We've all seen the Eiffel Tower in photos and film. The grand industrial-engineering-art project is so familiar that we might be tempted to think seeing the Tower in person could be a let down.

We would be wrong. I spent three hours looking at and climbing on the Eiffel Tower. I watched the sun set on Paris from its second observation deck. I drank hot chocolate from a café 38 stories above the ground to warm my hands. (I also had a beignet au chocolat... Why not a double dose? It's Paris!)

And I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle. Twice, the second time from Field of Mars, where at 11 p.m., hundreds of people from numerous countries were sitting on the grass night-picnicking and saying their latest native translation of Wow! That's cool!

Cory sees Eiffel Tower from bus

Good thing my bus buddy Chris woke me up... I almost missed it!

View of Paris from la Tour Montparnasse

View of Paris from la Tour Montparnasse

Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides

Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides

Sunset over La Defense, western Paris, viewed from Eiffel Tower, July 20, 2012

Sunset over La Defense, western Paris, viewed from Eiffel Tower, July 20, 2012

Lights sparkle on the Eiffel Tower

Lights sparkle on the Eiffel Tower