Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Visit To The Eiffel Tower

Travelling is one of the most pleasurable hobbies there is. We lived in Paris for sometime a few years ago. I have to admit that the romance was taken out of it while living there. I suppose this is not new, considering many people have talked about this aspect of living in a traditionally ‘tourist’ city like Paris.

It was great when we moved away to London, then eventually to Cork in Ireland for nearly 7 years. Finally, we could travel to Paris like real tourists and enjoy the sites with the awe and excitement they did. Earlier this year – in April – we visited Paris again. By now we had returned to England for years, and lived in the city of Bristol. We rented a little house with a garden – yes, in the middle of Paris – and settled down to enjoy the sites.

One of the places the kids wanted to see was the Eiffel tower. They wanted to go all the way to the top. My husband and I had been to the very top of the tower 15 years ago. We visited it in October at the end of the tourist season and had no kids to take with us at the time.

Now we were returning at the start of the tourist season (yes, the season starts early in Paris) with 3 kids in tow. We had no idea of what awaited us.  We turned up at the tower before 8.30 AM, thinking there would be no one else there, and that we’d get to the top in a breeze. The sign said it would take 2 hours to wait in line for the elevator. It turned out to be 3 hours. By the time we got into the packed elevator, my back was hurting so badly, I could hardly stand (and I don’t normally have back pain. I have all kinds of other pains apart from lower back pain). The lift was so full, I couldn't stretch my back, sit (there was nowhere to sit) or even squat.

When my husband and I went to the Eiffel tower on our own, we’d climbed the stairs to the middle ramp, then we spent a leisurely 45 minutes or so, looking out at our surroundings before climbing the stairs down again.

This time the kids wanted to go to the very top of the tower, so once our lift stopped at the middle ramp, we had to wait for another half an hour or so (in a queue) to get the second one to the very top. By this time my back was so excruciatingly painful, I was thankful for the railings that ran alongside the queue. I held onto these for dear life and pulled myself forward.

By the time we got to the top of the Eiffel tower is was well past lunch time. We were tired and so were the kids. I was suffering so badly, all I did up there was take a few pictures of the views and sat down to wait for my family. Thankfully, there were a few seats up there.

For all that work, we stayed at the top of the tower for not more than 15 minutes. It was freezing cold and I was in a lot of pain. We took the elevator back down to the middle platform, had lunch in the restaurant there, looked at some of the views, watched a film in the cinema, then climbed the stairs back down. I have to admit that taking the stairs back down was the most enjoyable part of the whole experience.

The morale of this story: 1. If you’re visiting the Eiffel tower, do so out of tourist season. 2. Take the stairs to the middle platform because the queue is a lot shorter and it takes half the time of the elevator queue. 3. If you want to get to the top of the tower, take the second elevator from the middle platform to the top. This one is quicker and takes less time. 4. It’s probably better to go later in the day rather than earlier in the morning. In tourist season the Eiffel tower is open until midnight. The last entry is about 11.30 PM.

 All photos are taken and owned by the author of this post.   
 A view of Paris from the top of the tower
The little garden of the house we rented in Paris (taken from the bedroom window)
Another view of Paris from the top of the tower
A ticket we bought in order to visit the tower
Have you been to the Eiffel tower? How long did you have to wait to get to the top?

Anne, the author of this post, writes about blogging and writing at ‘A Bloggers Books ’.

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