The Lehigh Complex

There are probably several complexes that this could refer to, including preppiness and drinking.  However, I am referring to the stairs complex. Since Lehigh is built on the side of a mountain, there are many stairs.  As such, Lehigh students think that they can conquer any staircase that appears in front of them.  Not only this, they feel the need to show off while doing it.  I definitely have this complex, and when at the mall or elsewhere at home, I make sure to take the stairs, all the while while bragging how the staircase does not have the same depth/height/pattern difficulty that Lehigh stairs have.

Why this odd anecdote?  Because Europe, you have won the stairs war.  Despite my background in the fine art of stair climbing, you have won.  I am humbled and defeated.  My quads may be in better shape than ever before, but my spirit and bravado are crushed. It seems to go that if something is worth seeing or there is a great view involved, there is most certainly an old, stone spiral staircase also involved. On the list of things I have climbed in Europe:

  • Notre Dame
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Tour Jeans san Peur (a medieval castle in Paris)
  • the Spanish Steps in Rome
  • run up and down the stairs of the Louvre several times looking for my favorite paintings
  • and most recently, Sacre Couer (or Sacred Heart, a church on the top of Montmartre)

But while the trek up these spiral staircases is exhausting, the views are well worth it.  Also, I’ve noticed that compared to views I’ve had in the US where I’ve gone up in an elevator (like the view from the Empire State Building or Gateway Arch in St. Louis) the views in Europe are great because I feel like I’ve earned it.  My calf muscle may be twitching and water bottle be empty, but you walked every step to earn that view.

They are truly incredible views–I’ve now seen the city of Paris from most directions, and still cannot grasp how beautiful it is.  The Haussman-era apartment buildings are short enough so that you can see all of the monuments in between.  It’s also easier to see how the city is laid out.  I try to keep track of where we are so I can better navigate the city, but sometimes it’s hard to remember where things are relative to each other and the Seine.

It’s also incredibly peaceful when on top of the Eiffel Tower or other monument (that is, once you find a spot along the railing and don’t have to push through other tourists).

The view from Champs Èlysees
The view of Champs Èlysees from the Arc de Triomphe

 

The view from Sacre Couer, on top of Montmartre.  You can see the Eiffel Tower through the haze
The view from Sacre Couer, on top of Montmartre. You can see the Eiffel Tower through the haze.

 

One of the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower.  The Champs du Mar is in the right foreground.  Invalides is the gold dome in the center and Notre Dame is somewhere in the background.
One of the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The Champs du Mar is in the right foreground. Invalides is the gold dome in the center and Notre Dame is somewhere in the background.

 

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