Paris, Lourdes and Provence (2004)

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September 13th 2004
Published: November 27th 2008
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September 13 Monday

From Russia, we flew to Paris for the last leg of our adventure. Taking the Air France shuttle bus to Etoile then taking a taxi to #24 Avenue Gabriel, we were so warmly welcomed by Cynthia. It was good to be “home” again. We told Cynthia that we will spend the night there but need to leave early the following morning for Orly airport for our separate flights to Lourdes and to Marseilles. Emy and I are splitting up so I can visit Lourdes again while she visits Avignon and Arles, which I have visited back in 2003. We promised to meet up in Marseilles from where we can go to Aix en Provence before flying back to Paris. The 'plan' didn't meet with Cynthia's approval, insisting that we two should travel together. We reasoned it would only be for a couple of days. Cynthia was not appeased, but dared not argue with the spinsters!

We had dinner with Ate Baby and Kuya Edmund tonight in this very French restaurant along Champ Elysee whose specialty dish is Moulles Frit (mussels). Naturally, I tried the specialty dish. The white wine went well with my dinner and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Cynthia and Baby have been very nice to us and Emy and I are lucky to again find a home and a “family” in Paris.

September 14 Tuesday: Lourdes

My 3rd time in Lourdes . From Tarbes Lourdes Airport , I took a cab and headed for the Basilica where I was able to hear mass. This time, I didn’t have to pay 100 euros as we did in 2002 from Pau airport to Lourdes which is a good one hour away. The taxi ride this time took only 20 minutes. Soon after, I located a hotel and headed back for the line for the baths. Once again, I was gripped with emotion as I plunged into the cold waters with a thanksgiving prayer . From the baths, I made out for the confession before taking my 1st meal of the day at 4 pm. I met 2 Belgian ladies who tried very hard to express themselves in English. In the end, they gave me 5 euros “for the construction of the church” or so I understood. Coincidentally, I got a text message that our parish, Magallanes Church, burned
Lourdes, FranceLourdes, FranceLourdes, France

My 3rd time here...........and I'd keep coming back.
down. I got the message, Lord, mysterious as it was for the old Belgians to hand me a “contribution”.

I welcomed the solitude in Lourdes. I prayed the whole time for everyone I can remember, to include even the people I don’t exactly like. But perhaps the good Lord is teaching me to be more forgiving…….and to follow what the Scriptures say. By 9pm, a rosary procession was in progress. I bought a candle but failed to finish the rosary procession as I was getting all wet from the rain. Alone in Lourdes, I can’t afford to be sick. I went back to my hotel and watched from the balcony. I prayed many rosaries today and found so much joy in my heart.

Sleep came early. I must be tired.

September 15 Wednesday: Marseilles

Early breakfast at the hotel. For a time, I was alone in the breakfast room with this very nice waiter. Another angel sent my way! Took the train from Tarbes Lourdes for Toulousse where I changed trains to head for Marseilles. Traveled with 2 Italian ladies who were very nice to me. More angels! We conversed in the little Spanish we knew.

All of 6 hours, till I found the Ibis hotel right beside the train station in Marseilles which Emy and I found in the internet. Emy was already in the room when I got there. After dropping my bags, we took off for Mirabeau Blvd. With only 2 Metro lines in Marseilles’ underground system, we thought it should be easy to find our way around. Not that easy. Sure we got off on the station nearest Mirabeau but was disappointed to see a plain boulevard hardly inspiring for any artist to paint! You know what? I got my information crossed, and learned later that Coeurs Mirabeau is actually in Aix en Provence and not in Marseilles! This explains why we couldn’t find the lovely boulevard in Marseilles which inspired Cezanne to paint it all too often. Sorry, Ems!

To Boullabeise or Not?

Then we took a bus and went to the harbor and found it not too exciting. Are we tired, or are we just harder to please now? We thought of having a boullabaise dinner but found it too expensive. Instead, we opted for this bistro with a discriminating waitress which serves Entrecote a la Marseilles and a nice seafood garden salad which Emy and I both enjoyed. But not before dinner when the condescending waitress first didn’t want us to try their restaurant , insisting there are seats in the café area. Then , she tried to seat us in a far away corner of the restaurant near the toilet. Once more, we insisted that we sit by the window. When presented with the menu, I couldn’t help saying “Go away” to the discriminating waitress. Someone else must have heard me as they sent someone else who could speak English to take our orders. The 3rd world babes got what they wanted.

