Around The World In 13 Cemeteries

I’m not a goth. I don’t listen to death metal music. I don’t hold séances or have a Ouija board. I don’t cast spells, curse ex-boyfriends or make animal sacrifices. I am, however, fascinated with cemeteries.
 
Every time I travel to a new city, I always make a point of visiting one or two. I don’t know how to begin to explain it; I just feel weirdly comfortable amongst the tombs and hidden pasts. It’s a sadly outdated misconception that cemeteries are always dark, dingy places to be avoided at all costs. The majority of cemeteries are set on grounds beautiful enough to rival the city’s botanical gardens. Cemeteries aren’t just a place for the dead, the mourning and the creepy; they’re also brilliant destinations for photographers, history buffs and botanists. These are some cemeteries I’ve loved from my travels over the past decade…
 
 

1. Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, USA

5100 Pontchartrain Boulevard, New Orleans, LA
Claims to fame: Eve Curie (Marie Curie’s daughter), Louis Prima (jazz musician)

The Metairie Cemetery used to be a racetrack, but was converted to a burial ground after the Civil War. It’s known as one of the oldest and most beautiful cemeteries in the city, with enormous open grounds and some seriously impressive mausoleums and tombs.

2. Green-wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, USA

https://www.green-wood.com
500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY
Claims to fame: Jean-Michel Basquiat (artist), William “Boss” Tweed (politician), Elias Howe Jr (inventor of the sewing machine)

Just over half the size of Manhattan’s Central Park, Green-Wood cemetery is one of the most beautiful green spaces in Brooklyn. It’s open to the public all year round, and with no entry fee charged. And if you’re not into the tombs and mausoleums, it’s a lovely, picturesque place for a walk.

3. Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland

https://www.dctrust.ie/
Finglas Road, Dublin
Claims to fame: Brendan Behan (poet, writer), Luke Kelly (singer)

Glasnevin has finally realised the potential it holds as a tourism drawcard as well as a burial ground. They started restoration work on the cemetery 30 years ago, aiming to make it not only a top visitor attraction, but to have it recognised as a National Park and Botanic Gardens.

4. Hólavallagarður Cemetery, Reykjavík, Iceland

http://www.kirkjugardar.is/sida_en.php?id=3
Suðurgata, 101 Reykjavík
Claims to fame: Jón Sigurðsson (led the independence movement)

This is a seriously beautiful cemetery, away from the centre of the city, which gives it that extra-eerie vibe. None of the graves are particularly lavish or gaudy, and most of them are tucked under a carpet of green moss. If you’ve driven around Iceland, you’ll notice that there aren’t many trees around – I think that’s because they put them all in the cemetery to protect the graves. Bonus points if you can get there in winter while the snow is falling.

5. Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, USA

https://www.gracelandcemetery.org/
4001 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL
Claims to fame: Jack Johnson (boxer), Roger Ebert (film critic), Augustus Dickens (brother of Charles)

Another burial ground taking its commitment to taking the taboo out of cemeteries seriously is Graceland. Set on some of the most magnificent grounds I’ve ever seen, Graceland is a certified arboretum as well as a cemetery – they even offer the option for an arboretum tree tour of their 2000+ trees. Throw in a sparkling lake and tombs designed by some of the world’s best architects, and you’ve got a great day out in Chicago.

6. Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France

https://www.paris.fr/equipements/cimetiere-du-montparnasse-4082
3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris
Claims to fame: Simone de Beauvoir (writer), Charles Baudelaire (poet), Susan Sontag (writer), Jean-Paul Sartre (philosopher), Samuel Beckett (writer)

The second biggest cemetery in Paris, Montparnasse was built on what used to be farmland. The grounds are now covered in trees and flowers instead of bales of hay, and the residents include writers and philosophers instead of cows and horses.

7. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, USA

http://www.lafayettecemetery1.com/
1400 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70131
Claims to fame: The Brunie Family (musicians)

This might be New Orleans’ most culturally diverse cemetery – it’s non-denominational and non-segregated. It sits out in the Garden District, so you can expect some beautiful greenery in and around it, and it was also a filming site for The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.

