Anyone who knows me, has been to my house, or has spoken to me for even five minutes knows that I love Paris (the city, not the flaky, talentless hotel heiress) and I love pretty much anything with the Eiffel Tower on it…. coasters, mugs, frames, plates, art, keychains, pens, magnets, etc. I have numerous mini-Eiffel Towers around the house and if I could find a big enough one, I’d put one in my backyard. I’m not kidding. 

The Eiffel on my mantle…

France was the first place my bud, Erin, and I landed on our multi-city European trip a couple of years ago. As a result, seeing the Eiffel Tower was my first real feel of Paris and I instantly fell in love.

After landing at the airport, it seemed like an airport in any city… planes, customs, luggage. Even outside, it was like any city. The trip on the train to the outskirts where the hotel was, again, seemed like any big city. We didn’t see too much of anything that indicated we were in France.  We ditched our luggage at the hotel and our guide took us onto the subway. Even at this point, it didn’t seem like Paris, it was just another city.

Countless stops later, we emerged from the darkened subway station to the downtown of Paris. I was awestruck. So much to see and the architecture was just incredible. Our guide stopped us in front of a building and said, “Do you want to see something very beautiful?” We beamed with excitement. She led us around the corner of the building, and there, in all the early morning’s glory stood the Eiffel Tower.

Me and the Eiffel

It was truly a magical moment. I was standing in Paris, France. I was looking at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Like, holy cow. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Now, that being said, some of you might be saying, “She got excited over a silly metal tower in the middle of the city??” And you’d be right, except it’s the freakin’ Eiffel Tower, not McDonalds… the Eiffel Tower has been a symbol of Paris to all of us earthlings for decades. When I envisioned Paris all my life, I’d pictured the Eiffel Tower immediately… nothing else. In fact, it was all I really cared to see when I got there. I didn’t give any thought about the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Mont Martre.. pffft… I came to see the Eiffel Tower and here I was.

When talking to my sister one night before I went on the trip she said, “Oh wowww, you are going to be going to the Louvre when you are there.” I was like, “I sure am.” At this point I had no real idea what was in the Louvre, I mean I knew it was a museum and the Mona Lisa was there, but woop-dee-doo. Unless they sold makeup, I wasn’t too interested. “Oh the things you’ll get to see.” she said. My sister loves all things romantic, renaissance, victorian and historical. I like chocolate and makeup.

So anyway, back to standing looking at the Eiffel Tower I was speechless. Erin and I looked at each other and said, “NOW we know we are in Paris!!”

Suddenly it was like all the things I’d pictured about Paris had come to life. Everything was completely real and tangible. After numerous minutes of standing at Trocadero our guide told us we couldn’t come all this way and not go up the tower. We made our way to the base of the tower and were advised we could either take the elevator or the stairs. I was with my travel buddy, Erin, a.k.a “little-miss-fitness”.

“Come on, let’s take the stairs.” she said.

I looked up at this massive structure towering above us. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I said.

This thing is high!

“No.” she replied, smiling. (Erin is an amazing travel bud because she never ever gets cranky. Ever. EVER. We’ve gone on three separate Europe trips together, spanning some 30 days worth of travel and she’s never once, even for a split second been in a bad mood. She considers every moment when travelling an “experience”… whether it’s delayed flights, bad meals, bad weather, you name it, she’ll smile through it. So like I said, she’s amazing to travel with. And if you’ve ever experienced travelling with someone not-so-great , then you know how incredible it is when you get someone good.)

“You want us to walk up the stairs to the top? Are you freakin’ kidding me? Do you realize how high this thing is?” I said. There was no way I was walking up the stairs. No way.

“Yes, I know how high it is. Anyone can take the elevator, but isn’t it better to say that you took the stairs on the Eiffel Tower? You can say you actually walked up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower.”

She had a point. She won, and I hated it when she won. Before I knew it, we had started taking the stairs to the first level. I knew I wasn’t going to like this and I was right. Six or seven flights of stairs in and I was beat. My calve muscles were already strained, my back hurt, my hamstrings were burning with each step. At the top of each set of stairs you were greeted with yet another set of stairs. Erin hopped, jumped and danced up the stairs like this was a mere part in a broadway show. I really loathe her sometimes. (kidding)

As we ascended the tower, we met people on their way down. Jeez I wish I were them on the undoubtedly easier haul down the tower. They’d smile at Erin and give a thumbs up; they’d look sympathetically at me and ask if I needed first aid. I’d manage a breath and give them a forced smile, kinda like the smile you give someone when they ask you to try their cooking and you realize it’s absolutely disgusting as you take a mouthful but you can’t spit it out because they are staring at you in anticipation of rave reviews so you just smile and say “mmmm…it’s weeeally good and de-wi-cious” through the mass gunge in your mouth. Yah, well, that was my smile.

FINALLY, we reached the first level and boy was it worth it. The view was spectacular. Ahhh… I could get used to this place. Every angle was beautiful, from this side or that side. What a beautiful city!

View from tower… so pretty…

Erin circled the first floor snapping pictures from each side and finally came back around to where I was standing  gripping the side of the tower, too tired to move “Okay, time to hit the second floor now.” I looked at her like she was bonkers.

“You want to hit the 2nd floor today?” I asked. Now she looked at me like I was bonkers. “See, I was hoping we were going to camp out the night on this first level and then maybe hit the second one around mid-afternoon tomorrow.”

I was kidding of course, but thought I’d throw it out there. It didn’t work. I advised Erin that I’d just endured more exercise in the ascent to this floor than I’d had in the last 10 years and that I wasn’t even sure I was standing up because I couldn’t feel my legs except for the continuous Charlie Horse cramps that were going up and down my calves and thighs since the first flight of stairs. I don’t think Erin understands exercise related problems because well, she’s very active. She gets up at some rediculous time in the morning every day and goes jogging… even in the winter… in the dark. She doesn’t know the meaning of physical exhaustion. I had to think of a better excuse as to why I couldn’t do the ascent to the second floor. I know…. It’s against my religion to walk the stairs of foreign structures on Wednesdays in March. No that wouldn’t work. I know… I can’t walk up to the second floor of the tower because it reminds me of my beloved cat Fluffy who died while walking to the second floor of our house and it’s too painful to think about. Nah, not gonna work either. Erin may be an exercise-o-holic who doesn’t know pain, but she’s definitely sympathetic and knew I was serious about my super tired legs. She decided to go to the second floor by herself. What a trooper!

So even though the trek up the Eiffel Tower gave me sore muscles for the next three days, it was super worth it and is still my favorite thing in Paris, besides the food, the buildings, the hot chocolate and the people!

Me on the river boat cruise…. ahhhh….love this city.