Immediately we were accosted by souvenir dealers, peddling their wares. These consisted of Eifel Tower replicas in three sizes, including small key chains. The boys were keen on a large tower, which was selling in the Metro station for 15 euros.
The nearest peddlar pressed one into Alex’s hand, suggesting a 12 eu price tag, but I was hoping for something better.
He hung 3 keychains on top of the tower’s tip to sweeten the deal. I offered him 10 euros for the big tower and the keychains, to which he countered that he would give us TWO big towers and 6 keychains for 20 eu. Satisfied with our bargain, I pulled two crumpled 1 eu bills out of my pocket and paid the man. The boys stuffed their treasures into my backpack, and we set out to find the stairs that led down to the tower’s base.
The crowds thickened as we neared the tower itself, and we elected to spend this sunny afternoon at the park and gardens outside, admiring Mssr Eifel’s work from a short distance away, rather than standing in the three-hour line-up f tourists that was winding its way around the tower’s shady base.
After walking along a tree-lined path, we stopped at a playground to collect a sand sample Alex had promised to bring his teacher. Then we lingered for a while on a nearby park bench, enjoying the view of the landmark we had come to see, before mustering up the energy to work our way through the ever-growing crowds back to the subway.