I'm writing this entry from an incredibly overpriced internet cafe in Lourdes, France. I'm technically on vacation, but 2 1/2 days in Lourdes hasn't been very vacation-y. I don't want to be too much of a complainer, but let's just say this has been less than ideal.
Why Lourdes? you might ask. I understand your surprise since I often tell people that I'm recovering from Catholicism. Well, although I'm not here to partake as a pilgrim of faith, I do still find the idea of pilgrimage site fairly fascinating. The city is in the foothills of the Pyrenees and thus offers some fantastic views and hiking opportunities (or so I read). I'm also here to get some Lourdes holy water to bring back to my aunt Mary. A few clicks and typing later, and I had my train tickets and a two night stay in a cheap hotel booked. Off I went!
The views are spectacular, when you can see them. Unfortunately, the weather has been downright crummy since my arrival. It's been rainy and grey and chilly. I could handle that just fine, if it wasn't all so foggy. I bought a ticket package at the tourist office for the fortress castle/museum as well as for the trolley ride up a mountside for the best views of the city and Pyrenees for miles around. To add to the debacle, I realized only this morning that the trolley opens March 26th. It being March 2nd doesn't bode well for those plans. I wouldn't have been able to see anything anyway, but I pretty much paid 13 euros for a cold, viewless tour throught the Chateau Fort and museum. Go me. I suppose I could try to go back to the office and say that I wasn't aware the mount view was closed until late March when I bought the tickets, but I'm sure they would say that they told me that, and no refunds blah blah, as well as the fact that I've been trying to avoid the stupid tourist label. So I guess I'll just be stupid silently.....and instead hang out in the mediatheque and internet cafe until it's an acceptable time to go for dinner. I'd go back to my hotel room, but it's freezing and heated by a little electric thing that barely churns out warm air when turned up to the max. Luckily, I'm a veteran in cold room affairs. At least they're really nice there, and on the bright side I had a really lovely meal last night at a charming little couscouserrie.
Yesterday I checked out all the religious sites and felt like a intruder among the small throngs of international and devout worshippers. Lourdes is second after Paris for the most hotels per square foot in all of France. It's also probably first for religious souvenir and junk shops per square foot. It seems like there are ceramic figurines of Mary and made in China rosary beads on every corner. I stopped into a few of them on my wanderings and yes, I couldn't help myself. As well as the holy water, I will be bringing my Lady of Lourdes shot glass with me back to the U.S.
Oh Holy Mother keep and protect my blasphemous drunk soul. amen.