Day #19: The Tower of Love

Saturday May 8
(A note: not that it matters, but some details from Fri. May 7th and Sat. May 8th have been confused a little. I remember doing these things, but the order in which they happened befuddles me)
After a long night out, which actually wasn’t that long seeing as we made it back a little after two, we decide to make it a late morning. A late morning can kind of limit Paris plans because you make it long after the lines begin to form at museums and monuments, while everyone else was prepared with their maps and cameras long before you.
Today we will visit St. Chapelle and Gardens and to end Larsen’s trip and obligatory visit to the Eiffel tower. On our way into St. Chapelle there is line that has people that look like they’ve been standing for hours. Well…. if not hours at least many long minutes. Luckily Larsen and I have a museum pass and can bypass this line, the only thing is that we get a long line of angry onlookers wondering why the hell we think we’re so special. This is the privilege of being famous I think. I remember the time Lady Di was at Disneyland and decided she wanted to get Splash Mountain, while my family and I were already in the line. The power of being famous is that you get to shut down the line while you leisurely stroll to the ride and everyone wonders why the line hasn’t moved in a while. On this day in Disneyland, it was hot, because it always seems to be hot in lines at Disneyland even when the sun isn’t shining. We were hoping to cool off in the water of and get the wind swept look of being on a ride.
“Mom, why haven’t we moved in a long time?”
“Oh… hmm, I don’t know. Maybe there having some problems with it.”
Twenty minutes go by and we still haven’t moved and people are beginning to get very restless. The problem with stationary Disneyland lines is that the sweet magical quality of the crowd that comes along with the magic of Disney fades quickly as a mob mentality forms.
“What’s going on?” says one guy.
“Yeah, why aren’t we moving?” People look around, but can only see the endless curving of the line ahead.
A small girl in uniform, who looks a little frightened, but has been instructed to come out and calm the crowd says to us, “we have shut down the line for about an hour because Princess Diana will be riding. Sorry for any inconvenience.”
“Are you joking?” Yells a guy behind us.
The girl nods and walks on to tell more of the crowd. There are groans all around and hisses of irritation. Some people leave the line and head for other ones, but we stay in this one. We figure it couldn’t be that much longer because we’ve been standing here forever already.
“Mom, Princess Di is in there!” I am so excited because this is the closest I’ve ever been to a real celebrity. “Princess Di! Do you think we’ll see her?”
“Oh, I don’t know maybe.” She looks at her watch and I can tell she’s wondering if maybe it would be better to leave the line too, but I am too excited about maybe seeing Lady Di.
Our feet are hot in our flip flops and they are beginning to burn. We apply sunblock, drink water, and stare again at our watches. I look up and down the ride for Lady Di. I can see from where I am standing that all the little boats are clear of visitors now and so I am waiting to see the one that it is filled with Princess Di and her children. At one point I think I see them, but then realize they have these weird mannequin things in some of the boats and I’m disappointed and a little frightened because this one looks like someone from revenge of the clowns with his big wide toothed grin.
Then the line starts moving. Darn, that means they’re gone. How did I miss them going down the ride? How could I miss Princess Di? This, I thought, was my only chance to see someone famous.
Luckily at St. Chapelle, it’s like we’re the famous ones. We dodge the line and get our bags checked in mere minutes. Then we head in ready to walk another round of windy stairs. Chapelle is yet another gorgeous Cathedral, as all the Cathedral’s seem to be in France. The difference is that this is one of the few you can take pictures is, so of course I decide to add to my more than 500 pics I’ve already taken in France.
When we come down we find the nicest bathroom in all of France. The entirety of it is graffitied inside and from the outside the stench of piss is stagnant and holds onto your nose like someone trying to steal it. Oh well, we decide that we must use the toilet now and so we venture inside. The bathroom is soiled as of course was to be expected and there is no soap, but there’s pretty much no soap in any Paris bathroom so that isn’t a surprise either.
We decide to make it to the Luxembourg Gardens that I was too whiny the day before to make it to. I was getting cold and tired on our search for them before and decided all I could do was go back to the hotel.
The Luxembourg Gardens like all the Gardens here are beautiful. They are not the traditional American garden in any sense. Most of them are separated into quarters with perfectly lined rows of trees and paths made of sand and rubble. There is almost always a fountain the center of the Garden with chairs provided by Paris to sit in. People here are sprawled out laughing, sleeping, smoking cigars. It is not warm outside, but there is some sun and like Seattleites, Parisians are taking their opportunity to enjoy it.
We head back to the room to get ready for the Eiffel Tower, which I am both totally excited for and completely disinterested in. I realize these emotions don’t go together, but at this point I am a little tired of sight seeing, but I know how beautiful the Eiffel Tower will be at night. We are doing the 20:30 tour, which can be translated into 8:30pm. We do this one so that we can see the light show. I am happy that we come at night because once we make it there while it’s light I can see the rusted brown that is the usual color of the Eiffel Tower and I’m kind of in awe of its unattractiveness. Truly, the Eiffel Tower is not a pleasing sight in the daylight, but at night there is nothing more beautiful.
We head to the second floor of the tower and it is raining again. It seems to have been raining in Paris for us almost the entirety of our time here besides in the mid afternoon. The rain is light and makes the tower seem a little more romantic as people unfold their umbrellas and parasols. People are kissing on the Eiffel Tower and I am pleased because I’ve been waiting to take pictures of people kissing in Paris and so far have been on the former half of some good ones and missed them all! I at this point am on the verge of having some people stage a kiss, but I think that won’t be as good as the real thing. We walk around and take pictures of the city, the clouds are turning red as it gets later and the suns sets. It is almost 22:00 when by the time it’s completely dark.
Larsen doesn’t like heights so she heads down a little before me for the much more grounded first floor and a little later I head for the ground. When I get to the bottom I hear a roar and screaming then a stampede. I am not sure what is happening, but momentarily my heart seizes as I await perhaps the plume of ash as the Tower topples over. Instead I see about forty African immigrants seizing their Eiffel tower replica’s storming out from the square below the tower followed by police on bicycles. They run out of the square and some onto the grass right outside and some across the street. The police stop and do nothing, just circle around on their cycles a bit. Three African men go to the wet grass and laugh as a lady cop stares them down. They are amused by the Police efforts and that nothing ever happens to them. They are swinging their illegal wares around, mocking her and then one of the thrusts sends an African flying into the air and onto his ass after slipping on the wet grass. The bike cops laughs and then rides away.
At this point I almost wonder what the point of the entire play was for. It seems there is no penalty for selling illegally in the square besides a quick breakup of it, the police ride away and then the Africans are at it again. Oh well, I think. Larsen makes it down to the ground floor and now it’s time to go to the Trocadero, one of the other most romantic spots in Paris because of it’s amazing view of the Eiffel Tower (this is the point where most famous shots of the Eiffel are taken). We walk there in the rain and look behind us. It is gorgeous. In the light sprinkle I think that it is even more beautiful than it would be without it. Larsen and I are probably thinking the same thing, “too bad we aren’t here with our boyfriends or husbands, the ones we don’t have because it would likely be one of the most romantic things we’d ever done.”
The light show begins at exactly 22:00 and after five minutes of pictures we decide that it’s time to dry off. It’s time for Larsen to rest so that she can be up early for her flight out tomorrow. We head back to the metro and buy ourselves some banana nutella crepes for her send off on the way. They are just what we need to warm us up as we head down into the metro tunnel and back to our hotel.

