The Catacombs of Paris

Okay, so this post isn’t necessarily going to follow past posts. It is about a pretty famous tourist attraction in Paris, but for the first time it’s something I wouldn’t be too keen on experiencing myself. The topic was brought up with some friends of mine during the week, and despite my own personal aversion to underground and enclosed spaces, I found it too interesting not to write about. So despite the fact that this blog usually centers around things I personally want to see, I’m going to be writing about the catacombs of Paris.

Catacombs Paris

The Catacombs of Paris were originally quarries that had fallen into disuse. After the Cemetery of Innocents closed in 1785 due to overpopulation, all of it’s occupants were moved underground, along with the rest of the cemeteries surrounding the city, and always in the cover of nightfall with a procession of priests overlooking the transportation.

Since the final bones had been placed underground in 1814, the catacombs have drawn the interest of many, with their meticulous and slightly twisted structure. Many famous names of French history visited the hallways of graves, including Francis the first and Napoleon the third.

Now the Catacombs of Paris draw a slightly less royal crowd, people from all over the world come to tour the burial ground of six million Parisians. You can take an hour long tour, and if you’re not terrified of enclosed underground spaces then it can be an enjoyable, if not slightly creepy, adventure.

If you’re interested in secret tunnels and unsolved mysteries this is certainly somewhere  you could be interested in. Even as recently as 2004 unexplained events have taken place underneath the ancient city, when police found a theatre of sorts, with a fully stocked bar and food, that no one has been held accountable for. To this day the source of power for the underground theatre has also remained undetectable.

Not my cup of tea that’s for sure, but it holds so much history and secrecy perhaps it’s yours?



The Appalachian Trail

This week I decided to chose a destination a little closer to home, partly because I love the East Coast, and also because I wanted to write about something I could possibly visit in the near future, as opposed to dream destinations. So The Appalachian Trail is the focus of my writings. Of course seeing the entire trail may be slightly ambitious of anyone, considering it passes through fourteen states, beginning in Georgia and ending in Maine.

The Applachian Trail


This impressive distance is officially measured at 2,180 miles, and is one of the longest uninterrupted marked footpaths in the world, just to put that into perspective. Of course out of the 2 to 3 million people that visit the trail every year very few actually intend on taking on the entire trail. Most nature lovers tend to go to the nearest marked path of the trail and venture for a few miles.

The Applachian Trail 2


That’s not to say that it isn’t done, in 2010 it was said that somewhere around 11,000 people completed the trail, and many more actually endeavored to do it, with a success rate of about 29%. Personally I’m not sure if I’d be able to dedicate myself to the entire trail. It takes anywhere from 5 to 7 months to complete on average, and while time management has never been a strong skill of mine, I doubt even at my most driven I would find the dedication to complete it. But I have every intention of exploring the parts of the trail that pass through Pennsylvania. Luckily they reside close to my hometown, so I plan on dragging my friends and family out with me this summer, no matter the protest they put up.

The Applachian Teail 3

Perhaps when I’m older and richer and have a considerable amount of time on my hands I’ll actually try to take on the entire trail, but I think I’ll stick to small hikes for the time being.


Notre Dame de Paris

Paris itself has never interested  me in and of itself, though I am very drawn to one of Paris’ more well known tourist attractions. The cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris has always interested me personally, whether it actually caught my attention itself , or I’m drawn to it because of the Disney movie is irrelevant.

notre dame

Contruction on the church began in 1163 under the rule of Louis VII. THe building of the choir itself took 14 years, and the Cathedral was not finished until the mid-1240’s. While the history is incredibly fulfilling, I was always more interested in the architecture of the church. It sports gargoyles on gargoyles and carvings of biblical beings, windows and towers, organs, and the ever famous bells. Though the bells of the Cathedral are quite famous and revered, many are not operational and are used instead as historic objects for tours and visitors of the church.

notre dame 2

For anyone actually interested, it is free to see the first two levels of the church, but you are required to produce funds to view the 3rd floor and above. I myself will need this information when I visit this summer, which is also apart of my reasoning when I chose this weeks blog post.

Mass is held on the weekends daily, and tours are constantly being offered, and it’s certainly a historic landmark that I plan on checking off my bucket list as soon as possible.




Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan 2

This weeks blog post centers around the land where the vikings settled and redheads are plentiful. In the Scottish highlands rests a castle called Eilean Donan. The castle stands on the meeting point of three lochs* surrounded by water and breathtaking scenery that pulls in many a tourist throughout the year. I know that this blog seems to be including more and more commonplace tourist attractions, but it simply cannot be helped, there is a reason these places gained the attention they did, also it’s my blog so…


Because the castles is water locked a bridge is the only way to access the old and historic edifice. While it is said that a church was built on the site on the 6th century by the saint Donnan of Eigg, no trace of it can be found, and the true history dates back to the 13th century. With this impressive age comes consequences, Scotland does not have a very peaceful past itself and the castle has been rebuilt a few times before it came to be the beautiful structure that so many flock to when visiting the rocky highlands of Scotland.

