Boomer travel bloggers reflect on their cemetery visits around the globe.
Wherever you travel, you’ll likely find a cemetery that reveals something about the history, culture and traditions of the people and place. It’s hard to resist wandering around to witness the architecture, sculpture and landscaping, even capturing the memory in a photograph. Most cemeteries offer us an opportunity for us to reflect about our lives, too.
My fellow boomer travel bloggers share their stories below of some of the interesting cemeteries they’ve visited during their travels.
Click on the link under each listing to read more about the cemetery visit on the respective travel blog. (All photographs were taken by the respective bloggers).
Panteon Antiguo Cemetery
Outside Oaxaca City, Mexico
A Taste for Travel, Michele Peterson
Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is an important day throughout Mexico and Guatemala, and very rich with authentic traditions and rituals, especially in the states of Oaxaca and Michoacan. Many people describe the cemetery scenes as joyous fiestas but my experience has been that while there may be music, mescal and special foods, the graveyard vigils are also somber contemplative events celebrating life, the bond of family and the power of memory. As I found in the Panteon Antiguo (old cemetery) near Oaxaca City, it’s quite a moving experience to be invited to join families as they pay their respects to lost loved ones.
Santa Fe Travelers, Billie Frank and Steven Collins
We didn’t set out to look for Marietta, Ohio’s Mound Cemetery. It’s on 5th Street, a block from our son’s home. The street itself, a tree-shaded avenue lined with restored Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian houses is worth a visit. The cemetery, final resting place for Revolutionary War veterans as well as many of the town’s founding families, is still in use. The early burial mound sitting in the middle of the gravestones makes this a unique place, too. Built by Adena people who were in the area from100 B.C to around 500 C.E., the mound is 39 feet high and 150 feet in diameter. Steps built into the mound lead to the top where you can sit on a bench and enjoy the view of the cemetery and the adjacent streets. Take time to read the inscriptions on the old gravestones. It’s a lesson in American history.
Zagreb National Cemetery
Travel Photo Discovery, Noel Morata
The main cemetery at Zagreb, Croatia called Mirogij is a wonderful place to visit for those looking for something different to do in the capital city. The cemetery is stunning with artwork, sculpture, beautiful floral decorations and impressive architecture from many famous crypts of Croatian personalities and historic figures.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Gypsy Nester, David and Veronica James
New Orleans is well known for its cemeteries, with crypts built above ground instead of the usual subterranean graves. The most storied resident of Cemetery #1, Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, attracts hundreds of pilgrims to her tomb everyday. The believers draw three Xs on the tomb or leave offerings, always in threes, of candles, flowers, dolls, coins, even cigarettes and cigars, in hopes of having the famous priestess grant their petitions. On occasion, the sacrifices will include chickens. The more urban of the worshipers have been known to offer up a bucket of KFC to fulfill the ritual’s requirements.
Aruba, Dutch Caribbean
Marilyn Jones Blog, Marilyn Jones
De Palm Tour driver Gio slows in front of a cemetery to explain why the mausoleums are painted so colorfully. “Most of Aruba is Catholic, but there is a little superstition mixed in as well,” he explains. “Friends and relatives want to make sure their dead feel right at home, so they paint the mausoleums the same color as their houses. If they paint their house a different color, they paint the mausoleum a different color.” Bright blue, yellow, gold, lavender and purple mausoleums topped with crosses and marked with names and messages line street-like rows; each cared for with love by the living to honor the dead.
Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing
Ypres Salient, Belgium
Rachel’s Ruminations, Rachel Heller
Nothing prepared me for the effect of seeing so many graves in neat, white rows and reading so many names: young men, neatly lined up, who died in such gruesome, messy ways during World War I. It’s hard to describe how I felt: sadness, of course, but also a strong admiration for their willingness to sacrifice themselves this way. It was awe-inspiring.
Fairview Lawn Cemetery
Nova Scotia, Canada
Budget Travelers Sandbox, Nancie McKinnon
This cemetery in Halifax is the final resting place for over one hundred victims of the Titanic disaster. I find it heartening that the victims have not been forgotten. There are often fresh flower, notes, and small keepsakes left on individual graves. I’m sure that the families would be happy to know that their loved ones continue to be looked after. The movie Titanic brought the cemetery into the limelight. At one point it was suggested that admission be charged. Thankfully that never happened!
La Recoleta Cemetery
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Grownup Travels, Jane Canapini
Anyone who knows me knows that I am definitely not into horror movies, zombie walks or edge-of-your-seat thrillers. In fact, my idea of a Halloween costume is a jellyfish. So it might seem a little out of character to imagine me wandering leisurely through a cemetery. But when that necropolis is as beautiful and tranquil as Buenos Aires’ La Recoleta, even the chicken-hearted like me will find a reason to visit. Because if this cemetery’s architecturally elaborate mausoleums and evocative statues don’t capture your imagination, its most famous residents, like Eva Péron, just might.
Hanaka o’o’ Cemetery
TravelNWrite, Jackie Smith
The walking path that links Maui’s popular Ka’anapali Beach to Lahaina Town, passes an area scattered with gravestones. It is the Hanaka o’o’ Cemetery, according to a nearby sign; the final resting place for some of the of immigrants who came from China, Japan, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Korea, Spain and the Philippines to work in the island’s sugar cane plantations and processing mills. We were the only tourists who veered from the walking path on a late morning in February to explore the place that is nowadays bordered by a busy island highway and a state beach park. Some markers were ornate and others, the ones that caught my eye and imagination, were the incredibly simple ones: “Who were you? What is your story?” We wished we could have read the characters on those that were engraved.
When you’ve finished these, I hope you’ll read my recent post on cemetery tourism on More Time To Travel:
- Exploring Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York Cemetery
- Cemetery Tourism: Jazz Greats Jam at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx
Do you visit cemeteries during the course of your travels?
This post is part of a LinkUp with Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Discovery.