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Monday, October 31, 2022

Happy Halloween 2022

Every year in October, I run 31 days of Halloween posts on my Facebook page. I love posting about cool, creepy, haunting things you can do (or avoid) on your travels and October is the best time to really post all those things. If you missed any of my posts or just aren't on Facebook, I like to do a round-up here for all those things. Enjoy 31 Halloween posts: 

Every year in October, I run 31 days of Halloween posts on Facebook. I post about cool, creepy, haunting things you can do (or avoid) on your travels.

1. Looking for some spooky season inspiration? Here's a haunted hotel road trip map that includes a hotel from every state from HalloweenCostumes.

2. October is a great time to get into some cool spooky podcasts. Here are 3 of my favorites:
Chasing Immortality - each episode is about real people throughout history who have tried to cheat death.
13 Days of Halloween - nearly 2 weeks of a serial scary story that will keep you guessing until the end. You can catch up on the last two seasons before starting this season.
Eli Roth's History of Horror Uncut - the full interviews with horror icons, writers, and directors talking about their own movies and their other favorites.

3. Do you know about the ghost stories that originate in your state? Or want to learn about those of other states? Check THESE out from People.

4. The UK is chock FULL of ghost stories and haunted history. Here are some of the most haunted hotels in the region.

5. I love a ghost tour and I never pass up a chance to go on one when on a trip. You can learn a lot about a city from their ghost stories. One of the best tours we've been on was in New Orleans.

6. Do you know the origins of your beloved pumpkin spice latte or apple cider doughnuts? Would you LIKE to? Check out these stories.

7. Do you want to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Dracula's publication? Take a trip on the new Dracula Trail and explore the areas where Bram Stoker brought our favorite vampire to "life".

8. Cruises may seem like they are a great deal, especially with sales, but don't let your relaxing vacation turn into a nightmare with the horror of hidden expenses.

9. Can't get away for Halloween? Why not travel to the best place in your state to celebrate?

10. Halloween is actually becoming more popular in Europe. Here are Halloween traditions worth traveling for.
11. There's nothing more terrifying than getting scammed on vacation. Learn the 10 most common scams, so you're prepared to keep yourself safe.

12. Is one of your biggest fears traveling alone? It's okay. You aren't alone, even though you literally ARE alone. Learn to connect with others and yourself and have a great solo trip.

13. Does traveling make you nervous? Do you have anxiety? Calm your nerves and make sure your next flight is awesome...or at least tolerable.

14. Looking to have a ghostly encounter? Here are 9 haunted hotels you can actually stay in!

15. Nothing is worse than eating at the airport and realizing you made a bad choice. I'm a big fan of food, but also of bringing my own snacks on the plane. Here are 7 foods you should avoid at the airport before you next flight.

16. We've all heard myths and legends of monsters and people disappearing in forests. Here are some of the scariest forest legends.

17. Ever seen a super creepy statue? Do you love them? Find more on your future travels.

18. Did you know you can dine among the dead in cemeteries, mortuaries, and even crypts? You totally can with this list.

19. A lot of bars are purported to be haunted, which can be fun, especially when relaxing with a drink, but these are the MOST haunted (supposedly).

20. There's a lady in England that has amassed a large amount of "retired" mannequins. Like a large amount. Like a MOUNTAIN of mannequins. She'll even sell you one, if you want, or, you know, a trunk-full.

21. I love abandoned buildings and hotels are no different. While I always think the worst, I still want to visit them and explore weird hallways and rooms...in the daytime. Here are some creepy, abandoned hotels across the U.S.

22. Have you ever been to a ghost town? A proper one? I've been to a small one, but I long to see more of them, and this list is full of cool ones.

23. October's a wonderful time to visit farms. Not just to pick up pumpkins and drink apple cider and pet animals, but also to get lost in corn mazes, because they're awesome. Even the haunted ones. I assume. I'm, uh, not doing those.

24. I just learned about Dumb Cake and I'm super intrigued by this historically weird (and probably not that good) cake that tells your future. Proceed with caution and your spookiest friends.

25. Some people are superstitious. Some whole cultures are superstitious. Do they always make sense? No. Do people still do them? Absolutely.

26. Some beaches are beautiful and some are downright dangerous. Here's how to avoid the bad ones and where to go instead, so your beach holiday doesn't turn into a nightmare.

