Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Honeymoon in France - Day 4 (Pilgrimage to Lourdes)

     Right before we went to bed we learned that the French rail strike had partially changed our high-speed train from Paris to Lourdes.  The train would take us to Bordeaux, slightly more than half way.  So instead of picking up a car in Paris and making the 8 hour drive, we only had a 2.5 hour drive in front of us.

     With that news we picked up a free morning so we got some breakfast, hit St. Gervais for mid-day prayer and made our way to the train station.  We took an Uber to the train station and wondered if we were on a pilgrimage to eternity.  They drive like crazy people in Paris.  It had me a little bit worried about the drive from Bordeaux to Lourdes.  We got to the train station with plenty of time to spare, so we got some food, some drink and some new clothes (Jennie).  We boarded the train and quickly made our way to Bordeaux.

     Once we were out of the city, the train accelerated to 300km/h, or 180mph.  The seats were comfortable, they had free wi-fi and power outlets.  If we had this option in the USA, I'd choose the train over flying for anything under 700 miles.

Afternoon Prayer at St. Gervais

High Speed Train to Bordeaux from Patrick Cullen on Vimeo.

     We arrived in Bordeaux, eventually found our way to the rental car counter and waited for that fabulous French service.  When we got to the agent he started to process the rental and told us that we couldn't rent the car unless Jennie had a different credit card.  He told us that the Visa she was using was not a valid card.  After some "discussion" he checked the number he had entered and realized that he forgot a number.  We got the keys, walked the lot and found our Ford Fiesta, complete with a 6 speed manual transmission.  We plugged the address into the GPS and hit the motorway.  Once we got outside of Bordeaux, we essentially had the motorway to ourselves.  In the 2 hours we drove we saw less than 20 other cars.  We stopped at a gas station outside of Lourdes to take in the cool mountain air and the beautiful sights.  Something told us we were not in Arizona anymore.

     We finished the drive and arrived at our Hotel just as the pilgrims were leaving the candlelight procession.  We checked in, grabbed a bite to eat and made our way to Shrine.  Like a beacon of light, we turned the corner and their was the Grotto where the Holy Theotokos appeared to Bernadette.  They were finishing up Benediction and the sweet smell of incense was wafting throughout the crowd.  After Benediction, the crowd dispersed and less than 30 of us remained.  We were able to walk right up to the rocks, feel the water seeping from them and spend time standing at the spot.  I'm so happy we decided to go that night as the next day it was like a cattle car.  You waited in line, you walked and you couldn't stop.

     We stayed their until closing time when the French security guards threw us out.  What a bunch of trouble makers we are, getting thrown out of the Grotto at Lourdes.  We made our way back to the hotel, struggled with finding our room in the dark hallway and crawled into bed around 1AM, with a 6am wake-up call.

Benediction at Lourdes from Patrick Cullen on Vimeo.
Jennie at Lourdes Grotto from Patrick Cullen on Vimeo.
Jennie at Lourdes Grotto from Patrick Cullen on Vimeo.

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