A blue sky greeted us, clear as any city can get, with 50 degree weather—my coat gladly came off—so naturally, we bee-lined our way towards the tower, as we couldn't expect any better day to see the city. We waited, and waited, and waited in line, and with only 50 people in front of us before the ticket booth, the top floor temporarily closed. Though common—it happens up to 7 times a day when too many people reach the top and not enough come down—we were still disappointed. However, we had not waited in line for an hour to walk away, so we bought our tickets and rode the 5 minute elevator up to the second floor where we could see for miles into the horizon, and on every side the city buildings were endless. But the wind blew hard, sending shivers through my bones.
We never made it to the top, but even if we were dressed appropriately and were willing to stand in line for an hour in the brutal winds, we weren't given the chance. 20 minutes after we made it to the second floor, an alarm sounded, saying in both French and English, "ATTENTION! This building is now closed. Please make your way to the bottom immediately." Unlike many, we followed the instructions to find police rushing by and fire trucks blaring towards us. We thought maybe there was another threat—2 in one day—but we never found out for sure! France, we're off to a good start.
The language barrier came as a bit of a shock, though I anticipated it—it was the first European country I've visited that speaks a foreign language. Fortunately, Donna had prepped us with a short French lesson learning 'un', 'deux', 'trois' (un, du, twa) meaning 1,2,3, and au revoir (aw-vua) meaning bye. My favorite is 's'il vous plaît' meaning please—I remembered the phrase by thinking of 'sea food plate'! The problem with French is that they swallow the ends of the their words, making it impossible to sound out words. Ordering at restaurants was pathetic, as I butchered every word, but I was surprised to find that most Parisians speak English.
However, I felt a bit awkward expecting the French to speak my language as I was visiting their country. Americans often say, "we're in America, speak English!" The Parisians could have easily treated us the same, but they were always willing to help. English may be taught in many schools as a second language, but I would have felt better if I was the one trying harder to communicate.
Overall, Paris is a beautiful city—a bit dirty and dusty, but full of beautiful marble architecture with rod iron railings, rich history, amazing side streets, and peaceful river walks. Though I enjoyed the tourist attractions such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower, I truly appreciated Paris in its less crowded areas—small parks full of flowers and locals, and skinny, cobblestone streets with tiny flower shops and cars parked 1 inch apart (motorbikes are really the best way to travel in this chaotic city). These were the moments I truly felt like I was in Paris.