A Little Outside Paris

Hi there,

Almost a year ago I travelled to Paris, France and Nairobi, Kenya. I started a few posts on my travels but looking back over the year I realized I didn't get too far with the travel posts. I will try to catch up now before the year ends and see how far I get. I left off after a visit to the Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris. If you missed that blog you can find it here.   The first post in what was intended to be a series can be found here.

Today we continue with my tour of the Palace of Versailles.  There were just so many photo opportunities that it is very difficult to do only one post.

Firstly there are a few things that you might be interested in knowing. There is a lot of useful information on line to help you with your visit to the palace.
  • The Palace of Versailles is located just outside Paris and about 1 hour by the city train. How long it takes you will depend on where you are staying in Paris so it could be a little less time or a little more time. Once you reach Versailles there is also a short walk to the palace.

  • Some people can enter the palace for free.  Check on line here.
  • You can purchase your ticket on line by computer or smart phone. There are a variety of ticket types. The type we selected was for timed entry to ensure we got in on the date and time we wanted.  This is particularly important during the height of tourist season to ensure you won't be disappointed.  You can check here for tickets.  I believe we arrived at 10 a.m. and after a short stop to pick up coffee we carried on to the palace. We needed the entire day to walk through the palace, stroll quickly through the garden and on to Trianon. By the time I got back to the front gate to meet my nephew (we separated here and there) it was already 5 p.m. and the entire place was closing for the day.  I am so glad I visited this place in Winter season and not in peak season because there were plenty of people there. I noticed too that a lot of people arrived just to see the gardens and did not enter the palace.
  • The palace is open every day from 9 a.m. onward except on Mondays.  The estate of Trianon and the Coach gallery are only open in the afternoon.
  • The Park and Gardens are open every day and the gardens are free unless there is a fountain show.
  • The following items are not allowed in the palace and must be left at checked luggage where they will store them for free: pushchairs (wheelchairs), metal baby stroller, walking sticks, crutches, bulky luggage and umbrellas.  I honestly don't know how a person who needs mobility aids is supposed to see the palace or the gardens if they have to check their assistive devices. I also don't see how a mother with children will be able to get very far without a baby stroller. When I checked in I didn't know about these restrictions and I took my walking poles with me thinking it was a good idea because I'd likely have to do a lot of walking. When I  entered the palace at my gate, I went through security clearance.  They asked me about the poles and scanned them and then they let me through. It was only while I was walking through the palace that I was stopped about 3 times and questioned about the poles. I was permitted onward in every instance. I think it helped that they accepted my story that security staff had scanned my poles and let me pass through.
  • There are a few places to have a quick bite to eat and/or drink on the grounds. You will need it because you will have to spend hours there to make it worth your while. If you are only going to see the gardens you can probably pack your own lunch.
As I mentioned in my first post on the palace, I was most interested in seeing the personal spaces of the King and Queen and in that regard I was not disappointed. I was also most interested in seeing the special place that the King built for his wife and as depicted in the movie, Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst in the title role. More about that later.

Today I'll start with a few photos of gigantic paintings that were on a temporary exhibit in the Africa Room. I felt very privileged to have been there during this special display. Unfortunately I don't seem to have many photos of the paintings. At that point I was very tired and trying to put my sticks and bag under a table in the room so I could take unobstructed photos. However the security stopped me from doing that.  Even so, this room and exhibit was one of the major highlights of the day for me.

The large, displayed notice of the exhibition.

The first three photos were taken in the Africa Room.

 A beautiful desk with a Egyptian sphinx on either side. I'm not sure if they are made of brass or gold

The photo above gives a good idea of the scale of the paintings which all depicted military scenes from various wars.

The photo above gives some idea of the grandeur of the passageways and the height of the ceilings along with the fabulous painted ceilings. 

The next several photos of a room with red walls and lots of gilt and chandeliers are of the King's bedroom.

The King's bed was much smaller than I expected.

