Posts Tagged With: Paris

Visiting Jim Morrison with the Spirit of an Old Friend

Morrison's grave at Père Lachaise

Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise

Our most exciting and “interesting” experience in Paris was at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.  My best childhood friend Johnny and I were huge fans of The Doors and the bands lead singer Jim Morrison is buried in this cemetery. Like Jim Morrison, Johnny was a pretty wild and unique soul who died earlier than he should have. I thought it would be nice to visit the place where one of our childhood idols was laid to rest in memory of my friend. From this humble gesture came an adventure reminiscent of something that would only come from time with Johnny.

When we arrived at the cemetery it had closed for the day due to poor weather and risk of lightning. Visiting the location took quite a bit of time so I was disappointed knowing we would not be able to return during this trip. As we started to walk back towards the subway station a woman approached us and asked, “How bad do you really want to get in? Is visiting the cemetery important to you?” Intrigued I said yes and explained to her that we’d traveled a long way and would not have a chance to return and see it again. She said, “I think I can get you in, follow me…” and then we headed towards the subway to board a train and enter the cemetery from another gate. While traveling the woman coached us on what to say to the duty guard at the next gate and long story short we lied to the guard and said we need to visit a group inside who were the only people currently allowed in the cemetery. The guard allowed us to enter and radioed other guards that we would be joining the group shortly. At this point it was getting dark and using my phone GPS we ran though the cemetery searching for the grave of Jim Morrison. Being alone, at night, in a 120 acres cemetery in a foreign city is quite an experience.

Erik with the spirit of Jim & Johnny

Erik with the spirit of Jim & Johnny

After searching for about 25 minutes we were nervous, a bit scared and ready to give up. By a stroke of luck I saw fences around a small plot hidden behind tall tombstones and sure enough, it was the grave of Jim Morrison. I spent about one minute remembering my friend and taking two picture before we started running for our lives out of the cemetery. Our plan was to exit out of another gate which was close Morrison’s grave but when we arrived it was unmanned and locked. It was almost completely dark in the cemetery now and the next closest gate was really far away. I started to get kinda scared at this point because the cemetery officially closed at dark and we were at least a 10 minutes from the next exit that might be open… As we started to run, headlights shined on our backs and I thought the guards had found us and that we were finished. Thankfully, it turned out to be a nice couple delivering flowers to grave sites and they asked if we needed a ride out. We said yes and exchanged nervous but pleasant conversation as they drove us towards the exit. They stopped the car just inside the gate which was the original entrance where we tried to get in about an hour before. We thanked them, jumped out of the car and rushed towards the exit. The guard, who recognized us from the first time, started yelling at us in French as we passed so we started sprinting towards the gate and sweet, sweet freedom. The yelling in French continued when we crossed the gate threshold and we were flat-out like two school girls getting out of trouble once our feet touched the main road. After about a block we turned around and realized no one was chasing us and as our adrenalin drained we laughed, hugged and reflected on one of the craziest travel experiences we had ever had.

For those who knew Johnny, you will understand right away why this event made me both very happy and very sad. An adventure like this was the epitome of Johnny. I can honestly say the last time I had done something similar was with him and it really felt like he was there with me in spirit. Only with Johnny would I be pushed to do something crazy like this and then have fun adventure stories to tell my other friends about.

~ Thank you my good friend for one more great memory involving you…

Advertisements
Categories: Europe Travel, France | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christmas in Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

We spent Christmas 2012 in Paris, France. Paris had always been on our radar for “must see” destinations in Europe and this grand city did not disappoint. Given its sheer size and historical significance we spend 6 full days touring the major sites, enjoying great food and doing our best to immerse ourselves in French culture. Christmas is a special time of year to travel in Europe and this was our second year in a grand destination (in 2011 we were in Rome, Italy). It was hard to be away from family and friends during the holidays but in a small way visiting sites like the Eiffel tower and St. Peter Basilica on Christmas day creates it’s own special memories.

Our itinerary was filled with top sites and a few “offbeat” destinations that provided a mix of touristy interactions with intimate and exciting adventures.

Champs Elysees, Rue Cler and Christmas Markets: Shopping is an important staple of the holiday season and there is no better place in the world to shop than the Champs Elysees. Home of Louis Vuitton, Prada and just about every other famous fashion brand, a trip down this grand boulevard can cause serious damage to your credit card. Fortunately we did more window shopping than actual buying 🙂

Le Café du Marche in rue Cler

Le Café du Marche in rue Cler

Christmas Day Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral: Notre Dame Cathedral is an iconic landmark on the Left Bank of Paris. We spend Christmas morning on huge bleachers outside the cathedral watch the service on the “jumbotron.” The rest of the day was filled with long walks though famous parks and a delicious dinner at Le P’tit Troquet, a small family run restaurant with amazing Fois-grois (something I would usually never dream of ordering).

Christmas Day Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral

Christmas Day Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral

In the steps of my favorite author: As a huge Hemingway fan, I couldn’t leave the city without visiting his famous “haunts” as referenced in some of my favorite books – The Sun Also Rises and An Immovable Feast. A majority of my Birthday was walking the Left Bank enjoying some Hemingway “signature cocktails” and excellent food in legendary establishments such as Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, and Brasserie Lipp.

In The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes meets Lady Brett at Les Deux Magots.

In The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes meets Lady Brett at Les Deux Magots.

Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum: A trip to Paris is not complete unless you have a chance to appreciate the great architecture and influential art. The Louvre and Orsay Museums enjoy impressive collections from famous painter all around the world. From a historical perspective the Louvre is top-notch but, I enjoyed art from the Orsay much more. The Eiffel Tower, a work of art in its own right, was a wonderful experience and well worth navigating the expected crowds and lines.

Mona Lisa (and her crowd) in the Louvre

Mona Lisa (and her crowd) in the Louvre

For more Images from Paris, please visit my website at www.erikfunfar.com

Categories: Europe Travel, France | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: