Getting There and Friday – Eiffel Tower & The Seine
We arrived via Air France flight 007 (like James Bond, yeah we heard that a couple of times) at around 10:00 am. Tired, sore, and groggy, we took the RER and Metro into the 15th arrondissement to hour hotel, the Timhotel Eiffel. Fortunately, the hotel was only a block away from the Metro stop, but unfortunately, our rooms wouldn’t be ready for another couple of hours. The concierge stowed our large backpacks in a closet and we walked a couple of blocks away to get a bite to eat. Lunch, breakfast, dinner… we weren’t really sure what we were eating. Jet lag is generally understood to be fatigue (although Webster’s includes "irritability" in their definition). I can say that when we arrived at the hotel after a seven hour overnight flight, I didn’t feel fatigued or irritable so much as confused. I had no idea what time it was. It was the same feeling when one goes into a movie theater during daylight only to emerge a couple of hours later into night.
Lunch was not good. A huge plate of greasy, heavy food was not what our stomachs needed at that point. We both agreed that we’d go back, get the room key, and take a nap. That seemed to help re-set our clocks a bit and we felt a lot better, although our stomachs wouldn’t calm down for another couple of hours. We walked over to the Eiffel Tower around 5:00 pm. Monuments such as the Eiffel are best walked up to. You get a feel of the size by seeing it from far away and then realizing just how big it is by how long it still takes you to reach it. For all the cliche-ness of the Eiffel Tower, it is really a cool structure. The structure is a remarkable spider web of late 19th century iron work, the views from the three levels are stunning, and the size is so immense, you feel like you’re on another world up there. Not just the height, but the breadth as well. The base of the structure is a large city block, and looking up into the first level is like looking up into some alien mother ship; it covers your entire view.
The view of Paris from the top is like floating above the city. Paris, unlike so many other major cities, has very view tall buildings. Most are not over eight stories. The one exception in the central part of the city is Tour Montparnasse, which is really Paris’ only skyscraper. It sticks out like some sort black monolith, full of stars… While I love skyscrapers, I instantly felt most Parisians disgust with this building. It doesn’t belong. That highest part of the city skyline belongs to the Eiffel.
We took the tram down from the view platform at the top of the tower to the second level, and then Angela decided it would be cool to walk down the stairs from the second to the first level. Walking down the stairs of the Eiffel Tower isn’t like walking down the stairs on any other skyscraper. You’re pretty much fully exposed to the wind, which whips through the structure’s lattice-like surface at full force. You are still roughly four hundred feet up in the air at his point, and it is around 175 feet down to the first level. I have to admit, vertigo began to set in winding down the staircase.