The "green" room was the King's office. 
I remember thinking that it didn't look much like an office for doing work in though I imagine the King really did have work to do, people to meet, papers to sign and so on.  It was also quite dark in the room so I imagine there were many, many candles to light the room especially in Winter. I visited in January when I'm sure it is much darker than other months of the year.

My memory is hazy now but I don't believe this huge fireplace was located in the King's office. 
I took a photo of it because I seldom see such massive fireplaces.
This one had a beautiful painting above it and as you look up to the ceiling you find extensive gilt work and the ceiling of course is ornately painted.

There were a lot of paintings of Napoleon Bonaparte at various stages of his life.

One of the many statues in the palace. This one is of Charlemagne also known as Charles the Great.


 The next photos are various salons and passageways. 
At times it was difficult to look at paintings and objects.  When tour guides were passing by the tourists would block passages and didn't seem to worry that others needed to pass through.  There were also a lot of school children on tour. I enjoyed seeing them and I thought how fortunate they are to see such things at such a young age.
My nephew and I were not part of a guided tour.  We opted for a self tour with information fed to us through headsets.  Even so, it is far too much information to recall. I like simply looking at what strikes my fancy and learning a little here and there.
One has to be quick though because there is just so much to see.

The massive painting blow depicts the scene in which Mary Magdalene washes Jesus' feet while he and the disciples eat together. That is me walking past it.

Here I am looking out one of the palace windows over the massive gardens which is where I will head soon.

Before I get there I still have something wonderful to see inside the palace.

Thank you for your visit.  Please come back soon.

If you've already visited the Palace of Versailles let me know what was your favourite part.

'Tis the Season

Welcome to December! May it be a good one.

The busyness of November is carrying into December with many different things going on.  I started my Aqua size class and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is only going to be 6 sessions long.  The class is really just to get you used to the type of exercise you could do in the pool so you can decide whether you want to continue on your own at a public pool.  The pool is heated and not too deep and the exercises are much different than what I’ve seen in most of the Aqua size classes organized by the community centers. Perfect for me.  So I’ll enjoy it while I can.

I’ve also been busy shopping for gifts for Christmas, graduation gifts, winter boots and a few casual and dressy clothes for the holidays. I’ve already been able to use much of what I bought and so that is great as I know the money has been well spent. 

I was invited to a friend’s convocation ceremony and spent almost a full day with him and his family at the convocation, taking photos afterward and joining at the Alumni Centre for cake and coffee.  Later we went to their home for tea and snacks, then they invited me (and a few others) to dinner at a fabulous African restaurant downtown called Simba's.  Some of you long time readers may remember that I took members of the Kenyan Boys Choir there several years ago when they were in town.  There are several African restaurants in town but I think the one downtown is best for consistency and the owner is very nice too.  The food was delicious as always.

My friend has been looking for a job the past weeks now that he has his Ph.D. in Linguistics. I was very pleased to hear he already has an interview lined up and pray it all works out for him. I've become very close to he and his family over the years that they've been in Canada and his wife and I try and get together as often as we can.  She is a wonderful woman who amazes me with her phenomenal energy.  She has a very kind heart and looks after her family and work, participates in community events, church and related activities and so on.  She is always looking to fulfill a need when people don't have family or friends here.  She will see a need and do something special for them like organize a bridal shower or a baby shower.  She is a darling and I don't know how she does it all.  In the new year she will be even busier as she will return to school part-time while continuing to work.

It’s also been busy with the missions in Kenya. My friend Eunice is still in hospital and has her ups and downs health wise. I thank God she is still with us and that her son watches over her and oversees every aspect related to her care.  We are still looking for a donor to help Ernest (the guy who was run down by a motor bike taxi) to start a small barber business and/or repair his humble home. We are also still investigating Alcohol Rehabilitation Programs to see if we can afford to sponsor a man named Charles to get treatment. The Alcohol Rehabilitation programs are very expensive especially as he needs at least 3 months in residence and another 6 months or so of follow up. If we cannot find an affordable program we will have to wait until we have the funds or until we can get someone who would step up to help him.  The Go Fund Me campaign link remains on the side bar for those who would like to contribute to any of these needs. I also continue to help Alvin with all aspects of finances (budgeting, budget forecasting, tracking spending, problem solving for needs) and some investigation into programs on offer here at the university. I do some preliminary research and he does the detail research in regards to graduate school here in Vancouver.

