Wednesday, June 1, 2011

6 Million Underground

Let me start by saying that Paris is a beautiful city. Most of the people here look like models and dress impeccably. The buildings are ones that you can only imagine and wish desperately to live in. There are flower stores littering the city and the most amazing smelling bakeries on just about every street corner. But Paris also has a very dark history to it. Today, we visited one of the most well known places that Paris has been hiding underground for the past 250 years, the Catacombs. Beginning in the 18th century, these quarries of Paris started to be filled with deceased since ground space in Paris had begun to dwindle. The common practice of burying bodies near churches and cathedrals became a growing problem within the city limits. To fix the problem bodies were unearthed, driven through the city at night under black sheets, and taken into the mines. This practice continued for over 100 years. Walking through the catacombs, you see how precisely stacked all of the bodies are, all 6 million of them. That is the population of Atlanta, times three! To enter the catacombs, you enter the site of a very normal looking building, then walk down what seemed like a million steps of a spiral staircase. Descending to the mines made me so dizzy that I needed to stop a few times to get my bearings back. At first, you don't arrive to where the bodies are stored. You walk through a vast amount of tunnels and even a small set of lit arches. The catacombs are also known for having grand "goth" parties, and thinking that people would want to come down here for a vast amount of time is scary. It was one of the spookiest feelings, with the dimly lit tunnels, the cold temperatures, and the muggy, moist air that filled the area. We finally reached where the bones were and I was shocked at the how piled and orderly the final resting place seemed to be. Spenser managed to take a photo for me, which was a feat since those working in the catacombs yelled every time you took a flash photo. We learned to just say sorry and move on. There were tombstones that signified where the bodies had come from and the years that they were moved. Thinking that these unmarked bones could be a family member is very strange, and I am surprised that in history more backlash to this practice had not occurred. The stacks seemed to go on forever (it was a 45 minute walk through the tunnel), and there were many rows of bones that were not even open for the public to see. By far, this had to be one of the creepiest places that I have ever visited. However, on a completely different note, today is National running day in the US. So, in light of this I officially have signed up for my next big race! After completing the Disney Half Marathon, I want to feel that rush again and the accomplishment that comes with it. In November, I will be running my first FULL Marathon in Savannah, GA with the Rock 'n Roll Racing series. I am so excited, and glad that I have officially signed up, meaning I am locked into this training and there is no turning back now!

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