In 1998, and I remember the year because France beat Brazil in the World Cup Finals. I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal followed by a Gems of Britain Tour which included Scotland and Wales.
Lourdes – It was no joke travelling to France when their airline and crew were on strike, we made our way there via British Airways instead of orginally Air France, to find one of our baggage missing and help with it was very slow approximately 48hrs to be exact before we got it back.
Anyhow Lourdes is a small town which will always hold fond memories for me, the atmosphere was fabulous. I could actually feel like miracles was just waiting to happen. I went for confession after a long time and actually felt my burdens lifted. The highlight of the trip there, was being part of a larger community of faithful who’s undying faith was amazing. And I cannot describe the feeling after being submerged in the waters of the Grotto of Massabielle which is known to have healing properties. The only other little miracle I experienced, was earlier that morning I was experiencing a queasy stomach and a little nausea. So not expecting anything, I drank a little bit of the spring water from the grotto and said a short prayer. Within minutes and I do mean literally minutes….I was totally healed. I suppose you would have to experience something like that yourself to really believe. Wine was cheap and good and Oh yeah….there are no stores there that sell plus sizes for women, besides I didn’t see any plus size french women to begin with. Perhaps they have them shipped off elsewhere….ha ha
Fatima – Is alot less commercialised, well back then anyways. As for the faithful, lots of pilgrims walk on their knees or crawl up the long path leading to the Fatima shrine some even with babies in hand. Memories there would include seeing the beautiful Basilicas, and stations of the cross. Visiting the homes of the children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. Attending masses in different languages and yet being able to follow because of the order of mass. And befriending a gorgeous portugese Hotel receptionist which I distinctly remember for her warmth and twinkle in her eyes.
Gems Of Britain Tour – The Bus drove us north to the university town of Cambridge. We strolled by some of the colleges, including the King’s College, before continuing to York. Later we walked inside the city walls to York Minster, Britain’s largest Gothic cathedral. Then continued through the cobbled streets to the Tudor ‘Shambles’, where the houses lean so far they almost touch!
Next day we then crossed the Northumberland Moors and passed the romantic ruins of Jedburgh Abbey on our way to Scotland’s elegant capital, Edinburgh. On a guided city tour, we visited the Castle, set high on a rocky crag. Later we were driven down the stately Royal Mile, past St Giles’ Cathedral to the Queen’s Holyroodhouse Palace, and went on to the 18th century New Town. Later that evening, we paid extra and enjoyed a Scottish evening of haggis, bagpipes and a spectacular cultural show. What was funny was the look on the other folks faces when they saw us walk in all dressed up in our suits etc. they were probably were amazed that people from Singapore actually knew how to dress up?! Ha ha
Day 3 – We were driven through the Southern Uplands to Gretna Green, where many an eloping English couple have been married. Attended the ‘Anvil Ceremony’ in the Blacksmith’s Shop, then crossed the border back into England. It was a nice drive through the Lake District, a region so beautiful it inspired a host of English poets. We wandered in Wordsworth’s footsteps by the lake before continuing to our hotel on Liverpool’s famous waterfront, adjacent to the Liver Buildings and close to the Albert Docks.
Day 4 – First stop was at the former Roman fortress town of Chester, still standing within its well preserved walls. Saw the Cathedral, the unique black and white ‘Rows’ (shopping arcades) and the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre. We then continued to the famous Wedgwood China factory, where there was much to tempt those seeking fine British souvenirs. Then later we went on to Stratford-upon-Avon where we visited Shakespeare’s birthplace. Had a good ole fashioned Guiness in a tavern!….ahhhhh. Returned to London through the flower-trimmed villages of the Cotswolds, one of the most beautiful parts of England.
Day 5 – Was a half day sightseeing tour which showed us Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column, Downing Street, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and, of course, Buckingham Palace. After which we made our way to a cousin’s place. She brought us for some authentic Hong Kong cuisine in the heart of London for dinner……hmmm yummylicious it was.
Well my trip ended there and I headed back home to work…..Mom & Dad went on for a Europe tour but for the life of me, I cannot remember how long they were away….erm…21 days?
Oh how could I forget…..because of all the inconvienience with the Strike etc. I was upgraded to Business class on Air France and enjoyed champagne all the way back *chuckles*
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