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Andrew and I have been known to visit the odd attraction for a bit of morbid touristing. We added the Chapel of Bones in Évora to our Portugal trip because it sounded creepy (and it was). We also visited the Catacombs of San Sebastiano in Rome because I was tempted by the thought of exploring dark tunnels filled with bones a la Indiana Jones. I can remember being disappointed when there were no bones or skulls in the Roman catacombs. So when I read about the Catacombs of Paris, which are actually filled with skulls and bones, I knew it was somewhere I wanted to visit.

And that's basically what the Catacombs of Paris are - tunnels filled with skulls and bones. The tunnels were the solution for an overflowing Saints-Innocents cemetery. In the graveyard the dead were interred straight into the ground in mass graves. As the cemetery started to fill, the decaying bodies were not only very smelly but started to cause issues with the Parisian water supply.

The cemetery was a source of revenue for the church so they continued burials even when the graveyard was full to bursting... literally. In 1780, the cellar wall of a restaurant adjoining the cemetery collapsed and the cellar filled with a mix of bones and putrid flesh (yuk!). The government decided enough was enough. They closed the cemetery and moved all its inhabitants into the tunnels - abandoned stone quarries - on the outskirts of the city.

When the bones were transferred, they weren't haphazardly piled in corners. The bones line the walls of the tunnel and have been arranged in beautiful patterns. There is even one section where skulls are artfully organised in heart-shaped patterns.

So, are the catacombs worth a visit? Well, they are morbidly interesting. The inscription over the entrance reads "Arrête, c'est ici l'empire de la Mort"..."Stop, this is the empire of Death". The tunnels are the perfect site for an ossuary. They are dark, cold and damp. The average temperature is only 14 degrees and the sound of dripping water only adds to the atmosphere. But they are also long - the tunnel route is two kilometres and it did get a bit boring after a while. (They should add rats! and flaming torches! and Arab men chasing after you trying to stop you from recovering the Holy Grail! Hrm, that Indiana Jones influence coming through again. I think I just want to be Indiana Jones.)
entrance Stop! This is the empire of Death hearts and skulls

Who knows, one day my bones may become a tourist attraction. As an avid traveller I don't really have a problem with that.

More photos (slideshow) on Flickr.


This year, to celebrate Andrew's birthday we went to see Avatar 3D at IMAX. Here we are in our 3D glasses. Don't we look sexy! The movie was pretty good. The story wasn't anything new (um... pocahontas anyone?) but it was well-paced and there were enough action sequences to keep me amused. The 3D technology was impressive. Andrew gives it 4.5 stars out of 5 (which is a big recommendation from him).
sexy 3D glasses

After the movie we headed to dinner at Wagaya in Haymarket. We'd picked this dinner spot for one reason... sushi roulette. How does it work? Well you order a plate of 6 salmon nigiri except there is a catch. One of the nigiris has double the amount of wasabi than normal. So, one lucky diner cops a fiery mouthful of sushi.
sushi roulette

The participants in our round of sushi roulette were Sue, Andrew, Simon, Clare, Brendan and Adam.
sushi roulette participants

Who was the lucky winner? You'll have to watch the video to find out.

Thanks to GrabYourFork for the restaurant recommendation.

jess - 13th Jan 2010, 16:10 tags: birthdays andrew food quirky summer10


More proof that my socks control the weather.

On our recent visit to Romania, it rained... a lot. You can see just how much it rained from the state of the roads. They were like mini-rivers. There was flooding throughout the country and it was all over the news.
my socks control the weather
my socks control the weather

Which socks was I wearing? My socks with rainbows on them. You can't have rainbows without rain, can you now?

On the day of the deluge, we also visited a couple of Romanian castles.

First up was Bran Castle, sometimes known as Dracula's Castle, but without good cause. Apart from that fact that it is a castle in Transylvania, there isn't much to link it to Dracula. Vlad the Impaler, who supposedly inspired the Dracula story, didn't live in the castle. Also, there is no evidence that Bram Stoker, Dracula's author, even knew about the castle. Who knows why it is called Dracula's Castle. It may be the result of a good marketing campaign. The place was certainly packed with tourists when we visited.
Bran Castle Bran Castle Well

Afterwards, we headed to Peleş Castle, near Sinaia. Designed in the Neo-Renaissance style, it could also be called the Disney style. The castle looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. I'm sure Cinderella would give it the nod of approval. Inside it is just as elaborate. Each room is decorated with a particular theme in mind (the Florentine Room, the Moorish Salon, the Turkish Palour).

Peleş Castle
Spiral staircase in Peleş Castle

More photos on Flickr.

jess - 29th Aug 2009, 12:35 tags: romania travel quirky

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These are the signs for the toilets at the resturant we dined at last night. Can you tell which door you should enter? Some people were confused.

Male or Female? Male or Female?

jess - 14th Jan 2009, 23:07 tags: quirky toilets


Here is Andrew's mogress two days in. Not much to report yet.

Movember: Day 2

He is threatening to grow a handlebar moustache (scary!). So, I need your opinion. Which Mo should Andrew grow?

Errol Flynn Merv Huges Groucho Marx
Nigel Thornberry Salvador Dali Tom Selleck

Don't forget to sponsor him.

Movember: Day 1 Movember: Day 2

jess - 3rd Nov 2008, 19:36 tags: nablopomo quirky movember movember08 nablopomo08


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