We traveled under the English Channel to get to Paris via the Eurostar – a high speed train that connects the UK to France. We departed from Kings Cross Station (on the 1st of June), and waited a tad over an hour before arriving in France. The ride itself was cozy – and we almost had the entire compartment to ourselves. The majority of us were occupied by our iPods, card games and naps and in a couple of hours we reached our destination. It took us a little while to collect ourselves, and our suitcases, before purchasing three-day Metro tickets – almost the right amount for our stay. We trekked down into the Metro station, and multiple stops until the one closest to our hotel room, then lugged our suitcases up to the streets. Our hotel – Hotel Ibis, was only a couple of blocks away from the station, but it felt like miles since we had our luggage with us.
Right away we received our room assignments and headed up to unpack. The plan was to meet in a couple of hours in the hotel lobby, after finding food on our own, so we could all travel to the Eiffel Tower together. Back in the United States, Professor Matthews had purchased 22 tickets for sunset (around 9:00 p.m.) to travel to the top of the tower. It was probably the smartest idea for the trip, since the line to get up would have been extremely long. And of course, we all owed Professor Matthews about $18.00 each.
The group I was with dined at a small restaurant. Some of us ordered the safe choice of ‘chicken,’ while others ordered meat and cheese platters, and crepes. All in all, the food was delicious. Even after one meal, we all knew that the French do live up to their claims to making some of the best food in the world.
Outside, the weather was beautiful – already many degrees warmer than it was in London. The sun was out and shining, and now starting its early stages of setting by the time we were done eating. The atmosphere was indescribable – we were all about to see the Eiffel Tower after years and years of seeing pictures and film of the landmark.
We took the Metro of course to the closest stop and could already catch small glimpses of the structure as we got closer. It was a good chunk of blocks once we got off until we reached the opening for where the tower stood. And I will not attempt to write in too much detail about the tower itself, or the feelings we all must have experienced when seeing it for the first time. It seemed to tower all over Paris, right then and there, and with the sun now setting in the sky seemingly behind it, it illuminated the black making it pop even more. In front of the Eiffel Tower is a large and narrow lawn, lined on either side by trees which are hedged to look square at the top. We had to walk the entire duration of the lawn to get directly under the tower, where the line formed to get to the top. It was magic, getting to that point.
There are a couple of different levels to the tower, and all of them are accessible from the old fashionedelevator within the tower. We got off at each one, snapping photographs of the city of Paris. The line was much longer to get to the highest level – almost the tip of the tower. We finally got there when the sun was gone, and the sky was black. Paris was lit and illuminated, and the view was so beautiful, and so rare. How alive the city must have been below us. I, with about five others, ended up staying at the top for over an hour, and eventually made our way back down and out to the hotel.
We were all exhausted when we got back, and hit our pillows hard, remembering thoughts from the Eiffel.