Every Iconic city has a landmark that stands out against all others and becomes a representation for the city itself. For London it’s Big Ben, New York has the statue of Liberty, and Paris’s most iconic landmark is without a doubt the Eiffel Tower.
This is the beginning of a series where I take a look at the iconic landmarks of different cities and share some interesting facts about them. I spent two days in Paris, a city filled with many marvelous landmarks, known and unknown alike. Even with so many landmarks the Eiffel Tower seems to stand above the rest.
1. The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair Expedition (Random Fact: My school The University of Northern Colorado is almost as old as the Eiffel Tower to the very day.)
2.Many Parisians found the Eiffel tower to be an eyesore and the tower itself was almost used for scrap metal.
3. In 1909 the tower was repurposed as an radio antenna, saving it from being demolished.
4. Another city that could have been home for the tower was Barcelona, Spain, but the project was declined.
5. It takes 1,665 steps to get to the very top. (Woo that it quite a workout.)
6. A woman married the Eiffel Tower in 2007.
7. The tower is named after Gustave Eiffel. (Supposedly the tower held an apartment for him on the third floor.)
8. The tower also has a nickname called “La dame de fer” which means the iron lady
9. It was the largest building in the world at the time of its construction.
10. The tower is used for numerous marketing campaigns. Most notably the French car manufacturer Citroen used the tower as a giant billboard between 1925 and 1934. (When I was there there was a giant tennis ball in the middle of the tower for the French Open Tennis Tournament.) Source:PastTimeParisian
11. At night the tower sparkles on the hour.
12. It is part of a series of Paris landmarks that are lined up in a roughly straight line
13. It is the most visited paid monument in the world with over 250 million visitors.
14. The actual creator of the tower is Maurice Koechlin.
15. In the summer the heat increases the height of the tower by 6 inches.
16. In the winter the first floor is used as a skating rink.
17.There are two restaurants located on the Eiffel Tower.
18. It is the most popular spots in the world to take a selfie.
19. When Hitler visited Paris lift cables were cut to force him and other Nazi’s to use stairs to get to the top.
20. It uses the same amount of Electricity as a small village
I recently just finished my study abroad session in Germany. It was only a month, which of course is a very short time frame, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have enough time to learn anything. Here is a short list of five things that I learn while being abroad.
1.The Most Valuable Lessons are Found Outside the Classroom
There is much to learn inside the classroom, but the best lessons in life are often found in day to day life. Living in a different country can often be a challenging experience and can force you to think fast on your feet. Learning how to get out of bad situations, communicating with language barriers, and learning how to adapt to cultural norms are all examples of this.
2.Cultural Exchanges Are Okay
I think many student studying abroad don’t let the culture they are in make an impact on them. They tend to play it safe and only stick with things that are familiar to them. I have found it is important to do things that you normally don’t get to do at home and to push yourself outside your comfort zone. (Which doesn’t include getting drunk and extra obnoxious because you are in a foreign country) Trying new things and meeting new people allows you to learn more about yourself and gives you a broader outlook. Let the country and the people of that country leave an impact on you, but also share your culture as well.
3. Your Expectations Will Be Shattered
For me I had a lot of different ideas what being in a different country was going to be like. You grow up having different perceptions all based from what the media portrays. When I finally arrived in Europe I honestly had a lot of different ideas on what the country would be like and the people. A great deal of these perceptions were wrong. For example the French are not generally rude and will hate you for being American/English Speaking. (Note: I was only in Paris, which is quite touristy, mind you.) Since, I was also living abroad being in a place become less exotic if you are trying to live day to day life. As an example I became a little desensitized to the fact many shops were closed on Sundays and made sure to do my grocery shopping on a Saturday or Friday.
4. Kindness is Universal
I had a lot of troubles while abroad. For the first few days I hardly had any Euros because I got locked out of my account, I didn’t have an adapter to charge any of my electronics, my phone didn’t work abroad, and I was constantly getting lost in the city I was studying in. I can honestly say I am pretty sure I made every rookie mistake one can make in a foreign country. One thing I did have to learn is to actually ask for help because there were many times where I was unable to figure out certain things by myself. This was hard for me because I pride myself in being independent. The thing I found is that people are kind all over the world and are more than willing to help you out, even if you are just a confused little tourist.
