We thought they would all be surfers and valley girls. Instead they turned out to be really nice, much nicer than expected. It was the east coast/west coast thing, the “New Yawkers” and the Cali kids together for nine days, travelling through France.
We didn’t only travel together, we also learned together, grew together, and bonded together. Some of us even went all the way up to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The first Californian I met was Michelle, who didn’t surf, wasn’t blonde, and was going to Boston University in the fall. The second was Victor A. Martinez. That’s how he introduced himself, including his middle initial. Victor A. Martinez.
â–º quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
After a long day of sleeping through a bus tour of Paris, walking around the gardens of Versailles, and eating yet another awful dinner (what kind of dessert is Greek yogurt?), we visited the Eiffel Tower.
There were two lines – the elevator or the stairs. Originally, I was going to take the elevator because my knees hurt from all of the walking. Nobody else wanted to, so I decided to take the stairs. When we got to the second level and realized we had to wait on another line to get to the top level, the other kids started heading down. I saw Victor and Michelle and decided I would go to the top with them. We ran around the whole second level looking for stairs and, using a mixture of hand gestures and English to ask people how to get to the top, we found out we had to buy a ticket for the elevator.
After enduring the hassle of bribing German guys to buy us tickets, waiting on many lines, losing our elevator tickets, finding them, and getting on the elevator, we finally made it to the top. We asked a different group of German guys to take a picture of us, then started heading down the stairs and back to our group.
We had to be back with our group by 11 to catch the last metro to our hotel. It was 10:49. We weren’t ready. Michelle was wearing heels, I was wearing sandals, and Victor was wearing Nike Dunks, which are in no way running shoes. We had to go down 1,021 steps in ten minutes. That’s 102.1 steps per minute, plus the distance from the base of the tower to our group. We ran. We skipped steps. We jumped down to each landing. My shoe fell off. I got it. I put it back on. We ran down more stairs. We almost crashed into people going up the stairs. We got out of the tower. It was 10:56.
We sprinted across the open area dodging pickpockets and pedestrians to get back to our group. It was 11:01. We were a minute late, but it didn’t matter. We made it and we were the only people out of our combined New York/California group to do so.
So. The point? If you’re ever given a chance to go to France, do it. If you’re ever given a chance to see the Eiffel Tower, do that too. And if you ever have the chance to go all the way up to the top, definitely do it. Even if you think you’re going to miss the last metro and be stranded far away from your hotel in a country where no one in your group speaks the language.
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