Sunday, July 21, 2013

Eiffel Tower

Claire and Kim 2005 EuroTrip

The train creaked to a halt in Paris, our second city on the tour we had planned every Tuesday for an entire year. We spent most of the morning negotiating our first European city alone while realizing we actually are not city girls and did not know what we were doing. 

2008-2009 New Years

Finally, after a very expensive, life threatening taxi ride to our hostel, we were given a map. Our goal was to walk to Notre Dame and meet up with our friend Stephen who we had not seen for a year during his study abroad. In our naive, 19 yr old minds, we were sure that our meeting place in front of Notre Dame was sufficient.

2011 Winter

It was 2005 so try to remember... We did not have cell phones (that worked abroad), we had to pay for Internet at net cafes if you could find them and if you had money (rarely we had both), and we were teenagers. Kimberly (18) and I (19) had just finished our freshman year of college, ready for adventure.

Meeting up with Matt and James 2011

Looking back on this trip, usually over a glass of wine, we end up shaking our heads and joking for hours. We were so well intended and thrilled for this very adult 5 week backpacking trip. We planned everything we could plan and the rest was given to us by grace sending us home as women of the world.

2008-2009 NewYears, Eiffel top

Back to my story...
After 3 hours of my reading the map, Kim pointed out with annoyance that I had it up-side-down (that doesn't even seem real, does it?!). Then she took over. We were 5 hours late in meeting with Stephen. There was no other way to contact him so we just headed to Notre Dame and stuck to the plan hoping he would do the same thing. 

My sister and Stephen 2008
When we arrived there were thousands of people everywhere and our hearts sank. What were we thinking? This is a major tourist site!  Then the miraculous happened, out of the crowd came Stephen bounding and yelling our names. We all slammed into one another with relief and excitement, twirled each other around and twittered heartily. From that moment it was on!
Kimberly and me 2005

Paris. Ah, Paris. It will always have my heart. 

Kimberly, Stephen, his friend Maria and I wandered the city like we owned the place. We visited the Louvre, we climbed all over statues in fancy gardens, we drank cheap wine out of our backpacks and let ourselves be known as obnoxious Americans everywhere we went. 

My Ganny-boo 2009 Family Trip

To our delight, the French are not at all what they have been portrayed in the States, they were welcoming and lovely. In all my travels to France I have felt warmth and hospitality from all the folks I have met.

Me, Stephen, Kim, Maria 2005

The sun began sinking behind the trees as we tromped along the Champs Elysees, merry and elated by the day we'd had. Suddenly, in the distance we saw a large pointed mass light up and sparkle. We all stopped in our tracks. Kim and I began shrieking, "IT IS SPARKLING! WHAT IS THAT???" 

Stephen smiled and said "It's the Eiffel Tower." 

Winter 2011

 From that moment on we were running to the Tour de Eiffel. When we arrived breathless and exhilarated, we were told it sparkled every hour on the hour. 


That night, we watched it sparkle 5 times. 
Winter 2009

Since that adventure, my Eiffel Tower experiences have been some of the favorites of my life. As I travel, I try not to repeat cities that I have seen. In spite of this unwritten guideline, life has given me the opportunity to visit Paris 4 times. Each time offered the same amount of magic as the first. At this point I must confess that I will always say "yes' to Paris.

2011 "Blinkle"

But what I am really saying "yes" to the Eiffel Tower. I am saying "yes" to "on the hour, every hour." I am saying "yes" to a tower that "blinkles".  I am saying "yes" to a glittering spell that washes you over with the romantic luster of this famous city. This feeling of being swept away by unadulterated joy is what I recall when I think of Paris.

2005 "blinkle"

I have looked up the skirt of that shinning tower with my best friends from high school in the summer. I've cheers with my family and best friends from college on New Years. 

Matt, Me, James "How much of it is in the fog?"

I've made it the meeting place with friends from childhood and friends from adulthood as we ran into each others arms, hugging and singing with sheer, tangible pleasure. Each time, a bottle of champagne has been promptly pulled from a bag or from up a sleeve and with a "PROOOST" the night began!

Ellie, New Years 2008-2009

Paris will always be a magical place to me. The walks down Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur, Arch de Triumph, Paris Opera House, and Tour de Eiffel are all part of a seasoned recipe that creates this heart-soaring potion. 

Me and Joel on top 2011

However, the main ingredient has been and will always be the people who meet you there. 

James, Matt, Me 2011

I realize now that my Eiffel Tower experiences have been epic because of the friends who clinked bottles with me. It is the people that make that giant, towering hunk of blinkling metal come to life.

Thank you my wanderlusting, soul mates for embracing life with such celebration and receiving me with such unhindered joy. 

Shagging with Matt at sunrise

What's your Eiffel Tower?