Eiffel Up, Effiel Down

Paris was not a part of the original plan.

The original plan was simply London. Arrive a week before the wedding, spend time with the groom, meet the bride, get in some good family bonding time. Cheer them on their special day and then back to the States!

But then my friends got whiff of my plans to jet to London and insisted they come along. And since one of them happens to be a French teacher, who just happens to take a group of teens every Spring break, but hasn't really gone kid-free in a while (if ever), Paris of course got added to the list.

One thing Becky (the French teacher friend) insisted we do in Paris is climb the Eiffel Tower. She had never done it. I didn't tell her this, but that fact appalled me considering how many times she's been. Wouldn't the Eiffel Tower have been a mandatory stop on a school-related trip? Apparently not.

So, on our second full day in Paris, we took the subway down to the Eiffel Tower and began our quest. It was bright, it was sunny. It really was the perfect day.

The day really couldn't have been more perfect
When we got to the tower, it was bustling with people. There was a long line stretching out from underneath the tower, starting from its southeast leg. It was the line for the elevator ride up. Becky balked. "I'm not waiting in line forever," she said. But I was determined to go, so I suggested we try the stairs. Only one stairwell line was open--the one on the southwest leg--and it was considerably shorter. So we got in line and began patiently inching forward to get our tickets.

It actually went really quickly. Especially since about 5 minutes after we got in line, the sunny skies vanish and thunderclouds came rolling in. It didn't exactly begin pouring, but the wind was strong and the tower itself offered absolutely no covering, so we were getting quite damp. Others ran out of line, pushing us closer to the front, but it was still slow going. The whole time we stood shivering and rolling our eyes at the screaming girls running around the pavement, Becky kept saying, "I'm not climbing this thing in the rain. I'm not doing it." I convinced her to let us at least get to the front of the line. We can always buy our tickets and come back later, right?

The lady in front of us had a slightly different perspective. "In 20 minutes, the rain will be completely gone. And in 20 minutes we'll be in the front of the line. So don't worry." Her husband and kids scoffed at her. I began praying she'd be right. And just when we got to the front of the line and began to pay for our tickets. The rain stopped. The sun came back out. It was perfect.

The climb itself felt like torture. It's a lot of stairs. Our tickets would let us climb up to the second stage and then from there we could take the elevator to the top. I don't think we made it halfway up half the way to stage one when we both had to stop to rest our burning thighs and catch our breath. It didn't help that although the sky had stopped raining, the tower was still dripping on us. Nor did it help that the higher we got, the more the fierce French wind made our already cold bodies even colder. We scowled at the little kids who ran by boasting, "I'm not even tired!" in their little French accents. And I'm pretty sure I looked very hateful at the group of Asians (who were considerably older than us) that passed by us looking not even remotely out of breath. But eventually... we made it to Stage 1.

I wanted to curse Effiel as I climbed.
I didn't. But I did stomp on his face :)
This is how we both felt.
And we still had a stage and a half to go!

We finally made it! If you look to the side of the stairs... 328 stairs!
We spent some time on Stage 1 walking around a bit on the West and Northern sides. There's a little Eiffle Tower museum for kids along the southern and eastern sides, but I think we both knew that if we stopped too long in our journey up, we may have not made it. So after a few pictures... we continued to Stage 2.

If we went to the museum, this would have been our tour guide.
Such a little cutie!
I forgot to take a picture of the stairs when we got the Stage 2. I was too tired. Really. I think I registered it being around 660 or 665. I tried to look it up (and was told 674), but it turns out the number of stairs is different depending on what leg you climb, so I'm not sure how accurate that number is. (We climbed the western leg from Stage 1 to Stage 2.) Either way, we climbed somewhere between 988 to 1002 stairs. I think I got my workout for the rest of the year in.

Even though we were cold. Even though we were still a bit wet. And even though our feet and thighs were cursing us. The view was spectacular. It was worth it. It was worth it at Stage 1, too. But even better at Stage 3. I couldn't wait until we reached the top!

Arriving at the Second Stage in the West

Western view of Paris
Northern view of Paris

Eastern view of Paris

Southern view

And off we go to the top!
Because of saftey reasons, you're not allowed to climb the stairs to the third stage. So we got into a line and rode the elevator up. I loved the ride... it was kind of fun to zoom upwards and watch Paris get smaller and smaller between the metal beams of the tower legs.

The top itself was like a little museum on its own. There was border lining the top of the glass observatory that compared the heights of other famous buildings and monuments around the world to that of the Eiffel Tower's. There were a lot of informational boards and stuff. And in one corner of the tower is Eiffel's actual office! Apparently he used to work from the very top of the tower and had a little apartment there and everything. There's a wax recreation of his office showing the "famous" (I never heard of it until that day) day Thomas Edison came to share his phonograph with Eiffel and his daughter. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was geeking out and having a blast.

I made it to the top! :)
Edison and Eiffel (with Eiffel's daughter) in
his office at the top of the tower
The dotted line is the height of the Eiffel Tower

The elevator ride down

It was still pretty windy. And we were still cold. But as we took the elevator down to the tower's base I asked Becky if she was glad we did it, she said, "I may not ever do it again... but it was worth it." I agree.

There was a couple taking pictures at the base of the tower as we were leaving.
Talk about a perfect ending.

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