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One thought on “Day #19: The Tower of Love

  1. March 10, 1945Mission to Dortmund. Heavy flak but very low. Time was 7:20. flew no. 8 in lead squadron. Flew 002. That’s all.March 11, 1945Mission no. 30 to Hamburg. Heavy flak all over, but inaccurate. Flew through a smoke bomb just as we dropped out bombs. Scared my pants off. Over target 13:13. Flew 223, Day’s Pay. Had to crank doors closed. Flew over sea both ways. Took off at 9:50. We landed at 4:30. Time was 6:40. Flew element lead in low squadron. Altitude was 25,000. On oxygen 3:45. Well, I think they have easier ones in the E.T. O. March 12, 1945No. 31 – mission to Marburg just past Koln. 2:15 minutes in Germany. Flew 268. Million Dollar baby – old wreck. Never seen a burst of flak – wasn’t any. Took off 9:00. Landed 3:30. Time 6:30. On oxygen 3 hours. Altitude 22.000- 25,000. Over target 12:28. On bomb run no. 2 went out. We dropped behind the formation to drop bombs over target. Then took our place again. Section lead. Came back on three engines. It was the easiest target I ever went to.March 14, 1945Mission to Celle. Took off in 526, Leave Us Free. Took off at 9:30. Returned at 3:45. Time was 6:15. Got one hole in plane. Watched guys going over Hannover. Made a visual run. Must have dropped a bomb right down an oil well. Smoke was up to 16,000. It was 36 ° below. We flew element lead in lead squadron..March 17, 1945Mission to Ruhland. Took off at 7:30 in 268, Million Dollar Baby. Going over the clouds were high, contrails were all over, and the lead ship got lost and went over Leipzig and Plowen. They shot us up at each one, and it was heavy and accurate. Ran into flak most of the way back. Altitude 24,000 to 27,000. On oxygen 5 hours. Landed at 4:50. Time 9:00 0ver field – one engine ran out of gas, the others had 10 minutes left. March 21, 1945No 34. The last, brother, the last mission is to Plowen. Took off in 268 at 5:40 in the dark. We got up this morning at 1:30. Wished we would learn to fly in the day. Flew left wing off lead ship in high squadron. Over Germany we changed to lead squadron to bomb the flak batteries at target. The weather was closed in, so we went on to the target. Was over target at 9:38, quite early, no. Lead 8th today. Landed at 2:10 in nice, warm weather. Easy mission, no flak at all. On oxygen 4 ½ hours. Altitude 24,000.FINISH

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