The Eiffel Tower was one of my favorite stops during our visit to France several years ago. Unfortunately, we don't have any photos of this leg of our journey, since we inadvertently left our camera in the back seat of the cab that dropped us off there! Can you imagine the frustration? No, we never got the camera back, but the police department did write us a very pleasant letter, in French. Lucky for us I was taking classes at the time and we were able to get the general idea. :)
But about the Tower . . . you feel very small standing in front of it. It's HUGE. You pay admission, based on how high up you wish to go -- there were three levels to choose from when we visited. Of course, I wanted to go to the very top. It's not like I'm in France every day, right? I think it cost close to $30, but I'm not totally sure on that.
Once you decide how high to go, you also have to choose whether you want to get there using the stairs or the elevator. Both have pros and cons. The stairs looked exhausting. Keep in mind what a large structure this is! I don't think I would be that brave. But a certain amount of courage and stamina is needed to ride the elevator as well. Many Europeans do not use deodorant, and well, if you're crammed into a tiny space with quite a large number of Europeans in the middle of June . . . the ride up the Tower wasn't exactly the most aromatic!
Once we reached the top, after stopping at the other two levels (if you pay the full price for the top level, you can get off at any of the others as well), it was breathtaking. You could see easily how Paris was built in the shape of a wheel, and Notre Dame and other famous sites are easily visible from that height. It's hard to believe how tiny they seem from way up there, compared to their actual giant size. I think the trip to the Tower was made more worthwhile by the fact that we had seen most of the other sites first, and could appreciate the vantage point better that way. We could actually point out the places we had already toured.
One thing that disappointed me about Paris in general that tourists should realize ahead of time -- it is much like any busy American city -- smog, traffic (try cabbies who ride the sidewalk, no joke), and cramped quarters. The main difference is the nostalgia, because of ancient buildings like the Cathedral (Notre Dame), the Opera, the Louvre, and other historic attractions. I would love to go back again, as I have a special love for French language and history, but it is not what I would call a romantic atmosphere.
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