{ Paris Day 1-Eiffel Tower }

Some of our Europe trip I’m catching up on…

Saturday morning we planned to catch the Eurostar train into Paris. Even after meticulous planning on what time we would need to leave our hotel, and planning our Underground trips just right, we still almost missed our train. We were literally running through the train station, practically jumping over security checks and throwing our luggage through the scanners. We made the train, and within minutes they pulled out. Nothing like a little adrenaline rush to keep things lively.

It was a nice couple hour trip which we could get caught up on sleep, and read up on Paris in our Rick Steves’ book. Arriving in Paris felt so surreal to me. Maybe because we were actually in France where Aaron had served his mission (though he didn’t serve in Paris), or because we were in a place where a different language was being spoken that made it feel a little more of an adventure. Either way, we were excited to be there.

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Completely blurry, but I like that you can see our train arrival up on the big board.

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I felt like by the time that we had left London that we were just figuring out the Underground or Tube train system. When we arrived at the Gare Du Nord train station in Paris we had to make our way to catch the local train and familiarize ourselves with a completely different system. Instead of the nice handy cards that they had in London that we would just scan as we entered the terminal, here in Paris we had to buy packs of individual tickets for each trip. It was cheaper to buy a big pack, than a ticket each time, so after calculating how often we thought we would be using the Metro we went to purchase our tickets. You could buy them from little ATM type terminals that were located outside the entrance to the train, and man did we hold up the line. There were many a French behind us that were rolling their eyes and becoming quite annoyed at us tourist.

After squaring away our tickets and figuring out which line we needed to get to our hotel we were off. We thought we were prepared for the crazy metro trip to our hotel, but boy was I wrong. The tube in London seemed like a cakewalk to the one in Paris. There seemed to be twice as many staircases to navigate our heavy suitcases through, and when we finally got to our platform and saw the first train come, I almost died. People crammed into every single space available. I looked at Aaron and suggested that we wait for the next one to arrive. He smiled, and as the next one came, said,”It’s not going to get better.” He knew better. I was so afraid of us getting separated from each other-those doors like to close fast, and with people rushing in all around you-it’s a little stressful. Add in 3 big suitcases, and we were a sight to behold. We finally separated between two different doors, and when it stopped just started pushing in like everyone else. I was grateful we didn’t have to switch trains too much before we came to our stop.

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When we arrived at our stop we got out and pulled out our map to try to orient ourselves to where we were. We had planned to stay at a small more local place called the Grand Hotel Leveque on Rue Cler street. It was highly recommended by Rick Steves’, and would give us a more local feel of the city. I assumed for some reason that it was a much larger intersection and street that we were looking for based off of the map. I was wrong, and we spent a fair amount of time wandering back and forth on the main street intersecting it looking for it. It was kind of fun to take in all of the big ornate buildings, and seeing the small cars pass by. Finally, this sweet little old French lady saw us on the corner looking at our map and asked if we needed some help. She told us the place to go, and off we walked. A few minutes later we saw her walking by us. Aaron teasingly asked her in French if she was following us to make sure we got there okay (a characteristic very common I guess there. Once they give you directions there feel responsible for you to make sure you get to where you are going. If some think the French are snooty, she sure made us think opposite-she was so nice and helpful) She smiled sweetly and said, “No, I love to just walk down this street sometimes” She was such a sweet little grandma lady-the kind you can’t help but love. Once we started walking down the street lined with random flower shops, outdoor markets, and quaint restaurants, I could see her love for walking down this street.

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Our hotel  and it’s one person elevator up to our floor.

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We checked into our hotel and headed straight to the Eiffel tower. We had our schedule packed pretty tightly, and knew that today would be our best bet at seeing it both in the daylight and at night. It was quite foggy and overcast that day too, which was a bit of a bummer, but it was still pretty spectacular to actually be seeing this icon in person.

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One of my favorite pictures from our whole trip!

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This was the one site we had planned to see that we had foolishly not bought tickets for beforehand. We were a little unsure of how long it would take us to find our hotel and walk over to the tower, that we didn’t want to miss our ticket time, so we decided to just wing it. We walked over to the tower which we could see from our little street, and soon realized our mistake. The lines were long like they always are, and it was COLD!!! Cold and windy! After finding what we thought was our line and standing in it for almost 45 minutes, we realized that we were in the stairs line and not the elevator line. It was so cold we were not about to switch lines, so we told ourselves that we wanted the real Paris experience-stairs and all. We bought tickets for the stairs and to go all the way up to the top. We started our climb up to the first level.

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Even at the just the first level we could feel just how windy it was. Windy and cold! I have to admit our smiles were a bit forced in these pictures.

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Once we turned around and saw the beautiful views of the city, it kind of made it worth it. I would have loved to have been able to see farther out on a really clear day, but even with the fog it was breathtaking.

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They have a small café area inside that we happily took advantage up to escape from the fierce winds outside. We had our first tastes of French pastries and thawed out a bit before heading up to the higher levels. We had heard that sometimes they will close down the tower if it is too windy, and wondered if that may be the case today. We ventured up to the second level, and as we got higher everyone but Aaron was rethinking our trip to the very top. I love a good view, but really am not one for heights, and we found out Brianna and Austin may feel the same too. I think if it hadn’t have been so cold it would have been different, but man was it cold. Just as we were about to get into the elevator line to take us up, they start detouring everyone down the stairs. We didn’t really know what was going on, but were obedient little followers down the stairs. They started lighting up the tower as we were walking down, and that was pretty cool to see being so close to the lights.

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At the first level we heard some of the guards just saying that we needed to evacuate the tower. No explanation, just that we needed to evacuate. At the bottom of the tower we saw the French version of the FBI vans surrounding the tower and making sure people were far away. We found out that there was a bomb threat there that night-so no third floor for us. We missed the great crepe stand that we had heard about that is at the base of the Eiffel tower because they had shooed everyone away, but ended up getting some beautiful views of the tower lit up.

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By this time we were starving-we had loaded up on some snacks earlier, and had our pastries at the tower, but we were ready for some real food. We scoured our book for some places nearby that we had narrowed it down to earlier and chose a place that was just a few blocks from where we were staying. We were in France, but decided on Italian food, but I am pretty sure that that everything in Paris just tastes good. This restaurant, which I can’t quite remember, but I think was called Tribeca Italian Restaurant, had great food. It was super tiny-like three or four tables and a place they cooked the food right where you could see-but man was it SO good. The kids had pizza and Aaron and I each had a pasta dish. One of us had this tortellini that we all ended up eating on-it was fantastic. Austin really just wanted to go back there all the other nights it was so good.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel and grabbed a crepe from the crepe stand right outside our hotel door (many of which we would have in the next few days). Hotels in Europe have very different rooming standards than in the United States. Most places just fit two people, as was the case in our hotel, so we had ended up getting two different rooms. Austin and Brianna kind of liked the freedom, and really the hotel was more like an apartment building/house so the rooms were really close together, and small. We got a good laugh out of how tiny our bathroom was-it was really barely a one person bathroom. Even with the small quarters we were happy to be in a place to rest-all the walking around in the cold was taking it’s toll a little bit, and we were anxious to get some sleep before our full day to Versailles the next day.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Fun to see you blogging Europe!! I'm sorry it was so cold! Beautiful night shots.