My Trek to the Tower MAG

By June J., Helena, AL

     He said it would only be a 15-minute “leisurely walk” to reach the Eiffel Tower, so we walked instead of taking the Metro. I suppose “leisurely” to a French waiter is the same speed as a cheetah on the prowl. For two women and four teenage girls handling our map of Paris as if it were a newborn baby, hustling was not possible. Heading in the direction of the Frenchman’s pointed finger, we were not three but six blind mice searching for our cheese.

The 15 minutes were over. They had been over for ten minutes. My feet felt like blocks of cement as I struggled with each step. I had already inhaled two ice-cream cones to curb the July heat yet there was still a sizeable gap between the “You are here” point on our map and the famous Eiffel Tower.

Half an hour later we were walking like zombies. We had some lemonade at an outdoor cafE served in large glasses that were slushy with man’s greatest invention: ice. My sister, my mom’s friend’s daughters, and I fished out some leftover croissants from our bags and fed them to the many pigeons.

While we rested I took in the sights and sounds of the city. There was not a cloud in the bright Parisian sky. It was very peaceful and as people passed by, I played an amusing game of guessing if they were tourists. Maps and huge cameras gave many away.

After we could feel our feet again, we stood and continued our quest. We only had a little way to go, so my eyes were on the skyline praying to catch a glimpse of the tower’s needle-point top shooting up to the sky. Finally, we entered the park that the map claimed to surround Le Tour Eiffel, as the French say.

The mothers were tired and wanted to rest but nothing could stop me now. I darted between the trees and boulders and suddenly, there it was - the Eiffel Tower, holding its post as it had for over a hundred years. I rounded up the others and after some moments of admiration, we confronted not the elevator, but the stairs.

An hour of walking didn’t stop us from climbing each and every step as high as we were allowed. There are no words to describe the view at the top in the manner it deserves. Spectacular, astounding, remarkable, amazing - take your pick. I looked out over the city in every direction to soak up the beauty of the “city of love.”

I stood victorious on the top of the world. My heart was warm with the thought, I am in Paris, standing on the Eiffel Tower, looking out on this beautiful city. I couldn’t believe it then and I still can’t believe it now.

Some say it’s not the destination but the journey that is most rewarding. I find that to be true, for if we had taken the Metro, we would have missed the essence of Paris: its small shops, cafEs, the smell of fresh baguettes spilling out of the bakery, the ice-cream stands, the artists painting portraits of anyone who would sit for them ... sights and sensations I had never experienced before, or since.

I realized that Paris truly is the city of love - it brings out a love for life, beauty, history and an appreciation for the world’s diversity in every visitor who walks its streets.

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