I’m starting to question the wisdom of titling these entries “Eurotrip” considering that 80 percent of this trip takes place in Paris. Oh well, too late. It was a beautiful, clear Saturday and so Béné and I arranged to meet at the obvious place: the cemetery. I was determined not to be late this time. I often am late meeting up with Béné (who by the way, needs to change her name so I don’t have to spend so much time typing those accent marks) due to some unforeseen circumstance, so this time I memorized the directions and left early to make sure. But when I got there, I was like, “Crap, where were we supposed to meet, the cemetery entrance or one of these metro entrances?” And my phone didn’t work. I waited at the metro stop for about 5 minutes, then remembered there were several different metro entrances, so I figured it would probably be more logical to meet at the cemetery entrance. I walked all the way down the street to the cemetery entrance, waited 15 minutes there before I realized the other tourists thought I seemed like a creepy loner, then walked back to a metro stop and there was poor Béné, waiting for me again. Anyway, here it is, Père Lachaise, the Parisian cemetery where many famous French people are buried:
Once we got in, there were no maps sold (some street vendors had sold unauthorized maps outside). The only thing we could do was take a picture of this directory of where the important graves are. If you die and your name isn’t on here, you are nobody.
There were so many random pathways, one could easily get lost here:
It was a very surprising place. I’ve been into cemeteries since we buried my dad and I discovered cemeteries are full of beautiful monuments. But still, I was surprised at the level of creativity (and vast wealth spent) here. A lot of statues:
This one startled me a bit:
This was my favorite one. Very beautifully sentimental:
There were several graves with a statue of the deceased person lying on top of it, just in case relatives forget who is inside:
This one looks like he’s staring right at you, isn’t he?
At first glance, Béné and I both thought this one was a puppy embracing the woman, but Béné was the only one who said it out loud. Shame on her.
We couldn’t figure out who this grave belonged to, but yeah, super rich guy:
Someone built an entire house mausoleum:
And I like this piano one:
You know how I mentioned before that my dad was a table tennis fanatic? To memorialize that, we engraved a picture of ping pong paddles on his stone. I wonder what I’d want on my tombstone. Maybe cheese and pepperoni? Ugh now I feel old just for telling that joke. – A lot of family members were buried together in the same plot. I don’t know the logistics of this. Do they stack them on top of one another?
By my count, this grave had at least 22 members buried together:
Then there were the celebrity graves. The cemetery’s graves were all over the place, so we spent a lot of time trying to read the poorly-drawn directory and helping other strangers locate famous graves. Surprisingly a lot of the famous ones were very plain and understated: Novelist Marcel Proust: Singer Édith Piaf (whose real name was Édith Lamboukas):
Playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known by his stage name, Molière (I remember his works from high school):
The poet, Jean de La Fontaine: The classical composer and pianist, Frédéric Chopin:
Vivant Denon, who was an artist, writer, diplomat, and one of the first directors of the Louvre:
Oh and this? This is the grave of famed writer Oscar Wilde. You might know him from the wrongly attributed quotes people are always posting on Facebook. Look at his grave. A bit of a diva, huh? Reminds me of his famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask why the caged bird sings.”
This glass was put up due to all the assholes who were defacing it:
Speaking of assholes who deface graves, ugh, look at this. I hope the dead people’s spirits follow them home and haunt the hell out of the people who did this:
Oh and here is the grave of some dude named Jim Morrison who I guess was like in a band or something: People made a gum tree for him, which is kind of disgusting, if you ask me. Very unsanitary.
Edit: I was hoping my sarcasm would come across, but in case it didn’t: ha, yes, I know who Jim Morrison was. One of the tour guides we came across told us that couples often sneak to have sex on top of his grave. Although that looks mighty uncomfortable.
There was a monument to a Holocaust labor camp victims:
Here is the crematorium:
Anyway, we had enough of that, so we walked to the café (I need to think of a new name for these places so that I don’t have to type the accent marks) to get some dessert. Béné had the tiramasu: I wanted the tiramasu too, but I figured I’m in France, I should get a French dessert so I ordered the crème brûlée (ugh, again with the accent marks). It was heaven. Like damn…I took one spoonful and I had to let it sit in my mouth. I don’t care if this was 2,000 calories and pure sugar.
Afterward, we went to one of the malls at the train station. I thought it was funny that they had a Claire’s. Of all the American brands to import to France… Claire’s, really?
Then we went to find a wallet I wanted and that was a nightmare chase. Let me explain: last week when Béné and I hung out near the Centre Pompidou (museum), we dropped by a nearby souvenir shop and there was a brown wallet I liked. But there was no price and the shopkeeper seemed busy and we figured I could always find the same wallet at any of the other hundred of souvenir shops in Paris, so I didn’t get it at the time. But a week went by and I didn’t see this wallet at any of the other stores, so we tried to go back to the original shop. It was like something out of the Twilight Zone. We both swore that the shop was right by the museum, but this time we walked back and just couldn’t find it. And we were so determined, we circled around the area for about maybe hours. I didn’t want the wallet that bad, but I wanted to prove that we weren’t crazy, that the shop did exist. We even looked through my camera for photographic evidence. It couldn’t have just disappeared like that. I was freaking out, like one of those kids in a horror movie telling his parents, “I swear it was there! I’m not crazy!” Finally I just gave up. Poor Béné, putting up with that for me. We did see some interesting sights while getting lost though. Like this Ferguson protest people were getting ready for:
And there’s this guy offering to write poetry for people on an old typewriter for money. This picture is blurry because I snapped it real quick and ran away before he got a chance to make eye contact with me, and thus obliging me into paying him.
We then took the metro to La Défense, which I thought would be some militaristic area but it was just a nice business area with modern buildings.
Oh look, a bunch of random wires: Oh wait, let me get in front of it. Ah, ok now it makes sense. Wait, what is this, a crowd? OK, now we are obligated to join.
It looked like some kind of boxing ring, and then some announcer guy came out and gave a very dramatic-sounding speech in French. I could only make out 1/4 of the things he was saying. Then he unveiled some guy in a wrestling outfit and appeared to put a spell on him:
Then they pretended to ask for a volunteer from the audience to fight the guy, and this guy in blue was “picked.” Then they proceeded to pretend fight. Every time they got close enough to “fight”, they would instead do flips, somersaults, and other gymnastics moves.
I don’t want to sound judgy… but this was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen. Béné and I cut out early to get food. By that time, it was around 9 p.m. and the only places open nearby were a Chipotle (yes, they have Chipotle here) and McDonald’s. We chose McDonald’s. It turned out to be extremely crowded. Let me explain something about the McDonald’s restaurants in Paris: every McDonald’s has two ways to order: either order at the regular counter, or use one of the machines to order (oh and they all have multiple floors). I chose the machine because the lines seemed shorter compared to the counter, and the machines had an “English” option and I was too tired to think in French. Very poor decision. It took nearly 30 minutes to get our food. Poor Béné was getting frazzled and it was all my fault. But the food was good. I ordered a “Beef and Onions” sandwich, which was two burger patties in a bun with fried onions. Screw my diet.