May 08, 2010
I got to the Eiffel Tower around 12:30 and proceeded to the base. I got some food at one of the snack bars and came away with ham on a warm buttered baguette and a water for only 5,50 Euro. Once again I got accosted by one of the gypsies while I'm sitting there having my lunch, asking if I spoke English. I decided to try a different approach with her:
Gypsie: Do you speak English
Me: No habla Ingles
Gypsie: Italiano? Espanol?
Me: Si (bad move Mangi)
Gypsie: *starts her story in Spanish* (For the record, my Spanish sucks)
Me: No dinero
Gypsie: *points at my food*
Me: Last of my dinero (yes I mixed English and Spanish here)
Gypsie: *takes off*
If she had continued I would have gone all Baltimore on her: "Bitch, do I look like I'm going to give you any motherfucking money?!"
I finished my lunch and got into the line for an elevator towards the top of the Eiffel Tower. Since I had pre-purchased my ticket in the states, I got to skip the rather long line to buy a ticket. Right before I left I got to witness the other set of folks who harass the tourists, the cheap souvenir sellers. If you've been to Paris, you've seen them, they walk around with a giant ring that has a ton of key-rings of the Eiffel Tower and try to get you to buy them. These guys are like vultures because they will hang out right by the exits from the elevators at the base of the tower, or even the gift shop at the base. The police show up every so often to chase them away but these dudes make a game of it, they run away for a bit and then return again. They didn't mess with me this trip, probably because I have a pretty good "look at me wrong and I'll knock you out" look that I use.
Anyway,I waited with a group for the elevator and it took us up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. It was sunny but chilly and windy as well so I kept on moving around the floor as I took my pictures. After taking pics through the wire I discovered an upper deck that put me and my camera view over the top of the wire barrier so it make skyline and cityline shots easier to take. I tried using the panoramic mode on my camera, and once I find software to stitch them together, we'll see my results.
After a while I got pretty chilled up there so I got in line to head up to the summit. Boy was I glad when I got to the summit and found it was enclosed. I got more pics though I found that the higher I went up the Eiffel Tower, my pictures would end up with more sky and less city. Still, I think I got some good shots. I came back down to the second floor and got a magnet for CB before heading down the stair (the line for the elevator was long) to reach the first floor. Explored the first floor and then came back down to the ground. I hopped the Metro back to the hostel.
Upon arriving at the Anvers station (where my hostel was), I walked up to the Sacre Coeur. It is so stupidly close and easy to get to from my hostel, that I should have gone there early on. I walk up one street, make a right, walk up the hill, and there I am. I ascended the steps towards the church, passing street performers singing, dancing, or playing instruments. You can bet your ass that I kept my hands in my pockets to keep my stuff protected.
Entering the Sacre Coeur, I gave a Euro to the French hospital society. There was a ban on cameras inside, so no picture taking in here. However, I did forget to remove my hat until an usher reminded me, oops. I did stop and light a candle to say some prayers before moving on, using the prayers I usually pray when I have my prayer beads. I also learned you can use your knuckles to keep track when you don't have your beads on you, as I did.
The Sacre Coeur is beautiful inside, and I got to listen to part of a Mass as well. There is a large mural of Jesus on the ceiling behind the altar and the stations of the cross are around the back area of the altar that separates it from the perimeter where the visitors walk by. There was a lot to look at inside and I enjoyed seeing it.
I got back outside and took pictures of the Sacre Coeur and also of the city from the top of the hill. As you can see from some of my pictures, it does sit on a high vantage point over the city. I walked around as much of the Sacre Coeur as I could, and also explored a small park nearby before heading back to the hostel.
After dropping my things off, I went out and found a local crossanterie and picked up a baguette, then stopped at another market and picked up some jarron and some butter to make a snack back at the kitchen. Yes, I was hooked on doing a buttered baguette with meat, and go me for being able to hit the stores to get my food rather than eat out all the time.
I met up with AB at the hostel and by now it was starting to get dark, and it was almost time to use my night ticket for the Eiffel Tower. He decided to go along with me since he had not been there yet. We metroed over to the Eiffel Tower in time to catch the 9 PM sparkle so he got some pics of that as we walked towards the tower. There was practically no line at the ticket window so I was able to wait up for him before I headed up.
By now it is dark, and it is still just as windy as it was in the afternoon, if not windier. That makes for ball-shrinking cold weather up there. I felt like I was back in Maryland in February. We did not stay long on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, we got our pictures and took off. It was so windy the the summit was closed to visitors, dammit. Since there were so many folks in line to go back down to the bottom of the tower, we decided to take the stairs. After arriving at the bottom we headed towards the northern end of the Champs de Mars. By now it is almost time for the 10 PM sparkle so we got over the bridge and did get some pictures of the tower. AB mentioned he was getting some pictures in black and white so after some frantic searching on my camera (why is it only available on full manual mode?!) I found the black and white mode and used it to get some awesome shots. I also used the high speed settings to capture enough of the sparkle that I could make a nice animated GIF out of it.
It was now late and AB hadn't eaten yet so we went looking for food at one of the restaurants around the Eiffel Tower. I was hoping to find a crepes place, but there weren't any right there. We tried one restaurant and they were close, so we then tried another one and luckily they were open. AB and I got coffee and I went with escargot and mushrooms in a garlic cream sauce for my dinner. I found I had no issue with the texture of the escargot.
After dinner it was very late, and we had been told at the hostel that Metro would close by 1 AM so we decided to head back to the hostel and see the Sacre Coeur lit up at night.
At the Sacre Coeur the gates were closed so we took pictures from the bottom of the stairs. My camera was holding the shutter open long enough that I set it on the roof of a parked car to keep it stable. Back at the hostel, we met ED, who was from NYC, working in London for a few months, and taking a vacation to Paris. The other guys had checked out, and so now we had two women staying in our room as well, both from Winnipeg, but studying abroad for a semester in the south of France. We all were up talking until about 1:30 or so before we crashed out. I know I fell asleep for a bit while we were talking and woke up before it ended. That was fine because I was doing more listening and observing than talking. The ladies are cute young blondes, though I'm a brunette man myself. Tonight there was one bed free in the room, and it stayed free, shockingly enough.
One other thing, watched some crazy take and pull one of the fire extinguishers out of the cubbyhole on the metro platform and throw it on the ground.