I have a lot of appointments coming up in the next while so I’m not sure how much I will be blogging for the rest of this month.  However I always make time to read and comment on other blogs as most of you will know.  My schedule is full up to the middle of December though mostly with things that have nothing to do with Christmas.  Then in mid-December a friend and I will attend Chantez Noel at one of the church's in the city.  We are both looking forward to it. We've already decided that next year if we are able we would like to splurge and go and see the concert called Winter Harp.  If you like you can google it on You Tube and see what it is all about. 

Yesterday I decided to pare back the schedule a bit in favour of getting more rest and to finish the year strong.  One of the things I want to do this week is to put up the Christmas tree and a few lights. My decorating is not over the top.  There will be just enough to add some sparkle and glow to my living space. In the meantime, I've got a  lot of gifts to prepare as I take them with me to dinner at a friend's house next weekend.  I can give out several gifts to various people I know will be there.  Otherwise it will be very difficult to deliver gifts before Christmas.  I also need to alter some of the clothing I purchased for my niece because she usually need sleeves and leg hems lifted.  I may actually deliver the gifts in person after Christmas which requires a short trip out of town. How I deliver will be decided based on time and energy after Christmas.

We are expecting snow. It may even arrive tonight and it has been super cold all this past week.  I'm well prepared this year with the addition of comfortable winter boots and my long faux fur coat.  I've had the coat for several years but seldom have a chance to wear it. It  only comes out on the very cold days when it isn't raining and I know I'm going to spend time outside.  It keeps me toasty warm.  I find it chilly indoors too.  I've got the heating on 24/7 which I never, ever do because of the very high cost of heating and electricity in general.  The rates have increased twice in the last 2 years and I'm keeping a very keen eye on things due to the significant increases in other costs (car insurance, strata fees, condo insurance and property taxes).  I also wear socks, slippers, puffer vest indoors or sit with the heating pad on. As the years go by I think more and more of moving to a warmer apartment or out of the city altogether. For now I am here because it is not only a lot of work to move but my city has the best access to medical services in the entire province and I would hate to lose that.  So far, I haven't seriously thought about a move but it comes to my mind every so often. Don't get me wrong.  I am grateful to have indoor heating. I just have to manage it properly to make it affordable.

For relaxation I'm reading books number 51 and 52 or watching recorded television programs (Dancing with the Stars, The Marylin Dennis Show, Y & R, New Amsterdam and whatever new and interesting series may be on) .  I have another few books in my reading pile but doubt I will finish them all before 2020 arrives.

Last night, in between running errands, I stopped at a new to me restaurant called Cafe D'Afrique, an Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant. Since I had not been there before I decided on a combination dish in order to be able to sample as much variety as possible.  The main part of the dish (as you can see in the photo below) is beef  stew surrounded by rice, spinach and beet salad on far left and lentil stew on the far right. It is all served on a plate of injera bread and the small dish of rolled up things is more injera bread (a type of fermented bread).  I've been to Ethiopian restaurants before but this is the first time I had the food delivered on a regular plate.  It is also the first time I've had the beef stew.  Usually I order something called tibs which can be ordered in goat, beef and other meats. The beef stew and side dishes were very tasty.

Wishing you all a very beautiful season as you prepare for Christmas however humble or spectacular. 
May you have moments to pause and reflect on the reason for the season. 

I have been reminded so many times in the last few months to give thanks for all the many blessings I have and not to take even the simplest of things for granted. One of the many blessings I have is faithful blog readers who have become like friends.

I wish each you of you good health, love and happiness.


A Little Outside Paris

Hi there, Almost a year ago I travelled to Paris, France and Nairobi, Kenya. I started a few posts on my travels but looking back over the...