Terrific Eiffel Tower

Visiting the Eiffel tower was one of the high points of our Paris trip: the boys were really looking forward to seeing it and they weren't disappointed. Its beauty and size overwhelmed them initially and, once recovered, they clamored for a trip to the top. We asked one of the soldiers guarding the tower if we could take a picture of the boys with them. That wasn't allowed but they went one better when one of the soldiers put his beret on Daniel's head. The weather was rainy but the view from the top was nonetheless breathtaking. I was interested to see you could already rent your own iPad for a self-guided tour.

Travel tips:
  • Take the stairs to the second level instead of the elevator: You get a great view all the way up and a better feel for the tower itself. Though 43 stories sound like a lot, it's actually a pretty easy climb and you'll stop halfway anyway
  • Make the most of the exhibits on the first and second floors, esp. those showing the history of the tower and how it was built. The boys enjoyed learning that it takes 2.5 million rivets to hold this monument and 40 tons of paint to cover it from tip to toe
  • There are many street vendors around the Eiffel Tower, you can pick up souvenirs pretty cheaply esp. if you haggle a bit

Visiting Notre Dame de Paris

We visited Notre Dame de Paris with the boys. Probably the best known cathedral in the world after Saint Peter's in Rome, it took around 200 years to finish. There's lots to admire but my favorites are the stained glass windows.

Travel tips:
  • Entrance is free, always nice!
  • We arrived around noon and got to witness a sermon, including a priest singing the liturgy. It was nice to experience the cathedral being used as a place of worship, and not just a tourist attraction
  • Personally, if there's a long line to climb up to the towers, I wouldn't wait. You're going to see the Eiffel Tower, right? You'll get a better view up there
  • It's worth taking the short walk around the outside of the cathedral: you can take some nice pictures in the gardens and there's a small playground for kids who need an outlet for their energy (after all there's only so many architectural marvels kids can take :-)
  • Walk all the way around the inside of the cathedral too, the stained glass windows are exquisite! 

Clash of Exterior Designs: Past and Future

Though a little shocking at first, I think the juxtaposition of modern and traditional facades works pretty well in these two houses from Sion, Switzerland.

I assume that a glass (?) facade might have been a cheaper option than a full-on renovation. Wonder what the neighbors think of it? I do like the color coordinated fire hydrant in the lower left corner. Nice touch :-)