I clearly remember the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower - we had had supper at a campground and then drove in to take a look at the sights. Suddenly there it was, glowing golden in the night, and I thought it was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen.
We got to Paris Tuesday, taking all sorts of wrong turns and driving around Jouy en Josas (greater Paris, essentially) looking for the hotel, which we eventually found. We checked in and went off in search of something to eat. A lot of things seemed to be closed, and we couldn't work out why. The grocery store we went into at noon, for instance, was closing in 5 minutes, so we hastily threw some groceries in a cart, and had to buy bread at a motorway rest stop, of all places. For supper we finally found a pizza place, where the European pizza was indeed as delicious as we remembered it to be.
We thought it would be great to surprise the kids with a view of the Tower at night, so we headed off in that direction. As we drove along the Seine, even before we could see the Tower, we realized we were in a HUGE traffic jam, and the bridges were lined with people. The kids were wrestling in the back when we got a first glimpse of the golden beauty that is the Tower at night and they were literally open mouthed in awe. Worth every minute of the drive.
TB rolled down his window and asked why there was so much traffic. The fellow who answered spoke just enough English to say "There is a national party today, and there will be a big party over the Eiffel Tower." His friend clarified that. "A fire party."
We had somehow lucked into fireworks over the Eiffel Tower.
A and B and I got out, running farther down the Quai. A pulled out my tiny digital and video'd what she could, in case traffic had suddenly picked up and TB wasn't able to see anything. The show went on for almost half an hour and it was AMAZING. There were times when it looked as though the entire tower was covered in molten light. The finale was overwhelming. Absolutely breath taking. Surprise the kids, indeed.
And TG was stuck in traffic on the bridge closest to the Tower, with a clear view of the Tower for the last several minutes. His face was positively glowing when he picked us up.
Wednesday was Climb The Tower day. Busy busy busy - but TG found a short, fast moving line. I wasn't sure I'd be able to climb it, as I am far from svelte, and I am afraid of heights, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a try. The heights issue didn't bother me at all, although it was a bit nerve-wracking when the wind picked up. Tower ascension is in three stages - you can climb the first section, then either take an elevator or climb the second, and then you have to take an elevator for the third.
It only took our family 15 minutes to climb the first section - and that was with all sorts of waiting for me to catch my breath. We wandered around the first floor for awhile and B said he was done climbing, he was afraid of heights. I sort of half heartedly tried to buy myself a ticket to take the elevator up the second section, but I couldn't get the machine working properly and ...I thought B might be encouraged if I made the effort, so I started up the second. Lots more catching of the breath and steeling of the nerves but we all made it. WE MADE IT.
Two moments stand out for me - B hanging out near me, hearing me say "Oh this isn't nearly as scary as I thought it was" and then taking off and beating me to the top, and the look of respect on A's face when she saw me coming out of the second stage stairwell. B and I have since had a discussion about how very good it feels to do something you're afraid of.
On the food front, we are loving eating at little roadside vans. People here are very kind about our struggles with the language, and the longer I'm here, the more I want to stay just a bit longer and learn to speak it!!!
Gotta run before we kicked out of the hotel.
Today Versailles, tomorrow Calais to Dover to our very dear friends in Norfolk.