Tuesday, August 2, 2011

European Adventure, Part 4: First Day in Paris

Paris was cool, overcast, and rainy, but one of the greatest cities we have ever visited. Prior to the Paris visit, Istanbul was our clear number one. Erik thinks that Paris has (unexpectedly) replaced it and Lea has them in a deadlock. Strolling down the avenues, you always spy something new and lovely (like L'viv, Ukraine on a grand scale). It is clearly a world capital, with history and the arts spilling out of every artifice (like Istanbul). Top flight food is at arms reach at almost every moment (we enjoyed the best chevre, croissants, and ice cream we have ever tasted). The atmosphere was simply intoxicating despite the - at times - inhospitable weather.

Carter prioritized our tour - the first stop had to be the Eiffel Tower. After breakfast secured from a bakery across the street (delicious croissants), we left our small, boutique hotel and walked along the Seine to our destination. For some reason, we expected the Eiffel Tower to be visible from more parts of the city. We continued to look for it, finally catching a glimpse over the trees.

As we approached, we saw that we were far from alone. Hundreds of other tourists were lined up ascend. Lea discovered a short line (only an hour-long wait compared to two or more) for the stairs. We climbed as far as the stairs allowed - 704 to the second tier.

Although it was overcast, the view was breathtaking. Unfortunately, the top of the tower was closed due to congestion. It is only accessible via elevator and the observation deck is quite small. The wait time was unclear, and fog was descending on the city, so we decided to pass on this part and head back to earth.

We meandered back toward the Latin Quarter where we were staying, stopping to gaze at the Eiffel Tower again from the park nearby...

... from the Military Museum where we stopped to pose with cannons, and from other points along the way.

We ended our first day in the glorious Luxembourg Gardens. We planned to picnic in the park, but it was too cold and wet. Instead, we paused to admire the colorful flowers and perfectly manicured shrubbery. Day one in Paris was a great success.

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