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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 41.8955, 12.4823
Today we left our Paris hotel for McDonald's. We had agreed never to visit such a typical American establishment, but a breakfast value meal for 5 euros seemed like a wise decision for protein's sake. Little did we know we would find ourselves in yet another foreign place. The food was actually very good. American McDonalds' could learn a lesson. Then again 2.746 ounces of coffee left a bit to be desired.
From here it was off to the Palace of Versailles, built by Louis XIV (the Sun King). Whoa baby. There we learned about many guys named Louis, many Marias, a Josephine, and a Marie Antoinnette. We were shocked and awed by the extreme "over-doing-it-ness" of the 17th century French royals. We also took pictures of a lot of really cool beds.
Next it was back to Notre Dame for some daylight pictures. What an amazing place. Barb and Jeannette bought candles and Jake picked up a Bach CD. If only our indoor pictures would have turned out better. Grr. Jeannette really, really had to pee, so we decided to pop into a cafe for coffee. As the waiter ran away, Barb thought to shout out "au lait" but he only managed to add the lait to two of the four drinks. Jeannette and Jake did something that could be called the "Columbian Car Bomb." At least the peeing was free.
After a jaunt back to the hotel to pick up our bags, we headed off to Paris Bercy train station to join our overnight sleeper train to Rome. Oh my. So much for the efficiency of the European rail network. Due to some unexplained track delay (called "retard" by the French), we did not embark from the station for 5 hours later than we had planned. Fortunately, a small snack shop was opened for the early part of our delay and provided us with sustenance.
Retard 2 h 00 was the code for "really late!" As we continued to sustain ourselves as best we knew how, we made friends with folks from Arizona as well as some archeology experts from London. The Londoners told Rich and Barb about a secret passage to get a better view of the Roman Forum, but little did they know that we would eventually be so close to it that Jeannette picked up a small piece of it and put it in her pocket.
To shouts and cheers we began the boarding process. Car 96 was our objective. As we headed down the platform, we passed 99, 98, 101, 100, 95, cafeteria car... we asked several conductors for help. One pointed back toward the station. We ran. Barb began to panic. As we ran in one direction, Rich asked another conductor, who just looked at us in disgust and then pretended not to hear us anymore. The next guy, all within the span of one car-length, pointed us in the other direction. To make a long story short, after waiting 5 hours for a delayed train, we almost missed its departure. Finally we made it aboard lucky #96 and were amazed by the luxurious accommodations it provided. Yup. By the end of the night, we were quite ok, but the bathroom facilities did not fare so well as the wetness from within quickly spread into the hallways (along with various European smells). Jake adds that WC should more appropriately be called UC. We dined on our snacks of bread and beverages... which was really something. Thanks to Rich for providing the 50s music for our entertainment. As we were somewhere between the South of France and the North of Italy, we dozed our way off, being rocked to sleep by the smooth sailing of car 96.
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