Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taking the Lift to the top of La Tour Eiffel

I am not usually one for the tourist trap.  In fact, when traveling, I look to see where everyone else is and then go the other way.

However, during our Christmas stay in Paris, 2012, my daughter decided to do a report on La Tour Eiffel. And, I have to admit, as she worked on the report, I became increasingly interested in this odd piece of French architecture.  For example, I was amazed to learn that, despite the incredible size and scope of the project, La Tour Eiffel was completed with a work force of only a hundred people. (Take a peek at the Tower's Wikipedia article; it is worth a quick read.)

So, on our second day in Paris we took the subway over to the Eiffel Tower.  It was beautiful; everything one would imagine it to be!  Plus, it was a wonderfully mild, sunny, winter day, light breeze, about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

But, then we saw the lines!  Oh, god, you know from my previous post how I feel about French lines!   And there were three of them--yes, that is right, three lines, not one!  And they appeared to just 'snake around' for what looked like miles.  And the tourists, for reasons that I have always struggled to understand, seemed all-too-happy to get in these lines and just stand there.  From where I was standing, for example, about half-way back, the average wait was three to four hours!  What?

I tell you, as I stood there, it dawned on me that if the zombie apocalypse does take place, it will be the people in these lines who will go first, as they will not know where to run.  What, zombies are coming?  But where is the line to escape?

As I stood there looking at my wife, I said a little too out loudly, "C'est la vie," only to see, at the same time, the look on our daughter's face.  Disappointment... Ugh!

I looked at my brother John, who had taken the tower lift to the second level on a previous trip. "What do you think, John?"  "I'm sorry, Ruby," he said.  Looking at me, "You need to get here early."

And so we did.  Two days later, rising at 6:30am in the morning, espresso and croissant in hand, Ruby and I took the subway to see La Tour Eiffel.  We got there around 7:45am and, already, there were the expected three different lines.  But, nothing to worry about.  Opening time for the lift was 9:00am.  And, to our surprise, for reasons that I could not entirely make clear, our lift line was going all the way, today, to the tipsy, nipsy top.  Yes!, double score in the parenting category.

Another big score: standing in line went fast. Ruby got one of her beloved croque-monsieurs, which is French for cheese and ham and more cheese baked to perfection on white bread!  And, I got more coffee.  An hour later there we were getting onto the lift.

As the video I have included here shows--click here to see video--once on that lift we just kept going up and up and up and up.  I had chills down to my feet, and I am not usually afraid of heights!  It was, like just about everything else we experienced in Paris, tasteful and, well, as good as life gets!  

On the whole, this was, for me, I am sure, one of those moments I will remember just before the lights go out for good.