8. The Imperial Crypt, Vienna, Austria

https://www.kapuzinergruft.com/site/en/home
Tegetthoffstraße 2, 1010 Vienna
Claims to fame: The Habsburgs – Austria’s Royal Family

With around 600 years of rule over Austria, the Habsburgs needed a fairly impressive final resting place. And a crypt beneath a church in the middle of the city, filled with the most intricately made metal sarcophagi, more than fits the bill. This would have to be the most fascinating burial grounds I’ve ever seen – the art work on these sarcophagi was beyond anything I’ve ever seen.

9. Marble Cemetery, New York City, USA

https://www.nycmc.org/
52-74 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10003
Claims to fame: Stephen Allen and Isaac Varian (former mayors of NYC)

This tiny cemetery just pops up out of nowhere – it’s rarely open to the public, its residents are buried in vaults underground, and the plaques list only the families who own the vaults, not the people who are actually interred in them.

10. Protestant Cemetery, Rome, Italy

http://www.cemeteryrome.it/about/about.html
Via Caio Cestio, 6, 00153 Rome
Claims to fame: John Keats (poet), Percy Bysshe Shelley (poet), Giorgio Bulgari (businessman)

A cemetery in Italy. That sits behind an Egyptian pyramid. Filled with beautiful greenery. Swarming with stray cats. And home to artists and scholars from around the world. Random and fabulous enough to get your attention?

11. Pére Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France

https://www.paris.fr/equipements/cimetiere-du-pere-lachaise-4080
16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris
Claims to fame: Jim Morrison (musician), Edith Piaf (singer), Marcel Marceau (mime/actor), Oscar Wilde (writer), Frederic Chopin (musician), Honore de Balzac (writer)

This is the most visited cemetery in the world – the grounds (all 110 acres of them) are spectacular, and guest list (over a million are buried there) is incredible, and it’s been used as a filming location quite a few times. Just go and visit, ok?

12. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, USA

425 Basin St, New Orleans, LA 70112
Claims to fame: allegedly, Marie Laveau (Voodoo priestess) and eventually, Nicolas Cage

This is the city’s most famous cemetery (and the oldest), and one of my favourites from this list. Unfortunately, you can no longer enter the grounds without paying a fee and employing the services of a tour guide, but it’s worth it.

13. Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C., USA

https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/
Arlington, VA, United States
Claims to fame: President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

I usually find cemeteries to be a place of peace and beauty, but Arlington was heart breaking. It’s the only cemetery I’ve visited to date that was a truly sad place for me to be in. To see that many graves representing lives lost at war, in a country that was not my own, was a lot more overwhelming than I’d ever have expected.

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

Père Lachaise Cemetery
16 Rue du Repos, Paris
http://www.pere-lachaise.com/

Starting to look a bit morbid here, with another post about cemeteries, aren’t I?! I guess that’s at least partly true; I’ve always had a bit of a weird fascination with death. But that aside, I still maintain that cemeteries are very overlooked sites to visit when you’re travelling. They can give you a pretty good sense of a place and its history (are there Catholic crosses on the tombs? Coptic crosses? A Star of David?), what types of hardships its residents have been through (are there a lot of dates of deaths around the time of a war or pandemic?), and they’re more often than not in some of the city’s more beautiful park-like settings. Case in point: Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery.

It’s less than 10km from the Eiffel Tower, and you can get there easily enough on the no. 2 or no. 3 metro train lines. There’s no entry fee and you can walk around at your own pace, but it IS a big cemetery, so if you’d prefer to have someone show you around, there are plenty of companies that offer guided tours.

The grounds are open all year round, but visiting in autumn didn’t hurt as you can see by the perfect gold and red leaves throughout my photos. It’s become well-known as the final resting place of creative celebrities like Jim Morrison (photo below), Edith Piaff, Frederic Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust.

Another popular grave is that of Abélard and Héloïse, which I read about in Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad:

“Yet who really knows the story of Abélard and Héloïse? Precious few people. The names are familiar to everybody, and that is about all. With infinite pains I have acquired a knowledge of that history… to show the public that they have been wasting a good deal of marketable sentiment very unnecessarily.”