Eilean Donan 3

The history and stories are rich with this castle, though it also caters well to tourists, if you wish you can hold a wedding in the castle, or tour it yourself. This castle would be an interesting stop of you ever decide to land yourself in the rugged land of the Scots any time soon.



*Apparently lochs refers to a lake in Scotland, which certainly clears up any confusion I retained regarding the origin of the Loch Ness Monster’s name and history.


Xcaret Underground River

So I’ve managed to avoid making any blog posts that revolved around theme parks, or major structures built simply for tourist attractions, and I guess it was inevitable. And this particular inevitability comes in the form of the Xcaret Underground River.

While the rivers were originally naturally formed underground rivers leading to the ocean off the coast of Mexico, they were purchased in the eighties to be transformed into a tourist attraction that exceeded expectations. The park itself has many other attractions, including aquariums and bat caves, bird and butterfly pavilions, green houses and animal sanctuaries. But of course what I’m most interested in, is snorkeling in the rivers.

Xcaret 2

There are three rivers that can be chosen, each about 600 meters long and going no deeper than 1.60 meters. The rivers pass by Mayan cenotes, rock formations, and marine fossils. At the end of the rivers as they flow into the ocean, there is mangroves inhabited by pink flamingos. The history behind the tunnels and springs is fantastic, and even though it may be a tourist attraction with very little substance left, the idea of it is just so cool.

Xcaret 1

Not to mention beautiful.

At the end of the rivers you can snorkel coral reefs off of the beach, or swim with the dolphins. You can go scuba diving, and farther along the beach there is a manatee sanctuary. Essentially, it’s a very well stocked very exciting theme park, and honestly I would be completely up for visiting, even if it has been called a ‘Disneyfied ecopark’, because who doesn’t love a little bit of commercial tourism. There’s a reason things like these get popular, and it was about time this blog featured something a little more commercial.

Anyways, here’s a video if you’ve got an interest in seeing what this is all about. I know I sure did.



The Fontana di Trevi

In honor of the trip I’m planing to take this summer to Italy I’ve decided to make this weeks post on one of the more famous attractions in the capital city of Rome. The Trevi Fountain was originally apart of the Roman Empire’s complex and advanced aqueduct system. After the fall of the empire and the invasion of the Ostrogoths most of the system and fountains were destroyed, it wasn’t until many years later that the popes of Vatican City began to rebuild the fountains in spectacular displays of art and architecture.

Trevi Fountain

Every single day the huge fountain spills out 80,000 cubic meters of water into the surrounding pool. Standing as the main focal point of the statues is the god Ocean, though it is sometimes mistaken as Neptune. As for the other marble statues, each represents minor gods or goddesses like Abundance or Health.

One of the more famous myths following the Trevi Fountain is the throwing of a coin into the pool’s water to ensure ones return to Rome. While the practice of tossing money into bodies of water originates with the Roman’s suspecting that the offering would make the gods of water bless their journeys, it has become a world wide practice to do so in any fountain. The legend states that you must through the coin over your left shoulder with your right hand to make sure that your return to Rome is immanent. The whole thing is fun for tourists, but it is also a great revenue for the city, which collects about 3,000 Euros a day for the fountains upkeep, and other projects.

I hope to make this beautiful fountain a stop on my trip to one of the great cities of the world, and I have every intention of throwing in my own coin, though I’m not sure I completely believe the superstition myself.




Wild Atlantic Way

While I usually chose a specific place to concentrate on for this blog, I’ve decided instead to take a bit of a turn and devote this week’s post to an entire country. It may be because I hold my own personal inclination for Ireland that has let me chose the whole island as opposed to one specific place, but either way this is something I don’t think should be overlooked by anyone with even the slightest interest in the land of the lucky. The Wild Atlantic Way is the worlds longest coastal road, extending 1,600 miles from county Derry (the very top of the country) to county Cork (the very bottom).

Wild Atlantic Way

The route can take as little as 11 days, though it is recommended to spend a little more time enjoying the peace and beauty of the Atlantic ocean and the country’s seaside. You’ll pass through small towns and open lands, and along the way you can enjoy many different experiences. In county Kerry you can go on dolphin cruises, to spot wildlife, or if you’re more interested in viewing the animals at a closer level you can rent kayaks and experience the ocean up close and personal. In Cork, if you haven’t had your fill of wildlife, there is a chance to go whale watching, on a sunrise or sunset tour. Along the road you’ll pass through Galway, and The Cliffs of Moher, The Blarney Stone and old castles, a countryside you can only imagine, and if you’re lucky, you may even get a few sunny days.

