Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Jones, Jones, let me borrow your bones

Jones, Jones, let me borrow your bones

 

Oh, I’m so excited to tell everyone about my trip down into the catacombs! As you may well know, the catacombs occupy the prime spot on my list of haunted places to visit before I become a ghost myself. And I got in this morning! It’ll make a great beginning to a new sub-category of posts, “Tales from Abroad” (I figure with all the stories I have to tell, a category was needed for it).

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Well, this morning I woke up early. I’d heard that the lines for the catacombs were insanely long, and I decided to get there early. So I got dressed, ate breakfast, and headed to the Metro. Right across from the exit from my stop, was the entrance to the catacombs, with a small line already forming. I rushed to it and got in before anyone else could. It was about fifty minutes before the catacombs opened at that point, and it was also the time when I made new friends: Andrew and Maria, an engineer and sketch artist from Florida whom I talked to while waiting in line. Subjects ranged from WWII history to our travels to the history of the catacombs themselves to our individual aspirations and dreams. During the tour I often saw them and we took photos of each other at various points along the tour.

When ten o’clock hit, the doors opened and we went in. By that point the line had snaked around the block and out of sight (average wait time is around two hours apparently. So remember kids, if you’re in Paris and plan to tour the catacombs, arrive as early as I did so you can get in quickly). The tour was self-guided (audio guides cost extra, and tour guides are only available to groups), so you basically walked down a circling staircase to a first room that dealt with the history of the catacombs (originally mines and underground quarries, later the home of six million of Paris’s dead as corpses were moved from cemeteries to underground for health reasons) and the geological history of the catacombs. Later you moved into the catacombs proper, a series of passageways and tunnels (only a section available to the public; anything else, you’d have to find a cataphile, a catacomb enthusiast who can access illegal entry points and go down to explore).

Andrew and Maria in the Kingdom of the Dead.

Andrew and Maria in the Kingdom of the Dead.

It was very interesting, being down there. You could see niches where rocks were carved out or where things could be stored, as well as metal gates blocking the way to passageways not open to the public. In two places there were these amazing sculptures of beautiful building that a worker from the original catacomb project in the 18th century had carved from memory, recreating his home in the Balkans. There was a deep well that went even deeper into the ground, and a series of archways and niches set along an incline, as if to let us now we were entering sacred ground.

Can you say new author bio pic?

Can you say new author bio pic?

And then came the best part of all. Over a doorway, written in French and carved with precision was the warning, “Beware, for you are about to enter the Kingdom of the Dead”. And what a kingdom it was! The walls were lined with the bones and skulls of so many dead. And even though we were told by signs not to use flash or touch the bones, many did anyway. I won’t say whether or not I did, but I will admit that I am aware of what bones feel like when you hold them (bones from 300 years ago feel like light, brittle rocks in your hands). Some of the bones were arranged in interesting shapes, such as representations of crosses, men, or churches. Others had been arranged to help support different structures, such as around this column. Or this well, which strangely made me think of a portal to Hell rather than a catch for water. And plenty of coffins, crypts, and tombstones.

The bones went on for ages and ages. Every moment I was in a sort of heaven (so to speak). As you can guess, I am quite the lover of the macabre, so this definitely got me excited. If you look at each of the photos carefully, you’ll see me with such glee and excitement on my face.

But sadly it had to end. And end it did, with the doorway to the land of the living coming all too soon. There were a few more sights to see, including some lovely vaulted ceilings, and then we had to resurface, taking another winding staircase up. All told, I spent about an hour and a half down in the catacombs, twice the normal amount estimated for a tour, and I covered two kilometers and over 200 steps going up and down. And I would do it again if given the opportunity, because it is just a wonderful place to be. At least, for me it is.

Afterwards, I went to the gift shop (yes, they have a gift shop) and got a couple of souvenirs to remember the trip below by (there’s only so much photos can do, and for obvious reasons I couldn’t take the bones with me, even if I was the kind of guy to try to take bones with me). I got a small booklet about the catacombs for easy reference in case of a story (of which I have one or two ideas for), a sticker for my laptop, and a skull ring, something I’ve always wanted for myself as a horror author.