I am a lucky individual to be given the chance to see and actually be in some of the places I am in. For many traveling is a dream and many don’t even know certain places exist. After so many people have been so kind to me it is important to say thank you and to show gratitude. Saying thank you in another language is one of the most essential skills one can. I made sure to write a thank you note to all my teachers and for those who helped me. (I also made sure to add special candies that you can only find in my part of the globe, this sort of goes back to sharing your own culture.) At the end of the day savor the moment and days you have, especially if things don’t always go as planned.
Image Credit: Eli Defaria
These are just a few things I learned during my short semester. For those who have lived in a foreign country, what things have you learned?
My study abroad semester has been pretty limited travel wise, while other students here have booked last minute trips to exciting places such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid etc. I have pretty much just stayed around Cologne and explored the area. This was not quite what I had in mind for my weekends, but when I factored in the time and money these last minute trips required I found it was best to just plan a trip for certain destinations another time.
I did get restless though and wanted to visit another area to see the differences in culture and people. I looked online to see what places my city connected to my choices were Paris (soon to come), Brussels, Amsterdam, Liege,London and some other nearby German cities. After some consideration I chose Liege in Belgium because of how affordable the ticket was and how close it was to me. Leaving me a lot of time to explore the city, but close enough for me to return back to my cozy little room in Cologne.
My train left around 8 a.m. in the morning and arrived at my destination around an hour later. Upon my arrival I discovered I was in the French speaking part of Belgium. (Obviously, I didn’t do much research before I picked my destination.) I spent the next hour or so researching some basic French phrases on the internet, so I could better communicate with the citizens of Liege. I then spent sometime in a cafe inside the train station, where I was offered a cup of coffee and and a sweet apple pastry. My meal was also served with a Belgium chocolate, marking an item off my list of things Belgium is known for. After that I had to learn to navigate the transportation system and to figure out what exactly there was to see and do in a city like Liege. I made my way to the location within the train station that had info on the public transit and tourist information. After that I was ready to begin my adventure into the city.
The lady at the tourist information counter recommended that I make my way to the city center, which holds many of the historical aspects of the city. The bus I took stopped at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, a cathedral that is truly a sight to see from the inside. I have been to two other well known cathedrals on my trip such as the Dom and Notre Dame and I must say that the interior of Saint Paul might surpass them both.
After my exploration of the church I went out to explore the city of Liege to see the other historic sights and to also see what differences there were between French Belgium and Cologne, Germany. One thing I noticed is that there is a very old time European feel to Liege. In Cologne I do all my grocery shopping in supermarkets such as Lidl and Rewe, places not all that different from the grocery stores I shopped at back home. In Liege I found there were little stores that specialized in selling just produce, meat, dairy, and of course baked goods.
The city of Liege is pretty easy to navigate through and I was able to make my way through the main sights in just a few hours. I realized that there was no need to take a bus back to the train station due to how easy the city is to navigate and how close the station actually was to my location. On my way back I made sure to check out a local cafe/bar called La Pot Au Lait. The place has an awesome bohemian feel to it and the place is like an indy art gallery in itself. I understand why it is so highly recommended. I also made sure to stop by a waffle place to check off waffles on my list of Belgium things. They were delicious and filled with chocolate. The woman making the waffles was amused when I pulled out my French cheat sheet to order. (I am sure me trying to pronounce anything in French is the equivalent of Brad Pitt trying to speak Italian in the film Inglorious Bastards.)
After that I made my way down to a beautiful a park that was filled with various statues. Someone has managed to climb up to some of the statues in the park and wrap silk scarves around their necks. This of course made them look about ten times more fabulous. The park area also held a beautiful rose garden and small lake that reminded me of a Monet painting.
My day was coming to an end, so I made my way to a place nearby to eat. I found a burger joint called the Coyote.(It was interestingly enough by a DVD rental place. I guess Netflix hasn’t taken over Belgium yet.) It was there that I had a Belgium beer brand called Jupiter. Then it was time to head to the train station where I had one more Belgium waffle and bid Liege goodbye.
Things I recommend that I didn’t get to the explore: I was of course in the city for a very short time and missed out on some of the wonderful aspects the city has to offer such as the La Batte, a Sunday market that happens on the left bank of the Meuse river. The stores in liege are honestly not all that unique and will be closed on Sundays, but I am told the Sunday market is something to see. I also might add it is supposedly the biggest market of its kind in Belgium.
I have also been told catching a show at the Royal Opera of Willonia, the Churchill Cinema, or the Cinema Sauveniere is also highly recommended.
Carre District is a place to explore that is filled with all different types of trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants.