From Pic du Midi our group went to Lourdes. We spent the final days of the pre-tour in and out of Lourdes with visiting some small villages to hike as well. We had the same luck with the two hikes as we did Pic du Midi – the mornings when we loaded the bus, it was raining and wet and when we got to the villages, it was gorgeous! I actually got sun on one hike – I want to insert a sassy emoji here but cannot so picture the girl with her hand out. It felt so nice!!
Anyways, our first hike was through The cirque de Gavarnie. There were many waterfalls and lots of snow to walk through but absolutely beautiful sites. I loved having the opportunity to walk and hike through these places as I felt way better being active during it. Very fortunate to see and experience this! Of course, after a hike in the sun, you need to taste the local beer! It was actually perfect.
The following day were able to visit a Pyrenees National Park and see Pont d’Espagne which is in the little village of Cauterets. The village was so very cute and this was another exceptional hike. Beautiful scenery and lots of skiers. It was enjoyable watching the littlest kids putting their skis on and learning from their parents, too! Very sweet! In the village, we were able to go into a bakery and see the bakers in action, too! I was in my element! It was so special and the delicious smells were something I wish I could bottle up and bring home with me…well I can try to recreate with baking but I do not think that it can get much better then the sweet smell of freshly baked pastries, cakes, breads, everything! Their speciality is called La Tourte and it was almost like a mix between a cake and muffin and they do a variety of flavors but their speciality is blueberry. It was enjoyable to see them during the baking process and also taste the finishing product. The bakers were incredibly friendly and showed us around their bake shop as they were busy in production. I loved being in there and seeing their tools, too!
Also incorporated on both of these visits were spa visits. Unfortunately no treatments involved, but did get to see them as they are very popular in this region. It inspired me to possibly enjoy a spa day upon my return – won’t be the same though!
The highlight of the tour was Lourdes. It was especially special for me being Catholic, but it is a very spiritual town. It is an important pilgrim destination to welcome those to pray, meditate, learn about the history, heal mentally and physically, etc. Lourdes is a village in France where the Blessed Mother appeared eighteen times to Bernadette in 1858 and that’s why it is so symbolic. It was extra special being it was holy week and I was able to see all the palms being gathered for Palm Sunday. We were able to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and truly was an uplifting experience. People come to visit, near and far, in search for healing. Like mentioned, it could be mental or physical, but they come for that and, of course, the special water of Lourdes, too. The water is not to be confused with holy water, but it is water that has been known for miracles People bring gallons, suitcases, everything just to fill up with the water from Lourdes! Also, people come in wheelchairs, on stretchers, in many ways, shapes and forms in search for a miracle. We were told that there have been thousands healed there, those healed do have a place on the wall expressing their gratitude, and they have also had miracles occur. However, they are very careful in what they call miracles. There are only eleven times, our of thousands, that they consider miracles. Impressive!
Now, I know I normally write about food, and there is some throughout this but we did eat at some amazing places but, at this point, the scenery, views and history really blew me away. I cannot talk enough about it! I am sure the same will run across through your mind with the pictures.
I am so fortunate that my pre-tour group were all amazing people! There was a lot of conversing, laughing and just the utmost genuine people that I could have spent with. I love that I have been able to make friends with people from around the world. I am fascinated by them!We also had the most lively and full of personality tour managers and guides throughout! That made it exceptional as well. Thankful I will see them all for the conference in Paris!
I learned that in Korea they celebrate 100th day of birth for a newborn. My friend was here in France and so he could not celebrate with his sweet little girl, so we celebrated with him and helped him send some pictures and videos home. It was super cute! I like that celebration. I love any reason to celebrate, really!
Speaking of Paris! Yes, Paris! I am so happy to experience it even for the smallest bit. I will not get to see much because of the busy schedule, but I will be there…my dream city, and I will see as much as I can!
For now, all that kept me away is the flight from Lourdes to Paris and that’s not much! Thanks to Jerome, I received a crash course in French and practically fluent now…! I wish! It did help me get that much more excited and unfortunately, I am not very good but will certainly try to learn!
Au Revior Lourdes. Bonjour Paris!