How you like the sticker and the bling-bling?

How you like the sticker and the bling-bling?

I’m not sure if I actually witnessed any ghosts. I certainly don’t remember seeing anything out of the ordinary, except possibly some evidence of cataphiles in a restricted section. But I certainly had a great time down there, and I’ll definitely treasure those memories of that hour and a half for as long as my memory works (though I’m not sure sometimes that it does now). It certainly has become my favorite part of Paris.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll try to upload the rest of the photos of that night when I get the chance. In the meantime, I’ll send Andrew and Maria the photo I took of them as well as the link to this post. Have a good night, my Followers of Fear. I know I will.

BOO!

For those of you who read the title and are thinking to yourselves, “He plans to become ghost?”, yes, I do. I plan to become a ghost and haunt people as I like. Nobody’s safe, too. I plan to haunt everyone and anyone! Mwha ha ha!

Anyway, most people who know me know that besides being a fan of horror stories, I’m also a believer in ghosts and have had a few experiences as well that terrified and excited me (though mostly terrified). I thought it’d be interesting if I did a list of ten places purported to be haunted that I want to visit and see if I can capture ghostly evidence. And it’s possible that I might be able to go to a few of those soon, so I’m super-excited for them!

The list isn’t in any real order, except my number one is last and I REALLY want to go there when I have the chance. The rest of the list is pretty random in order. I didn’t intend for that to happen, it just did. Or did it?…

So without further ado, let’s get this list started!

10. Longfellow’s Wayside Inn
Location: Sudbury, Massachusetts, USA

The oldest working inn in America, the Wayside Inn gained its name as it was the place that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his collection of poems, Tales of the Wayside Inn, back when it was the Howe Inn. There is another tale though of this historic inn: the inn is reportedly home to Jerusha Howe, the daughter of the inn’s original owner who fell in love with a sailor who disappeared at sea. She died pining away for her missing lover. Today, male guests at the inn report being visited by Jerusha in two adjoining rooms she is said to frequent, leading to some amorous ghost stories that have been collected in a trunk full of love letters in one of the rooms. You can see why I’d want to go there. It’s the making of a great supernatural romance story, among other things.

9. Lizzie Borden House
Location: Fall River, Massachusetts, USA

Lizzie Borden was a woman living in Fall River, MA with her family in 1892 when her family was brutally murdered with an axe. The violence of the massacre and Lizzie’s subsequent strange behavior afterwards made her seem like a prime suspect, but bungling on the part of the local investigators led to her acquittal at trial. The case gained quite a lot of attention in its day, making it one of the most infamous murders in American history. Today the house is a working bed and breakfast, and guests have reported being dragged from beds and other unpleasant happenings. Doesn’t that sound like it’s right up my alley?

*This location was visited July 6th-7th, 2017. Full report of that experience here.

8. Alcatraz
Location: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California, USA

America’s most famous federal prison, it held numerous famous criminals, including Al Capone, from 1934 to 1963. Today the prison is a landmark and a museum (and it was also a short-lived TV show), but it’s also reportedly haunted by former inmates who died here, sometimes under mysterious circumstances. Not only that, but the island was called by Native Americans “the Evil Island” and rumors of demonic activity continue to this day. I can imagine wanting to spend a night in the big house if it was this one!

7. Ohio State Reformatory
Location: Mansfield, Ohio, USA

I’m proud to say that this one is in my state, and haunted tours are regularly given there around Halloween, so I’m definitely going to visit it one of these days. During its heyday, this prison housed over 155,000 prisoners, and there were several mysterious deaths, murders, and suicides. Since it closed, it has been used by film crews for a variety of films, including the Shawshank Redemption, but it has also been the home of some very nasty spirits who are said to touch prisoners and even become violent. Maybe I should visit there this Halloween. Anyone care to come with?