Turns out a lot of people know them as a love story, a Romeo and Juliet type love story. The real story as told by Mark Twain? He seduced her, they ran away, had a child. They got married, but were soon torn apart by his meddling uncle. She entered a convent and heard nothing from her lover for a decade until a letter arrived. They wrote to each other for a while, but would only meet again in death, when, as per Héloïse’s last wish, they were buried together…

 

8 Perfect Paris Streets

The only way you’re going to really see Paris is on foot. Because there are dozens of beautiful little walking streets in the city that you’re going to miss completely if you’re in a taxi or on the trains. If you Google “Paris walking streets,” you’ll get hundreds of lists; here are the ones I really liked. They’re all in quite central areas, easy enough to get to if you don’t know the city well, and will give you a really great overview of what you can find if you take the time to wander…

 

1. Rue Montorgueil
Why walk it? Cafés, bakeries and restaurants for the most part, like Au Rocher de Cancale. There are also some beautiful little places where you can get a crepe and some wine while you do some people watching.

 

2. Galerie Vivienne
Why walk it? This little undercover walking street has been made Instagram-famous for is beautifully tiled passageway which is strung with fairy lights overhead. Galerie Vivienne is home to a few old bookstores mixed in with some more modern boutiques.

 

3. Rue Saint-Séverin
Why walk it? It’s one of those story-book cobbled streets up near the Latin Quarter. Start at Boulevard Saint-Michel where you’ll find lots of pretty cafes and restaurants. Turn left on Rue de Petit Pont and you’ll end at Shakespeare & Company for a book fix.

 

4. Rue Cler
Why walk it? With wide walking paths and lots of shops, it’s an easy place to soend a few hours. You’ll find everything from Mariage Frères tea to lots of colourful florists to some delicious smelling bakeries. At the end of street, just past Rue Saint-Dominique, you’ll find the Church of Saint-Pierre du Gros Caillou.

 

5. Rue Mouffetard
Why walk it? This cobbled street on a hill hosts a farmers market of sorts every day except Monday. It’s lined with food stores and stalls – butchers, fromageries, bakeries, patisseries, the works. The croissants from Maison Morange are exceptional.

 

6. Passage Verdeau
Why walk it? For the beautiful old bookstores like Librairie J.N. Santon and other antique shops. It’s a real step back in time.

leading into…

7. Passage Jouffroy
Why walk it? This is another classic walking street, really harking back to the past. It houses a wax museum, a former 19th century brasserie, and Le Valentin, a tea house with the most incredible cakes.

leading into…

8. Passage des Panoramas
This one’s considered to be the first covered walking street in the city. With it’s old tiled floors, a few cafes and some antique collector stores (stamps, coins, postcards), it’s a great way to end your walking day.

Top 15 Things To Do in Paris

1. Eat all of the croissants and pastries

https://dupainetdesidees.com/en/
Where? Du Pain et des Idées, 34 Rue Yves Toudic
Why go? Because pastry tourism is a thing in Paris. Or at least I’m pretty sure it is. You can find an amazing croissant in just about every café, but the ones at Du Pain et des Idées are extraordinary. Also, the pistachio escargots… if you’ve eaten a more exquisite pastry, I don’t believe you!
Cost? A few euro each, and worth every cent.  

 

2. Go see the Eiffel Tower – and go up it for an unreal view

https://www.toureiffel.paris/en
Where? Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France
Why go? You can’t very well go to Paris without seeing it, but while you’re there, you may as well take the ride up – the view out over Paris is incredible. You can also have a drink or even enjoy a fancy meal up there – just remember to book first.
How long will you need? Give yourself about two hours.
Cost? A ticket to the top will cost you 25.00 per person.

 

3. Then, go see the Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse Tower

https://www.tourmontparnasse56.com/en/
Where? 33 Avenue du Maine
Why go? Now that you’ve seen things from the Eiffel Tower, it might be nice to check out the view with it in there. And you won’t get a better view than the one from Montparnasse Tower. You’ll take the super-fast lift up to the top where you’ll get an insane 360° view over Paris from 200 metres high. And you can relax at a café window seat and take it all in while drinking coffee and eating more croissants!
How long will you need? We were up there for about an hour.
Cost? €17.00 per person

 

4. Take a stroll through the Tuileries Gardens & grounds of the Louvre

Where? Rue de Rivoli
Why go? If you’re a classic art fan, you’ll of course want to visit the inside of the Louvre, but walking the grounds is like walking through a gallery in itself. Once you’ve taken it all in, spill out into the gardens, take a seat and do some people watching. It’s a really lovely break from the chaos of Paris.
Cost? Free!

