So, it's 8:00 on New Year's Eve, we've been walking around all day (and really starting to feel it), and we've still got four hours to kill before midnight. We all agreed that it would be nice to jump on one of the boats that tour the Seine, which would be interesting and relaxing at the same time, and we had seen a dock for the boat tour very close to Notre Dame, so we headed back to Ile de Paris by metro.
About 45 minutes later, we found the tour stop, all closed up. We figured from the sign that the tour was still running, since it was a holiday (and indeed, we watched boat after boat pass us on the Seine), but it was only running from the Eiffel Tower. Since that was our final destination anyway, we trudged on to the next metro stop.
By this time the metro was really starting to get crowded (helped, no doubt, by the fact that the metro had been free all evening and would be free until noon the next day). It seemed everyone was heading in the direction of the Eiffel Tower.
When we got to our stop, we headed back to the Seine, and took the steps down to where all the boats dock, and walked in the direction of the Tower. There were plenty of party boats and restaurant boats docked, but no river tour boats. By the time we arrived to the Eiffel Tower, it seemed clear that we'd have to kiss our boat ride goodbye.
But the people! I can't remember the last time I saw a crowd like this! They were all over the place! It was 10:30, and people where already lining the streets, gathering on sidewalks, and the steps of local buildings were packed with people. Strangely enough, the area across the street from the tower, down by the water, had no people sitting there. We couldn't figure out why, and we thought that it would be a cool place to sit and watch the Tower, so we slowly made our way across the bridge and down the steps to the water.
So, this was our vantage point:
Not bad, eh?
It felt so good to sit down I could have cried. It was pretty cold, and sitting on cold stone didn't help, but we passed the time taking pictures and watching fireworks go off around us - it seemed everyone had a roman candle they were shooting off. People were setting off fireworks under the Tower and when they exploded they were so loud, they sounded like cannons. Boats would go by and people would wave and scream at the crowds.
Finally at midnight, the Tower went all sparkly again, and the crowds went wild. Steph popped the cork of the champagne (right into the Seine, I might add), roman candles and whizbangs went off all around us, and we saw really big fireworks off in the distance - the big ones were going off at (I think) Place de la Concorde. After 10 minutes, the Eiffel Tower went dark - we think in tribute to the victims of the tsunami (anyone know for sure?).
With the Tower dark, the pictures taken, and numb toes, it was time to head back to the car. This was to be another adventure in and of itself. We arrived to the first metro stop, and there were easily five hundred people crowding around the entrance, trying to get in. After a couple of guys next us decided to walk on to the next stop, we decided to do the same thing. When we arrived to the next stop, it was not so crowded, but there were still security guards trying to prevent the crowds from going up to the platform, as it was already full. When we were finally released to go up to the platform, we literally watched five trains go by us, packed to the gills. Three Japanese tourists literally crammed themselves into a car, to the horror of the other passengers. The last guy's coat got caught in the door. It was nearly his head.
Finally a car stopped in front of us that Steph thought we could fit into. We climbed on, and it was so crowded I didn't even need the pole for balance. Squishy made friends with the Italians, Argentinian and Turk while we all laughed at the little girl who, when the train had been sitting a minute too long at the next station, exclaimed in French, "So is the train going? Yes or no?!"
We fell out of the train at Place d'Italie at 2am. We got home just after 4am. I slept in the car. Squishy didn't.
That's it! You've got the whole scoop now. More stories of having Squishy in town are forthcoming, plus pictures are slowly being added to the photoblog.