While my personal preference will always lie with the midlands of Ireland, the chance to see one of the world’s most breathtaking coasts for such a distance is one that shouldn’t be passed up. But for those of us that can’t spend weeks on end traveling a countryside, this video will simply have to hold us over for now.



Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom literally translates into ‘The Great City’, and it certainly fulfills that name. Located in Cambodia the historical landmark is a popular tourist attraction that claims roots all the way back to the 10th century. With an abundance of history and incredible monuments the city easily made it unto my must see list.

Angkor Thom 1

Angkor Thom is the last capital city of the Khmer Empire, and was constructed under the reign of Jayavaram VII. The city was his greatest pride, and inside there can be an inscription found, referring to the city as his bride. The city was built in nearly a perfect square, it’s surrounding 8m walls facing East, North, South, and West respectively, with a gate in the center of each. To further protect Jayavaram’s sacred city, it was said that there was a 100m moat filled with crocodiles. In the exact center of the city is Bayon Temple stands, representing the intersection of heaven and Earth.

Angkor Thom 2

Bayon Temple is one of the main attractions to the city, but the gates are also a popular tourist spot. The best restored gate is the South, and it attracts the most attention, though the East gate was used in a scene of the movie Tomb Raider. Each gate stands flanked by 54 gods on the left and 54 demons on the right, due to a Hindu myth.

Angkor Thom 3

The city is about 360 acres all together, and every inch is taken up by different periods of history, and all fascinating. The Hindu and Buddhist religions create quite a presence, and the temples and statues made in their honor are an integral part of the experience. While this may not be the ideal vacation spot for some, if you’re a history buff it sure is worth looking into when you’re planning a trip to visit the beautiful beaches of Cambodia.




Alhambra of Granada

Spain is a land of history and an abundance of art and culture. In Granada there exists a sort of palace that dates back long before Spain had established itself in the world. The first record of the fortress dates back to the 9th century, and it’s origin is tied heavily in with the original Muslim influence in Spain. Today the palace is a museum and monument to the history and past of the Spanish rule and how it came to be.


I originally learned about Alhambra in high school, and since then I’ve been determined to see it at some point in my life, so it’s only natural that it would make it onto this blog. The palace is hundreds of years old and holds more stories then you can imagine, though the tour is expensive it’s rich with knowledge and beautiful architecture, and I most certainly deem it a worthy expense. The castle is filled to the brim with expansive gardens and rooms dedicated to devotion and religious practices. While the original structure was built by Muslims, when the Catholic reign entered Spain, it did so with an iron fist, believing it to be their duty to ‘cleanse’ the country of other religions, so most of the structure is dedicated to the christian religion and it’s practices as opposed to the builders first design.

Alhambra 2

This beautiful monument is easily one of my favorite castles or castle designs I’ve seen. If you ever get the chance to visit Western Europe and find yourself in South Spain perhaps you’ll find yourself near the city that has lived and breathed since the age of the Romans. Maybe you’ll remember my desire to experience the culture and history of this place and you too will feel a draw to learn of it;s past. If not, at least you’ve learned a bit about the history of the city of Granada.


Works Cited:


The Vienna State Opera

Vienna Opera

While all my posts focus on the beauty of nature, this week centers around a man-made marvel. In Vienna, Austria, a city of old architecture and history, the famous Opera house has been in use since 1869, when it’s opening night held the play ‘Don Juan’ for the Emperor and Empress of the time, and has been in use ever since. Though it was bombed during the second world war, the building remained standing, and after construction was quickly put back into use. The Opera House stands at an impressive 65 meters, with paintings and sculptures from some of Austria’s finest artists throughout the building. I imagine being inside would send you back to the renaissance on a heartbeat.

Vienna Opera 2

Though the architecture is certainly not the whole reason I would love to visit. As I said, the theater is still very much in use. Almost everyday of the year, some performance is being held. Whether it be the famous ballet’s they put on, or the world renowned plays, either would be a spectacular show. Unfortunately the plays are all held in Austrian, so if you’re not fluent in the language like myself, it may being your best interest to see a play you’re already familiar with, as to not get too lost while witnessing the art. But while learning the language is not a requirement to attendance, dress code is certainly much more important. While you won’t be bodily thrown out of the opera house, many people do dress quite nicely for the opera, though it all depends on your seat. In the ‘standing area’ the dress code is much more relaxed, but you still won’t find anyone with jeans or a t-shirt, and in the more expensive seats there may even be long dresses and suits. If I were to go I would certainly want to dress up and gain the full experience, but it’s all preference really.

The plays are something I would love to see, but the true draw to the theater is the annual ball. Once a year a magnificent ball is held in the main ballroom, and the wealthy and famous flock to attend. Below is a video of the event, and if you ever wanted to attend a ball, this would be your chance.

This historic and beautiful theater, easily made it’s way and held it’s place on my list.








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