Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Paris, Days 15-17 - Batobus and the Eiffel Tower

I have slowly, but surely, returned to having adventures in Paris after my bout with the flu.

I couldn't help but think of Wallace Shawn's play "The Fever" while I was sick.  Like most of Shawn's plays I've seen, it lulls you in, then smacks you around a bit, then leaves you all unsettled, with large questions about your place in the universe.  (I *do* love theater!)  "The Fever" is about a man who has gotten sick while in a small room in a foreign country.  It's a one-person show, about all the things on his fevered brain.

Luckily, my brain is fevered no more.  I went on a cleaning spree of the flat today.  Does anyone else do that, when they're over being sick?  I have cleaned the cat boxes and the bathroom, washed clothes, washed dishes, straightened up and organized.  I'm feeling much better!

Yesterday and the day before, I ventured out.  On Sunday afternoon, I moseyed out the door with the vague plan of maybe going down to the river.  Seeing how far I got.

A fresh crepe with Nutella, bought from a little crepe shop on Rue Sainte Denis, went a long way to reviving me.  Wow, was it good!  I think we ought to replace all the McDonalds in America with little crepe shops.  It really is a better junk food!

I was hit on while eating my crepe on the way to the river.  Ben, who works on Zee Internets, wanted to buy me a drink and practice his English with me.  We had a lovely flirt for a block and a half in two languages.  Are French men just more flirtatious than American men?  (Do I just look like an easy mark?)  He's the third fellow to hit on me, actually.  Maybe they just know that if you see a woman walking the streets of Paris, she probably has romantic notions in her head.  There's also a splendid sense of drama with French men -- the grief in parting! oh, the wrench of the heart! you're not really going? the gesture of desolation!  It does a girl's heart good, whether it turns into "Before Sunrise" or not.

I wandered down to the Batobus stop by the river, while beginning to concoct a plan.  I really didn't feel one hundred percent, it was after five, the museums were mostly closed, and I didn't want to walk too much.  I remembered my friend Peter saying that there was never a time when there wasn't a line at the Eiffel Tower.  And I thought -- standing in line!  That's something I can do!  And if I took the boat to get there, even better.  I love boats!

I'd been eyeing the Batobus since I arrived.  It's basically a get on/get off whenever you'd like bus shuttle that goes up and down the Seine, stopping at eight or ten scenic spots.  Much of what a person wants to do in Paris seems to be within walking distance of the river -- so it's pretty practical.  And... it's pretty!  Who doesn't want to ride in a boat up and down the river?

I bought a ticket.  They wisely charge a good bit for one day, but only a little more for two days, and only a little more than that for five.  So I bought five days worth of Batobus.  The young fellow I bought it from looked as young, innocent and blonde as one of the boys in "The Sound of Music," and exhorted me not to lose my ticket.  (Knock on wood, so far so good.  Although I did almost wash it with my blue jeans today.)

I listened to a street fiddler and waited in line.  The boats come every seventeen minutes during the high season, more or less.  I climbed on the next one, and let it ferry me down to the Eiffel Tower in high style.

The Batobus approaches!
Hop on!  Hop off!
Approaching the Eiffel Tower.
It's pretty tall, when you get up close...
The lines at the tower were almost as impressive as the tower itself, but I'd brought my notebook with me, and alternately scribbled and people-watched.  There were lines at each of the four legs of the tower -- one for groups, one for walkers who were only going to the second floor, and two for those of us who were taking elevators, and going all the way up to the top.

Once I'd gotten inside, the first thing that amused me was the little man on the double-decker angled elevator.  It looks like a real person until you do your double-take -- and realize that the conductor is built onto the low side, and smiles at everyone, eternally.  The young woman inside -- the real conductor -- was a little more dour, as she encouraged us to get closer together, and closer together than that.

Under Eiffel.
Framed sky.
One quarter of the line I was standing at the back of...
Double-decker Angle Elevator!
The little conductor fellow!
Packing 'em in.
We zoomed up to the second floor.  And really, the views were probably impressive enough from there. But I happily waited in the next line for the next elevator that would take me all the way to the top.

The views from up there were fantastic.  I took the opportunity to call my folks and say hello, and to call my aunt and uncle to say hello.  Because Uncle Harold's friend had given me the idea, and because... how cool is that, to talk with your much loved family from the top of the Eiffel Tower?  It was really nice to hear their voices.

Stuff that makes it go.
City and sky, from the first viewing platform.
River, city, sky.  The sky here makes me wish I painted.
"X" marks the spot.

View from the top!
Going down again.  One big foot (and lots of little people).
Girders at dusk.
I took the elevator part way down (after waiting in line!), then walked a bit, then waited in another line and took another elevator the rest of the way down.

It was beginning to get dark.  The bad thing about this was that I'd missed the last boat back, but the good thing was that while I walked back to the flat along the river, through the occasional sputter of rain, I got to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle.  Once an hour, they let it sparkle for five minutes -- and though I couldn't really catch it with my camera, it was just fantastic to see.  The German family who was walking back along the same route I was thought so, too.  We all leaned over the railing and oohed and ahhed, and then walked home, umbrellas jaunty on our shoulders.

The Eiffel Tower at dusk, from the other side of the river, walking home.
Unsuccessfully captured, cool sparkling.
(Continued in Paris, Days 15-17, Part II!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hooray! I love the Eiffel tower and the sparkle. I never took a boat on the Seine. I actually did not make it to the top top when I was there. It was closed. So I made it to the level below the top top and still loved it.


Oh, I remember that the farmers market I stumbled upon was across the river from the Tower just on the other side of...shoot, a building that has a distinct name and golden statues in it's courtyard. However, I don't know what day of the week the farmers market is.