27. Ever heard of Ragamuffin Day? It was the precursor to Halloween, but on Thanksgiving. It sort of makes sense that a day of excess would bring out some beggers, so learn a bit about this forgotten holiday that was pushed aside by what we now know as Halloween.

28. One of the scariest things to me is thinking about accidentally doing something bad while on vacation and landing in some foreign jail. I imagine it could be better or worse than going to jail or prison in your own country, depending on where you are, but I try to be extra good while traveling.

29. You've seen me touting the beauty of graveyards and cemeteries, both here and on my Instagram. If you're a lover of burial grounds, these are some of the ones worth visiting on your journeys. I've been to both Boot Hill in Arizona and St. Louis No. 1 in New Orleans, and I hope to get to the others at some point.

30. Did you know that there's this whole tradition of making pot pies that look like people? Dead people, obvs. They're creepy. They're creative. They're perfect for Halloween, with their edible hair and delicious ingredients.

31. You made it! Happy Halloween! Think you know where the Capitol of Halloween is? The tops in tradition? The place you'll want to go to get scared? It's probably nowhere you've ever heard of, but now you're going to want to put it on your travel wish list for some future October to immerse yourself in all the Halloween you can handle.

I hope you enjoyed my daily posts with my favorite holiday in mind. What are your favorite things to do for Halloween?

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Surviving the Horrors of Holiday Travel

You may not be planning your winter travels yet, but you should be. Budget flights are probably going to be hard to come by and they will, for sure, be overbooked and going to the airport will be stressful and annoying. If you haven't already, sign up for flight alerts right now. If you just aren't sure how to pull off an affordable holiday trip, my ebook can give you all the inside tips for planning, booking, packing and not killing your family out of stress.

You may not be planning your winter travels yet, but you should be. Budget flights are probably going to be hard to come by, so get my best tips!

For just 99 cents, I give you all the ways to sneak savings out of your planning and how not to lock yourself in the garage with a bottle of wine because your family is making you hate life. So, not only will you save on your trip, but also on this fantastic info. (Remember, you can download this book even if you don't have a Kindle. The Kindle app is free on iTunes and Google Play and works on all your web-enabled devices.)

Closer to the holidays, I'll be posting some new reviews and lists of fabulous travel gifts that can be ordered and shipped or easily slipped into your carry-on, so you don't have to check a bag just to bring your presents with you on the plane.

If you like this ebook, make sure to check out my ebook for summer travel savings, too! Holiday travels don't have to be scary, and they don't need to break the bank.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

3 Places to Visit in the Pacific Northwest

The United States is filled with the most diverse regions, including the Pacific Northwest region, which is home to about 13 million people. It has some of the world’s most beautiful coastlines, rainforests, state and national parks, and charming and exciting towns and cities. There’s so much to do if you’re planning your next major trip, whether alone or with family and friends, from outdoor activities to amazing historical landmarks.

There’s so much to do in the Pacific Northwest, from outdoor activities to amazing historical landmarks.
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If you’re looking for the perfect escape where you can relax or have the most epic adventure of your life, here are three towns or cities to consider visiting. 

Seattle, Washington

Popularly known as the Emerald City, Seattle is the perfect place for art, music, and business enthusiasts and thrill seekers looking for some amazing adventure. It’s the most populous city in the Pacific Northwest and is home to well-known organizations like Microsoft and Starbucks. The city is also home to the Space Needle, where you can climb up to have a panoramic view of the beautiful city, including the Olympic Mountain ranges and Mount Rainier. If you’re looking to take your culinary interests to another level, Seattle is the perfect destination! The city has over 100 wineries and breweries and some of the best seafood in the United States. 

Bend, Oregon

Nothing is more refreshing and exciting than spending time outdoors in the Pacific Northwest, and Bend, Oregon, doesn’t disappoint. This family-friendly destination is home to some of nature’s most stunning locations and outdoor activities. It’s nestled snugly in the valleys of the snowcapped Cascade Mountains, and you would enjoy many activities during your visit, including hiking to mountain peaks, biking, water, and snow. Bend is also the perfect place to do casual shopping and is home to some of Oregon’s locally-made products. Additionally, it has amazing accommodation options, so check out some of the top hotels near Bend Oregon, before you visit. 

