Lisboa, Portugal. September 2018.

Bernkastel-Kues, Deutschland

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Deutschland

Frankfurt, Deutschland

Anacapri, Capri, Italia

We came to visit for the day from Naples, but realized it was too beautiful to leave after just a few hours. We stayed the night with a family at a B&B, and continued walking the island the next day.

Villa Jovis, Capri, Italia

Capri, Italia

Capri, Italia

Positano, Italia

Pompei, Italia

Positano, Italia

Pompei, Italia

Pompei, Italia

Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano

Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano

Roma, Italia

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, France

After arriving at CDG around 3 pm, I headed for the train. Along the way, I found a place to check my larger backpack, and pulled out a few things to put into a smaller pack I'd carry around the city. I bought the 10 Euro ticket into the city, and grabbed a window seat on the train.

Throughout the 45 minute ride I wrote a bit, reflecting on what these two weeks in Germany and Italy had shown me. I looked at the other silent train riders, the passing countryside, the slowly building urban landscape as we got closer to the middle of the city.

When the train stopped, I switched to the subway and headed closer to the center of Paris. I ended up near Notre Dame, and stepped out into the street as it started drizzling. I approached the entrance and, seeing the line to get inside, decided to capture a picture of the doors, instead, as I'd been doing this whole trip.

There was some kind of event or food competition happening in a giant tent just behind me, so I walked in to smell everything and dry off a bit for a second. With nothing to do and the hours in my 17-hour layover dwindling, I walked along the Seine until I came to another Metro stop, and decided to go see the Eiffel Tower next.

The station was crowded, and the machines at this station didn't sell paper tickets like the one I took to get into the city. It would've been useful to know some French at this point, but soon a guy from one group of people found an open gate to get around the ticketed gates, and waved to his friends to follow him. Without a thought, I jumped in line to bring up the rear and followed them through. They were headed in another direction, but I found my train's platform, and standing there, realized I'd probably be fucked when I got to my destination. I didn't let it trouble me too much and got on the double-decker train when it approached.

When I got to the closest stop to Tour Eiffel, I hopped off and slowly headed off the platform. I didn't see any of my previous accomplices around, so I tried waiting until I was mostly alone, in case I had to hop a turnstile. I got to the exit area and found it had an impenetrable gate on the other side of the turnstile. But luckily, another couple was apparently in the same fare-skipping situation, and as a paying customer headed through, they grabbed the gates before they fully closed, hopped the turnstile, and held the gate for me. I couldn't remember which language I was supposed to be saying “thank you” in after days of danke and grazie, so I said it in English and got a blank look.

They charge you (as I'd expect) to go up the Eiffel tower, and there are two major levels you can go to. At the ground level, you buy a ticket up to the first level. You can pay more to take the elevator, or pay less and climb the 700 stairs to get there. If exploration is the goal, the stairs won't let you down.

The view was nice from that first level, but I figured if I was already there, there's no point in not seeing the top. So I bought a ticket and rode a lift the rest of the way up. I spent a good hour or so up there, trying to avoid getting caught in the background of someone's selfie and just looking out over the gray city. The homogeneous, mansard roof-topped buildings lining the streets below made each path stand out more, and you could really see how the city was laid out. On one side, across the Seine, the Palais de Chaillot faced us from the ground below. And on the other side of the tower, the sprawling lawn of Champ de Mars led away from us towards the center of the city. The roads expanded from single points, like spokes on a wheel, out to other tiny points where roads met in a roundabout.

By now I was hungry, so I went to the only restaurant there, repeatedly trying to order a vin rouge before telling the guy “red wine,” and a sandwich, and took in the view one last time before beginning my descent. It was getting late and I decided a bed would be better than an airport bench to sleep on, so I sat outside a small cafe, ordered a glass of red wine, and booked a night at a nearby hostel.

As I walked towards the hostel...