Who everyone comes to Lourdes for…Mary, the Mother of God

Well I have finally arrived in Lourdes, only took about 40 hours door to door I think. The flights over were ok, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa are always good. I even managed to sleep on the flight from Singapore to Frankfurt which is a first for me. The drive from Toulouse airport to the outskirts of Lourdes was quite easy, it was just highway driving, but once I got in to Lourdes boy was that fun. A lot of the roads are one way and pedestrian only and unfortunately my GPS doesn’t know this so I freaked out a lot of old people.

Before I came here I didn’t really do much research of the place, I chose it purely for its location in seeing the Tour de France. Turns out this place is now the largest Marian pilgrimage centre in the world. I have never seen so many little old women and people in wheelchairs in my life. It really is quite amazing. The main attraction of the place is the ‘Grotto’, where St Bernadette saw Mary. All day they have sick people come up to one of the walls of the Grotto and touch it, I assume healing them in some way. Seems to be mostly Italians from what I can tell (all little old italian women look the same, right?).

Walking around the streets I have never ever seen a place that has so many shops just selling crap. Every single shop sells the exact same things. Thoooousands of candles, water cans of various sizes to fill up with the famous water, statues of Mary in every possible conceivable size and pose. Seems quite strange having such a holy city taking advantage of the tourism dollars in such a tacky way.

Today it has been lightly raining the whole time, so it wasn’t that great for taking photos of things unfortunately. A lot of places I don’t really feel comfortable getting my camera out anyway, such as inside the Basilica and the Crypt.

Tomorrow the real fun begins, its the first mountain top finish of the Pyrenees in the Tour de France. The thing im most stressed about is actually just driving out of this city, but after that it should be all good. Well, apart from having to probably walk 10km each way to find a good spot to watch from.