Thursday, August 25, 2011

{Flashback}: Day 7

Paris isn't Paris without going to the summit of the Eiffel Tower, right?

We pre-booked our tickets where you are allocated a certain time to go in. This was so smart on our part because you will not believe how incredibly long the line was to buy tickets, and then how 10x longer it was when we were done with the tour. Although, we did get there early thinking they would let us in early, which they didn't, so we had to wait until our proper time. Oh well.

The base of the Eiffel Tower is another really hot spot for beggars and pickpocketers. And especially for gypsies. Sorry to keep talking about this but this is reality. This is Europe. And this is my blog with my experiences. :)

I'm telling ya, we are on guard and on fire people now after our Barcelona trip. We had been previously warned about gypsies in Paris and that the best thing to do is to just avoid them and make no eye contact. We had also been warned about the famous "is this your gold ring?" scam. (You should check out that site, someone caught the scam on video among other popular scams in Europe. This is what you see all over the place. Especially, in Barcelona...)
Tim has encountered gypsies before in Italy when he went there for a high school trip. Long story, short, about 15 gypsies rammed him up against a fence and tried pickpocketing him, but were unsuccessful. Thanks to the money belt! He had no idea what was going on at first and he didn't even feel their hands in his pockets. His friends told him what they were doing.

Anyways, we have seen a few gypsies in London that even Tim avoids on trains, (he totally goes into a different car if he sees them), but nothing like in Paris. They are everywhere. And they all do the same thing. Wave their hand a certain way to get your attention and pretend to be deaf and mute and try to get you to sign some kind of paper. From what I know, once you sign their fake non profit paper they demand money from you or as you are signing distract you while someone else pickpockets you.

The first time they approached us Tim and I firmly and immediately said, "NO!" And they quickly left. Let me remind you to draw a mental picture that they are everywhere. Young women and old women, clearly dressed as gypsies, with clipboards in hand. Everywhere. It is actually really, really annoying when you just want to chill and enjoy The Eiffel Tower in Paris!
The next gypsy who approached us a few minutes later Tim decided to have some fun.
"GET OUT OF MY FACE!" he said.

Oh dear, that opened up a whole game for Tim. He was having so much fun tormenting the gypsies. Not wise to do by the way. Tim is just a little on guard from Barcelona. He even wanted to hand them one of Natalie's dirty nappies one time! Good thing he never got the chance.
I also may or may not have asked my father-in-law under my breath how to say a bad word to them in French :) Pardon my French, gypsy! They were seriously so annoying.

The funny thing is about the gypsies is that the second, I mean absolute second the police show up they scatter in all different directions in a matter of milliseconds and when you look around, they are no where to be seen. Gone! There were local police men and these other police men with huge guns strapped around their necks walking around as well. I don't know anything about guns but all I know is that those guns can do some real damage! It looked like they were ready for war! Why didn't I take pictures of all this?!? Dang. Next time. It is seriously so interesting to see all this.
So as you can imagine, we were actually quite entertained while we waited for our time to enter the Eiffel Tower. Fun gypsy watching. And stupid tourist people watching too.

Anyways, right behind us in line were the Villanova's Men's Basketball team. I wanted to shout out "Jimmer!" but then I thought, that would be lame.

I've never been afraid of heights, but I've noticed that as I get older my fear grows. (And I get motion sickness from swinging on swings now too? What the?)

Anyways, I think I got more nervous than I normally would because I have 2 kids to take to the top. And one kid that is quite adventurous...

There are 3 floors on the Eiffel Tower where you can get out and look around. We surpassed the 1st floor, which wasn't that high anyways, and took the lift to the 2nd floor and got off there to look around.

The height wasn't bad at this level but I still held on to my girls when they would hang on to the fence to look out. Everything was pretty well enclosed and totally safe, but still.  It felt pretty open in the sense it was still open up ahead and pretty windy but it was impossible to fall out or try to jump off because of the barbed wire all along the edge.  The only part I really got nervous was every time we went on the lift and you looked straight down. THEN you can feel the height and see way, way, way down. THAT freaked me out! You couldn't feel the height at all at the 2nd and top floor.
After looking around the 2nd floor we went up to the very top. It is completely enclosed there so I felt completely comfortable at top. (The lift ride up though I could not look down! Again, you can really feel the height inside there!)

