What suddenly happens halfway up the Eiffel Tower, zip-lining in a forest and halfway up the Eiger? Wonky brain! The mind or the body or both exchange the strangest conversations which were not there in the foreground before.
We parted ways on the first platform of the two football field high Eiffel Tower, Chris feeling woozy and in sudden panic attack mode, me in chic jeans, swanky brass buttoned jacket and Parisian scarf feeling ready to conquer the skyline and flirt with every Frenchman who perchance might glance my way or utter anything in French!. Oh to be uncomplicated and thirty-two again (and appreciate that the world was my oyster at the time). Encore Baz Lehman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI
Up, up, up the stairrrrrs I stride enthusiastically, destination platform 2 of the famous Eiffel Tower. At 115 metres high, firstly I saunter around the girded perimeter Omw what beauty surrounds us. The cerisiers have started to bloom and a gentle cloak of pink across the city below me. Flip, who could have imagined this farm child from Africa witnessing Paris in all her spring glory? Perfectly mapped out streets as far as the eye can see, huge statues, rows of boulevards, the Arc de Triomphe – swirling with a never-ending stream of ant-like traffic, and colourful tree’d avenues and parks – oh and there is the Louvre and boats drifting silently on the Seine River, I could sing with excitement. (To be honest, the structure itself at eye level with cages, cameras, railings, rivets, flags and signs everywhere plus swarming tourists, is not attractive.)
However, instead of skipping, I ‘adult’ and quietly schmooze into a touristy queue to the elevator. A glamorous usher calls us in groups of 8 and at my turn, we all gravitate to the sides of the sheets of glass and gasp as ascension begins, silence, it feels as though we are being sucked into the sky and suddenly strangers huddle to the middle like best friends – away from the glass windows. The tension can be cut with a knife. A passenger starts to sing! Wishing we hadn’t sampled the Fromage and Jewelled Gateaux from the ground-level patisseries half an hour earlier?
Staggering out into the sky like a drunk, light-headed and wonky-legged (the top is equivalent to the 75th floor of a tall building) I make my way to the railing to look over – GOD KNOWS WHY when I’m already turning into ET, suspiciously wide-eyed, green-ing and looking for a pot plant to politely deposit sick. Nobody must ask me now if “Parlez-vous Anglais?” – because all I can think is parlez-moi a mixture of cheese and cake! Romance and sexiness went out the window.
This is Summer and I can vouch for the fact that Eiffel is about 16 cm taller than in winter, in fact, it is taller than I THOUGHT eek !!!!!!!!!!! Plus it is tilting, on the sunlit side – I kid you not! Or perhaps my left leg is suddenly shorter and the peculiar gait is not from my bad head space. I feel all peculiar and “mommy, I just wanna go home”.
What is happening, everything is swirling. Heading towards the lift someone takes my elbow and helps me through the queue into the levitating glass box. Tumbling back onto level two I find a scenic seat and sit to gather myself and still the thundering heart, pretending to be as cool as a cucumber, a romantic young chick ready for whatever Paris has to offer her. The trick of one inebriated didn’t work for vertigo, remember it – just lie on a bench and hang one foot on the ground to stabilize.
This was back in the day before mobile phones when we just had to put on our big girl panties and get on with it, most people were good and I felt safe, and I was. Juliet found her Romeo on Level 1 and we drifted hand in hand, down the last massive cast iron stairway and onto the streets of pink cherry blossom mist.
- The Eiffel Tower is painted every 7 years – entirely by hand with brushes only
- The paint weighs 60 tonnes
- The surface painted is 250 000 m2
- Erosion in 7 years is approx 15 tonnes
- Colour is shaded off towards the top so it is perceived to be the same all the way up in the Paris sky
- 25 painters work 8 hour days for 15 – 18 months
- They are specialists of work on metallic structures at heights and do not suffer vertigo (unlike me, they test first)
- They have 5 acres of protection netting, 50 km of security cords, 1 500 brushes, 1 500 sets of work uniforms and 5 000 sanding disks.
- No, they never close to the public for this work
- It has adorned red-brown/ochre, yellow-ochre, chestnut brown and bronze
- 1889 – red-ochre cost Fr200 000
- 2017 – bronze cost $4 280 821
You ask, “is that the last time you fly high?” – nope, more to come! Why do we punish ourselves, for fun.