How many dreams or "somedays" are lurking in your brain? Hey you! I'm serious...share it in the comments section. At my age, I've known too many people set to retire only to be diagnosed as "terminal" or planned that once-in-a-lifetime trip only to be faced with a life setback. My point; we all MUST live today. With that dreary news...let's continue.
Being my 2nd visit to Paris, I was determined to visit the Eiffel Tower, toast champagne from the top, and feel that Parisian lifestyle. This was a HUGE Life List check box for me.
TRAVEL TIP: Purchase your tickets online in advance from the Official Eiffel Tower site. They're cheaper and you can avoid "some" of the line. A Bonus - read the history before arriving - it'll make your visit "Si Charmant...so sweet."
With my gracious friend Eric from Bienvenue á Paris literally pointing me in the right direction, I was off; 49th croissant in hand, hyped up on Espresso, ready for my grand tour.
After successfully navigating the Metro (which in EVERY country gives me heart palpitations) - I arrived. While traveling alone sounds so sexy, there are days, like today, when I wish I was losing my Eiffel Tower virginity with someone. Blah, Blah...
As you approach this behemoth of metal and rivets, you realize the Travel Channel doesn't do it justice. When you visit (and you will), I suggest you just stand and be awe-struck for a few minutes. Boarding the "elevator" tram system to reach the top, you get to rub elbows with the interior workings, architecture, and, on this day, your closest 3,000 strangers. This is where traveling alone can really suck. You're surrounded by families, couples enjoying a romantic moment...and...you.🙄 Still, I made the best of my heavenly ascent, found compassionate strangers to take my photo (again and again), and gazed at the incredible views of The City of Lights. How could I possibly feel lonely in Paris when so much life is swirling around like a silk Chanel scarf in a fall breeze? (Yes, I should have purchased that vintage scarf). Next visit.
Sipping Champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower; priceless! I felt giddy that this was really happening to me; a small town girl from the Oregon coast. Yes, I did my part at the gift shop and thoroughly enjoyed rattling back down the guts of the Eiffel Tower in a congested tram. Back at ground level, plan on being assaulted by an army of young guys hawking silly trinkets - perfect for grandchildren who haven't lifted their heads from a video game in 6 years.
TRAVEL TIP: 1) You must use the "le toilette" at the top. It's tiny with the most cheerful yellow tile work you've ever seen. 2) After my visit, I discovered you can climb the initial 674 steps, then take the tram up from there. Next visit, this will happen for sure! It'll be the pay off I seek for all those "#*&@%" squats and lunges.😆
With a smile on my face the size of Versailles, I enjoyed a crisp fall afternoon strolling through the surrounding bourgeoisie neighborhoods. Deftly curated flowers, romantic couples, the buzz of the city, and the coo of doves. All combined, you may enter a zen-like state of awe...until you step on a piece of French bubble gum.😂 Still, there's a softness, only found in Paris, that speaks to your soul with depth and love of life.
It was time to feed the beast, so I slipped into La Terrasse du 7eme for a dose of carbs and crunch; feasting on an artful salad with extra Sardines (thank you very much), wine - more pastries. Yep, just another afternoon at a typical Parisian café; lucky me. In France, you can always count on the freshest ingredients; so nosh away. Like all cities, the people watching was fantastic. I admire the French for their simplicity, impeccable style, and life balance. I could have stayed and lived on cheese and wine until fossilized.
Gently rocking back and forth on the Metro, my return home was full of gratitude that this precious city was not leveled during World War II. I can't imagine speaking German at the Eiffel Tower; there's just something wrong about that idea.
Returning back to the apartment, I was a motor mouth with poor Eric about my big, beautiful, lonely day; carefully recapping every detail over, yep, more pastries. I am grateful for his kindness and hospitality.
This day in Paris is logged in my temporal lobe as one of my best life memories. I will remember the enduring strength of the Eiffel Tower, to stand alone and be strong, the beauty of this city, and the healthy pride taken to create a simple pastry. On occasion, I will also remind myself that I behold these characteristics; preferably with a Baguette in hand.