Why was I in the rail station for so long? Well, here’s the deal. I’ve been travelling around Europe so extensively with the use of a global Eurail pass. Basically, the Eurail pass allows me to ride on any train in most countries in Europe, without previously booking or paying for tickets. The Eurail pass itself is darn expensive, but ultimately worth it since international trains can be extremely expensive. I’ve really enjoyed having the Eurail pass so far just because it does allow a lot of freedom–you literally just jump on whatever train you want.
The one thing that absolutely sucks about the Eurail pass is reserving seats. For most trains in Europe with the Eurail pass, you don’t have to reserve seats. However, there are a few train companies that do require you to reserve a seat on the train, which costs extra. The cost isn’t the problem, however, because it’s usually pretty small. The fact is that if you want to make a seat reservation with a Eurail pass, you have to do it early. The train companies only allow a certain number of Eurail pass holders to reserve seats per train, and once those seats are out, you have to buy a normal (expensive) train ticket if you want to be on that train.
Like I said, this doesn’t apply to most trains in Europe, thankfully. However, it does apply to nearly every single train in France. This has been a huge pain in the ass for me. This is the reason why it took me so long to get from Luxembourg to France–I couldn’t reserve a seat on the train to France because all the seats for Eurail holders were already booked, so I had to take regional trains (which take longer but don’t require seat reservations). At least that problem had an easy solution.
My next issue was that I needed to get to Switzerland the next day. The problem? In order to get out of France, I had to take a French train which required a seat reservation. No seats left, of course, and the normal train ticket was over 100 Euros in price.
The staff in the train station spent a very long time helping me find an alternate route to Switzerland so that I could avoid paying that 100 Euros for a different ticket. Eventually I came up with a solution that, while it would cost me a little extra, was far less expensive than paying for a normal ticket on the French train.
Freaking French trains.
Because that took forever, I realized that I wouldn’t have enough time in Versailles (since queues there are insanely long, hence why they emphasize getting there early). Instead I wandered over to the Eiffel Tower, and since I had time, I decided that I would go up it.
There are two ways to go up the Eiffel Tower–you can either walk up to the second floor and then take a lift to the top from there, or you can take a lift from the very bottom to top. I decided to take the first option, because it was cheaper, the queue was shorter, and because I thought it would be cool to say that I took the stairs up the Eiffel Tower. Also I don’t particularly like elevators, and the elevator from the second floor to the top was frightening enough, thank you very much.
To be honest, taking the stairs was not that bad. There are a lot of stairs, yes, in fact there are 669 of them. But you can go at your own pace and take breaks when you get to the first and second floors, so it’s really not that difficult.
Plus now I can say I took the stairs like a boss.
The view from the first and second floors is stunning–you can see all of Paris. It’s even better from the very top, although the fencing they have at the top detracts from the view a little bit.
Along the first and second floors, they have information about the Eiffel Tower. I read most of it and found some of it quite interesting, so I’m going to share it with you now.
The Eiffel Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel to commemorate 100 years of the French Revolution. The Tower was completed in 1887, after only two years, two months, and five days of construction. Does this blow anybody else’s mind? I thought it would take much longer to build.
The Eiffel Tower is repainted approximately every seven years, which helps prevent against corrosion. The painting is done by twenty-five painters and takes them EIGHTEEN MONTHS to repaint the entire Tower. How much paint is used? 60 tons.
Members of the public can only take the stairs from the bottom of the Eiffel Tower to the second floor. There are stairs from the second to the third floors; however, they are closed to the public due to safety issues. So you can’t actually walk the whole way up the Eiffel Tower, which is a little disappointing. You can only walk up 669 of the 1665 stairs. By the way, if you walk up to the first floor if the Eiffel Tower, you’ve walked up to the 21st floor of a building. If you make it to the second floor, you’ve walked up to the 43rd floor.
I walked up to the 43rd floor of a building. HOW COOL AM I.
After walking back down all those stairs, I took the metro over to Notre Dame, then I quick ran through the Luxembourg Gardens, which were very beautiful.