San Juan Island, Washington

San Juan Island is the perfect destination to visit if you’re not a fan of mainland Washington’s rainfall and are looking for a peaceful nature escape. This destination is home to over 150 islands, with its most popular being Orcas Island, which has some of the best activities for artists, as well as outdoor and food enthusiasts. Several activities will thrill you during a trip to San Juan Island, from whale watching and kayaking to cycling and hiking. You can also visit the San Juan Historical Museum to learn more about this stunning destination or treat your taste buds to some of the best organic farm-to-table meals. Be sure to try some of the island’s most delicious natural seafood choices, such as crabs, clams, and oysters. If you’re looking for a great outdoor adventure in the Pacific Northwest, San Juan Island is worth considering for a fantastic experience. 

Are you ready to explore America’s west coast? Then hopefully, these locations will be at the top of your list of places to visit when you plan your next trip.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Going to Pennsylvania? Here are the Top Things you Won’t Want to Miss Out On

If you want to go traveling and see the world, then you will be glad to know that this is now easier than ever to do. In fact, if you follow this guide, then you will soon find that you can not only make the most out of your trip, but you can also make sure that you are not missing out on some of the top sights that the state has to offer. Pennsylvania is a great travel destination, especially for those interested in history.

Pennsylvania is a great travel destination, especially for those interested in history. Here are the top  things you don't want to miss out on.
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Independence Hall

This is one of the most historic areas in America. It is also home to the Independence National Historical Park. This is a central attraction, and it is known for being the place where the Declaration Of Independence was signed. In the area, you will find a number of historical buildings, including Congress Hall, the Old City Hall, and various museums. You will also see the Ben Franklin Museum and even the Jewish History museum. Make sure that you do not overlook this as an option if you want to make the most out of your travel experience.

Hershey Park

If you have a family, then they will certainly love an outing at this amusement park. It is very closely associated with chocolate too. One thing to know about this park is that it has 90 acres of rides, and the entertainment is second to none as well. There are options for kids and adults, not to mention that there are also a lot of roller coasters for everyone. This park was actually made so it could be a recreational area for the workers over at Hershey’s, but since then it has expanded and now it is open to people all over the world. Some of the attractions there include a lot of midway games as well as a lot of video games. Next to the park, you will find ZooAmerica too. There you will see over 200 animals that come from a range of habitats. If you want to make the most out of your experience, then be sure to sign up for the experience where you can actually go behind the scenes and see how the animals are cared for too.

Gettysburg National Military Park

This is actually located at the site of the Gettysburg Battlefield. This civil war battle was responsible for a total of 51,000 casualties in three days. Hundreds of monuments now grace the park. Some of the main highlights you will see here include the Seminary Ridge. This was actually the primary Confederate position for the second and third day of the battle. Oak Ridge was the site of the opening day battle as well so you will not want to miss out on this if you have a keen interest in things such as this.

Presque Isle State Park

This is easily one of the top parks in the state of Pennsylvania. This park is actually on a peninsula, and this means that it curves out into Lake Erie. This creates Presque Isle Bay. The park is open all year and it has so much to offer. You have 11 total miles of beach, and you also have a lot of hiking trails too. Of course, as well as sunbathers and swimmers, you will soon see that a lot of people go to collect the sea glass that often washes up ashore. People who love to fly kites often travel to this area as it is a great way for you to take advantage of the strong winds. If you want to get a bird’s eye view, book a flight with Lancaster Balloon Rides.

Museum of Art

If you want to have the best time when out travelling, then why not visit the Museum of Art? This museum hosts one of the biggest collections of art out there and you will also see that it is one of the most iconic buildings within the city as well. The front steps are actually featured in the famous Rocky movie, and you also have a great view of the surrounding landscapes too.

Falling Water

This is easily one of the most famous buildings in the state. It was designed by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright and he is known for creating architecture that helps to harness the natural world. This is a very popular day trip so make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time if you want to pay a visit to this location. You won’t regret it at all, and it’s great for the family.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Cool Facts About Halloween

Halloween is my favorite holiday, like how people love Christmas, that's how I love the spooky season. I want to watch all the movies, see everyone's awesome costumes, and walk around and check out yard decorations. Think you know everything about Hallowe'en, like how to spell it correctly? This infographic will test your knowledge or teach you things you didn't know.

