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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

It took me four months to make it to Pere Lachaise even though it was close to the top of my list of places to see. However, with the sweet chestnut in bloom and green springing from every corner, I'm glad my visit came at the end of our stay. I love to visit historic cemeteries with their architectural details and sense of romantic decay. 
Of course Highgate in London is wonderful, I particularly like the irony of finding Karl Marx buried almost across from Herbert Spencer the Social Darwinist. 

But  cemeteries without famous occupants can  be equally fascinating, I enjoyed my visit to the End of the Line in Lisbon and one of my all time favorites cemeteries was in Lecce where the tombs varied from Egyptian temples to gothic chapels. 
On our last visit to Rome I made it out to the Protestant cemetery which is a fascinating place near the Pyramid metro stop. It's famous inhabitants include Keats and Shelley and I was fascinated to stumble upon the political philosopher Gramsci. I really need to blog about some of these but first I should get back to the matter at hand, Pere Lachaise!
This is a great place to wile away an afternoon but do wear comfortable shoes as I can confirm the cobblestone paths are not suited for a cute pair of thin soled ballet slippers! Of course there'll be a crowd of people around (or looking for) Jim Morrison's grave and though I found Oscar Wilde silent in his repose (below) it's another one of the main attractions. 
This is a big site so you'll need a plan, follow a walking tour (I used my trusty book of Paris walks) or buy a map at the entrance. A friend told me he likes to go and visit all the scientists, so pick your own theme or route.
Below is the beautifully tended grave of the great French playwright Moliere.
Here lies Parmentier whom wikipedia notes, " is remembered as a vocal promoter of the potato".
There are busts and urns, columns, plaques and chapels. In fact there are more memorials than you could possibly think of.
It really is a lovely place to walk and wonder. It's a quiet respite from the noise of Paris.
The much visited grave of Allan Kardec, the French Spiritualist, below.
You can also see this memorial to the great writer Balzac.
An extraordinarily beautiful and lavish fresh floral display, below.
At the end of my stroll I came across the many memorials to those who died in concentration  camps. There are multiple memorials, a reminder of how many camps there were, and how many perished.
There are also plots dedicated to members of political parties and organizations including the Communist Party. When I mentioned  to D. that the Communist Party had its own memorial  he said he wasn't aware that it had died, what a wag!
Its a very interesting site, easy to get to and easy to walk around, highly recommended for everyone.