Cars honking their horns. Cigarette smoke, overwhelming my nostrils and stinging my eyes. The constant flowing of people from all different nations on my left and right. Music drifting softly from cafés. The Eiffel Tower. This is what Paris is to me.
There was no time to adjust to the time difference, the food, or… the toilets. Because let’s be honest, the toilets in Europe are different than they are in Atlanta. There was no time to adjust to any of these things; we hopped onto an ICE train in Frankfurt the morning after our arrival in Wiesbaden and sped off to Paris.
We found somewhere to eat, a small café named Le Prevoyant. On the short walk there, I took in my surroundings. So many cars, so many horns! Now, you might say, “But you are from Atlanta, are you not used to the traffic?” There were so many different noises and sights that I was not accustomed to. People smoking everywhere. Pigeons fighting for attention. At the café I learned the ropes quickly; there are no refills, the water is all mineral water, and food is very expensive. I was taking everything in stride, and I was proud of myself, considering I am not a “taking in stride” sort of person.
After lunch, we walked to our hotel, a Best Western in the middle of the city. After settling into my quaint, little room with my grandmother, we were off again! Next up: Notre Dame! Once inside, there was immediately a sense of calm. The smell of incense was strong. It was amazing to see people from all walks of life, all religions, and all races, coming together to admire the beauty and reverence of THE Notre Dame.
After Notre Dame came the river cruise. Waiting for the cruise, I got my first sighting of the Eiffel Tower. And WOW. Literally, the sight of it almost caused me to hyperventilate. We came quite close to it on the river cruise, and I asked my aunt to snap a picture of me in front of the Tower so I could send it to my mother. She uploaded it to Facebook with the caption “Living out her dream.” It was indeed a dream come true.
The next morning we set off on the metro to the Eiffel Tower. I could barely contain my excitement. I was shaking. When we were FINALLY underneath the Tower, I just looked up in awe. I could have stood all day and just looked at it. After standing in line for two and a half hours, I lifted a shaking hand to touch the grayish-brown iron work. Touching the Eiffel Tower felt surreal, but what felt even more surreal was standing at the top of the Tower, looking out over Paris. I felt as if I was on top of the world. Finally, I was able to live out my dream. I was in my own personal paradise. On the top of the Tower, my aunt bought a glass of champagne for my cousin and us to split. I took my first sip of champagne with the song from The Sound of Music running through my head. And of course, this sip of champagne was momentous because I WAS ON TOP OF THE EIFFEL TOWER. Can you sense my excitement? I stayed at the Tower for as long as I could.
All in all, Paris was a wonderful experience. I was in my own personal paradise on top of the Eiffel Tower, and I suspect that I will never have an experience like that again.
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