Think you know everything about Hallowe'en, like how to spell it correctly? This infographic will test your knowledge or teach you new things.
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If the thought of carved turnips amuses you and you want to see something hilarious or truly terrifying, check out this article or Google "carved turnips Halloween". I'm actually impressed, because turnips are not even that easy to cut into, so this has to be some sort of art, even if it's horrifying. 

What's your favorite part of Halloween?

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Tom Devlin's Monster Museum

While we were in Las Vegas in July, we had the chance to drive out to Boulder City. If you haven't been, it's cute little town right outside of Vegas (a 30-minute drive), that's right on the outskirts of Hoover Dam. We were also able to drive the short distance to overlook Lake Mead. I've been excited to visit Tom Devlin's Monster Museum, right in the heart of the city, for a long time.

Tom Devlin is a make-up effects artist for movies and has been in the business for over 20 years. He strives to preserve the art of special effects.

Tom Devlin is a make-up effects artist for movies and has been in the business for over 20 years. He's worked on a ton of films, including Butcher House, Mega Piranha, Puppet Master: Axis Termination, and Camp Twilight. Sure, you've probably never heard of these, but that doesn't make him less impressive. 

Tom strives to preserve the art of special effects throughout history, in order to teach others the history of them and how to improve upon current techniques with things that may have worked well in the past, but by also trying new things in the ever-evolving industry. 

Let's head inside! The Monster Museum opened 5 years ago and is a must for anyone who loves horror, thinks make-up effects are awesome, or really just wants to see some cool movie memorabilia. If you are not good with the dark, lifelike figures, or small spaces, this might not be the museum for you, since you walk into this hallway:

Now, you probably already know that I'm afraid of haunted houses and the dark, so this would not have been a museum I would have gone to alone. I may have felt differently if there were most people there, but were the only ones inside when we arrived. The first part of your self-guided tour is devoted to the classic monsters and those that portrayed them, like Lon Chaney. 

I have a terrible overactive imagination when it comes to things like this, so the low lighting kind of freaked me out, thinking that I saw figures move, but I can assure you that it was eyes playing tricks on me, because everything inside is static. There aren't any people dressed up waiting to jump out at you, or animatronics waiting for you to walk past to be triggered. You might worry about that same thing in the rooms that have Ghostface and the all the iterations of Jason from Friday the 13th.

Past the classic monsters and actors, you get into the amazing horror movies and monsters from the 80s. When we visited Vegas last year, we visited a movie memorabilia collection called Cineloggia that had props and costumes from several movies, including some little heard of horror flicks, but also from the Hellraiser series. 

Cineloggia didn't have complete mannequins, just costumes, but Devlin has recreated the whole make-up effects of the Cenobites that are on display, complete with Pinhead and the Lament Box in an alcove that gave Hellraiser II vibes. 

There was a whole long hallway case with 80's movie props that were actually used in the films. Some movies I'd heard of and some I hadn't. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is now on my list of movies to watch. Last year I came away from Cineloggia with the need to watch a terrible-sounding movie about a killer turkey called ThanksKilling, which was so bad it was good. We then watched ThanksKilling 3, because there is no second movie. (It's a whole thing.)

I'm always impressed by what people can do with latex and how amazing even bad masks can look with some aging and creative coloring.

We both realized we'd never seen any of the Puppet Master movies, so that was one of the first movies we watched this Halloween season. It's exactly and also completely not what you expect it to be. I'm looking forward to watching the sequels at some point. All of the dolls in this case murdered someone in the first movie.

There are more of the newer movie monsters here, too: Freddy, Michael Myers, Beetlejuice (if you consider him a monster), Gremlins, Chucky, Ghostface (he was the header to my previous blog post), and Leprechaun. I will say the lighting could be a lot better - or worse, I suppose - as it's very difficult to take any sort of decent pictures in most cases. This isn't a fancy museum. It's strictly there to showcase the make-up and appliance work. Some rooms have great backgrounds and props and others are just blank black walls with plaques telling you about the movies. 

