Arc de Triomphe
This past weekend we went to the City of Light: Paris. Waking up at the crack of dawn (5:30 am) we hurried our way to St. Pancras Station to catch our early morning 2 1/2 train ride to Paris. We took a short bus tour to see some of the major sites and to just get our feel around Paris. I was already beginning to hate Paris from the start because I was half asleep and the weather was rainy and chilly. Not only that but we were already being harassed by pickpocketers. We were warned about their cunning ways before we left the bus. From the get-go the pickpocketeres were ready to pounce. We got off the bus to admire the first stop on the tour which was the famous Arc de Triomphe when some young woman came to us with a pen and petition to help some cause related to the deaf and mute community. Obviously it was a hoax to get us to donate money and we just ignored her and she left. Additionally there were supposed “valuable” objects on the ground such as rings, earrings, and jewelry. The idea is that unknowing tourists will pick it up or stare at it, while being distracted the pickpocketers come in for the kill. But aside from being on guard, it was fine. We gazed at the iconic arc which honors the fallen soldiers in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. After that we were off to view the Effiel Tower for a few moments from afar at a popular sight. There it was the symbol that is Paris, the symbol that is France.
After a few moments we headed to our hostel to briefly unpack and become situated. We than went on a tour of Paris on the Seine River. As we waited in the long line to get aboard it began to downpour yet we continued on and boarded the boat. The boat consisted of mostly Asian tourists. We headed under one of the many bridges which tradition dictates that a wish be made while proceeding under it. My wish was for the sun to come up and sure enough as the tour continued on the sun began to rear its much anticipated and desired rays. The sun came out dried up the place and cured the melancholic view into a picturesque sight. It was finally the Paris that I longed to see: bright and sunny.
We passed by Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, simple row houses, majestic mansions, docked boats, and plenty of bridges. The sun was out and all was fine. After the river cruise we headed to the actual location of the Eiffel Tower. There it was. The iconic symbol piercing the blue sky at 1,063 feet in the afternoon sun. We waited in a long line (though it went by smoothly and quickly) to buy tickets to head on up. If we were smart we would have pre-purchased our tickets online but pre-planning doesn’t seem to be a common trait of young people. Either way, we were entertained by a middle aged Spanish man (who resembled Pitbull) who was slightly ahead of us in line. He had an iPod and speakers in his backpack and he blared music for all in line to enjoy and be amused at. We bought our tickets to head to the top, except for one who reside in Tier II due to her fear of heights. Yet once I got onto the elevator for Tier II, I decided I didn’t want to go all the way to the top because of my ridiculous fear of heights. The elevator is see-through and I let my height paranoia take hold. I already conquered that fear on the London Eye, but this time it proved successful. Either way the view was breathtaking at Tier II.
The birds-eye view was incredible. North, South, East, & West of Paris were all equally breathtaking. It was great to simply soak it all in. I appreciated the view, just standing their and watching everything below me flow. It was slightly blustery but that didn’t bother anyone because of the shining sun. The early morning train ride was definitely paying off. Once we finished our scenic time atop the tower we decided to try the food stands which stand beneath the tower. We tried the hot dogs which everyone around us seemed to be eating. They looked extremely appetizing (but maybe that was because we were starving). But once we got it we saw its orange color had a few bites and somehow decided we were full. The hotdogs were hidden in French bread and layered in ketchup, a few bites was enough to satisfy our hunger. It was about 8 o’clock pm when we were about finished and the sun was still out in full force. We headed back to our hotel to rest up and wait for the next day’s French experience.