Three AM local time in California, my phone alarm went off. I turned over in bed, bleary-eyed fumbling to shut off the noise, and with the same lack of coordination pulled my laptop onto the bed, booting it up. From the depth of darkness beside me, Scotty rolled his face away from the glare, not even questioning whatever I was up to now. Somehow, with the three brain cells I have that are kept in reserve and willing to function before 7am without coffee, I managed to find the site to buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower. I scroll through each day of our trip looking for a good time, adrenaline fully opening my eyes as I see day after day booked up already. I did not wake up at 3am on our California vacation, three months before our trip, just to find all the tickets gone already, did I? But then I see tickets available for 10pm, Tuesday, May 19th, our last night in Paris. Ten PM might be kind of late. On our last night there, the kids may be tired and done and not particularly interested in just starting on the venture. But this is my only option. If we’re going up the Eiffel Tower, it’s 10pm on Tuesday, and only to the 2nd level, because that’s all that’s here.
That was the kind of planning necessary to get us standing on the Tower Tuesday night. They were some of the few tickets left, and the earliest available. As it turned out, my fears about 10pm being too late were unfounded. We arrived about 9:30pm, which in Paris at this time of year is just as dusk is starting. Yes, that does mess with your brain. It was just a few minutes after we arrived that the lights on the tower turned on. We were admitted to the elevator, and taken to the 2nd level a few minutes before 10pm. That meant that just after we stepped out onto the platform for the view, the Tower did it’s on-the-hour, post-dusk sparkle. What a memory!
We took a bunch of photos of us with the tower in the background, and then just took in the gorgeous views. We slowly made our way around the tower for the full 360 degrees of views. KatieRose and I were taking a bunch of pictures, and all of us were pointing out the different places we had visited in the past few days. The views were definitely worth the extra coordination to get our tickets and the trip up.
We did take a break halfway, so that Lydia could sit down inside. The height, combined with being able to feel the vibrations of the elevators and people through the floor of the tower, was giving her a bit of vertigo. The ‘inside’ section of the 2nd floor has a snack bar and two gift shops – who knew? So we did get her the cutest pair of Swarovski Eiffel Tower earrings.
We were on the 2nd level for nearly an hour before taking the elevator down. The least pleasant part of the experience happened when we were leaving the elevator. As we came out of the doorway, and made our way down the stairs, there were approximately 10-12 men clustered there selling the cheap Eiffel Tower figurines and various lighted toys. They would literally step in front of you and block your way, holding their wares in your face. It was extremely annoying, and a little unnerving when it happened repeatedly, and we would have to step around one, and then the next who did the same thing. We made it a point not to engage any of these people at any of the major sights, and never buying anything from them. KatieRose even wanted one of the Eiffel Towers, but we stopped at a tourist gift shop and bought it there. I was so annoyed with these ubiquitous and intimidating men that I paid 3 euro for a water from a little shop, instead of 1 euro for the same size water from one of these men outside Versailles.
Two days later, when we were in Belgium, news reported that the Eiffel Tower had been shut down by workers concerned with the high volume of pick pocketers. There were signs throughout the Tower warning of pick pocketing, and we were always cautious. Scott was always on the lookout, mostly because he was hoping to see a ‘gypsy’, and I was careful because I just knew that after rolling my eyes at him so often, I would be thoroughly laughed at if one of the pickpocketers got me! Thankfully we had no issues in this area our whole trip.
Fun Facts about the Tower:
1. It was supposed to be a temporary structure. (Can you even imagine? This kind of construction for a temporary structure??)
2. The people of Paris initially hated it! Thinking it was too industrial looking for the beautiful Paris.
3. In order to get it built, Gustave Eiffel, the independently wealthy architect, paid for much of the construction himself. The project was granted 1.5 million francs, and Eiffel made up the difference between that and the 6.5 million estimate.
4. Part of his deal in making up the difference in the cost, was that he would get private ownership of the tower for 20 years.
5. The cost of admission to go up the tower paid off his investment in 6 months.
6. At the end of the 20 years ownership reverted to the city of Paris which intended to tear it down. Gustave, a radio enthusiast, avoided the demise of his tower by encouraging the government that it would make an ideal listening tower – which it did, and was used as such through the world wars.