Saturday, August 23, 2014

Visiting The Paris Catacombs

If you've been to a movie recently or flipped on the TV you've probably seen the preview for the new movie As Above, So Below which is a horror movie set in the Paris Catacombs. 

When I saw this I was sceptical that the movie was actually filmed in the famous Catacombs. Laura and I visited the Catacombs last summer and when we went you were instructed by the guides that this was the final resting place for thousands of people and you should treat it with respect. It was hardly the place for a movie to be filmed, but filmed there it was. As Above, So Below was the first film to ever be allowed a license to film there and so I'm curious to see how the film treats the site.

As I mentioned when we were visiting Paris last summer we had a chance to visit the site. 

The sign for the train station we used each day coming to the city.

My wife is an expert at planning trips and so she's always on the lookout for tips and tricks that savvy travelers have discovered about visiting a given location. While many people were waiting outside in the rain to get into the Louvre, thanks to Laura we only had to wait a few minutes using an entrance underground at a shopping mall. But when you are dealing with the Catacombs, there are no tricks available. You have to get their early, get in line, and wait.

And wait in line we did! We took turns standing in line and walking around over the course of several hours.

As we got closer to the entrance they had these signs in several languages and I especially enjoy that the tour will be unsuitable for those with a "nervous disposition and young children."

It takes so long to get to Catacombs in part because the number of people allowed down into them is closely monitored. If I remember correctly there are 170 people maximum allowed down the stairs at a particular time and they typically seemed to keep it several people below that maximum.

Once you get in however and descend through the narrow hallways you are given an experience unlike anything you ever seen.

Some of the bones are simply stacked some are placed into designed like this heart shaped formation.

Here is a human pillar in one of the hallways.

The Catacombs is tourist attraction that you might want to visit but I'm glad that we took the time and waited in line to experience it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Visiting the Ukrainian Gift Shop in Minnesota

While Laura and I were up in Minnesota in July we made our first trip to the Ukrainian Gift Shop in Roseville, MN. We went hoping to get some pysanky supplies to maybe give decorative egg design another go and did we ever hit the motherload! They had so many great pysanky eggs on display.

It's not the kind of store that gets too many customers that the owners didn't know personally and so they had a few questions as to why we were there. We explained that we had lived in Ukraine last year and we soon became fast friends. We got a little tour of the shop and even got to see some pysanky being made. 

We did also find all the supplies we would ever need.

On one wall they had a wooden painting of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko...who I've written about many many times.

They even had a small profile bust of Taras that I bought. It was some very old stock and was originally made in Russia before the fall of Communism based on the tag on the piece.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Visiting Plains, GA

About 150 directly due south from Atlanta you'll find Plains, Georgia. Plains is a tiny little town of 750 people with one very very famous citizen, President Jimmy Carter. Main Street is little more than two city blocks and they are clearly still proud of their favorite son.

During the 1976 election the towns depot became Carter's Presidential Headquarters and it is still preserved the way it was during that election.

At Carter's former high school you can see Jimmy's Nobel Peace Prize that he was awarded in 2002.

This unofficial tribute to Jimmy was in front of a local gas station.

One of the shops on Plains' Main Street sells antiques and political buttons [many of them being of their own creations] and their large collection makes me want to visit Plains again with a little more time to go through their pins.

I did pick up a can of Billy Beer inspired by Jimmy's brother Billy Carter...It's a sealed empty can so I have my doubts about it's authenticity but it's a fun reminder of my visit to Plains.

Two pieces I'm pretty sure are original were a couple of Carter pins. First we have a "J.C." can come to your own conclusions you are supposed to draw from it.

I always enjoy the political pins that are produced by specific groups or organizations. Here we have the International Ladies Garment Worker's Union who supported Carter/Mondale in 1980.

This last one is a replica of probably the most famous Carter pin with "why not the best" across the top. It is in reference to the title of Carter's book written on why he should be President.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Driving Around Georgia

After getting a few things put away in the new apartment we decided to drive around Georgia a bit and maybe try to find some fresh peaches. Driving around the state you'll often see this sign remind you to buckle your safety belt and I enjoy how it makes it looks like Georgia is a fat guy with his stomach sticking out.

If you've ever made a drive into the South [with a capital S] you'll notice that you'll start seeing these signs before the bridges on the interstate. In Tennessee you'll see it as "Bridges" with actually quotations around the word. It must drive grammar sticklers crazy. I am looking forward to my first winter here to see what's like when the ice and snow starts my Dad said it's probably just best to stay at home.

Our drive around rural Georgia brought us to Plains which is President Jimmy Carter's hometown [I'll show that in a future post] and it was interesting to see the subtle differences in the local topography like magnolia and holly trees and the dark red clay roads.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Moving In The 5th Dimension

Last week was a hectic week as Laura and I [along with my parents] packed up our stuff and moved down to Atlanta. We made this same trip two months ago with our first load of stuff and I think we both felt confident that we would be fine with the amount of stuff we had left. It turned out we were all wrong and my Dad had to start working in the 5th Dimension to get it all to fit. 

This apartment will be remembered for its ample shelving, being reminded on KU home football games days that we definitely lived close to several fraternities, and the shady tree lined street filled with many, many, many squirrels who would go at it like rabbits in our front yard...and many rabbits that would do much the same.

In total we were in Lawrence for about six years [actually living there for five]. There's not another city in Kansas I would have wanted to call my home and we leave with few if any complaints about the city itself...well, maybe finally get that mandatory recycling program off the ground.

I'll leave you with my favorite 5th Dimension song "Stone Soul Picnic."