Once you've survived the many small rooms, you come out at the gift shop (surprise!), where you started, and you're given the opportunity to go have a sit-down in their little theater that shows documentaries about other make-up artists and effects work. We watched a film about the people who were the main prosthetics and appliances for the Planet of the Apes franchise. Learning the tips and tricks of those that came before is imperative to effects artists now in developing new techniques, but falling back on tried-and-true methods that can look just as good and also save time and money.

Tom Devlin's Monster Museum is right on the main street when coming in Boulder City. They have signings and meet & greets with horror icons like Cassandra Peterson (who plays Elvira), and you can even book a tour with Tom himself for less than expected, which I hope to do in the future. Regular admission is just $20 per person. You can totally make a whole day out of a visit to Boulder City, NV between this, visiting Hoover Dam, or even just Lake Mead, and doing a walking tour on your own around town, while also checking out all the cool statues along the streets.

If you enjoy horror movies or even just cool make-up effects, what movie has some of your favorites?  

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Scary Travel Movies

I adore Halloween and almost everything that comes with it. Each year I try to consume as much spooky media as possible, including horror movies and scary podcasts. If you also enjoy such things, then this post is for you. I've got a long list of great horror movies that revolve around travel, which you would think would scare me off from a lot of things, but actually haven't. 

Ghost Face at Tom Devlin's Monster Museum in Boulder City, NV

I feel as if you can definitely learn a lot from these movies, even if it's just how not to get ripped off or how not to trust strangers. So, let's delve into some movies I have enjoyed and recommend for all horror lovers:

Cabin In The Woods (2012) - If I have to pick a favorite horror movie, it's a tough call to not immediately choose this one. I may have issues with Joss Whedon, but this movie is fairly perfect in my eyes, including the amazing twist you get halfway through and then an even twistier twist later on. In short, a group of college friends take their RV to one of their cousin's cabin in the woods to get away from it all. The cabin turns out to be much more than a cabin and the worst decision anyone's ever made, but there's a reason they're there and doing everything they do. It's amazing and if you haven't seen it, I urge you to rent it right now.  

Cabin Fever (2002) - A group of friends stay in a cabin in the woods. Before they've arrived, a virus has been released into the local water supply. It kills people slowly and painfully by causing them to decompose while they're still alive. After swimming in the lake, this group begins to show signs of infection. The cast is awesome and 20 years later I still have feelings about a particular scene that has stuck with me.

Psycho (1960) - While you can watch the remake, the original will always be it for me, plus it includes a lot of firsts in film that make it even more important. Marion Crane is given the day's deposit for the real estate company she works for, but instead of going to the bank, she absconds with the money in order to pay off her boyfriend's debts so they can get married. Trading in her car on the way, she finds herself pulling off into a roadside motel when the rain becomes too heavy to drive in. Cabin 1 is free...and, well, you know the rest.

House of Wax (1953 & 2005) - I'll admit, I loved both of these movies. The first is a black and white Vincent Price film that was properly scary even 70 years later. Several people have mysteriously gone missing with their lookalikes found in the newly-opened wax museum. In the 2005 remake a group of friends heading to a football game end up needing a new fan belt for their truck and go to the nearby town to await the return of the mechanic after a funeral he's attending. While waiting, they go to the town's "famous" wax museum and find more than they bargained for. This one stars Jared Padelecki (before Supernatural took off), Paris Hilton, and Elisha Cuthbert.

The Shallows (2016) - One of Blake Lively's best movies, in my opinion. After her death, she heads to a secluded beach that her mother wrote about in her journal when she was pregnant with her. She gets dropped off by a local and eventually meets two guys who are also there to surf. They leave and she decides to catch one last wave. In doing so, she is pursued by a huge shark that seems intent on eating her no matter what. The rest of the movie is her story of surviving and trying to make it back to the beach alive, with only herself to count on.

Turistas (2006) - Three American tourists go on vacation and a bus tour where the bus breaks down. The three of them connect with some others from their bus and head down the cliff to the beach where a party is taking place. Drinking is involved and drugs and, long story short, a surgeon who sells organs on the Black Market.

Hostel (2005) - Probably one of the hardest movies to watch and the one that may have deterred a lot of people from hostels, train travel, and strangers. Americans travel to Slovenia and meet some new friends who they go drinking with. When they wake up, they learn they've been sold to a torture chamber for rich people. It's terrifying and disgusting and one of the few movies I had to watch certain scenes through my fingers.

