A fairytale castle, glittering with real gold, a hall of mirrors, and many vast rooms filled with ornate furniture. The things dreams are made of, and maybe that's all it was. Then again something's cannot be explained.
I was a young girl of twelve, traveling overseas with my family. My father had 3 months of vacation saved up and one of my older brothers was able to get us on a tour with the college he went to. My mother, father, and another one of my brothers were all able to travel to Europe at an amazing discount.
We landed in London and I hadn't slept since we left our home in Chicago, Illinois, many hours ago. It was the first time I had ever been on an airplane. It was a small charter plane, and we had turbulence over the ocean. I had no desire to fly in a plane for many years after.
While my parents made their connections on the travel bureau office. I fell asleep in the window. My parents were alerted to my display by people who walked by and tapped on the window. Embarrassed my mother woke me and made me stand next to her.
After raising five children, my mother was the master with organizational skills. She had our every move planned. She knew what sites she wanted to see and she planned our itinerary. The first stop was our hotel as we all needed a quick nap.
We spent a few days in London and places near that could be reached by bus. You must remember I was only twelve years old in a time when twelve was still very young. I had no idea how lucky I was to be on a vacation in Europe. I look back on the things that I remember and I might as well have been in Ohio for the most part. There were some highlights which I hope to convey here.
The plan was to travel by train from England up through Scotland and over to Ireland. My mother's family is buried in that vicinity and she wanted to visit grave sites and see family homes. From there our next stop was Paris; to be honest our modes of transportation are a blur to me, so I'm not sure how we arrived there. This is where my story really begins.
This is the part of my journey that I never will forget. At the time it was happening I didn't realize how odd the situation was. After we were back in the States my mother would tell this story many times. It was only later in life that the strangeness of it really hit me.
The morning started like any other, we were marched from our hotel room to the dinning room for breakfast. My mother warned us to eat light as we would be doing a lot of walking today. After breakfast we were picked up at our hotel by a tour bus that would take us to the Palace of Versailles.
Unfortunately I was seeing everything though the eyes of a child and my excitement didn't match my mother's, or the rest of the family for that matter. They all were looking at brochures and I looked out the window.
I was captivated by the view as soon as I saw it. I couldn't wait to get off the bus. My mother was terrified I would be lost so she kept me close to her, but I was very anxious to see everything. Versailles is not a fairytale looking building from the outside, although the grounds and gardens are stunning. We spent some time going through the front area gardens before our tours started and took some pictures like most good tourists.
I remember sitting by one of the fountains and in my mind I imagined people in period clothing all around. I felt as though I had gone back in time. It was an odd feeling but I had an extremely vivid imagination so I shrugged it off.
They started to gather us into a group to enter the palace and we moved towards the entrance. The longer I stood waiting to enter the more I began to form pictures in my mind of what we would see inside. I imagined myself visiting here in the 1700's. I pulled on my mother's arm and said, "I've been here before." She laughed and said, "I don't think you were!" I said, "Yes, I was...it was a long time ago." I told her what she would see when we walked in the entrance. She just looked at me with a funny look on her face.
My father had been listening to me and was a devout believer in reincarnation. He asked me a question about how I knew. My mother quickly quieted both of us and gave my father a look. My brother of course teased me about how stupid I was, thinking I already know what's inside.
As we entered my father quietly said to me, "Is that what you were talking about?" He pointed to the golden balconies on either side. I nodded. The tour guide was going on about the flooring and I tugged my dad's arm, pointing I said "The Queen lives over there and the King lives on that side." Just as I finished saying that the tour guide mentioned that the queen and king's quarters were on either side of the room we were in. My mom had turned to shush me but she and my dad just looked at each other.
We went through to the Hall of Mirrors and I could feel my dad looking at me, expecting me to say something. I was starting to feel strange because I didn't understand how I knew these things. I kept this room to myself probably because of the beauty of it, I was in awe. In my mind's eye I could easily see people moving through this hall. They moved to the left and talked about a game room. This interested me! A little too loud I said, "I wanna see the game room!"
The tour guide laughed and said, "This young lady is right! At this end of the Hall is the Salon of Peace and was once used as the Queen's gaming room." She walked that way and we all followed. In the Queen's bedchamber I had other visions but I was beginning to be disturbed by them. In the middle of the tour guide's speech. I heard a door slam and I looked in the direction of the sound. There was nothing there. Years later I was doing research and I discovered a secret door was in that room that Marie Antoinette had used to escape through. I did tell my dad the seats at the end of the bed were for her maids and the tour guide just gave me a frown.
The rest of the day was filled with various scenes that played out in my head but I was starting to feel sick and I didn't say much. All through out the gardens I heard and saw things from the past, real or imagined. I don't know to this day. I have never pursued it as it gives me an uncomfortable feeling.
My dad has asked me questions about it over the years but I usually end the conversation quickly. My mother is the one who likes to tell the story and watch people's reaction but she never talks to me about it. I have never had any experiences before this or after that was as strange as this. I can't explain it, I'm not sure I want to.
The rest of the trip was quite lovely. We spent the majority of the rest of the time in Ansbach, Germany. I would love to go back there again. We met up with yet another brother who was in the military and stationed there. He was able to get time off and take us in his car to Switzerland, Italy and Austria. I know I am well traveled, I just wish I remembered more.
Publication Date: 04-10-2012
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