Winter Takes a Spring Break

photo: cafe terrace, rue st antoine

The sun was on time, but it was a little early for lunch
on this terrace.

The Tour Eiffel Is Muddy

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 27. March 2000:- As a pause from late winter weather last week Paris enjoyed 36 hours of spring, starting a day after the Equinox, as if it had been planned. After its time was up, the program has returned to normal.

This involves periods of rain, some hail, some calm overcast, short periods of weak sunlight, a few breezes, and about 'normal' temperatures 'for the season.'

'For the season' does not mean spring; it means what is normal for Paris at this time of year. It is called whatever the season between winterphoto: smart convertible and spring is called. It can definitely last until well after Easter and has no respect for Easter's date, which is on 23. April of this year.

Spring-like weather made topless 'Smarts' pop out last Wednesday.

We can blame it all on 2000 being a leap-year. Having the extra day throws everything that comes after it out of whack. On top of it, on the continent we still have change-the-clocks time, and this we did at 02:00 on Sunday morning.

I have been told that offshore islands declined to be in step with this nonsense, and they will do it next weekend. For this week, they are not in any timezone.

Although foreseen for days if not months or years, Italian train workers decided there was too much stress involved with the time change so they shut down the rail system in Italy on Sunday. This was little appreciated by skiers who wished to return from skiing on grass in the Alps.

Mainly, the Italian trainworkers wanted to see their red cars win the Grand Prix which was run somewhere on Sunday, sometime. The red cars won, so I expect the trains are running today in Italy and the skiers are now getting home.

The Tour Eiffel

On Friday, I took a ride up the Eiffel tower to its second level. For some reason the top level was closed. Last Tuesday, when I saw it from Trocadéro, I could see elevator cars going right to the top.

It has been a couple of years since I've been on the tower. The last time was on a very clear day and the whole tower - all of its beams and girders, all of its cables and wheels, and all of its paintwork - seemed shiny and new.

This was not the case on Friday. The old lady, whatever she is, seemed to be covered in mud. I don't mean simple dirt, I mean flat-out mud. Although there were storms in Paris, they did not leave the streets full of mud.

The company that operates the tower likes to say that as soon as its painters finish it they start over again from top to bottom. But my impression on Friday was that they must have skipped a cycle.

This could be on account of all the new lighting that has been attached to the tower - a little bit like leaving your Christmas tree up all year around.

On account of wind, the new lights - and there are many of them - involve a lot of cables and brackets to hold them on. These could make the hard job of repainting impossible.

The mud is not dangerous and if you visit the tower it won't rub off on you. But if you only visit the tower once and you see it as it is now, you will not see it as it usually appears.

On the various levels there are some displays - such as one showingphoto: trocadero cafes, old bus how much the top of the tower moves around. After seeing this, I recommend that you go right up to the very top before you look at this display on the first level.

The last rays catch the last cafés at Trocadéro, and an old bus, last Tuesday.

Another display shows a sample of the different colors of paint that have been used on the tower. If you see old photos of it you may think the colors of the print have changed, but it is more likely that the color of the whole tower was different.

One of the best things about the Eiffel tower is the souvenir shop. I always think that the souvenir Eiffel towers they sell are a huge joke; the world's champion souvenirs. I don't know how much they ost, but taking the elevator up to get one will set you back 44 francs for the ride.

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