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Mike Mehalek writes fast-paced lyrical books that can be enjoyed with one reading but have enough substance for re-reading. He brings stories to life that demand to be told, regardless of the hopes/dreams/fears/desires of his characters--the Story first--always the Story.

In 2008 Mike earned his masters degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University

Visit Mike on twitter @mikemehalek

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hey Kids, Look, There's Big Ben Again: A Real-Life Griswold's Account of His European Vacation (Part II)


So as I've started trying to compile my vacation into blog entries, I've realized it will probably jump a bit from country to country and from topic to topic in a random kind of order.  There are for several reasons.  One of which (the key reason as it were), is that so much of my writing is job-related to the office job and what I write there I "have" to write.   Even my fiction writing, which is far more enjoyable, still has limits on my "freedom" of writing.  For example, if I worked on every novel I wanted to write, I'd have 50 started and would never complete any of them (and you thought George R R Martin was bad).

My blog is my rebellion, my outlet to write what I want when I want to write it--I guess though that's the purpose of a blog though, perhaps making the disclaimer unnecessary.  But it's what I wanted to write, and so here it is.

So summing up: My Griswold vacation to Europe included three days in Paris, a day (less actually) in Amsterdam, and 3 days in Cologne.

Today's vacation whisks us underground to the 

Catacumbas de Paris

Day Two in Paris, was much like everyday I spent in Paris--ten degrees colder (Fahrenheit) than anticipated, windy, overcast, and rainy, torrential at times.

On Day Two Rob and I met with a few of our friends whose vacation to Paris happened to overlap our time there.

They met us at our hotel that morning, where we found a nice little cafe that offered two breakfast choices, one of which was an American breakfast.  This was the exact same as the traditional breakfast of breads, cheeses, and jam, with the addition of omelets and potatoes, i.e. a breakfast that only a fat-@$$ American could enjoy--and I did :)

From there we made our way to the Catacumbas de Paris and waited two and a half hours in the rain...

The catacombs were moved to their current location in the 1700s due to "leakage" which caused an infestation of rats in Paris at that time.  The bodies were move (quite meticulously it turns out) to a rock quarry that was used to build things such as Notre Dame

The catacombs has a disclaimer that it is not intended for people who have trouble with stairs (it was over 100 to the bottom), fear of enclosed spaces, or do not like the macabre.

I laughed at the third point.  As a horror writer and movie goer, what kind of macabre effect would a few bones have on me.  Turns out quite a bit.

The reason was twofold.  The first was the shear volume of bones that were displayed.  Every time you rounded a corner, I would think this is gotta be the end--nope ANOTHER graveyard of bones were labeled dated and stacked.  Let me say that again, a GRAVEYARD.  The catacombs had to be a dozen or more cemeteries that were moved.

The other cause of my mood was the reminder that each of those bodies were once a person, with hopes, dreams--no nothing but dust and bones.  It was unnerving.  I think we all have at least a little sense that we want to be remembered after we are gone--look at the extent man has always gone to to track who is in a tomb (before the pyramids to modern day).  But unless we are one of the elite, we will soon be forgotten.

Aside: My mother said to me recently that she went to her father's grave and was shocked at the lack of care at the sites.  I said it was because everyone those people know are dead, and she tended to agree.

This whole thought of being forgotten plays at the corners of my mind like an itch on some days and in fact at the day in the catacombs I stopped taking photos and almost deleted the ones I did take.

What I have I share with you.  


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