Upon concluding that we were too cool and original to be carried up the Eiffel Tower like the millions of tourists before us, we justified that our obligatory Parisian Eiffel outing would occur later in the day when the picture-taking, mini-souvenir-buying scene had died down enough. Granted, it is also possible that impatience, distaste for pushy crowds, and general laziness simply won out as we opted not to climb halfway and take the lift to the top; but our quasi-hipster originality could still have been a factor.
Before the Tower, a typical day in Paris was filled with aimless bicycle riding, classy riverside strolling, outdoor cafe dining, and random schmoozing, coupled with ridiculous offers to non-musical dances, long lost walks with callous 50L backpacks, and many an ill-fated attempt at healthy smoke rings.
One morning, we met a group of young guys from Denmark who told us they had biked from home all the way to France. They were a funny group. Obviously in shape, each one was exceptionally good looking too, in the usual exotic European sort of way. Kind of like the foreign exchange students everyone fawned over in high school, remember those guys?
The fit cyclists of Denmark said it took them about two or three weeks to make it to Paris, stopping off in different cities along the way. I was jealous of their trip. Having reached their end destination, they had opted to fly home and were just about to peddle over to the airport. One of them generously offered to leave a bottle of champagne with us before catching up with the others. We gladly accepted.
In parting words, they thoughtfully left us with “don’t let anyone fuck you up” and “kick ‘em in the nuts if they try.” Thanks juvenilely adorable dudes. I wondered if those were stereotypical American phrases that had only recently made it to Denmark.
Later in the day, we decided to take our newly acquired European alcohol and test our luck with a night time Eiffel Tower excursion. It was dark by the time we rolled up to the grassy lawn on the southeast side of the Tower. Luckily for us, instead of the earlier masses that had been taking up virtually all the space, there were relatively few people out and about that night. Finally, we could enjoy this 300m tall pointy structure in peace.
Ready for the full effect of a night out in Paris and an illuminated Eiffel Tower, we took to a clear patch of grass and twisted open the “champagne.” (Later, we found out that it was just cheap sparkling wine that hustlers usually sell to clueless travel-happy tourists. Though, honestly, we couldn’t have cared less).
The view from ground level is pretty spectacular. I won’t pretend to know anything about design or architecture, but the architecture was stunning… However, like a lot of famous man-made sites with Eiffel-caliber, how long do you have to look at it before it’s no longer impressive? And was it really all that impressive to begin with, or did the world tell us it was enough times that we believed it? Just as I was starting to doubt and see past the extravagance and wonder of the Eiffel Tower, it lit up even more and started sparkling. Countless tiny lights flashing on and off gave the awesome illusion of a giant energetically twinkling sword pointing up to the star-filled space in which it belonged. I was back in; a helpless moth to thousands of tiny flames.
What an American thing to do though, if you think about it. I guess when in doubt, maybe just adding a shit ton of lights and throwing in an explosion or firework or two to call it good works well in other countries too. Unfortunately, it worked on us and we stayed a while longer looking at the gaudy flashing tower in between sips.
Succumbing so quickly and rather unquestioningly to the allure of a giant structure, dramatic lights and years of publicity and hype, maybe we weren’t so original after all.