Old (2021) - I know this movie got a lot of bad reviews, but I really feel like M. Night Shyamalan has started finding his voice again. Several families go on vacation to a luxury resort and are dropped off on a private beach and told they would be picked up later. None of them have any idea where they are and they don't appear to have any cell service, so they can't call for help when things start to go wrong. Everyone begins aging rapidly and there's only one way out that isn't dying quickly of old age.

Midsommar (2019) - Our main character goes on a trip to Sweden with her boyfriend and his friends after her sister kills herself and her parents, leaving her severely traumatized and causing her boyfriend to put off breaking up with her, even though their relationship was bad before the tragedy happened. They all get caught up in "traditional" Midsommar rituals that get weirder and weirder the longer they stay. The writer/director Ari Aster, who also did Hereditary, has a lot of interesting things to say about his movie, including that he doesn't view either of his movies horror, but he's probably the only one.

House of 1000 Corpses (2003) - 4 friends are roadtripping across the country in order to write a book about roadside attractions. When they stop for gas they meet a clown named Captain Spaulding who owns an attraction called The Museum of Monsters and Madmen which tells the legend of Dr. Satan. In order to research this local legend, they pick up a hitchhiker who claims she lives near the tree he was hanged from and they offer to take her home so she can show it to them. Shockingly, her family is a bunch of psychopaths and things end badly for these teens. Arguably, this is Rob Zombie's best film. In my opinion it has everything, including Rainn Wilson and Chris Hardwick being idiots, Karen Black being incredibly creepy, and whole lot of killer mutants. This was followed by The Devil's Rejects and 3 From Hell, neither of which had the same campy feel that I loved.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974 & 2003) - I understand the love a lot of people have for the original, I've watched it several times and pretty much always side with Leatherface. A group of friends are traveling to visit one of their father's graves and old farmhouse. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker who seems to have quite a lot going on and none of it good. At the old farmhouse, several of them wander off and end up at the home next door and become murder victims. I prefer the 2003 remake with Jessica Biel, who actually tries to survive. The plot is different to update with the times, but the outcome is mostly the same.

Jeepers Creepers (2001) - The original follows a pair of siblings going home from college on Spring Break. They are followed by a truck driven by a person who has seen them witness him carrying dead bodies to an old abandoned church. The rest of the movie is them trying to survive. The monster is loosely based on the Jersey Devil, even though it takes place in Florida. Barely a travel movie, Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) is also great. This movie follows a high school basketball team on the bus to an away game when a tire blows and strands them on the roadside of the same town, just 3 days after the events of the first movie. Chaos ensues and a scarecrow in a cornfield is involved. 

Us (2019) - If you haven't seen this Jordan Peele movie about a family on a vacation with some friends that they don't seem to enjoy, you might be missing out. While this has socio-political undertones, the horror aspect is amazing. The story is that every person has a double underground that is forced to live in secret and live their life like their above-ground counterpart. They have figured out how to break free and are out to seek revenge on their other selves.

The Green Inferno (2013) - This Eli Roth movie can be difficult to watch if torture porn is not your thing. A group of activists go on a trip to the Amazon when their plane goes down and they are captured by a group of cannibals. You know what happens next. It's very graphic. I would have been much more disturbed by this movie, but Roth shot on location with an actual native tribe who had never actually seen movies or TV. He explained what he wanted and showed them the most disturbing movie he had, Cannibal Holocaust, which is a movie that inspired his horror career and includes a movie within a movie called The Green Inferno. The tribe thought this movie was hilarious and, while filming, asked to be covered in more and more fake blood.

Final Destination (2000) - An oldie, but a goodie. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. A group of high schoolers are on a school trip and have just gotten on the plane when one gets a vision of the plane going down and everyone dying. A handful of them get off when he raises concerns, only to watch his vision come true as the plane has just taken off, killing everyone on board. The rest of the movie is them trying to evade Death as it comes back for them.

Brokedown Palace (1999) - While not really a horror movie, I included this because it's about a thing I always think about: getting arrested in a foreign country. While I never do anything that would probably land me in jail/prison, I think it's not that an uncommon fear. In this movie, Claire Danes and her friend go on a trip and her friend trusts a guy she just met and ends up carrying drugs for him, and they get caught and both end up in prison with a sentence of 33 years.

