Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Paris, Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We purchased our Eiffel Tower tickets online Monday night. All in order to save time. It was a beautiful thing because then we knew exactly when we were supposed to be there Wednesday morning. We were able to sleep in a bit and have a nice relaxed breakfast.

The Eiffel Tower is so impressive. I find it fascinating that they built the tower as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, not the main attraction. Not only that, but that they had every intention of dismantling the whole thing after 20 years! Thankfully, when the 20 years was up they decided they could use it as a communication tower and left it standing.

Now you have to remember that the previous night the Eiffel Tower had been evacuated due to a bomb threat. So it wasn't surprising to see armed military strolling the grounds.
He's doing a good job keeping his eyes peeled....or something
 The tickets we had purchased were good for an elevator ride all the way to the top. But after reaching the second level and then having to switch to the middle elevator to reach the top I had had my fill of heights. They really aren't my thing.

I told Kevin to go to the top without me.

"No, I won't regret it when we get home."

"Emilie, I don't want to go to the top and want to point something out to you only to have you clear down here."

"I'm really good. This is plenty, plenty high and I can see all of Paris just fine."

"Come on. You can do it!"

"I know I can. It's a matter of not wanting to."


And that's when I glanced behind Kevin and notice a 2 year old boy happily getting in line for the elevator to the top.


"Fine. Let's go."

Practically hyperventilating as I stepped into the elevator, I shut my eyes as tight as they would go, covered them with my hands and then buried my face into Kevin's chest. You see the elevator has glass walls in order to give you fantastic views on your way up....that or induce heart attacks.

I could hear a few people around me snickering and commenting to Kevin about my, um, position, but I didn't care. All I could think of was, "I wish this thing would start moving already so it could be over!" The fantastic part was it WAS already moving.

That was the smoothest elevator ride ever. No noise. No jerks. With my eyes closed I literally could not tell we were heading up!

I was so glad Kevin talked me into it. The views were breath taking. The top is really only covered by chain link fencing. As I was taking pictures, cheating my hands just a bit past the fencing, I kept envisioning my camera slipping from my grasp and falling to the ground. Wouldn't that be heart breaking? I'm sure it's happened. People were sticking their arms way out beyond the fence to get a better shot.
Arc de Triomphe as seen atop the Eiffel Tower

Notre Dame

Luckily that did not happen. But anyone could have dropped anything from there very easily.

I survived the trip down (wahoo!) thuroughly impressed and super grateful to be on solid ground and we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe.

This was our second to last day of our entire trip and we. were. feeling. it. When we were told the elevator to the top of the Arc was closed and we would be required to walk 234 steps to the top we almost turned away. I mean we'd just come from the Eiffel Tower and felt we'd gotten a pretty clear view of Paris already.

However, we took a couple of deep breaths and charged forward. The stair case in the arc is circular and the steps seemed very short and as if the went on forever. Finally making it to the top we both looked at each other with an I-cannot-believe-we-just-did-that expression.

The view from the top was wonderful. I loved all the streets converging to the center of the circle the Arc de Triomphe sat on. It was fun to get to experience something in real life I'd only seen in pictures before.
Champs Elysees

After our decent we walked through an underground tunnel to get to the Champs Elysees. I was VERY excited for this! It was time for shopping!!!!

My sister-in-law's name is Danica :)

It was fun to walk past all the very well known stores and window shop as well as enter them and try on a few things. However, I quickly became aware that I was SO not the size I had wanted to be when I got to Paris. Nor was I planning on staying that size. It made shopping a little more challenging because I didn't want to buy something that fit me then, pay crazy amounts of money for it, and then have it be too big later. I also didn't want to buy something I thought I would soon be able to fit into, pay crazy amounts of money for it, and then never reach that goal.

It was kind of a bummer.

We decided it was time for lunch so I could maybe clear my head a bit, oh and we were hungry.

We chose/were hustled into a cute side walk cafe. Total tourist trap, but we thought it would be fun to say we'd eaten on the Champs Elysees so we went along with it. Then menu was not too over priced, which was nice, but we couldn't make up our minds on what to order for our drinks. Our waiter suggested some fruit drinks and we agreed.

When our meal came it was accompanied my some very lavishly dressed beverages which included pineapple slices and firework looking decorations.

