I set my alarm for 6:30 AM. Damn the lack of sleep, I’m going to the Eiffel Tower at dawn! I had no troubles with the Metro today, so I arrived at about 7:10. It was already light out, but the sun hadn’t made its way above the buildings around the tower. It was a very peaceful place to be. There were runners out, but very few tourists. I took a bunch of pictures and, after breakfast, headed back to my hotel. This was, by far, the easiest part of my day!
Alana and I headed out for the day, starting with lunch at a café near our hotel. We sat outside and people watched. A cat stopped by for a visit. It looked like she lived at the café and just wanted to sit outside under a chair. As I reached to pet the cat, Alana said, “Don’t touch the kitty!” I said, “But I want to touch the kitty!” Our conversation degraded from there directly into the gutter. Needless to say, no kitties were touched this day.
Before we left, we decided our destination was the place in Paris that is the highest point and offers spectacular panoramic views of the city. That’s not where we went. We mixed up the names of the cathedral and ended up in not the best neighborhood in Paris. Even the nice Sri Lankan woman sitting next to Alana said, “Are you sure you want to go there?” It was actually a nice church with some great photo opps, so it wasn’t a total loss. The streets looked like something from a Disney theme park, maybe something you’d find in Epcot. After Googling the place we wanted to be, we got back on the Metro.
The Paris Metro is a very busy, confusing, place. You have to know exactly where you’re going when you transfer or you’re on the wrong train. My experiences from yesterday helped us with that today. 30 minutes later and we were at our destination. After exiting the train, we rounded the corner, expecting the stairs to the exit. Instead, we found a crowd of people waiting for an elevator. We had to push our way through to get to the stairs. I was confused why so many people would wait for an elevator. I was impatient enough to not want to wait for what I expected to be multiple elevator trips before all those people would be able to get upstairs. So, we started on our trip up the stairs. After two flights, I knew we were in trouble. The stairs became an endless spiral staircase, going around and around and around with no end in sight. I kept looking back at Alana to make sure she didn’t enlist the aid of a Sherpa. At this point I realized, I’ve made a huge mistake. We could see daylight after completing the spiral portion of our climb. Once we reached the level where the elevator was, the doors opened to reveal the people we passed exiting what had to be the world’s largest elevator! They got to the top at the same time we did, but I wasn’t going to let them know how hard that was! Two more flights of stairs and we were finally outside.
This part of Paris is really beautiful with cobblestone streets and kids playing nearby. We took in the sights and headed to our destination. Then we saw the next set of stairs! Keep in mind, this is two days before I’m running the marathon. We climbed to the top and took a much-needed break. I grabbed a beer, she had a coke. We sat there in our outside seats watching people climb and descend from the next set of stairs. There was what looked like an 80-year-old woman coming down the steps. I watched her and thought, “If she can do it, I can do it,” so we started our next climb. Finally at the top, we realized the trip was worth it. The view was spectacular and the cathedral was amazing. There was a mass in service, so it was kind of like I went to church! Of course the mass was in French, but I still kind of knew what part of mass was happening. We were all allowed to see everything, we just had to be very, very quiet. It was at this point that Alana and I got separated. I was taking pictures with my iPhone and its rapidly declining battery. I was below 5% when I left the cathedral. I had no idea where Alana was, so I went back inside going the opposite direction to find her. Halfway through and not finding her, I actually cussed inside a place of worship thinking, “Where the fuck is she?” I went outside and sat down to wait for her. Ten minutes or so later, I got up to look for her. I was looking out at the crowds scanning for her. After giving up, I turned around and she was sitting on the steps looking at her phone! She said she texted me, but I had my phone on airplane mode to save power.
We found a tram that took us back down the hill, so no steps! At the bottom, we decided to get Uber to help us back to our hotel. The moment Alana was able to secure our ride, her phone died! I was certain they needed her phone to be active so they could find us, so we waited about 15 minutes and gave up. I tried to get us another one, but my phone told me our hotel didn’t exist. I couldn’t input our destination, my battery was now at 1%, so we headed down the hilly street hoping to find a Metro entrance. We got lucky and quickly found the one we needed. Let me save you some time and let you know, riding the Paris Metro during rush hour lets you get to know your neighbors standing next to you very well! I watched two women, speaking French, having a lively conversation. They were laughing and having a great time and it really helped me to decompress a little. And then the image I couldn’t get out of my head was Gomez Addams kissing Mortcia’s arm begging her to speak French! Cara Mia!
Finally, back in our room, we ordered room service. No more walking, no more stairs, just dinner and vodka on the rocks. Exhausted, I slept well – for a while. During the night, our air conditioner stopped working. I woke up with the pillow soaked in sweat and flipped it over. Alan couldn’t take it and called for service. I think it was 4:00 AM. I managed to fall back to sleep knowing that Alana makes shit happen when she decides it has to happen. I didn’t hear anything after that. Finally, my body is now on Paris time!