Eiffel Tower In Lights
On my first outing
in Paris, I visited the Eiffel Tower after dark with Claude. She (yes,
Claude is a she) asked if I'd been to the Eiffel Tower before, and
I told her I had.
you seen it at night?" she added. "It's very beautiful when
the lights flash on and off like a Christmas tree."
Well, that was
something I hadn't seen, so just before nightfall we headed for the
The Eiffel Tower
is set on a magnificent public park which is so large, it's very easy
to find it on any map of Paris. It starts from the Seine River and
stretches for, what appears to be, several football fields in length.
The Eiffel Tower, built over a century ago, is near the edge closest
to the river.
To welcome in
the New Millennium, the Eiffel Tower, which had always been fitted
with warm yellow lights, was also fitted with a web of hundreds of
bright white lights which began to flash on-and-off randomly at the
stroke of midnight. And this was so popular with the Parisians, that
they agreed to make the flashing lights a permanent feature on the
Eiffel Tower. So now, every hour, on the hour, those little bright
white lights flash like crazy from 9pm to midnight.
And the atmosphere
after dark seems to be just about the same as during the day. There's
thousands of people sitting on the park's acres and acres of lawn.
And at any one time there's dozens of them taking photos of each other
with the tower as a constant background. And there's hundred's of
them queuing up at the tower's base to tackle the thousands of steps
upward, or take a short-cut to the top with the elevator.
So how much does
it cost to climb the Eiffel Tower? The cheapest ticket costs 2.70
euros, and will get you to the first level. This suits the tourists
on a tight budget who'd still like to say they've climbed the Eiffel
Tower. For 7 euros, you get to go to the second level which is much
nearer the top and offers a much greater view of the city. And for
10.20 euros (maybe the 0.20 is a tax?) you can go a little higher.
This it the third and topmost level of the tower. There are restaurants
on the 2 upper levels, so I'm sure they'd be classed as being in one
of the best locations in the world. But I'd hate to see their price
Even though it's
dark, street vendors approach tourists selling their wares. Everything
from flying toys, to Eiffel Tower key rings, to soft drinks. But they've
always got one eye out for the French police. This is strictly an
illegal practice, though the police couldn't possibly be taking it
very seriously, otherwise there'd be policemen posted there permanently.
wide is the Eiffel Tower at its base? I didn't know, and I didn't
have a tape measure with me, so I paced it out. I'm six feet tall
and my steps are about 3 feet apart. So just for a bit of fun, let's
see if you can guess.
Is it .
a) 36 paces (about
b) 72 paces (about 216 feet)
c) 144 paces (about 432 feet)
So how did you
go? If you said a), then you'd be . wrong. But if you said b), then
you'd . still be wrong. So, of course, the correct answer is c). So
did you get it right? (without cheating?)
got to see Leonardo Da Vinci's little lady.
The Mona Lisa,
Italy's most famous painting is in . er . France! Or more specifically,
hanging in Paris' world famous art museum, the Louvre.
My trip to Paris
last year was only an overnight experience, focused solely on meeting
up with my good ol' Aussie friend, Kevin Kuek, and seeing the Australian
Rules football grand final between Collingwood and Brisbane, televised
by satellite in an Aussie pub in the city. So my tour of Paris was
fleeting at best. And even though I visited the Louvre, there wasn't
enough time to actually go inside. But this time I was going to be
in Paris for a whole week, and seeing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre
was at the top of my list of priorities.
And I had been
Lisa is very small . probably only about 11 by 14 inches ... so it's
such a disappointment . and they've got it displayed behind bullet-proof
glass . there are guards on either side protecting it . and it's roped
off too, so you can't even get close enough for a good look . and
the queues are so long you have to wait for hours just to see it!"
And the worse
it sounded, the more I wanted to see it! After all, if seeing the
Mona Lisa left me somewhat unfulfilled, then at least I could write
about how horrible the 'waiting' experience was.
So here 'tis .
As soon as I entered
the museum, there were signs pointing to the Mona Lisa display. So
I followed them, past some of history's greatest paintings, without
caring to give them a moment's notice. After all, if I was going to
wait for 2 hours in a queue, I wanted to get into that queue as soon
as possible. I didn't want to be deprived of the experience because
I was still in the queue at closing time.
Another sign made
me feel a little uncomfortable . 'All unattended bags will be destroyed
And after about
10 minutes, I came to the Mona Lisa display hall. And as soon as I
turned the corner, I saw it.
What a disappointment!
I had prepared myself for a long, long wait. I'd stuffed a couple
of ciabata rolls with salami, olives and ricotta cheese, just to be
in the right mood while I waited in queue for my experience of a lifetime.
I'd even packed a large bottle of Lambrusco (wine) as well, so I was
prepared to have an all-Italian picnic-in-a-queue. But . but . it
only took 2 seconds to get in front of the Mona Lisa!
Yes, it was behind
bullet-proof glass, and yes, it was roped off from the crowd with
a somewhat disinterested guard wandering around in the vicinity. But
there was no queue. Just an eager crowd surrounding it, and it was
only about 3 people deep. And seeing I'm so tall, I had a pretty good
view from the back row anyhow.
So what did I
Well first of
all I thought it was pretty big, because it must've been at least
twice the size I'd been told it would be. And secondly I thought it
looked very familiar. Hadn't I seen that painting hundreds of times
before? But thirdly I thought at least I'd seen the real thing now.
So I guess I can compare it with going to see a live band performing
instead of just listening to the record.
3. Chinese TV Staring James Taris
in the right place at just the right time.
Soon after I arrived
in Paris, Claude told me that a Chinese TV crew based in Paris, was
interested in making a program about the SEL (French for LETS) groups
in France. Maybe they'd like to include the Globe-Trotting LETSaholic
in their program.
The TV producer
seemed very interested, especially when I told her I'd been to China
3 times already, and on my last visit I'd written a play in Shanghai.
interesting," she said. "Actually, we are a Shanghai TV
station, and once this program is filmed, we'll be sending it back
to Shanghai for it to be edited and translated into Chinese. Then
it'll be screened on TV in China."
will that take?" I asked.
months," she said.
get copies of my newspaper and radio interviews," I said. "Can
I get a copy of the show once it's completed?"
So that'll be
a good tape to add to my video library!
The filming starts
Shooting a film
takes lots of footage. I know how it works because I've done courses
on TV Production and Video Editing. I've even made a TV program (The
Poetry Show) which was aired in Melbourne a few years ago. So what
we were told would only take about 15 minutes, actually took about
to film you doing what you normally do when you're traveling,"
the producer said.
just get taken around the city by my hosts," I said, realizing
just how boring that must've sounded.
she said. "Where are you planning to go now?"
I'd take James to see the Paris Opera House just around the corner,"
Claude said enthusiastically.
like to film me performing my play in front of the building,"
I said, catching on to the excitement everyone seemed to be sharing.
the producer said.
So they followed
us out of their studios and into the street where they began filming
Claude and myself from in front, and from behind, and from across
the street. And when we finally got to the Opera House, I grabbed
Claude's mobile phone and began performing the Pericles monologue
while dozens of curious pedestrians walked between me and the rolling
TV camera. Claude was the perfect audience, laughing heartily at every
line I spoke.
I must've looked
a little crazy as I paced about delivering some ridiculous lines which
couldn't possibly have made any sense to the innocent by-standers,
but then, I think it's acceptable (even preferable) to be a little
crazy when you're placed in front of a camera!
article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey
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