October 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Famous Haunts: A Walk in Père Lachaise

I’m not obsessed with cemeteries. In fact they creep me out. But stepping into the Père Lachaise cemetery is different. It’s like walking into some marvelous wonderland where someone decided that humans should be buried. It’s like if there were a graveyard put in Disneyland – it’s out of place, but you couldn’t blame anyone for wanting to rest everlastingly there.

Père Lachaise has the same thing going on. It’s gorgeous, peaceful, and full of celebrities. So what if they happen to be dead?

I like to walk through it in the autumn, preferably with a pair of boots to crunch on the leaves falling from the orange and crimson tinged trees. I’ve got some friends there that I visit, like Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf. I mean, sure, tons of people head to their graves, but I know they’re waiting for my visit each fall. It’s like trick-or-treating for me, even though I really do love Reese’s Cups.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Art and Chocolate: Keeping Things Interesting in Paris

It's all about chocolate, right?
The takeaway message from this weekend is that Paris can still surprise me. That’s the happy part of this story. The other part is that it took chocolate butt plugs to get to that point.

I should probably explain…

Paul McCarthy, the American artist who made headlines by inflating a giant butt plug-shaped “Tree” in Paris’s Place Vendôme, has an exhibit at the Monnaie de Paris. This gallery, the historic mint for French money, reopened this past weekend, October 25th, as a home to contemporary art exhibits. The first show – McCarthy’s deliciously titled “Chocolate Factory.”

Since the exhibit was free this weekend, of course I went, and I absolutely loved it. I am not ashamed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chicago in 26.2 Miles

One minute and forty-two seconds more and the tears wouldn’t have been falling across a smile. Who knew such a small chunk of time could be so significant.

It was a sunny early autumn day in Chicago. The air was crisp, the gloves were on, but my red racing shorts were making their American debut. It was marathon day, the Chicago Marathon, in case that wasn't clear, and after a trans-Atlantic flight from Paris, waking up at 4:30AM was a cinch.

The task at hand was one I had already met 6 times: run 26.2 miles. Simple enough. But this time, the training, sobriety, and healthy eating that I had endured left me hell-bent on finishing the marathon in less than 4 hours, something that I almost did in Paris. This time, finishing over four hours wasn’t an option if I wanted the trip to be worth my while. Would it be lucky number seven?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Camargue: France's Natural Narnia

The fabled white horses of the Camargue...

You don’t need to travel far from Paris to feel like you “got away.” After a long weekend in Marseille this summer, I rediscovered a place I had passed through several years ago that isn’t on every tourist’s radar: the Camargue.

The area, in southern France near the town of Arles, where Van Gogh spent his final days, is something of a French freak show, in the best way possible. It’s a mix of surprisingly beautiful flora and fauna, with certain livestock guarded by genuine French cowboys – no joke.

Pass down south, heading west along the Mediterranean, and you can experience it. We had to drive, the only way to do it besides biking, and before entering the nature reserve, we waited at a stoplight for what seemed like half an hour. The bridge, well, actually a car ferry, allowed us to pack in with other local drivers before making the crossing. Let the adventure begin.