Friday, May 27, 2011

Paris, Catacombs

I just returned from the vacation of a lifetime. A week in Paris with my Peace Corps friend, Cynthia. I had been waiting for a  vacation for almost a year, but I had been waiting to go to Europe my entire life.

Paris ended up being beyond my expectation. I loved every minute of my time there, except for the painful moments that my legs were throbbing from so much walking. I enjoyed navigating the streets of Paris as they were clearly  marked and the map was easy to follow. I loved riding the Metro subway system as well. I normally hate puzzles but this time it became a puzzle that was doable and was fun to figure out.

We got to do a lot of things and I had so many wonderful obervations while I was there. I felt right at home in French culture after coming from a year and half in Morocco. I did a lot of comparing while I was there, juxtaposing French and Moroccan way. Lets just say it was a refreshing break. And now I am left with photos and beautiful mental images of the City of Love and Lights.

Over the next week, or however long it take, please enjoy my small anecdotes on Paris attractions I visited and other stories. I'm going to start today with the Paris Catacombs,

The Paris Catacombs were created at the end of the 18th century as an ossuary. An ossuary is a site built to house human skeletal remains. In 1780, Paris's largest cemetery was closed for public health reasons at the request of local residents. In the early 19th century the Catacombs were opened to the public, attracting many visitors.

We entered  the Catacombs and immediately began descending tight spiral stairs for what felt like about five minutes. I had to hold on tight to the side rails because after some time the stairs became a little dizzying. When we made it down we walked through some spooky underground tunnels that were chilly and wet. We finally made our way to the bones and saw stacks and stacks of human remains placed very orderly. There were decorative configurations made out of some of the bones and most of all  skulls. I just kept thinking about who all these bones belonged to and how they lived their lives several hundred years ago. Many of them lived in the time of Marie Antoinette. So I imagined their lives compared with the lives of the royals.

This was an interesting, offbeat, and unique attraction to see. And seeing as I love spooky stuff it was right up my alley.