What landmark better represents Paris than the Eiffel Tower? It's renown is worldwide (I think that's what renown means...)Standing tall and proud over such a gem of a city, its own grace represents the city's beauty.
However, our visit to the Eiffel Tower will always be shadowed not by the iron edifices grace, but by our stop at the public toilet (i.e. port-a-potty) preceding our vieiwing.
First, I must say that the public toilets on the streets of Paris are not your ordinary run-of-the-mill port-a-potties. (I'll describe them in a minute). The line for this toilet was, however, exactly what you'd expect from a free public toilet.
And I HAD to go.
But, we waited. 20 minutes.
Now, the toilet. I'm sure other major cities in the world have similar toilets, but this was my first experience with one of such caliber. First of all, after each use, when the user leaves the plastic -but actually spacious so you don't worry about touching the walls accidentally- shack, the toilet cleans itself. Some sort of water and disinfectant rises from a chain-mail type floor, the toilet scrubs and rinses, the sink power bubbles itself so that the next user can relieve one's self in a relatively sanitary environment.
However, such endeavors take time and therefore the long line to wait for occupancy.
As we waited we saw many young people draped in the flag of Liberia. They were in fact of Liberian descent and it was World Cup time. Liberia was playing that night and these transplants were proud. (In fact, while in Paris we saw many different nationalities. It is truly a cosmopolitan city).
We also saw Indian men selling Eiffel Tower miniatures of all sizes and uses (i.e. key chains). They were selling their wares illegally, so when a policeman was spotted they had their display rigged on a mat that would quickly close up and the vendor could hide what he was doing from the law. Sneaky. We didn't buy one of those models, but now I wish we did. (What we did buy was this little bust of Napolean - which I love).
At last, finding relief in a clean Parisian public toilet, we walked the few blocks that remained to the tower.
We'd waited until evening for our visit because we wanted to see it light up. (We opted not to go up due to costs and more lines). Of course, when you approach this tower of steel, it is as imposing and gorgeous and inspiring as you'd imagine. A kind of "I can't believe I'm in Paris" feeling ensues.
We found a spot on the long lawn that stretches in front of the tower and waited with the crowds of others who'd brought baskets of bread and bottles of wine. We snapped photos and soaked it all in - we were in Paris.
And then, this brief light show brightens the tower and we all watched and cheered and then took more pictures until we realized we'd walked all over Paris that day having left Romania extremely early and were operating on very little sleep. We still needed to walk back to our hotel, so we lingered a moment more in the Eiffel glow, kissed (because we were in Paris at the Eiffel Tower), and hand in hand, walked away past the line at the public toilet, glad we (read: I) no longer had to use it.