 

5. Walk up the hill and see Sacré-Cœur Basilica at the top
http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/

Where? 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre
Why go? Sure, you can take the funicular, but the steps are so much more rewarding (and if you eat as much pastry as I did in Paris, kind of necessary). Sacré-Cœur is beautiful to see once you get to the top, but the view when you turn around is almost better, especially on a clear day.
Cost? Free to walk up that hill, free to enter the basilica

 

6. Do some shopping at the undercover passages

Where? Galerie Vivienne, 5 Rue de la Banque
Why go? Paris has a heap of gorgeous undercover walking passages that hark back to the 18th century when the city was a rabbit-warren of these passages. Most of them didn’t survive, but a few like Galerie Vivienne and Passage Jouffroy have become quite popular for a bit of coffee drinking and shopping.
How long will you need? You could easily (and we did) spend an entire day exploring the city’s undercover passages.

 

7. Have a fancy French dinner at P’Tit Troquet or Cafe du Commerce

http://www.leptittroquet.fr/en/
Where? 28 Rue de l’Exposition
Why go? When in Paris… I always thought French food was completely overrated, until I ate at Le P’Tit Troquet. They have only a few items on the menu at any one time, all using fresh produce and prepared with the utmost care. One spoonful of the beef bourguignon and you’ll start to understand why the stuffy old ladies adore the cuisine so much.
How long will you need? A few hours. There’s the entrée, the main, the dessert, the wine…
Cost? Around 40 per person will get you a three course meal and generous glass of wine.

 

8. Get some kitchen inspo at E. Dehillerin
https://www.edehillerin.fr/en/
Where? 18-20 Rue Coquillière
Why go? Once you’ve tried some good food over there, you might be a little more inspired to hit the kitchen when you get back, and E.Dehillerin has absolutely everything you could possibly need. Even if you don’t like to cook, you can’t not want a giant wooden spoon the height of a small child.
Cost? Prices are actually pretty reasonable, so you may buy more than you expect.

 

9. Visit some Parisian residents of the past at the Père Lachaise Cemetery

http://www.pere-lachaise.com/
Where? 16 Rue du Repos
Why go? One of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever visited, the Père Lachaise is set on the most stunning garden grounds. If you can visit in autumn, you’ll be rewarded with golden and red leaves everywhere, and it makes it a lot more enchanting than creepy.
How long will you need? 2 – 3 hours
Cost? Free

 

10. See the show at the Moulin Rouge

http://www.moulinrouge.fr/?lang=en
Where? 82 Boulevard de Clichy
Why go? Yes, it’s tacky and old, but you know what? It’s actually a really fun night. Especially if you purchase the tickets that include a bottle of champagne and find yourselves sharing a table with some other foreigners. We actually found the comedic/contortionist/random filler acts in between the main musical numbers to be the most entertaining, and it was kind of fun to get dressed up and pretend to be in the fancy Paris of yesteryear for the night.
How long will you need? A few hours
Cost? Prices vary depending on date and time, but start from around €70

 

11. Go to Disneyland!
http://www.disneylandparis.com/en-us/
Where? Marne-la-Vallée
Why go? If you need a reason, there’s just no helping you…
How long will you need? All day!
Cost? 1 day tickets are around USD$80.00 per person

 

12. Eat some Nutella crepes in Luxembourg Gardens

Why go? Have you even been to Paris if you haven’t stuffed yourself silly with crepes?! Grab a Nutella-smothered crepe in the gardens and walk your way around the part French/part English/Italian inspired gardens to work it off.
Cost? A few euro for one, but you’re probably not going to want only one.

 

13. Shop for books in English at Shakespeare and Company

https://shakespeareandcompany.com/
Where? 37 Rue de la Bûcherie
Why go? This may be the most famous independent book store in the world, and for good reason. The perfect old building is full of English language books, and is worth seeing even if you’re not a reader. Also, a café on site in case you haven’t had your fill of French coffee and croissants yet.
How long will you need? If you’re a certified bookworm like me, an hour or two…

 

14. Visit Montmatre
Why go? This is artist-territory, and the classic Paris you imagine after seeing movies. Storybook old buildings covered in ivy, sweet little cafes run by equally sweet little old couples, and artists working on pieces on the streets.
How long will you need? If you have time, spend half a day there.

