I have been reviewing my journal entries from my trip, and I must say, there are a multitude of little incidents I had forgotten about. Stay tuned for my embarrassing encounter in the men’s bathroom in Berlin, a sketchy 2am passport “stamp” somewhere on the Flemish border, and me getting locked on a bus with two dozen people, half of whom were shouting in French. For now, though, I’m just going to show off my pictures of that quintessential symbol of elegance, travel, and of course, Paris: The Eiffel Tower.
Day one in Paris, of course, culminated in a visit to the Eiffel Tower. No way was I going to spend two days in Paris and not see said icon! This was very nice and all, but I truly would have missed out if I had not returned to see the Eiffel Tower at night.
Linda, one of the friends I made at the little Paris hostel, asked if I was planning to watch the sun set at the Arc de Triomphe and see the Eiffel Tower glitter in the night. She was horrified when I responded in the negative. I thought about it all day, and finally decided to throw exhaustion to the wind and head back into the heart of Paris after dark. Reassured by my broken French and the ticket guy’s broken English that the Metro would be open till 1am, I exited the Metro and ventured toward the largest (and least sane) traffic roundabout in Europe, known for its famous monument, the Arc de Triomphe.
By the time I finally got to the Arc, its stairs were closed. Actually approaching the Arc was much harder than I’d expected. Apparently I walked right past the entrance, not realizing the only way to reach the Arc without dying several times over was to walk through the underground passage built for this purpose. After a long and undignified scramble from cross walk to cross walk, I discovered an entrance halfway around the Arc from where I started. My roundabout way (ha, see what I did there?) to the Arc afforded me stunning views of the distant Eiffel Tower and the damply glistening yellow lights of street lamps and cars whisking by.
The Arc was impressive, both in its Clifford-the-Big-Red-Dog-sized entrance capabilities, and its connection to Napoleon. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was lit up, and the Champs-Élysées lay spread out before me like a sparkling and blurred map. I stopped between cross walks and convinced a pair of nice Asian tourists to take a picture of me standing between lines of traffic in front of the Arc de Triomphe.
Me being me, I got a bit turned around walking in what is more or less a clean-cut line straight from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower. Basically I saw the Eiffel Tower, looked at the wide avenues shooting off from the Arc, and headed down an avenue two or three streets off from the road that is a straight shot to the Eiffel Tower. In my defense, it was dark, Paris is an unfamiliar city, and I don’t even speak French. It was alright though; I just pulled out a map, used my common sense, and cut across side streets following the lit-up tip of the tower beyond me.
According to my journal entry, I “hopped up President Wilson Avenue to Trocadéro” and was amused to note Wilson and Roosevelt (FDR is pronounced on metro stops as “Honk-lin Hose-a-veh”) hobnobbing alongside Robespierre. When I drew close enough, the lit-up Eiffel Tower was in full view, reflected like moonlight in puddles on the ground. The beam from the tower’s searchlight swung around and illuminated the night.