There’s nothing to me that scream EUROPE! more than the Eiffel Tower. It was the landmark I was most excited to see when I was travelling abroad a few months ago (Big Ben in London was a close second). I had seen the Eiffel Tower a million times on television, in history classes and even the replica in Las Vegas, but nothing compares to actually seeing the Eiffel Tower in person.
After three days celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in England, my mom and I took the Eurostar train (through “The Chunnel”) to Paris. We got in to the city in the late afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then headed to dinner on Rue Clare (a popular street for shopping and dining in Paris). After an awesome meal at the Cafe du Marche, we walked directly to the Eiffel Tower.
This might sound stupid, but I was actually giddy to see the Eiffel Tower. I know it’s a cliché, but I felt like a kid on Christmas waiting to open presents. I just couldn’t wait to get there. After a couple blocks — it happened! I was suddenly standing in the Champs de Mars, staring at the Eiffel Tower.
It was the perfect time to be there. The sun was just beginning to set, so the colors in the sky were amazing. After all of the years seeing the Eiffel Tower in books, etc., the whole scene didn’t seem real to me. I couldn’t stop taking pictures, I couldn’t stop staring and I just flat-out couldn’t believe I was standing where I was.
I had planned on going to the top of the Eiffel Tower the next day, but my mom pitched the idea of heading up right then. I wasn’t sure about going to the top of the tower at night (I thought the view might be better during the day), but I jumped at the idea (and I’m glad I did — the view is amazing at night).
You can get to the top of the Eiffel Tower two ways — you can take the elevator or you can walk. The tickets for walking are cheaper and the line to get up is much shorter. I had NO interest in walking to the top of the Eiffel Tower, so we waited in line to catch the elevator. We had to wait an hour just to buy tickets (you can get tickets online to save time), and then we had to wait another ten minutes to get on the elevator (I’m not complaining — I’m just letting you know what to expect). You can purchase tickets to the second floor, or you can pay a little extra to get to the third floor (the top of the Eiffel Tower). Believe it or not, you can actually get to the top of the Eiffel Tower for just 14 Euro (which is about $18).
It was a perfect night to be on top of the Eiffel Tower (we went to the third floor). It was nearly a full moon and there were some light clouds in the sky, so it made for an awesome atmosphere. There’s a good reason they call Paris “The City of Light,” because the lights literally shine for miles. You can see many of Paris’ popular landmarks (The Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, etc.) from the top of the Eiffel Tower as well. I actually took this video to give you a feel for what it’s like to be on top of the Eiffel Tower at night:
I couldn’t seem to pull myself away from the Eiffel Tower. It was like a magnet. I took way too many pictures and shot too many videos. My poor mom is scared of heights, so she was ready to go long before I was. My addiction to the tower wound up causing a massive problem. While standing on top of the tower, I suddenly remembered that the Metro (Paris’ subway system) shuts down at 12:30am. I don’t remember exactly what time it was (I think it was 11:45pm), but we needed to move FAST if we wanted to catch our trains.
We easily made it down to the second floor, but then we got confused. My mom and I wasted time standing in the wrong line for the elevator to the ground level, and then we couldn’t find the correct line we were looking for. With no better option, we jolted to the stairs. We had experience this amazing, peaceful time on top of the Eiffel Tower, and now we’re suddenly sprinting down the 670 steps of the iconic Paris landmark. While we were running down the stairs, the nightly light show started. You could hear the crowd below erupt in cheers. It was actually a cool experience as the lights flashed all around us.
We finally made it to the ground floor, but the closest Metro station was still a quite a distance. We obviously weren’t the only ones who lost track of time. There were groups of people running in the same direction we were. My mom and I made it in time to catch the first train to Place de Italie, but we weren’t in time to make our connecting train back to the hotel. We tried our best, but a security guard was there to stop us. My mom and I were suddenly stranded in Paris with no clue how to get to our hotel.
We walked out to the street and pulled out our map. It would take forever to walk back to the hotel (we were on the opposite side of the city), so we were just going to flag down a cab. The problem was – it was dead silent — there were no cars on the street at that time of night. While we were staring at our map, a nice man on a bike stopped and asked if we needed help. He didn’t speak much English, but he spoke enough to guide us to a taxi line about two blocks away (so much for the French being rude, right?).
That wasn’t the end of the road for us. We walked up to the first cab in line and the driver rolled down his window. He said something to us in French that we didn’t understand, so we responded by asking is he speaks English. He shook his head to say no. There’s no quit in my mom though, so she whipped out our hotel information, pointed at the address, and asked if he could take us there. He looked at the paper for a second and finally nodded yes. After a taxi ride full of praying that the dude actually knew where he was going (I’m still convinced he drove around in a couple of circles to crank up the fare), my mom and I finally made it back to our hotel safe and sound.
That’s what I love about travel — you never know what’s going to happen next. It wasn’t anything like we planned, but it makes for an unforgettable memory and a funny story.
The Eiffel Tower was everything I hoped it would be and more. I’ll never forget the first time I saw it in person. This should go without saying, but I would advise anyone and everyone to consider Paris and the Eiffel Tower when planning a trip to Europe. It’s well worth your time!
Have you ever been to the top of the Eiffel Tower? I would love to hear about your experience! You can leave a message below or connect with me on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. And, don’t forget, if you can’t travel the globe, experience the world with me at http://allaroundtim.com!