Monday, August 13, 2007

Tourist Hell is Close To Heaven

I've been to Paris several times but I've never gone up the Eiffel Tower. I figure it's for looking at, not being in. Plus, I really can't deal with lines and crowds and uh, tourists.

Well, I've officially OD'ed on tourist attractions after going up the Eiffel Tower this afternoon with mom. Ok fine, we also did a boat on the Seine after - a minor relapse. But never again.

Here's the deal - spending the afternoon with mom is great. Being in Paris is great. Lining up for ages? Not so great. Jostling crowds at the top? Not so great. Waiting for mom for an hour because so many metro stops are under construction that she got really lost? Fine - not the Eiffel Tower's fault. But still.

Close up, in person, it's really quite austere. You can see all the nuts and bolts and cables and pulleys. I'm not afraid of heights but climbing the stairs slowly (for mom) made the trek creepy. Vertigo! It was both exhilarating and terrifying that the thing has no solid walls, that it's essentially a cagey skeleton. It's quite ugly up close, which is part of its overall beauty, I suppose.

I'm glad we did the stairs because I can't imagine waiting even longer at the base just to cram into a smelly elevator. At the top, we asked people to take our photo, only choosing those who had fancy cameras on straps around their necks but guess what? Yes, crapshoot. What is the point of having such expensive equipment when you don't know how to frame a single shot? Now I wish I'd kept the one that made me laugh the longest. This dad had a really fancy camera but when he took our photo, our faces loomed large in the center, we had half of a stranger's body in the frame and nothing of the gorgeous vista. We could have been in a parking lot at a Wal-Mart.

For all my griping, I can't deny that there's a certain romanticism about the tower (although you don't feel it for even a second while you're there) and I'm glad I went with mom. Now I never have to go again.


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