Saturday, October 22, 2011


It's amazing what you run into just by walking around.

The Eiffel Tower was a big one. I wandered around the streets for two hours though before I came across it, all the way from Il de St Louis. Distances are a lot greater than they look on a map.

Along the way I tried to breathe in all the romantic and grand architecture, the river, the smell of bread and pastries, people people people, some green and ancient looking canons, a big gold dome roof, an open air photographic exhibition, car fumes, the sound of French people, the sound of American people, Vespers honking, tiny paved streets off big trafficy streets, more streets...

Where is that tower? It's been hours now. Have I missed it? Is it possible? I consult my 2m x 2m map. I'm standing right behind it.

It becomes enormous as I approach the legs. It is said that there are 2.5 million rivets holding this structure together. That makes me happy. What worries me a little is the hydraulic system used to get those lifts jammed with people up to the top. Two huge pumps at the bottom push that Willy Wonker glass elevator up to the summit on a serrated track so that would be quite suitable for slicing up a regular baguette.

Heights freak me out a little bit and I'm thinking it's pretty cold up there too. Bit of a queue. But more people = less expectation of danger. But then more people = more weight = strain on the serrated track. They've been sending people up there for years = lots of practice bringing the people back down. But older equipment = serrated track could be a bit worn. Everyone looks excited. Happy people = a place I'd like to be. But happy people can also = clueless people and I don't want to come crashing to the ground with a bunch of smiling idiots...

It was incredible. You can see the history of the city evaporating off the buildings, the big gold dome roof, the palaces, the monuments, the museums and the mazes of romantic apartment blocks packed in for warmth all the way to the cloudy horizon.

'I think we're moving.'

Who said that!?

'Yes. The tower is definitely swaying.'

I concentrate on feeling the sway, I think she's right! I look down at the queue of ants on the ground, spin out, punch the lady in the face and walk back towards the lift. All of a sudden I feel the cold.

Have I mentioned how cold it is? The plan was for 16 degree days but I think most of the time it's pushing twelve and that's if the sun comes out. This has actually become a debilitating problem for me as none of my jackets are made from any fibre that stops a person from freezing. They all look fabulous but I have to keep applying makeup to cover up the blue tinge around my mouth. I kick my stupid self at every cold and windy corner for not bringing my big wool jacket.

After spending this afternoon in the apartment near the heater, drinking coffee, eating chocolates and planning a night out completely dependent on how close venues are to warm metro stations, I came to the conclusion that I must buy a new jacket. I finished close to the whole box of chocolates (70% cocoa with mystery centres and gift wrapped with a big bow) and stopped feeling so bad about it all. C'est la vie!

Since the tower, I have flaneured through many streets, eaten at many cafes and stood underneath the works of artisans and legends dating back to the 14th century. There hasn't been a day that this city hasn't blown my mind. However, I'm not going to recite a shopping list of the people I've seen and the places I've been because that's not how I'm traveling. Instead, I will continue to come home at night, pour a glass of wine, sit near my little balcony and write about wherever me and my head have been wandering.

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