Posts tagged “travel

Before Us / Beneath Us

Posted on 20 August 2018

There are over 6 million people artfully scattered and stacked in tunnels beneath Paris. The problem of overflowing and stinking cemeteries in the late 18th century was answered with the availability of tunnels leftover from limestone mining centuries prior. Between 1786 and 1860, bones from a handful of cemeteries were relocated into these passageways, but more than that – bones were carefully arranged into decorative walls and pillars. The catacombs of Paris aren’t open in their entirety to visitors, but their sheer volume is conveyed by the mile that is. It takes about 45 minutes to wander through the ossuaries. The scale of death expands and compresses. Each bone you see belonged to a person, a life in its expanse – and bones are…

A Taste of Bruges

Posted on 4 August 2018

The two most common reactions I’ve gotten when I mentioned visiting Bruges have been, “oh, it’s so cute!” and “oh, it’s really crowded.” Both are true; it’s crowded because it’s cute. And yet, we managed to miss the crowd crush and enjoy our few days in the city. We arrived by train from Brussels (so comfortable! so convenient!) and wandered through the drizzle with our backpacks to where we were staying. This set the tone for our stay: walking under grey skies and in the rain. We did get some sun while there – and some strong downpours – but in large part, we had to content ourselves with being wet. We still walked around, but I suspect many others did not, leaving the…

A Haunting

Posted on 10 June 2018

My most vivid memory of Saint Petersburg is this: Listen. The cold sun glares at me as I walk along the Fontanka embankment. I walk southwest to where the canal meets the Neva, and then turn around and walk back on the other side. I keep my gaze fixed straight ahead and step in time to the music in my ears. The grey of the streets and the buildings blends with the blue of the sky where the white light of the sun rubs them together. As a woman, I stick out with my flat shoes and casual clothes, but I’m stopped and asked for directions anyway. I’ve been here long enough, have been walking around long enough, to often answer. I walked a…

I was there.

Posted on 27 May 2018

It’s easy to forget. I decided to look through a batch of photos in my collection from almost six years ago. Many hadn’t even been edited. The beauty of where I’d been jars me. It echoes better in my mind now that I scroll through these images again. I am not sure if I’ll ever be in as stunning of a place as southwestern Bolivia again. Everywhere you look is a shock to the soul. The vast and varied altiplano with its scattered settlements is so far removed from my daily life. But, I was there. I was there. I was there.

In The Right Place

Posted on 8 May 2018

My awareness was fraying at the edges. It was morning in Brussels, but per my internal clock, who knows? Three nights in Ohio skittered by, each one wonderful but marked by progressively less sleep. Next was a transatlantic flight, which was marked by more anxiety than sleep as I sat isolated, thanks to a kind flight attendant, blasting music into my ears so I wouldn’t hear other passengers retching on the bouncy flight. I got off my string of flights in Brussels eager to spend some time exploring on the ground, but also a little jumbled, not entirely aware. I glanced at the train track number for my train to Brussels from the airport and climbed onto the first train that pulled up. About…