Early Saturday morning, we boarded our plane in the dark and took off for Lourdes. We landed in Lourdes around 9:30 and we were so happy to finally be near our destination. Everything was in French (duh!) so we were so confused and couldn’t read or understand anything. We waited for Mike and asked him his plans and he said he didn’t know what he was going to do so we all decided to try to find a map so we could walk to Ave Maria – the place we were staying that houses Lourdes Volunteers. We couldn’t find a map anywhere so this sweet old lady who spoke a little English was able to tell us that it was a 45 minute bus ride and we could catch the bus for 2 Euro right outside the door. We went down the stairs and waited an hour for the bus. The bus dropped us off at the train station after 20 minutes and we had directions from Pam to walk to Ave Maria. I led the way and it was so easy because the directions were so detailed. We got to the Ave Maria but couldn’t check in because it was only 11:30ish so Mike, Angela, and I walked around the little town.
On our walk through town we came across a fort, a market, and a gazillion little shops that all sold the same everything! We also came across a graveyard where Bernadette’s family and friends were buried. We saw the Soubirous Family grave and the Abadie family grave which was really special. After we visited their graves we went into the center of town and found a shop that had cheap crepes. Mine had jelly on them and they were pretty good.
After our lunch we walked through the shops to find the cheapest little water bottles for Lourdes water and we looked for rosaries. We ran into the first group of our friends and they told us of their adventures in Paris and the train station. They also told us that everyone else was coming in at 11:30pm and that Pam was going to meet them there later. Mike, Angela, and I walked over to Ave Maria and checked in and then I met up with some of the other girls to walk around. I had two croissants that were so flaky and delicious! I went back to Ave Maria to wait for Pam who was supposed to me coming in at 3:30, but when she wasn’t there at 4:10, I decided to go walk with the other girls because I was getting sleepy. I was sitting in the lobby waiting for Pam and I looked at the time and it was 4:08. Suddenly I jerked awake and looked at the clock to see how long I had been sleeping for. It was still 4:08 so I was good go!
Pam showed up at 5:00 and the group of about ten of us went to Mass with her. After Mass we walked down the path that Bernadette used to take to get to the grotto. The path zig-zags down the side of the mountain in the shape of the letter M. After we walked down the path, we made our way over to the grotto. It was so beautiful and peaceful. There was a big event where Pope Francis was consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart so there were big screens set up in the grotto so people could watch it.
After we spent some time in the grotto we went to dinner in the St. Michael cafeteria. We got to choose a salad, a cheese, and dessert, and the main dish. Throughout the week there were some interesting options for salads ranging from green salad, to hardboiled eggs, to coleslaw, to fish, to grapefruit. Cheese choice was pudding, a slice of swiss cheese, cream cheese, brie cheese, or yogurt. The desserts were very delicious and we could choose from fruit, chocolate and cappuccino mousse, pudding, apple tart, and flan. There were always two options for the main course and we had chicken, fish, chicken cordon bleu, grilled cheese and ham, quiche, and meatballs. They also served intestines but Pam told us not to eat it…not that I would have tried it. The also served pasta or rice and cooked veggies.
After dinner, people hung out and walked around some more. We tried to go to the rosary procession but they weren’t having one because of the consecration. Most people headed to bed around 10:30, but I stayed up with a few others to walk to the train station with Pam. She had received a text that said the train was 30 minutes late, so Pam took Grace G, Mike, Angela, Fran and me out for hot chocolate with whipped cream. It was so good! We walked the 15 minute walk to the train station and everyone was waiting there for us. I got my bag from Marissa and we all walked back to Ave Maria. There were boxed lunches waiting for all of them because they had missed dinner so we went over a few things with them and then I headed up to bed.
By the time I made it up to my room, it was 1am. I had been awake for 27 hours straight! I was so ready to brush my teeth and go to bed especially since we had to be up for breakfast at 7:30 the next morning.