The Old Jewish Cemetery of Wroclaw, Poland

It may sound odd to some, but we’ve visited a fair share of cemeteries on our travels. It’s not morbid or creepy in my opinion - I am just interested in observing how cemeteries vary in different places. And walking around, looking at sculptures and art on tombstones, is like walking through an outdoor museum of sorts. At least that’s how I see it.

When I found out there was the Old Jewish Cemetery in Wroclaw, I definitely wanted to go. Not only did it involve a cemetery, but it combined another area that interests me - Jewish history. So off we set to the south section of Wroclaw, away from the city center to see the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in town. By its name, you might think it is hundreds of years old. In reality, it’s not that old - it was created in the mid-19th century. 

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La Toussaint at Cimetière du Montparnasse

As you might have already guessed, Halloween isn’t really a big thing over here in France. You can find a few pumpkin decorations in stores (mainly in chocolate shops) and a few costume parties but it’s nothing to the extent in the US.

I've been told that Halloween did have a few years of popularity in France, but it was followed by a backlash that squelched the holiday. Some say it’s because it was deemed to be “too American.” And I’ve heard others say it’s because it interfered with the French holiday that occurs the very next day on November 1st: La Toussaint (All Saints’ Day).

The truth is probably a mix of both, but I can attest that it is possible to attend an epic Halloween party one night and still crawl out of bed to make it to the cemetery the next day. (And whoever says that French people don’t get into dressing up for Halloween have not seen the level of detail and intricacy of the costumes I saw - they all upstaged me! But that’s for another time…) Why the cemetery? Because La Toussaint is a day to visit the graves of relatives and pay respects.

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Day trip from Paris: Chartres, France, Part II

10 Things to do in Chartres besides the Cathedral

Let’s be clear. If you are going to Chartres, you are making the trip to visit its incredible cathedral. It truly is something special and deserving of your time and focus while in town. It’s perfectly acceptable to treat Chartres as a stop to see the Cathedral and then move on. But should you choose to hang around longer, there is plenty more to do.

I spent the weekend (a full day and a half) in Chartres. With more than enough time to see the Cathedral, I had plenty of time to explore. Let’s follow my route around town so I can show you what else the city has to offer:

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Paris Practicalities: 15 Ways to Maximize Your Budget in Paris

In the "Paris Practicalities" series, I lay out some basic advice for the foundation of a trip abroad for the well-informed and savvy traveler.

Paris has a reputation for being a notoriously expensive city to visit. While it is pricey - especially when compared to neighboring countries Spain, Italy, and Germany or even the rest of France - it doesn't have to be a ridiculously pricey destination. Here are 15 ways you can maximize your budget during your time in Paris:

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Peace and Quiet

I didn't put it all together until I looked back at my photos from Bryan's stay that I realized two of the major places we visited involved burial sights. This is not to comment on personality or favorite pastimes at all, but rather the result of what remains on the to-do list of one who has visited Paris a few times and seen the blockbuster sights. For most, the Catacombs and Père Lachaise Cemetery fall below the art museums and glamorous spots like the Champs-Élysées of must-sees.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is a peaceful place to take a walk and explore. And it always has the additional benefit of being free of charge. I first mentioned a walk through this cemetery back in November on La Toussaint (All Saints' Day) when it was full of flowers, but any time of year when it's not too wet is a good time to go.

Many people seek out the largest cemetery within the limits of Paris to see the graves of the famous. Père Lachaise is the resting place of many greats like Edith Piaf, Gertrude Stein, Jim Morrison, Georges Haussmann, Marcel Proust...and the list goes on and on.

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