No doubt, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world: When people simply hear the word “Paris,” their minds automatically divert to an image of a tall, thin, wrought iron lattice tower illuminating the entire city on a beautiful star-studded night.
You see it in movies, you see it in postcards, you see it on covers of travel brochures — and despite what anyone knows about its history and significance, the Eiffel Tower will forever serve as a global cultural icon that the world will continue to marvel at.
Many people can only dream of seeing this iconic monument for themselves, and I was no exception to this. So I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when the day finally arrived that I would get to stand face to face with the Eiffel Tower.
Day two commenced with another bus tour through the city, passing the grand Notre Dame cathedral and the golden Les Invalides dome, followed by a quick stop at a lookout point that offered a nice landscape view of the Eiffel Tower.
Unfortunately, the overcast weather put a slight damper on the “picture perfect” view of the Eiffel Tower. But cloudy or not, I refused to let my camera lens succumb to the negative exposure — it would instead capture every pixel of happiness emitted by the Eiffel Tower.
After quickly snapping a few photos, we then headed to the tower itself.
Prior to traveling to Europe, the term “pickpocket” was unfamiliar to me — it was something I’d always seen in movies and heard about from friends who also traveled to Europe. But as our bus made its way toward the tower, our tour guide, Jonathan, warned us about pickpockets being quite prevalent at such tourist attractions as the Eiffel Tower. He informed us of certain individuals — primarily women — who scour the grounds of the Eiffel Tower in search of innocent foreigners. So what they do is they approach you with a clipboard, make up some sob story that will either prompt you to cough up some cash, or while you’re signing some kind of petition, a partner in crime will sneakily reach in your bag and grab your belongings.
Thanks to Jonathan, we were able to outsmart one possible suspect! An unassuming woman — appearing to be of Hispanic descent, no taller than 5’3″, and donning a leather jacket and jeans — quickly paced toward our group with a clipboard, and before she could even utter a word, one of the group members said, “No thanks!” And that was all that was needed to be said before she disappeared into the crowd.
One of the best things about traveling with a tour company is that reservations for attractions are made months in advance, so we never have to worry about standing in any lines and waiting for tickets. This was certainly beneficial for us since the ticket line appeared to span for miles.
There were two options to ascend the Eiffel Tower: stairs or elevator. We opted for the elevator, of course.
The elevator door opened to the first stop and the frigid wind blasted on our faces as we walked out to the deck. Nearing the railing, my eyes widened in amazement when I saw the view ahead of me. I couldn’t believe I was looking at the city of Paris — the city of Paris, from the Eiffel Tower no less! Was I dreaming? If so, I never wanted to wake up.
I’ve been atop many observatory decks in various cities, and the views from the top were all pretty similar, in my opinion. From the Seattle Space Needle to the Vancouver Lookout Tower to the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, I was impressed with the views for the most part, but also not surprised with the typical birds-eye view of lines of skyscrapers behind some sort of body of water.
But there was something different about Paris, something almost unexplainable. Maybe it was the boxy buildings all tightly packed together? Maybe it was the long stretch of green field — the Champs de Mars — behind the Seine River? Maybe it was the gray clouds hovering over the city, casting an ominous glow over the city? Maybe it was the combination of all of these things? Whatever was, it was simply Paris and it was simply breathtaking.
After spending some time on the deck and later purchasing some merchandise from a gift shop, we proceeded to descend to the bottom, officially ending our tour of the Eiffel Tower.
It sounds cliche, but this day will always be remembered as the day all my childhood dreams came true — I can finally say I went up the Eiffel Tower!