Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower. You know how when you see some iconic things they actually look smaller in real life than you pictured them- like the Hollywood Sign, the Statue of Liberty, or the Mona Lisa? Not the Eiffel Tower. It is, in fact, very large in real life. It is 986 feet tall, about as tall as an 81 story building. 

When it was built in 1889 it was almost twice as large as the next tallest structure in the world at that time, the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. It stayed the tallest structure in the world for forty years until the Chrysler Building was completed in 1930. 

So it seems almost unbelievable that they built it to just be a temporary structure- for the World's Fair celebrating 100 years from the starting of the French Revolution. Since the designer, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, paid for 80% of the cost to build the Eiffel Tower they let the tower stand for 20 years before letting the French government take control over it and disassemble it. Fortunately for the French, before it was disassembled they found another use for it, as a radio tower.

 It's also been used to intercept German signals during WWI, as a giant advertisement for an automobile company, and as a place to conduct science experiments.

 This is the view from across the Seine at the Trocadéro. Another selfie. This was where we spent the afternoon/evening of our actual anniversary.

With the river.

After we walked around a while we headed underneath the tower to get in line to go up. There were three lines open- one line at each of three of the legs, but there were still a lot of people in each line. I wondered how they could fit everyone up on the tower.

The underside of the Eiffel Tower as we were waiting in line to buy tickets to go up.

Here's a shot without us blocking the picture. You can see the new glass floor on the first floor, which we did not see. We went straight to the second floor, then all the way up to the top. On the way back down we didn't want to stop on the first floor and then have to wait in line again if we wanted the elevator to take us down the rest of the way.

This is a view from the second floor looking towards the city center. You can see Basilica of Sacre Coeur on the hill (Montmartre) on the left side. Just left of the center is a tiny ferris wheel that marks Place de la Concorde, and the gold Dome des Invalides is on the right side of the picture.

Looking up at the rest of the tower from the second floor.

Another view from the the second floor, of the Champ de Mars.

Looking down at the Seine, you can see the mini Statue of Liberty facing west towards the large Statue of Liberty in New York.

The Trocadéro from the second floor, the tall buildings in the background is La Défense, the business district of Paris.

Then we went to the very top. It was cold, it was windy, and it was misting rain. But it was still an awesome view.

A zoomed in picture.

The Trocadéro looks a lot smaller up here.

Robert liked the English translation for this, "way down."
Earlier in our trip Robert had mentioned that French labor unions are always going on strike so there is usually someone on strike in Paris. We both laughed when we saw this in the door of the closed gift shop on the second floor.

We stayed at the top until sunset.

Arc de Triomphe

I think this picture does not accurately portray how windy it was up there!

Then we wandered around the bottom of the tower. That little bubble at the bottom of the tower was a giant life size snow globe put there for Christmas. It was as big as a house and here it looks tiny.

Every hour at night they turn on the "twinkle" lights for five minutes. And, as you can tell, a spotlight going around the top.

We had fun doing some light painting before we left. Later we came back and had dinner at a fancy restaurant next to the Eiffel Tower and walked around again (and saw the large rats that come out when it gets less busy). It was a beautiful 10th Anniversary.

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