Eiffel Tower in December

 

Eiffel5

There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris ~ Ernest Hemmingway

When you think of Paris, the Eiffel Tower has to be the first thing that comes to mind. My mom and I planned a trip to Paris and London in 2014 and had an amazing time running all over the place. I truly believe that you will never regret making memories through travel with the ones that you love. First stop, Eiffel Tower!! After all, it is the one of the top recognized structures of the world and the most visited monument with almost 7 million people per year. After touring Paris in the winter, le croissant and French onion soup are a close second! The Eiffel Tower, named after Gustave Eiffel, is built of wrought iron and located on Champs de Mars. The iconic tower was built from 1887-1889 for the World’s Fair.

Upon checking into our hotel, located on George 5th, the Eiffel tower was located to the right a couple of blocks down. We were fortunate enough to be able to walk to the tower during the day and at night, walking anywhere in December can be bone chilling cold.

Eiffel4

A quote from one of my favorite movies, Sabrina~ “La Vie En Rose: It means seeing life through rose colored glasses, but only in Paris where the light is pink”

As you can see, in the picture above, the Eiffel Tower in December is often surrounded by gray clouds, blistery cold wind and rain or mist. The tower stands 1,063 ft tall, which equates to an 81-story building, making it the tallest building in Paris. As the elevator takes passengers to the observation deck, it can be a little scary looking down. If you are afraid of heights as my mom is, close your eyes. At one time, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world and remained such for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York was built in 1930. The Eiffel Tower is the second tallest building in France.

Eif

View from the lift

As we reached the site of the Eiffel Tower, I was taken aback by the number of guards carrying automatic weapons pacing back and forth, of course this was in 2014. I was familiar with high levels of security as well as police in the United States at touristy areas, but couldn’t remember at that time seeing military with semi-automatic weapons. I wasn’t sure if I felt safer or if it made me more aware? The picture above on the left is standing on the observation deck and the picture to the right is standing in line.

Eiffel8

The tower has three levels which visitors can explore. The first & second levels have restaurants while the upper level, also known as the observation deck (906 feet high), is a fantastic place to take pictures. If you love to climb, tickets are available for visitors to access the tower via stairs. Keep in mind it takes 300 steps to reach the first level. No thanks! I could barely climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but then again those stairs are leaning. We opted to take the elevator (lift) complete with large glass, viewing windows.

Eiffel1

View from the top

$$ Saving Tips~ There are several different modes of transportation to/from the Eiffel Tower. Check with the concierge if you are staying at a hotel or preview a map. We walked from our hotel. It is not necessary to book a tour of the Eiffel Tower, but may be convenient if you are traveling with an elderly family member or small children to ensure less walking, waiting and standing. Many of the tour companies pre-pay the tickets to bypass standing in the line. Some of the tours include dinner at the restaurant within the tower. Others tack on sailing the Seine River. If traveling in the winter, there isn’t a need to purchase the fast pass Eiffel Tower tickets because the lines are short. Save your money and purchase the regular ticket. It was a total of 20 minutes from the time we stood in line until we were at the top of the tower.

Eiffel3

Advertisements

Touring Tulum

tulum-3

tulum5

Ferry Ride to Tulum

Tulum is the site of the pre-Columbian, Mayan, walled city ruins which lie on 39-feet tall cliffs dating back to 13th & 15th centuries. Tulum is located along the Caribbean Sea in Quintana Roo, Mexico and is one of the best-preserved of all Maya coastal sites. Tulum is one of the last cities inhabited by the Mayan people. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have resulted in very high fatalities, disrupting the society and eventually causing the city to be abandoned.

We sailed into Cozumel and then took a ferry ride to Playa del Carmen, which is located in the state of Quintana Roo. We hopped on a tour bus in Playa del Carmen for an hour ride to Tulum.

tulum

Tulum was formerly known as Zama, The City of Dawn, due to it’s position facing the sunrise. Sitting along the Caribbean Sea, Tulum means wall, fence, or trench. Designed as a fort, with access to land and sea, it was a site to defend against invasions, worship and operated as a crucial trade hub. The population is estimated to be 1,000-1,600 inhabitants.

387

Europeans discovered Tulum during the Spanish expedition of 1518, Juan Diaz specifically. As described in the novel, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Tulum was described as tall, impressive buildings according to the authors John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. Maps and sketches were created of the site and discovery of an inscription date of AD 564 on the stele (stone), showing that the stone was most likely transported to Tulum from someplace else.

tulum-2

On your way out of Tulum there are amazing food options! We had the best tacos of our lives served with a plastic bag of pico de gallo to pour over. They serve HUGE margaritas with a salt rim. If you are on a tour, be sure to pay attention to the departure time, especially when drinking those margaritas. We almost missed our tour due to the language barrier and….possibly tequila.

$$ Saving Tips~ Be sure to have pesos, Tulum does not accept US currency. I would advise against using a credit card, unless you speak Spanish. I love sharing all of our “lessons learned the hard way” with travelers. We used a credit card for lunch after we ordered and ate the food, of course, then realized that the waiter could not relay what the credit card machine was saying. He was handing us the pin pad but our credit card doesn’t have a pin, didn’t know if it was asking for a zip code or what? Then he went back into the kitchen to tell the cooks in Spanish and they all were staring at us but apparently, no one spoke English. It took so long to figure out that we almost missed our departure time.

I advise against ordering a Dip n Dots ice cream unless you’ve never had one and are absolutely dying to try it. Our daughter was insistent on having an ice cream on the blazing hot and humid day in March so they ordered one and next thing we knew, we were totally ripped off! Of course, they only accept pesos but it equaled $10 US dollars for one tiny cup.

tulum-4

Taco Time!!!