Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Finally up the Eiffel Tower

On our final day in Paris we finally went up the Eiffel Tower. We arrived first thing in the morning and discovered that the lines were already long. But fortunately, since no one was up in the tower yet, the lines moved quickly as people moved up into the three levels. We took one elevator to the second platform. I took the above photo of the upper part of the tower from there.

Then we took another elevator to the very top. The following several photos are from our vantage point at the top. Up there also Gustave Eiffel, the man who engineered the tower, had a small apartment where he hosted dignitaries. They have wax figures of Eiffel and his daughter hosting Thomas Edison, one of the more famous of his visitors.

This is a view of the Arc d'Triomphe in the middle. I like the way it shows the many white buildings which make up Paris, and the various curves of the streets. The Eiffel Tower stands along in Paris as its tallest building. You do not see huge skyscraper downtown buildings like you do in American cities, though there are a few clusters of tall buildings here and there. Paris is not beautiful for its tall office buildings, but for its art and diverse architecture.

This photo is for nostalgia purposes only. In the middle is the Pantheon, a beautiful church building that was turned into a homage to great people of France after the revolution. In the crypt, or what we would call the basement, are buried people such as Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, and Voltaire. Interestingly, Rousseau is also buried there, even though he was Swiss, though French Swiss.

Our apartment was just to the right of the Pantheon, about 4 blocks away. This is also the location of the Sorbonne, the university in Paris. If I had been thinking about it properly, I would have taken a photo of the university, since it is there that the young Conrad Grebel, founder of the Anabaptists, studied until he quit in disgust with his teacher. Click on Conrad's name to read my earlier blog of his exploits here. This area where our apartment is found is called the Latin Quarter since earlier higher education was always carried out in the Latin language. In fact Conrad would write to his Swiss brother-in-law/former teacher Vadian in Latin rather than German.

After our exploits at the Eiffel Tower in the morning we tried to take it easier in the afternoon; we knew we were going to be travelling for a long time on Saturday, from Paris to Goshen. Jacob, Isaiah, and I went to the park across the street from our apartment, called Jardin d'Luxembourg. It was a beautiful park with many amusements for kids, although you had to pay for every single one of them, even to use the playground. Since I was coming down to my last Euros and did not want to withdraw more money just so they could play on the swings, we ended up renting sailboats for the huge fountain. This was terrific fun. When I saw how fast the boats would travel I assumed that they had some kind of motor, but in fact they really were powered simply by the wind. The kids had sticks to push the boats in the direction they wanted. While we were there a film crew was working on a scene of a couple kissing on a bench at the fountain's side. I didn't recognize the couple, probably French actors. Although interesting it was a little annoying since they tried to keep shewing away anyone who got close to get their boats.

Finally, we decided to eat at a restaurant for our last evening. We had mostly been making our own food and eating the wonderful croissants, bread, and cheese of Paris. We of course had to try escargot, snails. I thought they might be one of the huge creatures I had seen at times in Europe, but they were medium-sized snails much like the ones in the US, though a little bigger than the typical snail. Jacob and I were the ones willing to order them, but then ironically everyone tried one and liked them, except for Jacob. They tasted good, though not like chicken. Nor were they chewing like clams or oysters.
That is how we spent our last day in Paris. It was both more exciting and more relaxing. A wonderful time was had by all.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

You guys are real lucky, we went at dusk, (the pics came out great!) and the lines moved sooooo slow. we were there for hours but it was well worth it. Hey i also found a new travel site that i think you will like, baraaza.com