Monday, July 29, 2013

a morning in père lachaise cemetery

Not too far of a walk from our place is the most famous cemetery in Paris, Père Lachaise. It is the burial place of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, and lots of other famous people who lived or died in Paris (living or dying in the city is actually a prerequisite for being buried here). 

We thought New Orleans has some impressive cemeteries, but we should have known that it paled in comparison to what the French would do (nothing is half-assed here).

 The main entrance.

 A sampling of the tombs we saw.

 It's a very hilly area, which only adds to the epic-ness of the scenery.

Unlike the tombs in New Orleans cemeteries (which actually contain the bodies, because burying them underground in a place with such a high water table means the bodies can rise to the surface during a flood), the interiors of these tombs mostly had sitting areas inside (so you can sit and be with your loved ones, we guessed?). The tombs had closed doors (like the red door with the star in the photo above), but a few were propped open or broken, and we could see inside. They pretty much all looked like the sets of horror movies.

In one section of the cemetery, two tombs in a row had their front doors broken down, and their stone floors (where the bodies are actually buried) busted in half so you could see straight down twenty feet or so into the ground. Marieke (Maggie's writing friend, who was visiting at the time) and Maggie both tried to take pictures. Maggie's camera gave a "Write Error" message and wouldn't save the photo, and Marieke's very fancy camera wouldn't take the picture at all. Then we heard a distinct knock from inside the next (sealed) tomb over, and decided it was our cue to move along.

In the photo on the right, we couldn't tell from a distance if this statue was supposed to be holding a sword or a drink. On further inspection, it was supposed to be a sword... what a let down.

The first of the famous tombs we saw was of the father of Spiritual Philosophy. It is supposed to be good luck to touch him, so we scratched him behind the ear (and Andrew picked his nose).

Oscar Wilde has one of the weirdest tombs. In contrast to the very ornate tombs in most of the cemetery, his looks to be inspired by some sort of Aztec winged deity. The glass case surrounding it is to stop people from kissing it, which appears to be a tradition. I think it also has something to do with the fact that someone broke off the poor chap's penis. Ouch.

Finally the most famous grave... and the least impressive.

Here lies Jim Morrison - his tombstone states that he went to Wilson Middle School (Andrew's Middle School in Albuquerque), died in Paris, and did some other things not worth mentioning in-between. (No, not really. But it really is very modest in comparison to most of them. Maybe another indication that he's not actually dead...?)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

mimosa brunch on the seine

It was Sunday morning, and what does that mean? Blood orange mimosas and brunch on the Seine, of course. 

Champagne, juice, and pastries. (We've discovered these waffle things with giant sugar crystals in them that seem to be a common breakfast food out here. They are amazing.)

Other highlights of the day: sitting around at Paris Plage, where parts of the banks of the Seine turn into a beach for a month, watching hilarious little kid dance lessons at that same beach, a cool breeze all morning that felt absolutely heavenly after the last couple weeks of scorching temps.

Friday, July 26, 2013

funny statues of paris (part 1)

Sometimes it feels like you find a statue around every corner in this town. Enough, in fact, that given a modern perspective, some of them are hilarious. Of course, after we make fun of them for a while, we have to take pictures.

I know, it's so small.

Hey little boy, want to touch my book?

I'm sexy and I know it!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

the adventure list #27 (and #7): tour de france 2013


The Tour de France is the world's most famous bike race and, since Andrew is an avid cyclist, we've been following it for years. Needless to say, we were excited to see that we were going to be in Paris for the traditional end to the Tour: many laps up and down the Champs Elysees. 

We'd heard it was going to be packed, but it was also amazingly hot, and we didn't really want to stand outside for twelve straight hours, so we took our chances and got there at about 3:30 pm, when we knew the action was going to start at about 6. Somehow we lucked out and ended up in this VIP area where we probably weren't supposed to be, but where the crush up to the fence was only a couple people deep, and that happened to be about 250 meters before the finish line. We even made some friends who let us switch places with them and get right up on the fence for a few of the laps. Needless to say, we're glad we didn't go at 10am! 

It was still early enough for us to be sweaty and dirty and gross by the time the race started:

We hung out until the race started, and then watched as the riders flew by for a total of ten laps. 

We had plenty of time to take pictures, so we tried some different shutter speeds with our camera (I swear, they really are there in that photo that just looks like blurs!) and even got a video. 

