"He would later walk on these stilts from Paris to Moscow."
"Something we should consider before trashing each other."
"Paris's skyline begins and ends with the Eiffel Tower."
"It's a powerful reminder of common interests and histories."
"Facing her twin who peers back from New York."
This Ain't New York.
Long Lost Twin Paris, France
Thursday January 29, 2004
Did you know the Statue of Liberty has a twin sister? As Yoda says, "There is another."
She stands in the middle of the Seine in the middle of Paris. I vaguely remembered this from my last visit to Paris and wanted to find it again.
It's not exactly on the tourist circuit. Most of the people I asked had no idea where it was. The guy who runs the hotel pointed to a huge section of the map and said, "I think it's somewhere in here." Instead of wandering randomly around Paris looking for a green lady with a torch I half-gave up and walked up the Eiffel Tower.
"Picture the details of the statue in New York." The Tower in a moment, but first a trivia question. Besides the fact that France's statue is smaller and is in France, there's one thing that's different between the two. What is it? Picture the details of the statue in New York and you'll probably realize what would be different in France. Now on with our story.
I didn't know you can take the stairs about halfway up the Tower. You still have to take the lift from the second landing to the very top, but it's a great walk... and it's cheaper. On the way up there are dozens of displays with little factoids about the Tower.
There was once an ice skating rink at the Eiffel Tower. The first skater: the bear from the Moscow Circus. (He's pictured on the display, standing upright and wearing skates.)
A guy once rode his motorcycle down the stairs.
Another guy climbed the stairs on stilts. He would later walk on these stilts from Paris to Moscow.
Somebody flew a plane under the Tower, through the arch between the pillars.
Arnold Palmer drove a golf ball off the Tower.
And my favorite?
10,000 tons of unneeded steel supports were removed from the tower in a "renovation."
Hope the guys who did that don't later discover the architect had a perfectly good reason for those 10,000 tons of supports. At least not while I'm on top.
"As long as I didn't focus on plummeting to the ground." The stairs run out on the second landing where you have to take the elevator on to the top. I thought I'd conquered my fear of heights till I got in this thing. See, I'm a little claustrophobic too, so being jammed in with three loud Australians and a throng of Korean tourists was a little unnerving. At least the Koreans were short. It wasn't awful as long as I didn't focus on plummeting to the ground. I was even able to look out the window.
Looking straight up the Eiffel Tower
Looking down on Paris from the Eiffel Tower is a good reminder that European cities are very different from anything on the other side of the Atlantic. There are a few tall buildings, particularly in the business district called "La Defense," but on an American or Asian scale it's a low-rise city. Amazing, really, that a city of millions can exist so horizontally. Paris's skyline begins and ends with the Eiffel Tower.
I spotted the Statue of Liberty while on top and headed that way after the trip back down. It was actually bigger than I thought. It's described as the mini-Statue of Liberty, but she's quite big in her own right. You may hear that she's on a bridge, but that's not quite right. The statue is on a manmade island just next to a bridge.
"A powerful reminder of common interests and histories." It's really quite striking, particularly for an American I guess. Odd to see what's basically my country's logo sitting in another's capital. They gave us ours in honor of America's centennial in 1876. American expatriates in France returned the favor thirteen years later, on the centennial of the French Revolution. It's a powerful reminder of common interests and histories. one we should consider before trashing each other.
Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty
It's tough to get a look at the statue's face. While you're standing on the bridge she's facing away from you, and on the island below you're looking up at a very steep angle. It's so she can be looking west, across the Atlantic, facing her twin who peers back from New York.
"One last hint: the tablet." And what's the one difference between the two statues? If you said the French maintain the gilding on both the torch and the points of the crown, you're right. But that's minor and not what I was thinking of. One last hint: the tablet. Got it?
Ours says "July 4, 1776." Theirs has both dates. "July 4, 1776," and below it, "July 14, 1789." Unlike ours, they also gild the inscription on the tablet. Oh, and she's not exactly looking New York's lady liberty in the eye. As far as I could tell, at best she's facing Nicaragua... or maybe Brazil. But it was a nice thought; at least she's looking at the right hemisphere.