Thursday, July 10, 2008

This Is France

Day 121
My alarm went off impossibly early, I guess I should have put down the book earlier. On the bus to the train station I met a Czech girl who was even more confused than I was. I helped her buy her ticket at the train sta
tion.

I slept for the entire train ride and only barley woke up for my stop in Paris. I was exhausted and really disoriented. I had to take the metro to another station. I couldn’t find the stop I needed on the map and went to a very convenient information booth. I must have really looked out of it because the guy described to me several times what I needed to do. When I thought I had it I got in line for a ticket. The guy there told me that the station was actually just across the river and about a ten minute walk away. He gave me directions.

I was still quite a bit in a daze and couldn’t figure out why Brendan Frazier was in another Mummy and why did Paris smell like urine? I think that I might never find the answers to these questions.

I did manage to find the Austerlitz station without getting lost. Now if only I could find a bagel!

Once in Blois (pronounced like blue-ah) a very nice bus driver helped me to find my hostel. I was shocked to find that not only did I have my own room and bathroom, but this was the least amount of money I have paid for a hostel to date. What a good day.

Blois is incredibly cute and I had a good time wandering around. There is also a massive chateau to check out. The Blois Palace was built between the 12th and 17th centuries. There are four distinct sections/sides and despite their architectural differences they work together quite well.

The first room that I found was the throne room. You could sit on the throne and I took the typical tourist shot. This was followed by several rooms of stonework that used to be located throughout the palace and was for some reason removed. A lot of these things were gargoyles or other bits that are usually quite far away. It was really interesting to see them up close.

Up the fabulous outdoor stairway were the Royal Apartments. These werer as sumptous as I could have dreamed. They had been restored meticoulsy. I think that this is what I have been looking for but didn't find at the Pope's Palace.

Most of BLois Chateau was built by King Francois I in the 16th century. It's easy to see his influence because he put his emblem, the salamander everywhere. The queens bed chamber is where the royal sex happened. Just in case you had been wondering about that. This is also where Catherine de Medici died in 1589. One of the small upstairs rooms had hidden cabinets. Poison may have been hidden in them at some point.

The top floor is dedicated to the assassination of the Duke of Guise. I'd never heard of him before, but it was apparently a big deal. During the 16th century France was going through a religious struggle. When the Catholic king died with no heir protestant Henri of Navarre was set to take the throne. The duke didn't like this and wanted to make a bit on his own. Henri had him killed for this.

After the royal apartments I checked out the attached fine arts museum. It was nice, but slightly anti clamatic after the royal apartments. Once this was finished it didn't take long to explore the rest of the caste grounds. I even got a really good view over the town.

I was excited to get to my next stop, the Museum of Magic. Essentially Robert Houdin, a watch maker turned magician, was born in Blois. Houdini later took his name for his stage name. This museum was dedicated to magicians. The first room was full of optical illusions. I had fun testing them all out, even though I had to fight through several school groups to do it. Upstairs there were several rooms dedicated to Houdin. This too was overrun and it was all in French. I didn't stick around long. On the top floor was a really interesting optical illusion. I had a visor with a mirror that reflected the ceiling strapped on my head and I needed to walk slowly forward while holding a hand rail. It looked like I was walking over the ocean floor. It was a bit disconcerting, but unlike a couple of the kids behind me I didn't feel the need to scream.

As much fun as the museum was, the magic show was better. There was no speaking so it was perfect for me. A man and a woman kept playing with different objects on the stage and where at first shocked when magic happened. Eventually they got over their shock and started trying to top one another. It was a lot of fun.

After the magic show I explored Blois for a bit longer. It wasn't late though when I walked back to the hostel. It's nice to have my own space, but it can be a bit lonely and after reading 'A Touch of Bother' for a bit I simply went to sleep.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Sounds like you arrived into Gare du Lyon train station and then walked across the river to Austerlitz. It's weird that you are in France and I'm not. Glad you visited Blois.
Uncle Stephen