I was not at all impressed when I first saw the Eiffel Tower.
My problem with the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and the Mona Lisa is that they look just like the pictures. When you go and look at them, there’s nothing that you have not already seen or sensed, unlike, for example, when you see the Notre Dame, the Sistine Chapel or the acropolis. When I said this, everybody told me that the charm of the Eiffel Tower lies in how it’s lit at night. So my sister and I decided to go at night to see the Eiffel Tower and then take the last train out from Paris back to Grenoble.
It was worth it, people were right; the Eiffel Tower was truly beautiful. Paris by night is charming, and the Eiffel Tower carried some of that mood – call it romantic, call it festive, call it anything.
We worked out our schedule to the letter, planning perfectly how long the metro-ride to the station would take so that we could catch our train back to Grenoble.
What we did not think of, though, rather unintelligently was that the metro would not be standing and waiting to leave at exactly the moment the two sisters chose to go to the station. Oops.
We realised, I think, only when we got to our metro station that our detailed planning had fallen short. Shaking our heads and wincing inwardly, we reached seven minutes late for our train to Grenoble, scheduled to leave at 23:44. We missed the train, not surprisingly.
It was close to midnight, and we did not know what else to do, so we spent the night on the bank of the Seine, looking at the beautiful architecture beyond and the dark water below. We looked at the dark sky above and talked of dreams and imagination. We fell in love with the city all over again, and spoke of life, the universe and everything, the way we can only when things around us are lovely.
Morning brought its own sobriety though, and we marvelled at our foolish bravery. Two girls sitting by themselves at the bank of a river outside a station in a foreign city. Drunk people wandering around, waiting for the slightest opportunity to have conversation and perhaps more.
Being young and stupid has its advantages, though – Paris by night is truly charming. Age and wisdom would never have brought us that beauty.