*This location was visited August 5th, 2018. For full details, check out my post here. I visited a year later for an overnight ghost hunt. Click here for more details.

6. The Stanley Hotel
Location: Estes Park, Colorado, USA

The inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, the Stanley Hotel has been the site of many paranormal experiences, with people becoming so frightened they’ve had panic attacks and have been sent to the hospital. Some of the most famous haunted rooms are the ballroom, where music is said to be heard, and Room 217 (any King lover knows why). There’s also a reported ghost thief that steals luggage, jewelry, and othe valuables from right under the guests’ noses, and there’s been no proof it might be a maid. They had me at Stephen King.

5. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Location: Weston, West Virginia, USA

One of the most haunted sites in America, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was one of the busiest insane asylums in the nation, housing 2400 patients at its peak. It was forcibly closed in 1994 due to treatment of its patients, but popular belief states that some guests haven’t left. There have been screams, doors opening and closing, and a bunch of other weird happenings there, and it has been investigated by numerous paranormal investigators, including the Ghost Adventures Crew, who did a live seven-hour long lockdown during which viewers on the Travel Channel website could view and examine evidence in real time. And I think it’s about time I got committed there, don’t you think?

4. Pennhurst State School
Location: Spring City, Pennsylvania, USA

An asylum for the physically and mentally handicapped, Pennhurst was plagued by overcrowding and not enough staff members for all its years. There are reports of children five or six years old not being taught to walk because there weren’t enough staff members to teach them, and of patients lying in their own feces or delusions for hours on end. The facility was finally closed when an investigative news team exposed the overcrowding and abuse there, leading to a public outcry. Today the facility is reportedly haunted by patients who never left its walls, and tours and investigations there have yielded some interesting findings. As one of those investigations inspired a novel I plan to write someday, I hope to get a tour someday. Road trip!

3. Aokigahara
Location: Honshu Island, Japan

An ancient forest at the base of Mt. Fuji, the forest is nicknamed “Suicide Forest” due to its popularity as a place for suicides, despite official’s efforts to stop visitors from killing themselves. It is said that in addition to the suicides, the forest is haunted by demons and yurei, spirits who have been unable to move onto the afterlife. If I ever tour Japan, I’m making this place a sure location to visit. Only Godzilla could keep me away!

2. Hellfire Caves
Location: West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, UK

A series of man-made caverns that extend very deep underground, the Hellfire Caves were once the stomping grounds of the Hellfire Club, a group of politically and socially affluent figures led by Sir Francis Dashwood, who reportedly held a number of pagan rituals in the caverns. Some accusations against the group say that these rituals were satanic in nature. To this day there are reports of dark spirits in the caves, as well as reports of Sukie, the ghost of a woman who was accidentally killed by three village boys who lured her to the cave and a rock fight broke out, as well as the ghost of Paul Whitehead, a friend of Dashwood’s who asked that his heart be put in an urn in the caverns upon his death. When the heart containing his urn was stolen in 1829, reports of a man in 18th century garb sighted in and around the caverns started to crop up. I wonder whose heart he’s looking for? Because these caves have certainly stolen mine.

1. The Paris catacombs
Location: Paris, Il-de-France, France

A series of underground ossuaries in the heart of Paris, the catacombs were once a series of ancient mines before becoming the homes of nearly six million corpses and skeletons when Paris officials needed to do something about the health problems caused by poor burial practices. Today certain sections of the catacombs are open to the public, and the legends about them never seem to cease, including that of the ghost of the man who oversaw the transfer of the bones below, of a man who got lost while going down to drink liquor and became a wandering ghost forevermore, and a bizarre tale of a woman who was kidnapped and tortured by a werewolf below, among others. I’ll be visiting France for my study abroad trip, so you can bet I’ll be making a visit to the catacombs before I leave the City of Light. And I’ll be taking plenty of photos.*

*This location was visited on May 21, 2014. For a full account of that experience, click here.

Have you ever been to these or other haunted locations? Has anything happened to you? If it did, could you give us some detail?