So, what I've learned from horror movies is to be very wary of who I trust, don't go off alone, always tell people where you'll be, don't let someone have access to your bags, don't take drinks from strangers, don't pick up hitchhikers, always have roadside assistance when going on road trips, and never split up when things are going badly.

Share with me some of your favorite horror movies. They don't have to be travel-related.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Paris Sewer Museum

On each trip to Paris we have done something cool and weird. On our first and last trip we visited Père Lachaise Cemetery, on our second trip we went to the Catacombs, and on this most recent trip we went to the Museum of Hunting & Nature (Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature) and the Sewer Museum (Musée des Égouts de Paris).

A museum about the sewers may not sound that awesome to anyone else, but at just 9€pp, it was a very affordable and totally different view of Paris.

A museum about the sewers may not sound that awesome to anyone else, but I found it while Google Mapping a day during my planning phase. At just 9€ a person, it was very affordable and totally different from anything else we've ever done. I wanted to do a handful of non-touristy things this trip and this appeared to fit the bill.

If you passed the museum on the street (it's located in a park right on the Seine), you probably wouldn't give it a second look. There's not a ton of stuff around it, but it's situated a few steps from the Pont de l'Alma and across the street from a Metro station and a Pierre Hermé location that serves macarons and ice cream. There's a great public water fountain right out front. This was one of the only places where the employees didn't speak English, so if you have a timed ticket that doesn't work - because you're early, like we were - you will have to explain your situation to the person at the front desk.

Once inside, we were immersed in the literal sewer and its history. Paris, having the first real sewage system, has had a tour in the sewers almost since the sewer was built. People were so enthralled by this new service that they wanted to see how it worked. So many people, in fact, that they built boats for tours and charged people admission. At some point, they stopped giving tours, and then turned this portion of the sewer into a (working) museum and then allowed people back to learn history on their own, instead of through guided tours by sanitation workers. 

Now, I'll tell you that I read the reviews of the museum before I purchased tickets and the most memorable, which actually pushed me to buy the tickets, was one that said "I only saw one sewer rat on my tour. I thought I'd see more, so this was disappointing." Now, I'm aware this was a working sewer and might contain rats and other unsavory things, but it's also a museum and amazingly clean. We actually did see a rat also, but it was far away and never came any closer to us down the tunnel. 

If you are afraid of rats, mice, bugs, are claustrophobic, or have a very sensitive nose, this is not a tour for you. We wore masks the entire time, but I did briefly take mine down to smell the air when I heard two people retching further down a tunnel section, but it honestly didn't smell worse down there either. Yes, it's a working sewer and yes it smells weird, but I didn't find it overpowering and off-putting. Some sections are worse than others, but still not enough to deter me from finishing the tour.

You follow a guide of numbered plaques that tell you about each section you're in. If you only speak/read English, there is a take-along guide for you to follow along. We took turns being a tour guide for each other and telling each other about the different pipes and waterways and cool dredger boats and sewer balls (giant rubber, wooden, or iron spheres that help clean the waterways - seen below). 

You'll also see old wooden dredgers and manholes (what you'd see under a manhole cover) and all the different pipes and digital equipment used now to monitor water levels. 

Some sections are very large and some are barely tall enough for a man to stand up in. You are not permitted to go through some tunnels, which would lead you into the labyrinthine pipe system where only trained sanitation workers dare to go.

Each section is a mirror of a street or walkway above ground and each street has a street sign in the sewer tunnels, which is kind of amazing and shockingly organized for what I expected. 

At the end of your tour, you can sit and watch a video about the inner workings of the French sewer system and see how it works through illustrations and illustrated maps. It's all in French, but if you paid attention to the tour guide or speak even a little French you can get the gist of it

After you've watched the video, or skipped it, there are small models, interactive videos, and old sanitation worker equipment and protective gear. There's also a small gift shop with some cool things in it. We purchased some postcards and t-shirts (only 8 euros!) and some other little things, but they have mugs, glasses, books, and more. We highly recommend this weird and informative activity. It only takes about an hour to walk through, but it's definitely worth it, and it's easy to get to.

Have you loved a "hidden gem" attraction on your travels that you wish more people knew about?

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