Thursday's Child: Faulty Towers

Thursday, June 25, 2015
La Merced Bell Tower, Granada, Nicaragua
Based on today's title, you might think I'm writing about towers that were built wrong - the Leaning Tower of Pisa and its ilk. But the only faults in these towers were in the people trying to climb them.

You see, my family has an issue with towers. One of us doesn't like steep flights of stairs. One doesn't like stairs with no handrails. One of us gets claustrophobic. And the fourth doesn't like towers one bit, for all these reasons.

And yet, that's rarely stopped us from climbing them.

Every city in Europe has at least one. The bell tower, the church tower, the city hall tower - each promising a breathtaking view. And in every new city, we think, "This time will be different. There will be a sturdy handrail all the way up, and the steps will be of uniform height. Maybe there's even enough room on the stairs for people walking up to pass those going down."

Ah, optimism.


Views from St. Vitus 
We've climbed the 343 steps of St Stephen's in Vienna, and the 287 steps of Prague's St. Vitus Cathedral. The tower in Segovia's Alcazar was a mere 152 stairs, but only three of us were willing to make the trip, and we took turns at the bottom with The One Who Wouldn't Climb.
Alcazar view

Me, with The One Who Would Climb
Earlier I mentioned the Tower of Pisa. I climbed it in the days when there was no safety barrier at the top. Andrew visited the Cologne Tower on his own, and said it's by far the tallest (533 steps) and hottest he has ever climbed, with some steps replaced by scaffolding. We both climbed Berlin's Siegessaule in the pouring rain - but that's a story for another day.

The most difficult ascent, however, was the Bell Tower in Granada, Nicaragua. It hit the trifecta of difficulty - crowded, steep and impossibly narrow. As we climbed the stairs, we stopped dozens of times, backs pressed against the wall, to let descending tourists pass. It was a hot day, and the rising temperature did nothing to encourage us. When we finally got to the top, my youngest daughter announced she wasn't going back down.

I was beginning to picture us rappelling back to earth, when she came up with her own solution. She wasn't going to walk down, but she wouldn't mind sitting, and bumping her way down the stairs on her backside. She received a few odd looks, but those on the way up were happy to make room for her. We reached the base in no time at all, a mere 72 bumps down.


16 comments:

Monica said...

What great climbing adventures your family has shared through the years! Love all your travels and these amazing memories. : ) Your daughter bumping her way down those stairs gave me a good chuckle.

Bonnie said...

Beth, I am with your daughter....I do great going up....coming down is another story. I also suffer from claustrophobia. You have the best adventures.

Vicki Bensinger said...

Oh heavens she must have had a sore bottom or back from rubbing against the stairs. I agree on all those counts, plus they're just so darn narrow and steep. That said I'm sure all proved to be a memorable experience.

Angie Schneider said...

You have been to EVERYWHERE!! I wish I were half as adventurous as you!

Laura Dembowski said...

All three reasons for me! But at least you do it anyway - I wouldn't. I can't do spiral staircases either.

Cakelaw said...

Great photos! I always enjoy your travel posts.

Gloria Baker said...

Lovely pictures Beth !
You always make fun posts of your travels!

Gloria Baker said...

Lovely pictures Beth !
You always make fun posts of your travels!

Barbara said...

Love all those steps to towers, Beth. The problem for me is not the going up, but the coming down. Did big damage to my knees after one trip recently. Imagine this comes with age!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Oh I can understand all the reasons to not want to climb towers. Going up inside the staircase of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, I had a panic attack half way up and didn't want to continue. My husband had to drag me up the rest of the way to make way for the people that were behind me. :D

Catherine said...

Dear Beth, I don't like heights!!
You are so blessed to have made all of these wonderful memories with your family. I always love visiting. xo Catherine

Tricia Buice said...

What great photos - we've enjoyed climbing some lighthouses but that's about it. Maybe a civil war monument or two - but I would go to the top for those views!

I Wilkerson said...

Ah yes, with dancer joints, I now try to avoid stairs. But last fall the line was soooo long at the Statue of Liberty...

My worst story however was when the fire alarm went off while in my 17th floor office and I had to race all the way down 5 or 6 months pregnant. (Yes, pregnant with my youngest now going off to college--those memories just pop up everywhere...)

Mary @ The World Is A Book said...

This is great! We love climbing towers all over the world too. We did Pisa and St Vitus but missed Segovia here. Our most harrowing one was the Spiral cathedral in Copenhagen. Beautiful photos! Sometimes, the best views are really from above and worth every step.

Beth said...

Hi Mary, We missed the Spiral Cathedral in Copenhagen. Sounds like that may be a good thing! I always love the views, regardless of how much work it takes to get there.

Claudia said...

This made me smile. I have climbed many a tower in my day - but am done. I don't know when the fear of heights set in - but it's firmly in place! I'm with your daughter!

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