery saying "the museum is closing, it's 9:30". Well the literature says it doesn't close until 9:45 and the people at the front desk told us 10 tonight...ok, well we will just look at the other galleries on the way down since we were up on the 3rd floor. NOPE! Amazingly the walls part, the floor opens, and elevators appear out of no where, and in less than 30 steps we are back at the main entrance...crazy...coming in, there wasn't an elevator to be found or a person to help us, but when it's closing time there are 40 employees and hidden elevators everywhere. We're pissed, we spent 24E for tickets for 37 minutes in the Louvre (although we did get photos in front of 2 of the most famous pieces of art with absolutely no one else), but the lady at the reception tells us in her snotty French accent, "I'm sorry, we cannot give you a refund or tickets to come tomorrow, the closing time is printed on all the literature, the Louvre closes at 9:30." (heavy emphasis on 9:30)
Our days rarely end when you'd expect them to, like after leaving the Louvre. We found a chalk drawing in a plaza of some Disney princesses that Maclaren had a fun time running on, then we did some souvenir shopping along the way back to the apartment. Then while Heather started packing for our Disney departure in the morning, I went to the grocery store to pick up some snacks and waters for the next couple days as well as some chicken and green beans to cook tonight. Back at the apartment, couldn't get the induction stove to work with the big skillet, so had to cook 1 chicken breast at a time in a pot, but it was delicious.