Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Catacombs

Waiting in line to see the bones!
Left to Right: Chloe, Dee and I
I should start by saying that I am terrified of small dark spaces, especially those that reside in the underground area of the world. So the catacombs were quite the daunting adventure for me but I was determined to make it happen! Last summer when I was in Paris I tried going to the catacombs two different times with friends, but the first time the line was ridiculously long and the second time it was raining cats and dogs so both times were a no go. So as they say third time is the charm and I was prepared with a plan. Chloe, Dee and I planned to go on a Saturday morning and made sure to leave early so that we could get there without being caught in a really long line. Our plan was a success! We left around 7 or 8 am, (I really can't remember since it's been a while) and we were like the third group in success! We thought ahead and had purchased some pastries from the bakery near our apartment building before hoping on the metro and making our way to the catacombs, which coincidentally enough were only like two metro stops away from our lodging. How convenient! So having arrived, eaten our pastries, and chitchatted like the loud Americans that we are, we waited patiently (or rather impatiently) for the catacombs to open and for our adventure to begin. Side note: we also met some a really nice, and adorable, Australian couple while waiting in line.
Dee motioning rather excitedly to the entrance of the catacombs, the inscription reads:
"Stop! Here is the empire of the dead."
Once in the catacombs, I was not nearly as claustrophobic as I thought I would be which was a major plus and there was not an overwhelming odor like I thought there would be with the remains of millions of Parisians in one confined location. It just smelled kinda damp and stuffy, but all in all not bad for an underground cemetery. There were poems and quotes on plaques at various parts throughout and some of them were quite chilling, adding to the overall atmosphere of the catacombs. I didn't find myself as creeped out as I thought I would be, I actually found it quite calming and humbling to think about all of the lives of these people that now reside under the streets of Paris. It really exhibits the mix of new and old that is everywhere in Paris. Just outside of the exit is a gift shop of sorts and then a few minutes walk away is a metro stop with bustling Parisians walking in and out. However just underneath is a world completely different, with carefully stacked bones and skulls a plenty. It is pretty astounding to think about the number of lives lived that are there.
Awkward posing and smile, nobody prepped me on how to pose for a photo in the catacombs so I just winged it. 


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