Travel Love: Paris
The summer has arrived and I am dreaming of travel.
As soon as I sense even a hint of sunlight I start dreaming of holidays and travel. I spent one summer travelling around Europe by train with my friends. In the middle of summer, in the midst of a heat wave, I found myself high up at the top of the Eiffel tower. It was so hot the Paris authorities put out big chunks of ice 5 by 5 feet and blew gigantic fans on them and onto the crowds waiting to buy tickets. An ice-cold wind and a heat wave, all in the time it took for the fan to spin.
The Eiffel tower is big. Veeerrry biiig. I had seen photos and films of it but it is staggering in person. It’s four giant metal feet were so far apart from each other that the two back legs faded into the distance. To get to the top one must first ride in a terrifying metal steampunk elevator cage. It juddered and clanked and fought noisily against the ascent. I’m terrified of heights and so was one of my friends. She kept her eyes closed and wedged herself against the bars. I kept my eyes open: I like to pay attention in terrifying moments – so as to know when it is the right time to begin screaming and/or run for my life.
It takes three separate leviathan lifts to get to the very top with stops at each of the three floors . I walked out on the platform and all of Paris lay like a map below me, impossibly far down.
It’s like Paris was designed to be seen from above.
On land the streets wind into each other, arrondissement after arrondissementspiralling aroundParis with the Bastille in the heart. An impossible to navigate elegance of tall buildings and tree-lined streets, the city view from the Eiffel tower is breath-taking. And terrifying for some. My friend had pressed herself against the centre refusing to go near the edge. Another girl, a stranger, was deep in the middle of a massive anxiety attack and was being comforted by her boyfriend and the staff.
I was ok, surprisingly for me, considering that I am liable to panic on escalators and two foot heights. The metal looked…vintage. And it’s not a good feeling when the only thing between you and a 915 ft. drop is some century old metal. I looked through the walkways to the ground below my feet feeling a swooping giddiness. I spent a second on the edge of the first deck to have a photo taken then ducked quickly away.
When we returned to the ground we retreated to the benches with cold drinks and stared up at the tower. It still looked impossibly big. I prefer the view looking up than looking down: the anxious optimist’s view.