Versailles

At the end of my parents’ stay, we had a match in Paris so I was able to stay the entire next day with my mom and dad. And with that time, we decided to explore the Palace of Versailles. According to my Rick Steve’s travel guide, this is on the shortlist of places to see if you get to Europe. I’m not sure if I’d put it quite so high, but it was a really beautiful place and well worth a visit.

My favorite part was probably the Hall of Mirrors. It was an entry way at one point and also used for reception ceremonies. One side of the wall is all windows, the other side of the room is all panels of mirrors, and from the ceiling are dozens of chandeliers with dozens more candles. It was a really beautiful place.

One of the first hallways we passed through had all these statues of the past Kings of France. It was interesting to see the styles change through the centuries? ha. I actually couldn’t stop taking pictures of these silly statues (they’re not supposed to be silly), but, to me, they tend to be in such goofy, girly poses! How come no one is flexing some muscle or taking a power stance in the statues that will represent them for eternity? Do your thing Frenchies, more power to you.

Another highlight of the main Palace was Angelina Cafe 😀 I went to Angelina’s at another location in Paris during my first trip. Kristy, Coop, and I had our minds absolutely blown by the hot chocolate and desserts. So I was ecstatic to be able to share the same amazing deliciousness with my mom and dad. We had the hot chocolate again, of course, and each had a different dessert that was oh so good. I picked up some macaroons to take and Mom bought quite a few milk chocolate bars and cookie tins to bring back as gifts (whether they were actually given, I’m not so sure 😉 )

So about Versailles- there’s the main Palace of Versaille, and then there are MILES of gardens. Unfortunately, the gardens weren’t quite up and running since it was Februrary, but we did take a tram to see Marie Antoinette’s summer home and another couple buildings on the property. It was really interesting, but by the afternoon, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse- getting REALLY cold and actually snowing on us. Not cool, Versailles. We pulled the plug on any extra exploring pretty quickly.

We ended the night at a random restaurant for dinner that turned out so good. Took our bottle of red wine, I tried escargot! Eek, snails! They were actually really good, and get this: STU TRIED THEM TOO! My dad is a very picky eater so I was/am super proud that he even considered it, let alone tolerating them.

It was a total bummer to say goodbye to my parents that night, but I know how lucky I am to have had them visit at all. It was just what I needed to rejuvenate me for the back third of my stay in France.

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Paris Perspective

Good news: The season has begun!

Bad news: We’re 0-1

Good news: I finally had Starbucks!

Bad news: My iced chai latte was ice-less

Good news: I went to Paris!

Bad news: This was my view of the Eiffel Tower

I promise you, that little nub in the middle of the picture is the Eiffel tower. No, not the light post, the tiny vertical line to the right of it.

Although I may be contradicting all my good news, it was an exciting weekend and I can definitely say it showed a lot of potential.

We hit the road on Friday in a couple of vans to get to Paris, about a 4 hour drive. On the way (while stuck in traffic) we spotted the top of the Eiffel tower in the distance! It was both super exciting and so anti-climactic. It was so far away and tiny that it probably should’ve been considered a let down, BUT that’s not gonna stop my fun. We were still PUMPED to sneak a peak and try to get pictures.

That night after dinner at our hotel, being the American and former Seattlite that I am, I made a request to our coach about making a Starbucks run if one happened to be in our area. We got the green light: Starbucks was maybe 1.5 km (10-15 min walk) from our hotel. HALLELUJAH!  [fyi I LOVE Starbucks and have a serious weakness for Iced Chai Lattes with soy milk] So off we set, our 9 matching players and 2 coaches for an evening jaunt to Starbucks. I spot that glorious green sign in the distance only to find out… it’s CLOSED!

It was 8:56pm the second we got to the doors and apparently it closes at 9pm. An employee was sweeping out front and our coaches and teammates asked if they’d serve us but to no avail. Then it was my turn to try some begging, “But, I’m from America!” (bad choice). In a smart ass tone, “Oh, and there’s no Starbucks in America?!” Oops. We, as a group, go on to explain there is no Starbucks in Nantes. While that’s going on I decided to step into the open door of Starbucks and shuffle up to the register where a barista is by the register and putting away some pastries. I, ever so sweetly, asked “Pleaseeeee, would you mind if I get an iced chai latte? It’s so easy, just pour the concentrate and milk together with ice and it will be perfect. Please!” She stared at me for a few seconds and asked: Ice? YES, please 🙂 We don’t have ice. Okay! No ice works!

Starbucks 😀

So I got my ice-less iced chai latte, and it was still DELICIOUS 🙂 And the rest of my team ends up mosey-ing into the store and getting simple drinks as well. Bonus points for Starbucks and those employees! (except the first guy who discouraged us, boo to him)

Onto game day. It ended up being a pretty jam packed day for us. Started off with breakfast, then some quick film, before we headed to the venue for practice. At the gym, we had to take some pictures for the league or tournament first (side note: it is so difficult when photographers say “Okay, now do whatever you like.” Deer in the headlights is always the first reaction). After a lot more waiting than planned, we had our 45 minute pre-game practice, and sped back to the hotel. We didn’t have much time to squeeze in lunch, rest, film, packing up, and a snack before departing the hotel, but we managed.

Pictures

We played our first match against a team from Mulhouse. They finished 2nd in the league the past few years and are a solid team. We came out really fired up, knowing that we have the ability to compete at their level. We took the first 2 sets, and then just ran out of gas and dropped the match in 5. It is so frustrating, and we had a match point opportunity in the 4th, but it wasn’t meant to be. Really wanted the ‘W’ but it was an exciting match, a respectable way to open our season, and its good knowing that we can and will be much better as the season progresses.

Also, I need to note how AWESOME our fans are! We had a solid following of 30+ Nantes-ians(?) who made the trek with us (not to mention family and friends from other cities) and had drums and flags and kept the neutral site rocking in our favor for the match. Can’t wait to play in front of them at home!

Afterwards, we had to go directly back to Nantes. Grabbed dinner on the road and got back to the apartment around 3:20am Like I said action packed way to start the season.

Even though things may not have gone as picture perfect (achem, literally in regards to the Eiffel Tower and photos) it’s all about perspective. It was an exciting and promising start to our season… I plan on seeing the Eiffel Tower up close next weekend, getting that Chai Latte again with Ice, and taking that win back in the rematch. I like what the future holds!

Entering the gym

Game Time

 

It’s finally here! First match of the regular season is tomorrow night! We got to Paris earlier this evening, and are getting prepped for the season opener.

Our match is 7:30 Paris time (1:30pm et/10:30am pt) and can be streamed live here:

http://www.lnv.fr/live.html

We play against a team from Mulhouse, France who has finished second in the league the past few years, so we’ve got a tough fight ahead of us, but we are prepared and hungry!