We originally planned to begin day three in Nashville with a drive all the way to Southern Tennessee/Northern Alabama to hike the Walls of Jericho trail. It’s a tough hike rewarded with beautiful waterfalls, but with Wesley’s ankle, we decided to take it easy for the day.
So, instead, we visited Belle Meade Plantation, which was built by John Harding in 1820 on his family’s farmland. The property initially encompassed 250 acres and a single log cabin. Ultimately, Belle Meade grew to 5,400 acres, anchored by a Greek Revival-style mansion, and included a deer park, train station and rock quarry.
Harding also capitalized on slave labor to run his farm and eventually became one of the largest slaveholders in Nashville.
As we mentioned in our last post, the green island of Djurgarden outside of Stockholm’s city center is home to 22 museums. One of the largest and most popular is Skansen – the world’s first open-air museum. Founded in 1891, Skansen showcases five centuries of Swedish history, bringing to life Sweden’s traditional rural culture through historic homes, farms, gardens and even a zoo!
No visit to Savannah is complete without a trip to the Wormsloe Historic Site and Plantation, located just 10 minutes outside of Historic District. The Spanish moss-lined entry lane is almost synonymous with this city, and photographers around the world travel here to take a photo of this picturesque property.
Unfortunately, we haven’t had a break from the clouds and rain during our time in Savannah, so our photos are on the gloomy side. We can only imagine how breathtaking the trees look when it’s sunny. The weather aside, the variety of trees and plants on this historic site were still impressive and even more profound considering it was the home of one of Georgia’s first colonists.
We’ve seen pictures of the Palace of Versailles in history books and heard stories from friends who visited, so we were fully aware of the extravagance and overwhelming size of the estate. It is the palace of French kings, after all. Regardless of what you’ve seen and heard, however, it’s impossible to fully grasp its enormity until you see it in person, which we finally had the chance to do this week.
The more than 2,000-acre complex includes 230 acres of gardens in addition to the palace itself, which contains more than 700,000 square feet of floor space. It’s no exaggeration when travel guides suggest blocking off an entire day to explore Versailles.
Of course the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, and the King’s and Queen’s Apartments were a spectacle and ridiculously ornate, but, surprisingly, our favorite part of the tour was Marie Antoinette’s estate–particularly her hamlet and the farm. The architecture and atmosphere was a welcomed change in scenery, and transported us from the austere and overdone design of the palaces to what resembled a more rustic and laid-back way of life. The fully functional farm even housed happy chickens, rabbits, sheep, pigs, donkeys and cows, as well as land for growing cabbages, cauliflower and other produce.
With so many unexpected discoveries around every hedge, we absolutely recommend visiting as much of the estate as possible. You really have no idea what beautiful scenes you may stumble across!
Palace of Versailles
Versailles, France 78000
We first learned about the Catacombs in middle school after reading Edgar Allen Poe’s Cask of Amontillado. Ever since, these underground graves have been on our bucket list, and were one of the items on our Paris itinerary that we were most looking forward to–and it delivered!
As a rule for most of the experiences we’ve had in Paris, our journey began with half an hour of waiting in line to enter the exhibits. Then came a long flight of spiral staircases to the underground tunnels that were once used as limestone quarries hundreds of years ago.
After at least 15 minutes, we finally arrived at the first catacomb. Filled with ancient bones and skulls, it’s absolutely as creepy as you’d imagine. In the back of our minds was always the thought, “What if we got trapped in here?”
Several stacks of remains later, the creepiness wears off, and you begin to appreciate the intricacy of the design in the uniform pattern of bones throughout the miles and miles of tunnels. Though it seems morbid, this mausoleum of more than six million Parisians was created to honor the deceased while protecting the city’s citizens from disease. Today, it’s a unique, must-see experience for anyone visiting the city.
Catacombs of Paris
1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy
Paris, France 75014
Of course, if you’re in Paris you must visit the Louvre, with its iconic glass pyramid and the Mona Lisa.
The Mona Lisa gallery was, as expected, insanely crowded and a complete spectacle. We wish we had more time to actually take in the painting, but it was surreal to just have the opportunity to see this iconic masterpiece in person. As everyone points out, it really is much smaller than you’d expect in person!
Not only were the artwork and sculptures within the museum beautiful, but the structure itself was stunning. Given its history as a fortress and a residence for French kings, that’s no surprise. We can only dream about what it’d be like to live somewhere so grand.
Given its size, we would have loved to spend a little more time wandering through the halls of this world-class institution. Until next time!
75001 Paris, France