Arriving at Lourdes
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tiron and I took the train from Paris to Lourdes and arrived around 8 pm. It was dark, but neon signs identified bars and brasseries. In a weird way, it reminded me of New Orleans, though I doubted we’d see strip bars and drunken frat boys.
Earlier that day, we visited Notre Dame in Paris, and the place felt more like a museum than a church. Tourists ignored the signs marking prayer areas and requesting silence as they laughed, talked, and took photos. I wondered if Lourdes would feel touristy and commercial as well.
We grabbed a taxi to our hotel. The streets around our hotel were filled with more neon signs identifying restaurants and countless shops selling the statues, medals, and trinkets that we Catholics seem to collect.
Our hotel was bright and modern. We checked in, then wandered off to find the recommended restaurant for dinner.
As we walked, I kept an eye out for shops that might sell fresh vegetables, but saw none. As we passed a café, we overheard two women, dressed in white nurses uniforms, speaking in English, so I stopped to ask them about the things we should do in Lourdes.
“Well, if you have only one day,” they told us in their beautiful Irish accents, “we recommend the Day Pilgrimage. At 8:30 a.m., find the green sign at the statue of the Blessed Virgin” (as if I knew where that was) “and your guide will take you from there.”
By now, it was 9 p.m. and people carrying candles were walking from everywhere, all in the same direction. I recognize the makings of a candlelight procession when I see one, but I decided that we should get food and start fresh tomorrow.