Friday, August 17, 2007

Five Million dead Frenchmen, French Royalty, and German Trains

Today we set out to see the Chateau de Versailles and the Catacombs of Paris. We woke up and headed out to find the doorway that would lead us underground to room after room of bones. The catacombs were way down in the southern part of the city so we had to ride the metro for about 14 stops all the way down. When we arrived around noon there was already a line of people waiting to get in. After waiting in line for about twenty minutes we got our tickets and began the descent down the long spiral staircase past the metro, past the sewers, deep into the underground caverns of the city.

When we finally reached the bottom of the steps it was very cold and the walls and ceilings were a lot closer to my body than I was used to. The first room had the history of the catacombs and why they existed and then from there we walked down a series of very long hallways that took us deeper underground into a wetter and colder part of the catacombs. Once we finished walking through about 25 minutes of dark hallways we reached the antechamber to the ossuary. We read some history of the people who were buried here and then went through the doors into the ossuary itself. There’s A LOT of dead French guys in here. Huge piles of femurs and skulls make a front wall while the rest of the bones are just thrown behind haphazardly. It was interesting to see the catacombs and to see that many bones. The catacombs are a huge underground maze and we popped back up almost half a mile away from where we went in.

Next on our list of things to do was visit the Chateau de Versailles. We had a little trouble getting to our correct train because the stops we were near were under construction so we ended up having to take a bus through the streets to a working station and then board the train there. When we finally got out there the lines wrapped back and forth Disneyland style for the palace and we heard the hall of mirrors was under construction anyway so we decided to wait for next time and visit the gardens instead. The gardens were HUGE. You could easily spend all day in there and still not see everything. It’s very scenic inside and completely over the top with a massive lake in the middle, fountains and statues everywhere, and plenty of trails to walk on. We got some ice cream and walked around the lake and saw Marie Antoinette’s house before the gardens closed and we had to leave to catch our train to Munich. The metro ride to the train station was short but the girls’ suitcases weigh a ton and are awkward size and really the worst possible luggage to carry on a trip across Europe so that was a pain. Luckily some French guys helped out and helped us carry bags up stairs and stuff. We got the train station early and played cards while we waited. When our train arrived we went to settle into the couchette car and met our roommates for the night. We roomed with three Korean guys and talked for a little bit before falling asleep. Surprisingly enough the couchette car, though cramped, was actually pretty comfortable. I had a pretty good sleep as the train rocked me to sleep.


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