Part 1...Versailles...A view inside another era...Another kind of life...Today the gardens...Tomorrow the interior...

This is my favorite place in the gardens of Versailles. 
The visit to Versailles was challenging, not for the faint of heart.  It was pouring rain when we left the hotel on foot to walk a few blocks to the train and the rain continued long into the day and evening. 


The train station where we waited for the train to the Palace of Versailles.


Statue of Louis XIV at the entrance to the Palace of Versailles.
Since it was our first metro ride in Paris, we were slightly apprehensive and on the alert to be aware of potential pickpockets at the station.  Once we boarded the proper train for the direct trip to Versailles with several stops taking approximately 25 minutes, we sat back and relaxed certain we were on the correct train.
In the pouring rain we walked all the way forward toward the palace only to discover we had to go to a side street to meet up with the tour group, another 10 minute walk.  Also, the walk from the train station to the entrance was another 10 minute walk in the pouring rain.


The ornate gold embellished gates to the entrance to Versailles.
As we peered out the window of the train, it was evident that the rain wasn't about to stop. Tom had read the weather report which read a 90% chance of rain. We have no idea why we forgot to bring an umbrella. Having pre-purchased the tour, we had no choice but to go to avoid losing the US $107, EU $80 we paid for the tickets.


Seeing the gardens of Versailles proved to be worth the over hour of standing in the
pouring rain.


In some ways, I wished we visited the palace at our own pace.  We may have stayed for the same period but, we'd have been able to take better photos.
The rain was pelting down on us non-stop during the lengthy waiting period to begin the pre-arranged tour when a few people hadn't shown up.  Later, we discovered they'd been ripped off by a pickpockets at the entrance to the train station and had gone back to their hotel to cancel all of their credit cards.  The man told Tom he'd had his wallet in his back pocket, a definite "no-no."

The palace itself always created an stately backdrop to our outdoor photos.

Louis XIV had installed numerous fountains throughout the gardens when water was not readily available to turn them on.  An intricate system was installed at the time to facilitate the running of the fountains at a huge sum of money.  Then again, all of Versailles depicts vanity spending in excesses beyond one's belief.  Tom said, "That's not unlike the governments of most countries."
As a result of their late arrival, we waited outside in the rain over a period of no less than 20 minutes when Versailles was too packed to enter.  The crowds were unreal.  Our guide explained it is getting out of control when now over four million visitors come to Versailles each year, up one million from only a few years ago.
The gardens went on and on for miles.  On a nice day, it would have been marvelous to walk further into the garden on our own.

Raindrop on the lens as I shot this photo of the great expanse of the gardens.

Crowds?  We always cringe at the thought of crowds.  It was so crowded as we slowed made our way from one room to the next in the massive palace, where we spent over four hours, it was literally body to body, at times not moving at all. 
A few parts of the garden were plain and unassuming.  The remainder was opulent.


The flowers were the most exciting part of the garden for me as well as the sculpted gardens shown here.
Add the soaking wet clothing, hair, and water running down our faces, it was not an ideal scenario.  Luckily, Tom had suggested we bring our hooded parkas but, even they couldn't keep us dry especially around the head and face when our hoods wouldn't stay up easily.  We had no umbrella

Flower gardens were interspersed with neatly trimmed evergreens.
Tom and I held wet and dripping hands on the hour long walk through the gorgeous gardens, still lovely in the rains.  I'd  quickly remove the camera from my pocket, take a few fast photos, try to dry it off on the inside of my jacket putting it quickly back into the pocket to avoid getting it soaked as well. 

Astounding view!  The crane in the photo is in an area where the palace is under renovation.


We can only imagine how much more appealing our photos would have been on a sunny day.
Thus, our outdoor photos aren't of the quality we'd expected when rain water was running onto my contact lenses causing my vision to blur.  Also, the wet lens automatic lens cover didn't open fully resulting in dark edges in some of our photos.  We could edit these but, with all of our daily plans and postings, we don't have time.

The colors in the garden were a treat to behold.
After over an hour in the garden, we finally made our way inside the palace into the mob.  Many comments we'd read online suggested different times of the day or days of the week best to visit Versailles but, we couldn't imagine that any time would be better than the other.  Its always mobbed.

Various pools adorned areas of the gardens.
Our French tour guide spoke reasonably good English as we followed her raised pinkish flower from room to room in the palace.  We wore ear buds attached to a small receiver to pick up the sound of her voice which we kept inside our pants during the time we spent outdoors.

45,000 workers spent many years developing these gardens.
At times, we were too far away to hear our guide when the crowd literally moved us along.  Overall, she did a great job considering the circumstances.  Had it not been a rainy day, it would have completely changed the nature of the tour.  Then again, had it been a hot day, that may have been as equally trying.

There were more areas to experience than the rain allowed us.  One could easily spend hours in the gardens weather providing.
Aside from that, the palace is beyond one's imagination.  We've seen snippets of Versailles in various shows such as "John Adams" which was presented in a series a few years ago on HBO and  also in other period piece movies. In any case it still was all the more magnificent in person.

The tour guide explained that all of these plants in pots are brought inside the palace into one of the largest greenhouses in the world during the winter months.
The gardens?  Oh, my!  Awe inspiring.  Then on to the palace, its bedrooms, the Hall of Mirrors, and many other rooms, hallways and stairways, all of which presented their own unique presence and ambiance.  It was a joy to behold.

At a distance some of the fountains were running although its difficult to see in this photo.


We longed to be able to walk this area on a sunny day.
Today, we'll share a portion of the photos.  Tomorrow, we'll finish with the balance.  There simply are too many to post on one day.  Yesterday's presentation of the museum photos was challenging when I tried posting so many at one time.  Its tricky manipulating more than 10 photos in a single post especially with the slow Wifi signal such as we have here in Paris at our hotel.

Can you picture the kings and queen walking this path while chatting?


Our tour guide explained that the design of this statue was poorly considered when the marble and bronze don't age well together resulting in a lot of maintenance.
So, here we are, dear readers...Versailles in its full, albeit rainy, crowded glory.  Who knew this quiet couple from a sleepy town in Minnesota would have such stories to tell?

There were many fences and decorative items that included real gold finishes.



As we left the palace to make our way back to the train station.
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Photo from one year ago today, August 7, 2013:

On this date, we heard the news that there had been a huge fire at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya.  We had a long flight scheduled to travel to Kenya on September 1, 2013 with two layovers, luckily neither of which stopped in Nairobi. We were apprehensive about the risks in Kenya and this incident exacerbated those concerns with the rampant political unrest. We arrived safely without incident.  More on this harrowing flight when we post details on September 1st.
9/2/13 - Departure   2 stops
Total travel time: 15 h 25 m
custom air icon
Venice
Istanbul
2 h 25 m 
VCE  10:45am
IST  2:10pm  
Terminal I
 
Turkish Airlines 1868
Economy/Coach (S) | Confirm seats with the airline *
Layover: 4 h 5 m
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Istanbul
Kilimanjaro
6 h 55 m   3,110miles
IST  6:15pm
JRO  1:10am +1 day  
 
Turkish Airlines 673
Economy/Coach (S) | Confirm seats with the airline *
Layover: 1 h 0 m
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Kilimanjaro
Mombasa
1 h 0 m   180miles
JRO  2:10am
MBA  3:10am   , Arrives on 9/3/13
 
Turkish Airlines 673
Economy/Coach (S) | Confirm seats with the airline *

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