G and I were out of the bed and ready to go to Versailles while PS wanted to lunch with Natalis and relax. Just before we headed out I checked one more time to see the hours of operation to notice that the Chateau was closed on Mondays. Damn! Now change of plans. G and I decided to do Chateau de Vincennes instead. The three of us took the train to Chateau de Vincennes and were surprised to see that the place was almost deserted. Of course it was early in EU standards, 10.00am but still. We saw the chapel and the Donjon of Charles V. We climbed many steps in the dungeon like spiral staircase and enjoyed the history behind the place. It really felt like we were in our very own private castle. When we walked out we were generously satisfied as we had seen something uniquely French and un-touristic while having some semblance to the Tower of London without the gore.
Our tummies were rumbling with the cold and after all the exhausting climb up and down. We ate lunch at a Turkish place right outside the Chateau. Their definition of Panini and mine did not match and hence, once again my meal sucked. Babs ate yogurt and had some juice and was ready for the rest of the day.
Now since we were already done with the only place we had planned on we had time at our hands. I asked G if he wanted to take up Natalis's advice and go to Montmartre. We had no idea what to expect other than a church. Neither of us were super excited but having nothing better to do decided to board the train.
The minute we reached there, I was already dissuaded. First, we were forced to climb million steps. I complained and silently thanked God for my physical fitness because two months ago I could not have done it even with my sneakers on and imagine climbing a hundred plus steps in boots...all the walking in Paris that had to be done. But when we got up there, it was all worth it. The view was spectacular even better than what we had seen from atop the Eiffel. I am sorry but I like the more earthly stuff like this. It was all the more beautiful because we expected nothing from this place. Absolutely nothing but it offered us something so beautiful that it instantly became our second favorite thing in our trip then so far. G and I were so excited and I was giggling most of the time I was there high on excitement. The church also was beautiful both outside and inside and lived up to the external hype. Thank you Natalis, if not for you we would not have gone up and experienced this beauty.
Babs did something there. As we walked through the aisle I pointed out to her a tall statue of Jesus. Babs instantly dropped to her knees to get blessings from him the Hindu way. I had prompted none of this. G and I did not know how to react as she stopped the flow of traffic. I was very happy though, I saw innocence and the beauty of it manifested in her, in children. Just to say that all Gods are one and nobody knows it better than children.
On our way out, we realized that our Paris train pass gave us free cable car ride up and down to Montmartre! Damn! So we took the Funiculaire down and did some quick souvenir shopping before letting Babs ride another carousel. Then we took the train to visit Champs Elysees. We also got a glimpse into the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and the Pantheon dome. G slept along the Petit Palais on the benches fronting the roads and woke up energized once again. It was the 12% beer! In the meantime I fed Babs and got her ready for her nap. Babs napped while we Champs Elysees'd and took the train back home.
Once again as we got home to find a flustered PS. There was a train strike announced in Paris and was going to start that night at 7.00pm. Our train out of Paris was at 8.01pm. He was really concerned and wanted to get to the station ASAP. Once again we hurried packing and cleaning up the house for Sebastien and I also tried to squeeze in a Babs feeding in between. On our way out G and I begged for coffee, we were exhausted beyond words. So we sat down Paris style, had a cup of Cappucino, and Espresso shots. The waitress at the restaurant was very kind and made a pomegranate drink for Babs which she totally enjoyed. We were all relaxed but had to recharge and head to the station.
Once at the station we realized that nothing could be done till we knew for certain what was going to happen to our train. No one had any information and everyone were standing around anxiously. G and PS sat down for a beer while I had a Tiramisu. I was in heaven. Babs tasted some too, it had a bit of alcohol but I could not stop her. She was just too quick for me. All was well. I was looking forward to going to Belgium, wearing my sneakers and hiding my boots away for ever. Once again we dragged our relaxed self back to the station which was now filled with more impatient and loud people.
PS inquired and found out that all the trains to BRU were cancelled but for ours. He guessed that there would be a fight for place in spite of us having reserved seats because people from the five, six and seven 'o' clock trains were also going to try to get into our train. We were sitting on our bags waiting while I fed Babs more yogurt and we sang a bunch of songs (specifically 'In The Jungle') and spoke a lot. Approximately an hour and half later the speaker system kinda sorta announced some gibberish which sounded like gibberish in both English and French and all of us stood confused. PS and G ran around trying to find out which train was going where and which one was ours. No one knew. Not even the people who ran the trains or the ones who collected tickets. We were sent in ten different directions. Babs and I were confused and there was an almost stampede situation going on. Finally PS figured out and took us to the correct train. Inside the train again no one was sure which train was going were. People going to Amsterdam got into our compartment and then they had to run out. People going to Rotterdam were already seated in our compartment and had to vacate when PS went and confirmed with three different people that the one we were sitting was indeed headed to BRU. We panicked and finally gave up as the train departed. Everything happened in a matter of ten minutes from the start of the announcement to the departure of the train. It really did not give people enough time to figure out what was happening at all. Finally, we relaxed and Babs did some coloring as we headed East again seeing Paris disappear into the dark behind us.
Once we got to BRU, C was there once again waiting for Babs who ran into her arms and would not leave her side at all even though she was dead tired. They played a bit. Babs ate a bit and we also had some quick dinner before hitting the sack. All of us were super tired especially after the final touch of excitement in Paris. One more day in BRU before we headed to Germany. G and I were confused if we should do BRU tour or take the train to Ghent. PS advised us to go and look around BRU. I packed everything up before hitting the sack for the fourth night in EU.
- Read Local news when you are travelling. Thanks to Natalis PS got to hear about the train strike and we could get to the Paris Nord from Bastille on time. Else we could not even have made our connections to Paris Nord.
- Enjoy the cafe's and road side eating in EU. It is the best part of the experience.
- Store owners and restaurants are very nice to people with kids. Wherever we went with Babs she got some kind things from them. Juice, candy's, and good cheer.
- Restrooms in Paris are in the most inconvenient places too. Sometimes they are worse than what we have in India. Nastiest!
- Crepe's in Paris are the best, especially the Nutella ones. It is nice to see them make it too.
- It is so shocking and surprising to see Desi's speak French and tell you that they cannot understand English. The French-Desis are as snobbish as the French!
- Paris trains rock! But they never tell you to 'Mind The Gap.'
- If you are travelling with a baby, stock up on baby food. There is no such thing as too much! Babs survived on half a meal of dal rice and two boxes of yogurt everyday along with milk at dinner. She lost like 3 pounds.