PARIS....known to all of us as the city of love...a place for love...having given its status and popularity by well known historians, painters, musicians and of course, the film industry.
I remember helping my elder daughter, complete a project, as part of her French subject submission. Where she gathered the material for the project, I designed the cover page; a picture of the Eiffel Tower, which I drew and filled it up with tiny beads. I also remember how intrigued I had felt when making the tower. I had wondered often whether I would ever get to see the tower in person; one of the places to visit, on my bucket list. The Louvre', the Nationale Museum, the Disneyland....to name a few!
And lo! A dream I had seen with open eyes, came true (thanks to my husband) in the May of 2017. Reading about Paris, seeing the pictures, videos, or in the movies, is one thing and getting to see it in person, is another thing altogether.
A sense of disbelief engulfed me when we first entered France, especially when we reached Paris. My first glimpse of the tower, was from the bus, far away, fleeting glimpses of it, between trees, as if it was playing peekaboo! And finally, when the bus stopped and I walked up to this majestic construction, called the Eiffel Tower, I felt swept off my feet with its magnificence.
We were already told that there would be beeline queues and we were to stay with the group and watch out for muggers/pickpockets. I don't like standing in long queues and the idea of standing in one to see and get to touch a place of my dream, was an idea I repelled at. And yet, the cost we had paid for getting there, the pains taken (by sleeping for a few hours per day, sitting for long hours in the bus, et al) just to see this, pushed me to get into one.
Our batch was one of the first group of tourists to see the Eiffel that day. There were a lot of people there already, but the crowd was a tiny one, in comparison to the ocean of people that would be there on any other day. Guess we were lucky!
The majesty of the construction bowled me over! The walk up to the first floor of the tower by stairs, followed by a zooming ride to the top most floor in a matter of minute or two in a lift, left my head reeling. The top floor is encased in toughened glass and steel barriers have been put, beyond which, the tourists are not allowed. Getting to go out on the outer skirting with the wind blowing away, seeing the whole of France far below our feet, the river Seine, flowing silently below, carrying small ships, cruise liners and sail boats...was a breath-taking experience! A memorable day which I will cherish for a long time to come!
As all tourists do, we struck poses in front of the tower, trying to create optical illusions of holding the peak of the tower with our fingers or holding the base of the tower on the palm of one hand...giggle! Typical tourists we turned out to be!
Luck favoured us again that day. After viewing most of France, rather Paris, we wished to see Paris at night, with the illumination that it was known for! A bus was arranged to take us on a night tour of Paris. The same places we saw during the day, looked different with the illumination, it seemed like some fairy had swished a magic wand over Paris and everything looked so much like the pages out of a book of fairy tales!
Our last visit that night was at the Eiffel! It was lit in golden light and looked more spell bounding at night. Each hour after the sun goes down, there is a special illumination given to the tower and what we saw knocked me off my feet!
There was a huge sea of people around the square from where we could behold the Eiffel & yet I was all alone or so it seemed. There were vendors selling key chains, bags, hats, scarves, food trucks selling hot waffles and crepes', ice creams. Kids screaming and laughing and playing a game of chase. A newly wed bride and groom too joined the sea of people. And in the center of the square, was a man playing a soulful number on the violin. But, in the midst of all this, it was just me and the Eiffel and the man serenading a soulful number. Just as I had begun to get swayed into his music, the illumination came on, in the tower. It was so magical and overwhelming! I had no words. The romantic music and the backdrop of the tower, made me wish to do a waltz with my husband. I felt an overflow of love and unknowingly tears welled up. But my husband was lost in the sea of people & soon the music stopped and so did the special illumination on the tower. Snap!! I was back in the real world!
If I could, that moment would be frozen forever! If wishes were horses....sigh!!! Au Revoir, Paris!