Right when we got to the top I wanted to immediately take pictures of us all there, of course, so I sat Natalie down to take a picture and she gives me this...

hahaha You could easily title these pictures, "YOU WILL sit here and YOU WILL SMILE!" but I didn't even force her or anything!
She quickly turned around after that though. What 2 year old hormones...??

I love the grassy area at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. Sitting down and looking up at the beautiful tower really is one of those things in life you just have to do. I never thought I would ever be sitting down staring at the Eiffel Tower while eating my lunch.

Again, it is seriously too bad that there is so much distraction down there. On top of the gypsies and beggars you also have black sellers trying to sell cheap trinkets and stuff. They are pretty annoying too. And you wouldn't notice them at night either if it wasn't for their flashy glow in the dark trinkets in hand.
One time we were walking right behind three police men when the police suddenly clapped their hands really loudly and yelled, "EH!" and the black sellers grabbed their stuff from the streets and scattered so fast in all different directions like bugs! It was so interesting to watch! haha Like I said, people watching in Europe is so fascinating.

All of these distractions are all aggressive people and get in your face to sell or beg. Even a gypsy mom holding her baby with probably a 3 year old son in tow came toward us begging for money. "Oh great," I thought. In Italy, from what I read, these women will suddenly hand you their baby and out of reaction people will automatically hold the baby so it isn't dropped but what the gypsies really do is try to pickpocket you while your hands are full. Such disgusting people.
This woman, baby, and kid even cornered two British young ladies from the front and behind and the girls just yelled loudly over and over again, "NO, NO, NO, NO!" Making a scene is super helpful!
And another couple laying on a blanket right next to us had a gypsy come right in front of them blocking their view from the Eiffel Tower begging. The couple never said anything, which is smart, just ignore them and avoid eye contact but the gypsy wouldn't leave for like a good 5 minutes! I mean really! Now THAT is ANNOYING!
Ok, I'm done.

From there we went to Arc de Triomphe which is located in the centre of Place de l'√Čtoile. The only way to get to it is to walk underground and get up by it.

The Arc de Triomph is in the centre with a road that wraps around it and there are 12 streets that go off it. So when you enter the circle there are no lanes. You just get in and get out of the circle and into one of the 12 streets. Not exactly safe to run across.
I did see a group of old women try and "run" (they were too old to run) while I was taking pictures and I looked back and said, "You guys are stupid!" They obviously didn't hear me because they were too busy dodging cars and trying to save their lives! haha Oh my word.
We did get to drive in it on our last day in Paris heading back to our hotel, which was fun and cool, when I saw a man, a big Tongan guy, booking it across the street. I mean booking it, as if his life depended on it. Which it just may have. Once he got to the centre he shot out his arms straight up in victory with a huge smile while the people on the other side were all laughing and cheering for him. hahaha

Marisa walked around the centre with Grandpa and counted all 12 streets. She was so excited to tell me how many streets there were!

This is the view from the top of Arc de Triomphe where we had to climb 330 steps to get to it.

At the top you can look down Champs-Elysees which we walked down afterwards. It is famous for all the high end shopping like Louis Vuitton. I just shopped at Zara and Marisa shopped at the Disney Store for some new pink princess underwear. :)

The girls needed a break after a long morning so we found yet another playground at the jardins des tuileries where we bought more Nutella and banana crepes. Sounds so delicious right now...

During our walk back to our apartment, to call it a night, we saw a small pond where children can rent boats to push around with a long pole...

we saw Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel...

and the Louvre, again. Not a bad walk, huh?


Elaine said...

Great entry. I bet it took almost as long to put it together as it did to live the day. :)

Brett and Ashleigh Campbell said...

When Brett and I were in Florence, we had this hilarious tour guide and he began talking about the pickpocketers. He said, "I don't even call them gypsies, I call them Vultures."

I hope you enjoy that! :)


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