My french onion soup.
 Beyond the decor was the actual liquid which was really no more than apple and pineapple juice mixed together. Nothing fancy.

When we got our bill we were SHOCKED to see the drinks cost 16 euros.....EACH!!!! We were totally hustled. One drink almost cost more than both of our meals combined! Ah, well. You live and learn.

Continuing our shopping after lunch resulted in, what we shall refer to as the Paris miscommunication of 2010. The more clothes I tried on the more frustrated with myself at not being more disciplined in my weight loss goals I became. Meanwhile, as I am becoming frustrated with my body shape, Kevin is getting anxious that we are spending so much time shopping. But ONLY because I had mentioned that I would also like to do the Louvre that day as well.

Picture this:

Me practically in tears in the dressing room as each garment I tried was a further reminder to a failed goal and Kevin waiting to hurry me away from this shop filled street to get the the end objective because he thought that's what I wanted. It wasn't a good combo.

In my head, I had planned on spending a good chunk of this day shopping and the IF we had time we would also do the Louvre. If not, we would hit the Louvre the following day. We had plenty of time.

In Kevin's mind I had said I'd like to see the Louvre today and he was just trying to keep me on schedule.

I was already in a touchy mood and his hurrying me through the whole painful process didn't help. PLUS I think I was still feeling the small disappointments of Versailles and the quilt shop from the previous day and the clothes not fitting right just added to the list of things not going as I had pictured. Normally I am able to focus on the good of a situation, but I found myself continuing to return to the things that had not gone as planned.

In short, I ended up walking away from Kev for about 10 minutes.

Of course it's all very silly now, but at the time I was very upset that everyone else I'd ever known who had gone to Paris had a magical time and nothing seemed to being working out for me.

Petty, I know. But I am a girl and sometimes these emotions just sneak up on you.

Even in Paris.

Gratefully, Kevin and I are both very good at communicating when it really counts. We were able to sit down, once Kevin caught up to me and convinced me to look at him again, and talk through the whole thing. He was very understanding and patient. And he helped me take my expectations of what Paris was going to be for me down a notch so that I was able to, again, focus on what was magical about the trip.

The Louvre was expansive.

So many great works  to see. Of course we saw the Mona Lisa. Which is a very interesting. I can see how it would have taken him years to complete it. It's not just another portrait. The scenery, the lighting. It all add up to a picture that would make you stop and look at it longer even if it did not have the celebrity status it has.

We wandered through the rest of the Louvre and after a few hours decided everything was starting to look a bit too much like each other and it was time to move on.

There is a mall located very near the Louvre and in my research for quilt shops I thought I had remembered one being in there. We investigated. And although we did not find a quilt shop we did find a candy shop and a very old wall. They had either uncovered that stone wall or built the mall around it. I can't recall. Either way, it was very interesting.

Is the iron work on the doors exquisite?
After the mall we made our way back to Notre Dame. It's like  a magnet, that place. We toured the ruins underneath the court yard of the the church. It is fascinating to realize how many layers Paris is built on.

We finally made it into Notre Dame after so many days of finding ourselves wandering around it. The very first thing I noticed was the stained glass windows. I just could not get over the brilliance of the colors. Normally, stained glass windows are beautiful but very muted in color. These were striking, deep jewel toned pieces of glass. It literally was breath taking!

 The middle section of the church was roped off. The tourists meandered  around the outskirts while those come to a worship filled in the seats in the middle. It felt very sacrilegious to me to be touring the building while they were holding worship. When the preacher started into his sermon it was too much for me. I just kept imagining sitting in one of my church meetings while tourists, most of whom would have no emotional ties to the meeting, sat gawking and taking pictures. I'm not quite sure how that was not weird for them too.

We left shortly afterward.

Of course, on our way back to the hotel we stopped at "our place" to get a few crepes. It was still early, well, early in relation to our time frame of the previous nights, but we were so tired we went back to our  hotel and ended our day.


Emily said...

This is Andrew, and I am glad that you and Kevin had such a great time, honestly. However, you should know that France sucks and so do Frenchie people....... but I do love you both.

Tobi said...

I'm so glad you went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. That view was amazing. I loved how you took the pics with the fence in the way so it really felt like I was there.

P.S. I think you look great and you should have bought something that looked perfect right now (but I totally get the emotional drama. every.day).