So I think it would be a good idea at this point if I let it be known that the sarcasm about the lead up to the trip and the immediate arrival in Paris in no way have detracted from the fact that I”M IN PARIS AND LONDON WITHIN THE FIRST 48 HOURS of arriving in Europe. Really it’s indescribable. As those of you who have been lucky enough to visit know, to see these most famous locales in world history makes one realize even more that no photo, book, video, movie or story can even come close to capturing the energy of the reality.
We often use the expression “takes my breath away.” As one turns the corner to the right off of Quai Branly after getting of the Metro stop for the Tour Eiffel and finds oneself standing right in front of this giant, the term is truly redefined. So many people told me not to waste my time going to the top of the tower because you could waste half a day waiting to get in there. I myself went into the trip expecting to try to talk myself (and my girlfriend) out of doing exactly that. But the energy of the universe/God/the King of France/whatever would clearly tell a different story.
After wandering around and staring at the tower from a number of different angles, taking photos of us jumping, kissing, standing on heads or one leg or one hip. After waving off countless “gypsies” trying to tie strings around our wrists. After wondering whether or not the deaf girls with petitions to give them money were actually deaf. After all of the entrapments that tourists have available to them at the Eiffel tower. And after all of those we knew tried to convince us not to make the climb, we got in line for the stairs. Mind you, in case you were unaware the stairs still cost money. This monument must produce more revenue than nearly anything I have ever heard of (until the “London Eye”). 5 euros to climb the stairs to the first stage. An additional charge of 6 euros to take the lift to stage two if the stairs tuckered you out. And then if you make it to stage two you can buy a supplemental fee to take the lift to the top for another 6 euros. The other option is to wait in line three hours at the bottom to get a lift all the way to the top at once for about 20 euros, but as you know, to me time is money, so we climbed the first two stages with plenty of “stopping to smell the roses” and then we took the plunge and bought lift tickets to the top.
As you may not know, the Eiffel tower plays a fairly significant role in my girlfriend’s life dreams. When she was a young girl she had images of the tower on her bedroom walls. Even as an adult she had Eiffel tower shower curtains, wall hangings. lamps, etc. To actually be in the tower to her was beyond even sensory explanations can describe. So this journey to the top, that nearly everybody we knew tried to talk us out of, happened seamlessly, joyfully and easily. At stage one she even took a good ten minutes writing in the guest book and deciding what to say. To paraphrase she said something like “I waited for you Eiffel Tower. I Love you very much.” And to think somebody was trying to tell us to skip this tourist trap?
When we got to the top, we were marveled by a nearly perfect Paris day: clear, 75 degrees and not too crowded. We treated ourselves to two glasses of Drappier champagne for another 20 euros and made a toast and got a photo at the top. Fat and happy American tourists at the top of the Eiffel tower.
Three hours of our time in Paris and about 80 euros later and to tell you the truth we could not have been more satisfied. We met a family from Australia in line for the tickets. We sat on the platform on stage one and drank a big bottle of Evian. We traded cameras with couples from Spain, the Middle East, Minnesota and other locales to take photos of each other. We drank Champagne. And most importantly we realized the life dream of a lady who once dreamed about what life could be and now saw that it actually was…
Not worth the time invested or the money? I say not so fast my little friends. Truly a lesson to me, who sometimes has a hard time remembering to enjoy the process on the way to the destination, that finding time on the journey is the real key to happiness. I know that, but it’s good to be reminded of it in such a “taking your breath away” circumstance every once in a while. What an amazing first morning in Paris.
Merci beaucoup le Tour Eiffel…