After graduating from community college, my sister and I planned out a trip to cover as much of Europe as we possibly could, using the least amount of money. This meant backpacks, hostels, and eleven-hour train rides, stuck in a compartment with four other people, knees touching and whistling the hours away. But that’s a story for another time.
The first stop on our tour was Paris, France, the city of romance. Though, perhaps not so much when you’re traveling with your sister.
Now, the thing to know about my sister and me, is that we love the outdoors. If we’d been raised by wolves, we still wouldn’t be able to love it more. We spent our youth trekking through forests and finding new and exciting challenges, which in Paris, manifested as the Eiffel Tower.
The other thing to know about my sister and I, is that we hate standing in lines. This meant, instead of waiting hours for the elevator to take us up the tower, we decided to pay a quarter of the cost to go up the stairs with the ten or so other maniacs with the same idea. The only problem was that we had nowhere to store our backpacks.
1,600 stairs is a whole lot harder with two weeks’ worth of clothes and toiletries, and travel guides out the yin-yang on your back.
To say we were a little bit sweaty is the same as saying the Empire State Building is a little bit tall, and you should be thankful that I’m not including the picture of us we roped an unsuspecting victim into taking as proof that we’d done it. We do have some of the climb on video, but most of the audio is drowned out by my wheezing complaints of, “Are we there yet?”
Nevertheless, we made it up and, after wiping the sweat from our eyes, the view was just as beautiful as foreign indie flicks and love songs had told us it would be. There was life as far as the eye could see and an amazing city skyline beyond that. When you think of Paris, you picture green parks and fountains spelling out ‘Je t’aime, Paris’ with jets of water, but this was the other side. This was the history and the effort of generations to build the city we grow up to admire, and we were finally there to see it.
For a moment, standing hundreds of feet above the ground, nothing else mattered.
But after that, there was the issue of getting back down. Man, I hate stairs.