One Night in Paris – Part 2
February 1, 2007 8 Comments
Next morning, up at the crack of dawn – 7.30, up shower breakfast – pretty much that quick!
Then we decided – it would just be wrong to come all the way to Paris and stay within spitting distance of the Eiffel Tower and not go up it. We had noticed the queues the day before were very long and (being overweight) I had no desire to use any stairs! So, thinking it opened at 9.00am, we got there for 8.50. It was very cold – hat, scarf and gloves weather, and keep your coat buttoned too! Whoops – opening time was really 9.30. So we wandered round the strangely empty space underneath, photographing the men in camouflage with guns, chasing come pigeons and generally trying to keep warm, before we decided we would go queue for the South Pillar.
After maybe 10 minutes, a man comes along, selling mini Eiffels – 6 pieces for 2 Euros was his chant – who told us the Tower was closed. It did say Closed but we thought that meant Open Later not Closed for the day. But no, one of the natives went and spoke to a Pillar operative and then ran towards the North Pillar, where people were already queuing. So we trekked over there to wait some more.
It was very cold. It was also windy. But we draw on our Blitz spirit and joked about the wait, the disorganised French and the general late starting of places in Europe generally. When Pillar Closed – and we all ran (yes, CupCate, even me!) back to the South Pillar from whence we had come…
Where we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Them we moved! Finally we reached the Ticket Office, which was not, as in most places I have ever been, placed so that you go past one at a time, in an orderly fashion, purchasing tickets. No, this was an area of great milling about. So we purchased our tickets. And then we waited some more. A lot more.
It was while waiting here we met a charming, round faced man from Beijing who was friendly, happy, travelling round Europe with a coachload of other chinese tourists. Of whom there were many. Very many. Husband estimates as many as half the tourists waiting, milling and generally being at Eiffel were of Asiatic origin.
This was when we became aware of Bob and Mrs Whinge. She just could not stop complaining. But before we realised what a whinger she was, we spoke to her because she was British. Spoke English. But god she could have whinged for England: I have better things to do that wait around here; Bob, find out what’s happening; bloody French couldn’t organise anything, She just would not stop. And all I could think was please dear god let people not think we are with her! They got fed up – no, she got fed up and made Bob (who seemed OK and disappointed at not going up the Tower) claim a refund for the tickets. Which was given immediately, no problems. All of two minutes before we were smilingly ushered across to North Pillar again, put at the front of the queue and into the first stage lift. Hah” Could not have happened to a more deserving person!
The Eiffel Tower itself is amazing. Really amazing. It is taller and bigger than you expect; I had a miniature Eiffel Tower when I was younger, brought back by some relative, and I somehow expected just a slightly bigger version. But it is huge.
When the lift starts, it both jerks and goes sideways, which is rather freaky! It just felt wrong. Then physics took over. Up and up. The lift stopped at the First Etage, but no one got out there. So up some more, to the Second Etage. Out the lift and, given it is now 10.45ish, and we have to check out the hotel at midday, we decide to go straight up to The Summit.
You get there in a little box of an elevator. It has glass sides, so you can watch the Eiffel Tower going past.
You have to know something here – I have a fear of heights. To be more accurate, my knees have a fear of heights. When I get high, they get weak. My head is fine. It’s just my damn knees. So I have to clutch at Husband as we go up, and up, and up, and up… I wasn’t sure we weren’t going to achieve escape velocity!
There should be videos here, one showing the journey Idown) in the lift, and the other showing how we found out where the wind lives in Paris, but I can only upload stuff for 15 minutes at a time before my ISP decides to stop providing me with any service. So, if you live in the UK, and are considering using MailBox as your ISP DON’T DO IT – they were taken over by Tiscali and it shows.
So just a couple of shots, one full view, one zoomed in, to show how Paris looks from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
So then we went down in the lift to the Second Etage, which has a lot of info about the Eiffel Tower. It is cold here, and we didn’t stay long.
But the First Stage – that has shops, and a restaurant, and toilets. Not sure they were original. I loved being here. The view was on a more human scale – rather than being tiny ants, the people were recognisable as people, and the scenery was not so far away.
I wholeheartedly recommend a tour of the Eiffel Tower. It is worth every cent of the 11.50 Euros it cost us to go; and if you are young, or healthy, with good legs and decent lungs, the stairs is apparently the way to go.
Luckily the Hotel Mercure is so close, we can stay there till the last minute, which we do. So last minute that when we get back, the hotel has automatically locked the room, which still has our luggage in.
Get downstairs, have a Bloody Mary with the two couples who have not yet left for the train. Leave. Negotiate the Metro and realise we have cut it very fine indeed – and Eurostar do not refund ticket money unless it is because you have been pulled up for a random and fruitless search.
3 minutes – that was the amount of time between our arrival in the carriage to the train leaving – close but hey who gives a shit – we made it, and we had had one hell of a weekend!
One thing though – everyone else had a map with info on it – we did not. Explains why everyone else actually did things on Saturday afternoon, while we just wandered.
But we had fun!
I will post the last of the photos tomorrow, when Vox’s server isn’t as busy – that might help me keep within the 15 min span I have to post things. Thank god we are chainging ISP soon!