After dinner, we took the metro again to look for Palais Long Champ. It was nightfall by this time, but the illuminated palace still looked good. We weren’t so lucky though on our way back. The metro station near the palace was already closed and the guard there with his real big dog gave us directions to the boulevard where we can hail a cab. All the time he was giving directions, his big dog sniffed me. He’s a good dog, but gosh, he is sooooo big!!! We walked a long way just to hail a taxi to bring us back to our hotel. The taxi fare was only 3 euros but since I didn’t have any change, I handed the driver 5 euros and he promptly said “Merci, Madame” with a real big smile on his face. How can one have the heart to ask for change then? Haay, so much for our adventure!!!!

September 16 Thursday: Aix En Provence

We checked out soon after breakfast in the hotel and took the bus for Aix en Provence. We lost our way going to the bus station but finally found it. Let me just say that we wasted more time looking for the bus station than it took the bus to go to Aix en Provence. The 20 minute bus ride was most comfortable and the bus stopped right smack in the town center. We’re glad we took the bus instead of the train which stops some distance from the town center.

Aix en Provence is very provencale….. quaint little town with many pedestrian paths. You can cover the town center in an hour’s time just walking around. And yes, the Coeurs Mirabeau painted by Cezanne is truly the most beautiful boulevard ever ….. shaded by plane trees and dotted with many fountains. Emy and I made our way to the St. Saveur Church. On the way, we passed many little shops , fountains , towers, fresh produce markets, little squares, etc. We even found this souvenir shop with the name “Kili Kili”….. you can imagine how we posed for a picture in front of this shop.

Lunch at Aix en Provence was a delicious feast of garden salad with assorted pistou or fish, a soufflé and white wine. We ate in this square where 2 artists played some music. Very French. Very provencale. Emy and I fell in love with the place and decided we should explore more of the Provence region.

From Aix en Provence, we took a bus straight for the Marseilles airport. Again, in just under 20 minutes. While in the airport, we experimented with the Air France self-service machines and got ourselves checked in electronically. Ahah! We discovered something. Some education. Next time, we know we need not queue up if we don’t have any luggage to check in. We landed in Paris around 8:20 pm where Cynthia had candlelit dinner of chicken cooked in provencale herbs prepared for us. We had a long night to catch up with each other………..and downed a whole bottle of vintage wine.

September 17 Friday: Back In Paris

Our last day in Paris before taking our evening flight for Manila. Enough time to go to Musee Rodin . The garden with all of Rodin’s sculptures is just so pretty! Emy and I took a lot of pictures. If we had time, I would have asked Emy to join me for coffee or snacks in the garden café. From the garden, you can see Invalides peeping between the trees. We wanted to have this picture with one of the sculptures, but there was this man who must have spent all of 5 minutes just scrutinizing every detail of the sculpture. I almost gave up waiting.

From there, we walked to Rue du Bac where a funeral mass was held . Emy and I heard mass , in thanksgiving for a fun and safe journey. A short stop at the Bon Marche grocery and we were on our way to the metro for a ride to Champ Elysee Clemenceau.

Cynthia got worried as we weren’t home yet by 4 pm. We made it just in time to pack our bags and call a cab to bring us to the airport. Traffic was real bad but we made it in time. We were however stressed out because of our excess baggage. Told that we were only entitled to 23 kgs., Emy and I had to unload some of our stuff to transfer to our hand carried bags. Good thing these French didn’t make so much fuss with my 2 handcarried bags apart from my backpack.

September 18 Saturday

As soon as we were fed our dinner, Emy and I popped sleeping pills into our mouths and went quiet for the next 4 hours or so. Wow, we felt so refreshed after waking up. We must have drooled while sleeping!!! It was great to have slept on the plane, ready for breakfast on flight and finally, all prepped up for our landing at the NAIA.

We were home right on schedule, Saturday, 5:30 pm Manila time. Praise God. Hallelujah!


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