1:45pm – I awoke to a hardened baguette wedge piercing the underside of my arm. What time is it? I thought to myself. Manon’s blackout shades made it hard to shake the half-conscious stupor. As I climbed out of the floor-level bed, I heard a muffled Oouf! come from underneath me.
“Good morning!” Alberto said cheerfully. He and Victoria were cocooned in a quilt on the living room floor. We said a final farewell to our Italian comrades and started toward the shower to ward off our growing guele de bois (ahem, hangovers). Still fatigued from the night that had just ended that same morning, we resolved to spend what remained of the day relaxing near the Eiffel Tower.
Rising from the metro tunnel, we were drawn into an adjacent bakery by the tantalizing smell of fresh-baked bread and croque monsieurs.
The French are quick to give you their opinion on food. Jacob discovered this when he asked me to order a Tropicana orange juice to accompany his toasted sandwich.
“No, no, zhis is better!” the bakery owner insisted, refusing my request for canned juice and shoving a freshly-filled glass bottle into my hand with delight.
We made our way to the line for the Tower, crossing underneath where a slew of peddlers gathered vying for our attention. Thinking myself safe, I walked up to a food cart to order an espresso. I was waiting my turn, when suddenly I felt something land on my head. I instinctively reared back, wildly searching to find the offending creature. Instead of a pigeon, I found a plastic drone hovering above me. A few feet away, a peddler was cackling in our direction, waving to us with his remote control. His technique was so clever, I bought one of his miniature Eiffel statues just for giving me a laugh.
We boarded the platform-sized elevator and watched the world grow smaller as we were whisked to the top of the monument. From high up, the buildings of Paris melted into a pleasing horizon punctuated by a small cluster of skyscrapers, looking indecorously modern in the centuries-old skyline.
That evening, we agreed on an Italian restaurant for dinner. The food was superb, but we fell victim to an unsavory glare after refusing to order wine. Apparently, sticking with water is a European faux pas.
We ended the night back at the Tower with champagne bought from one of the many booze peddlers. Jacob was pleased with himself for haggling the price down to 6 euros – a steep discount from the original 25. We looked over the photos we had taken earlier at the government plaza across from the tower, trying to capture the twinkling of the tower’s light show in the background.
We sipped our prize straight from the bottle, surrounded by blanket-loungers doing just the same, enjoying the scene and each other’s company.
But the bliss and simplicity of that serene evening would soon be a distant memory. We basked in our naivety, not knowing the terror that awaited us the next day…
Stay tuned for Day 5 of Peaks of Paris…