La Tour Eiffel

Mom, can we go to the Eiffel Tower?  When are we going to the Eiffel Tower?  It’s so sunny and beautiful today!  Hey, there are Christmas markets here too!

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Sausages, scarves, doughnuts, bubbling cauldrons of fondue, fuzzy hats, leather purses, french fries, and waffles.  Next to the ice skating rink and the souvenir sellers, rows of peaked little houses selling EVERYTHING stood twinkling around the Eiffel Tower.  There was even a place selling Mexican burritos!  We have been missing all of this for so long, but how can we eat it all in one day?  Not fair.

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The good news is that today, New Year’s Day, the line to the Eiffel Tower is short. Unlike two days ago when it was an endless serpent full of tired families and unhappy kids, today it barely exists.  The bad news is that it’s very foggy today.

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The climb to the top was pretty easy, considering that none of us have climbed many stairs since we moved to Africa.  We passed an ice skating rink on the first level and a few couples carrying babies and strollers, feeling very grateful that both our kids could walk and we were done with that stage of our lives.  Jake and Eli did great, I don’t think they even knew they could have complained.  That was a lot of stairs!  On the second level, we were high enough to see the city but low enough to stay out of the clouds.  Wow, it’s kind of cold.  Thank goodness for our new hats.  You can see everything from up here!

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For the final ascent, we could hear our ears popping as we rose, scrunched together in an elevator with a bunch of other tourists who also wanted to spend New Year’s Day at the Eiffel Tower.  I love hearing all those languages.  You are coming close, guys, but the Eiffel Tower is still taller than all of you!

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Although it’s a little foggy up here.

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This is pretty fun.  But for 16 euros a cup, I think we’ll wait and split our own bottle when we’re back on the ground again.  Besides, Daddy brought snacks.  There is no questioning the genius of the chocolate-enrobed nougat bar.

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I wish I could say La Tour Eiffel was the highlight of our trip, but with all that fog it was also very cold!  The view wasn’t so great either.  Are we ready to go down now?

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The elevator was open to anyone going down, so we found a spot in line and watched with amusement the Line Politics that accompany tourist destinations as big as this one.  Russians are not really known for their patience with lines, although with their history you’d think they would be.  Always distinctive with their round heads, furs, and cigarettes, it was funny to see them jockeying for position amidst onlookers filled with disdain.  If only they knew, the disdain does not work.

Down at the bottom again, we turned back to the Metro with an eye to have lunch in Le Quartier Latin.  Jake was getting pretty good at reading the Metro maps!  Then back to the courtyard in front of L’Hotel De Ville, to have a glass of gluhwein and ride the merry-go-round one more time.

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For our last dinner in Paris, we had to adjust our expectations a little bit to accommodate for the limited hours of New Year’s Day.  That could have been a bad thing, but as weird as it is to say we went to Paris and ate Italian food, it turned out to be a good thing.

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Le Petit Italien was two blocks away from our apartment, just off the Place des Vosges, and we fell in love with this place.  It was so good we went twice.  That may have been partly influenced by not eating dinner most nights until 10pm, when we were hungry enough to eat anything, but it’s also because the food was SO good.  And as much as we love French food, most menus had the same selection of duck, chicken, steak frites, salads with ham and boiled eggs, and maybe a burger or bolognese.  Without springing for the upper-crust establishments serving jellied caviar and whipped shellfish, we were overjoyed to find Le Petit Italien!

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The first time we went with Oma and Opa.  It was late and starting to rain, but the waitstaff reassured us there was space and enthusiastically welcomed us in.   A bottle of house wine and two glasses of Orangina later, we were squeezing around a cozy table by the bar.  Wineglasses hung from the ceiling and votives glowed around the windows.  I don’t know if there is any better smell in the world than roasting garlic.

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Jake, our little writer, brings his notebook to every restaurant (he even does this in Zambia) and writes our menu down.  With six people it’s great fun because we get to try everything.  We order linguine alla vongole, tagliatelle alla scampi, veal milanese, blanche et verts pasta with truffles and prosciutto crudo, and ravioli quattro fromaggi.  It’s so warm in here!  Do we need another bottle of wine?

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Soon our little boys are laying their heads in our laps and we realize it is late, almost midnight again, and time to go home.  The waitress says thank you, and as we bundle up in our coats and scarves a table of French people compliment Jake and Eli for being such wonderfully behaved kids.  Our apartment is only a block away and it is like magic, stepping out into the Paris night for a short walk that ends in home.  Paris is pretty magic.  All the time.  Forever.

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