 

15. Sample your way through Rue Mouffetard market

http://www.rue-mouffetard.com/market.html
Where?
Why go? This cobbled walking street fills with street stalls most mornings, selling everything from seafood to fresh bread. Head in on an empty stomach so you can eat your way through – bonus points if you’re staying in an Airbnb with a kitchen so you can buy ingredients to cook with later!
How long will you need? An hour or two

A Weekend in Ronda, Spain: Why to go & how to get there

A few years ago, I saw a photo of this bridge and the surrounding area in a travel brochure. I had no idea where Ronda was, but I knew I wanted to see if for myself.

It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and it’s constantly overlooked because of bigger tourist towns like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and San Sebastian. We found there was so much more information on all of those other places than there was on Ronda online, so I wanted to put together a bit of a guide for others who are travelling to Spain. Because Ronda is very much worth visiting.

 

HOW TO GET THERE:
By train – cheap and easy.  The best airport to fly into is Malaga, and you’ll be able to catch a direct train from there, which takes 2 hours each and cost us around AUD$35.00 per person.

You’ll be able to book online a month or two before travel. Rail Europe is a reputable website and will advise you if your tickets can be downloaded to your phone, if they need to be printed, or if they are paper tickets that must be posted to you. You can also create an account so that you can access your trips easily.

 

WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed at the Hotel Colón, which I couldn’t recommend more highly. Its a basic hotel (we’re not fancy-hotel people), but in a great location that’s within walking distance of everything you’ll be wanting to see, lovely staff, 24 hour reception, free Wi-Fi, and a huge complimentary breakfast served in their restaurant.

 

WHAT TO DO ON A WEEKEND VISIT:

Day 1:
– Go for a morning walk through Alameda del Tajo Park
This gorgeous 19th-century park is full of enormous trees, wide walking avenues and park benches. It also has an absolutely insane view out over the gorge, if you’re not too bothered by heights.

– Keep walking on to the Ronda Bullring
Built in the 18th century completely out of stone, this was the heart of the city for a very long time. You can head in and check it out from the inside for around €7.00 per person, or just have a wander around the outside. Be sure to check out some of the gift stores around the bullring selling hand-painted ceramics.

– Check out the Puente Nuevo bridge over El Tajo gorge
Yup, the bridge in the first photo. Built in the mid to late 1700s (it took over 3 decades to complete), this is one seriously impressive feat of engineering.

– Take a break for lunch
Visit Casa Quino on Calle Nueva for a platter of Iberian cured meats, cheeses and a jug of sangria. There isn’t a better lunch in Ronda.

– Visit the Jardines de Cuenca
The gardens are gorgeous, even when we visited in winter, but it’s also one of the best places in the city to visit for a killer view of the Puente Nuevo.

 

Day 2:
– Get an early start with a hot air balloon ride
Hands down one of the best experiences of my life was driving down to the bottom of the gorge and rising up over the town of Ronda in a hot air balloon at sunrise. We went with Glovento Sur, and they were fantastic, even bringing us to a local eatery for breakfast after the ride.

– Make your way back into town and visit the Arab Baths
Similar to the design of Roman bath houses, the Arab Baths in Ronda are believed to have been the main public baths for the Moorish population back in the 11th century. It’ll cost you around €8.00 per person to walk through the remains, and there’s a great little film playing in there to show you how the baths would have operated.

– Stop for lunch, again
Keep heading south and order from the hand-written tapas menu at De Locos Tapas – the patatas bravas are especially delicious. And more sangria, obviously.

– Climb up to look down
After lunch, look over your table and across the plaza, and you’ll find some steps up to a wall – climb on up to burn some of those lunch calories and you’ll also get a great view.

– Visit Mondragon Palace
Once the palace of a Moorish ruler, it’s now a little natural history museum. It’ll cost you around €4.00 per person for entry, and is well worth it – a lot of the ceiling and tile details are well-kept originals, and the garden is completely magnificent.