Today was a very eventful day. We woke up around 9 am today and drank coffee and ate eggs, bread, and another almond croissant for breakfast. After we ate, we headed straight to the Eiffel Tower for the tour to the top.
As we were walking to the Eiffel Tower, it was hard for us to find our way in the right direction to find our tour guide for the tower. We kept going in the wrong directions and even though it was frustrating, it was a relief to know that they still accepted us into the tour after being thirty minutes late. Our tour guide spoke very good English and it is always such a relief when you meet someone who speaks your language. It’s like you can take a break from the culture for just a moment to catch up on what’s going on.
We had to go through two security checks before being allowed to step into the park of the Eiffel Tower. It was funny because the tour guide asked us if we had any bombs or grenades on us. It’s a serious topic, but interesting question…
Once we passed all of the security checks, we went up the stairs to wait in line for the elevator. The elevator system is very unique because it has to change directions constantly to be able to accustom the odd shape of the Eiffel Tower. Before the ride up, I was very scared. I’m not one to like roller coaster rides so it was only my hope that everything went smoothly. Thankfully it did. It was actually quite a peaceful ride, other than the fact that you are crammed into a small elevator with lots of other tourists. So if you are claustrophobic, I do not recommend the ride.
When we got up there, the tour guide told us some interesting facts. When the Eiffel Tower was first built, the people of Paris hated it. It was so unlike all of the architecture of their city and there was no actual purpose to the building other than to create the tallest building of the world but Americans kept winning that contest, first with the Chrysler building and second with the Empire State building. After the Chrysler building, Parisians added a pointed top to the Eiffel Tower to try and make it taller but then the Empire State building came into play. They added restaurants to try to add some purpose to the building for the people of Paris but Parisians don’t ever go to the tower, it’s mostly just tourists.
Also! The Eiffel Tower was originally red but they painted over it to prevent the building from rusting. They paint the Eiffel Tower about every nine or so years by hand! And while they paint, the tower is never closed. The only time they close the tower is during New Year or any event requiring fireworks.
After touring the top of the Eiffel Tower, we walked back to our apartment. By this point in our trip, our legs were so sore and tired from all of the walkings that we’ve done throughout Paris. When we got back to our apartment, I did some homework and then took about a 15-minute nap until we were headed to the Church of Notre Dame. We decided that since we were all so sore and a little tired that instead of taking the boat ride there, we would just take the subway.
Directing yourself through the subway is so much easier when you don’t have tons of luggage to haul around with you at every stop. I was very surprised to see young adults around my age ride the subway by themselves. I’m assuming it was around the time that school got out and that this was an everyday thing for them but I would be very scared and confused to do something like that every day by myself. I would definitely get lost.
When we got off the subway, we arrived at this souvenir shop to meet up with our guide. We finally found him and he was such a character! His English was fantastic and he had such a great sense of humor. He was born and raised in France and he said the reason that his accent was so good was from watching Dexter’s Laboratory on Cartoon Network when he was a kid. That is hilarious to me!
We started our tour and he was such an amazing tour guide. I’m not one for history, but I really enjoyed listening to all of the stories about the Church of Notre Dame. There were so many good ones that I don’t even know what to share about it. I’ll just start:
So, the Church of Notre Dame is in the architectural style of Gothic. Originally, that style was called just the French Style but the Italians hated it and gave it the name Gothic which was more of a negative word to describe it.
Gargoyles are aligning the whole cathedral. When building the church, they were concerned about rain getting in the roof of the building so the gargoyles were the solution. When it rains, the water is led through the gargoyles and spits out through the mouth of the statues which is how they got their name; from the word gargle like gargling water in your mouth.
There were so many times that the cathedral got destroyed and rebuilt and destroyed and rebuilt and well….destroyed and rebuilt. There was a book made about the Church of Notre Dame and if it wasn’t for that book the cathedral itself would have been permanently destroyed. Later on, the book was turned into the Disney movie that we all know today: The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
In America, we call the homeless people hobos (or that is a term we use). Well, the French translation to that word is “the bell ringers” because they would bring in the homeless to ring the bells of the church. Why did they bring in the homeless for that reason? Well, nobody wanted to do it because the bells were so loud that it could cause deafness. But to the homeless, they felt blessed because it was a roof over their head and they were offered food to eat.
Ugh, those are just my favorite facts from just the outer part of the church!
Before going in the inside of the church, you had to go through a security check but once you got in, it was very quiet. There were the most beautiful stain glass windows but the pictures I have couldn’t even fully capture its beauty. The lighting in the cathedral was not good since it was so dark.
There were confession boxes that were made of glass. So instead of confessing to the priest where you can’t see him, they modernized the confessions and made it so that you confessed your sins face-to-face with the priest as well as everyone in the church being able to see you. To me, that would be terrifying.
They had beautiful stone sculptures along the divide of the choirs that showed the life of Jesus. I thought it was interesting that they portrayed Mary and Jesus to be blonde with blue eyes but the tour guide said that is just because every country portrays Jesus in their own way and the French did blonde and blue eyes. Also, they show a stone sculpture of Mary pregnant which is never seen really anywhere.
The French also believe that they have the actual crown of thorns that Jesus wore on his head during the crucifixion. They keep a replica in a red box that is kind of visible but they keep the real one underneath a giant marble looking tomb. On the first Friday of every month, they get out the real crown of thorns and bring it inside of the wall of the choirs so that people can come in and kiss the crown. There are two priests there and one’s job is to just simply clean off every kiss before the next. Apparently, it’s supposed to be safe to kiss because the part that you kiss is silver which cannot hold bacteria but…I don’t know if I would still do it. That crown alone is worth more than 800 times of the Church of Notre Dame and considering how long it’s been up, how many times they’ve rebuilt it, and all of the work still being done, I don’t think anyone has enough money to buy that crown.
After the tour, we decided to stick around and hear the organs play. When that was finished, we took the subway back to our apartment and I wrote about a page in my journal. While my grandfather made dinner reservations for 7:30, I decided to take another 15-30 minute nap. Man, being a tourist is exhausting! (;
When it was time, I put my shoes back on and we started out to go grab our last dinner in Paris. We entered the restaurant and I noticed something. All the restaurants in Paris are very small. I haven’t walked by one restaurant that was as big as something like the Cheesecake Factory back home.
My meal for today consisted of bread and a type of liver spread (that was actually very good), sparkling water (of course), sweet white wine, a delicious tomato soup, chicken and mashed potatoes, and for dessert was hazelnut icecream with tart figs. Dinner in Paris still blows my mind. It is always so fancy.
After dinner, we walked back to our apartment to start getting ready for bed. Late night walks through Paris are absolutely mystifying. The lights, the slightly cold breeze through your hair, and creative thoughts traveling through your mind. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Paris again, but I’ll always remember that last walk and that longing feeling to come back just once more.
Until we meet again.
I am an eighteen year old who wants to blog for the teenage girls.