When the race was over, we and our new British friends snuck into another area we probably weren't supposed to be in so we could see the medal ceremonies on the podium up close. 

And then we wandered around near the team buses and tried to catch a glimpse of some riders. (We did see Chris Froome, the winner, up pretty close, but no one else we knew.) And then we headed straight home to shower, because it was a long, hot day--a heat wave has just hit Paris in earnest, and it was a seriously hot and sweaty--but fun!--day. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

joyeux 14 juillet!

In the US we call it Bastille Day, in France they just call it the 14th of July. It's celebrated almost exactly the same and our Independence Day... lots of drinking and fireworks, with the biggest firework show in the country occurring at the Eiffel Tower. 

We heard it would be crowed so we got there hours before the fireworks started and we were glad we did. We could hardly find a patch of grass big enough for the two of us, and people just kept on crowding in. By the time the fireworks went off, the entire grass mall was shoulder to shoulder. We both wanted to use the bathroom but feared if we parted ways (since one of us had to hold our spot), we would never find each other again... so we held it. (Maggie's note: Really, I got up to try to go to the bathroom at dusk, picked my way between people, and finally got about 30 feet away, turned around--and realized I could barely see Andrew in the sea of people already. We were right in the middle of the most crowded section of the park, and we don't have cell phones, and I had visions of staring out over the millions of people and never finding each other again. So I went back, and we decided that from then on, we needed to set a meeting place in huge crowds, just in case we got separated!)

Anyway, the Eiffel Tower was, of course, stunning. We had absolutely perfect seats, and we got to watch the sun set behind it, the lights come on, and finally the fireworks go off, to a soundtrack of opera, classical, French rock, and everything in between. 


Saturday, July 13, 2013

arriveé á paris

Home sweet home for our month or so in gay Paris. We rented an apartment on Craigslist (which could be sketchy, but has turned out really well). It is in the Marais (3rd arrondisment) so gay Paris is meant both figuratively and literally. It's small, but we're used to that, and the stone walls and very dramatic spiral staircase make us wonder if it used to be some 13th century church or something (which, considering the history of this neighborhood, is certainly possible). It has a kitchen, washing machine and floor to ceiling windows, so we consider it perfect, not to mention a fairly comfortable and large bed... c'est parfait!

The kitchen is ingenious for a small space--you can close these doors and not even know it's there. 

Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking our little street.

Maggie bought new shoes, since she didn't feel right walking around Paris in flip-flops only!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

a day never wasted in central park

In the morning, Maggie had a breakfast meeting with Agent Claudia, Editor Ari, and Ari's assistant Katherine. (Hi, ladies! I need to remember to take a picture next time!) We talked about the book a little, but mostly we just shared travel horror stories.

After Maggie's meetings we spent the rest of the day in Central Park...

...where we made friends with the locals. The squirrels here are NOT shy. 

And then we went back to Maggie's friend Dahlia's amazing apartment (she let us take over her guest room for two days, in the same place where another writing friend, Marieke, and I stayed this winter (okay, this pic is from January because I sucked at taking pics in NY, but you get the drift):

...and we drank kosher wine and watched (along with all of twitter) a movie that is sure to become a classic:  

(Yes, seriously. Sharks. In a tornado.) And it was awesome. Thanks, Dahl, for hosting us!   

Monday, July 8, 2013

eating the big apple

A nice dinner at a restaurant in our neighborhood within the east village, Local 92.

Breakfast at Peels. Good food, great atmosphere (sit on the 2nd floor).

Sunday, July 7, 2013

wedding ring shopping, and the high line

It seems like every trip to New York, we find our way to the Hells Kitchen Flea Market.

Maggie needed a fake wedding ring for traveling since she didn't want to bring her real one and risk something happening to it... and the flea market didn't let us down. (Update: two weeks later, all of the "gold" on this ring has worn off, and it's now copper with a fake diamond. That's what we get for buying a cheapo flea market ring! It's still pretty, though.)

Enjoying New York's High Line elevated park... once a railroad track, now a must see and sit for any New York outing.

Friday, July 5, 2013

trying to stay awake while imagining dragons

The morning after the 4th of July we decided to go see Imagine Dragons perform for Good Morning America... very early in the morning. As you will see, I nodded off.