Monthly Archives: February 2020

Day (or two) of the Dead…

 

We just got back from a few days in France.  Last Friday, right after a work we hopped onto our version of the happy train to Paris and spent the night in the Montparnasse area, which happens to contain an interesting cemetery and the Paris catacombs.  Our only reason for picking that location was that our train trip to Bordeaux the next day left from Montparnasse train station (more on that trip on my next blog).

Saturday morning while strolling along looking for our next bar, we found what we thought was a park, which I guess is what a cemetery is after all, and spent over an hour visiting the dead we did not know.  Including…

Oddly enough, despite the lipstick kisses, this was one of the least interesting tombstones we read.  When you’ve got a mix of war heroes, politicians and prime ministers, artists, you name it, all sleeping side by side, and on top of each other it’s an orgy of interesting corpses.

Ricardo’s was the most interesting lover of cats, but there were more.


There were lovers of music and books and Christmas too…


I love this last one.  If you look on top of the stone books, you’ll see that instead of leaving flowers someone left a modern book.  Who doesn’t want to spend eternity keeping up with the latest?

There were also beautifully crafted crypts with wrought iron and stained glass windows, and then there were the sculptures.


She looks so bored mourning her keep while the city thrives behind her.

We also met an American actress who adopted Paris as her home thanks to her role in French New Wave cinema, and Paris apparently decided to keep her.

There were also those in denial…

And those, um, perhaps the world did not want returning…

Don’t know who this guy was, but there’s extra weight keeping him down.  But, this family wanted the world to know that they indeed were cut from the same stone.

What I loved most about this shrine to those who came before us is it was so inviting for those of us still breathing that we want to come in and mingle with the dead, appreciating all the different ways their tombs reflect who they must have been.

Gotta love that there’s a dumpster to clear up any evidence of the midnight parties we mere mortals cannot attend.

So, if you have extra time in Paris, go say hi to our new friends chilling at the Montparnasse cemetery.  It’s free, and they love the attention.

On our return trip from Bordeaux, we spent the night again in Montparnasse, so we could go beneath Paris to see where millions of its former residents are interred (many of whom met their end via guillotine or revolution).  Long story short:  in the late 1700s the centuries old, crowded cemeteries caused some issues — including vapors so bad they curdled milk and soured wine (um there’s no effing way Parisians are going to deal with rotten wine) — so in the dead of night graves were dug up and remains were dumped into an abandoned quarry in what was, at the time, outside the city.  One of the guys in charge thought it would be cool to organize the bones in patterns and surround them with pithy quotes that would celebrate life and lol not make their chamber of death so gloomy.

From Paris with Love!  Some of the skulls look like they’re laughing.

News flash for him:  it’s still eerie as fuck.  But, I appreciate the chance to go down there and thankfully make the climb back out.  Of course if you want to learn more, I highly recommend you buy advance tickets to not feel like a zombie in the lines that lead to the entrance (although we totally lucked out and went on a day where there were very few of us visiting — maybe because it was Ash Wednesday?)

Next up?  discovering French grape juice in Bordeaux…

Two Americans, a Dutchman, a Siberian and an Iranian gather at a bar…

img_3665There’s no punch line to go with that headline, but lol the blurry pic says it all.  It’s how  Joe and I spent our valentines in Valkenburg, Netherlands.  This little town packed with ruins, caves and too many restaurants to list is about a two-hour drive from where I work (on a Friday night, bet it’s a lot less other nights of the week).  Prior to our visit the only thing I knew about this place was that it holds its annual Christmas markets in its caves, which we’ve been wanting to check out.  It’s way more than that, and I totally recommend visiting it any other time of the year.

Valentines Day is also Joe’s birthday, so I wanted to treat him to a cozy weekend somewhere we have not yet been to.  The only reason Valkenburg won the pick is because while checking out places to stay in Maastricht, I saw a post for a hotel that offers an apartment with a fireplace.  Ding ding ding … this time of year there’s no telling what kind of weather you’ll have, so our own little fireplace wins.

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And what an adorable lil bundle of logs it is — especially on this rainy, windy Sunday (last week we left London in the middle of storm Ciara only to follow its path into Belgium; this week we’ll be coasting with storm Dennis).

Friday night we walked around the town and crossed canal bridges and just loved being away from it all and having the time to walk and breathe.  LOL and then we stopped in the hotel bar to have a nightcap, which turned into quite a few with our energetic, fun bartender and the other couple at the bar.  We learned about their countries norms and quirks, they learned about ours, and I’m pretty sure we all woke the next morning feeling worldly, blessed and cursed with the reality of too much valentine’s cheer.

After drinking a few gallons of water and loading up on Aleve, Joe and I toured the town and met interesting friendly people every where we went.  First up was a mill attached to a restaurant.  The owner who lived in the mill invited us to tour his place to see all the cogs and belts that made things work, just because we made the mistake of walking into his work area.  And, then, of course ,we bought a loaf of bread — yum.

There’s a whole lot of machinery involved in making organic flour.

I just loved spending the day popping into antique and quirky stores, sipping and nibbling at the numerous cafes, and then peeking into peoples windows (I know it is soo very wrong, but the Dutch have the cutest window decorations).  Finally we were ready to climb the stairs to tour castle ruins, and what a treat that was (I’ll never tire of castles and churches).

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Look at the view from the top of the hill!  Isn’t it such an adorable little town.img_3715img_3694

We take the WORST selfies, but damn we look good in this one.  LOL hangovers are our beauty secret.  Afterward we took a tour of the Velvet Cave, which was carved out under the castle.  It was used during WW2 as a hiding place for the locals when the Germans came to invade.  Luckily this happened during the last days of war, so Valkenburg did not have to hide long.  That said, it’s dark and dank down there, and who wants to hide with bats?

There are also numerous paintings all over the cave that tell the town’s stories.  Here the walls can actually talk (albeit a visual speak).

Today, we’re going back to a store where we want to buy more stuff we adore but don’t really need, but you can’t take American consumerism out of us just because we’re no longer there, and then it’s back to fighting the wind on our drive home.

Last weekend we went to London to see Book of Mormon, which was a lot of fun (but I didn’t take a lot of pics).

LOL and this pretty much sums up our London trip, but we do want to go back again since it’s nice to be understood.  Everything is just so much easier!  There are also more plays and musicals we want to see, so I’ll write more about London another time.

Next up is Paris (again, I know) and Bordeaux (woo hoo!).  We booked an apartment within walking distance of a wine amusement park or museum (depending on what website you look at).  Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ll be in nirvana.

And that’s it for now.  Hopefully, you all had a lovely Valentine’s weekend, and for some of you I think you also have Monday off —- aargh, I’m jealous (I could use a Monday off — lol we’re never totally satisfied, are we?).

p.s. here’s the link of where we stayed.  We really loved it here and will probably do a few more weekends just because it’s so close and a nice little escape for us: Hotel Scheepers

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