When visiting a city like Paris for the first time, there are certain boxes to be checked. Sights to see, eats to eat, experiences to experience. Some of these, like peering with googly eyes around the Louvre, would likely be on every traveller’s list. Others, like savouring the fragile beauty of a Pierre Hermé creation or meeting a new friend who immediately feels like an old friend, are goals unique to, say, food devotees or lucky people.
I’m sure you can guess what I’m referring to when I say that there is one big To-Do in Paris that everyone expects you To Have Done.
The Eiffel Tower. Climbing it. (And no, sitting in its shadow eating ice-cream doesn’t count.)
Now, Vaala, before you say anything, this isn’t me making you wait even longer. This story follows on from the day of tofu and tears. Some of you might recall, at the end of that post, I made mention of a fellow whom I met and chatted with for hours at the hostel, and who rendered me speechless through his admission that he owned a plane?
That, readers, was P.ValuablePilot. The Pilot bit I’m sure you can figure out, but the Valuable?
That has to do with my following piece of advice:
If you attempt to ascend the Eiffel Tower at any time that isn’t the middle of summer, make sure you have someone with whom you can penguin-huddle. I don’t care if, like me, this someone is a person you’ve known for less than 24 hours. Just make sure that he or she is willing to snuggle. (This makes the person valuable to have around, see?) Otherwise, you may catch hypothermia and end up in a Parisian hospital, and as someone who’s been-there-done-that? I don’t recommend it.
The beginning of the Eiffel Tower Debacle began on the night I met P.ValuablePilot when, at about 9:30pm, I mentioned that I hadn’t yet braved the crowds to ascend the Tower. Being a rather adventurous lad, PVP suggested we dash off that minute and try to get a ticket before the 11pm cut-off. A part of me wanted to shout “Forward Ho!” and scamper for the stairs, but the bandaged part of me knew I couldn’t risk damaging the toe through such madcap-through-the-rain scampering.
However, when an hour or so later PVP and I hadn’t decided to pretend we’d never met, we decided to rendezvous in the morning and make Sunday March 21 a day of Eiffeling.
March 21 was not a pleasant day, weather-wise. And we lucked out, in the bad sense, with that curse of European travelling: The Dreaded Line of Doom.
In short form? We left the hostel at 11am, all we did was ascend the Eiffel Tower, and we got back at four in the afternoon.
I’d expect that on a beautiful day, but not on a drizzly freezing day at the very beginning of the tourist season. There is no way I would have survived the line without the cuddly and conversational company of P.ValuablePilot, because within an hour I’d lost feeling in my feet, was shivering like all crikey and, for anyone who’s seen my facebook photo, indulged in some very Parisian but unHannah-like behaviour.
So. Many. Lines.
A line for the ticket office, another for the elevator to the second level, another for the elevator to the third level, another for the elevator back to the second level, another for the elevator down to the ground… then sweet, sweet freedom.
For the five hours PVP and I spent working our way to the top of the Tower? We spent five minutes, at the most, at said top.
In a way, the adventure was worth it for the exhilarating rush of joy we felt upon escaping the claws of that metal hell-beast. There is something to be said for laughing and clinging together against the wind as you make your way back to your hostel for a triumphant glass of wine.
And about that plane? Yep. He has a plane. You may well hear more of P.ValuablePilot if he holds true to his word and comes visit me in the next few months.
I’m not going to let him fly his own plane here, though. It’s a wee lil thing, and I’d rather he, you know, survived.