OK, so now it was time to learn French. ha! We did the best we could, which wasn’t much more than hello, goodbye, and a few other basics. We started to use our Eurorail pass and headed up to Lourdes, France from San Sebastian. We booked two places to stay in France before we left, which were both surprisingly cheap! We understood why when we got to Lourdes, but never would have guessed what we got in Marseille. The trains were great & always on time. We were told we should go to Lourdes by my mom’s friend…so we just assumed it was awesome, because she’s awesome. We didn’t do much research on this place before arriving, which was around 9:30 at night. The streets were empty & the town was eery. We found the address we were looking for, but the name of the hotel was different. Turns out they have a few names for the place?! It was the worst EVER. I felt like we were in a really bad movie and wasn’t sure of the plot. We locked ourselves in our room, and made a plan for the morning; to get up early and get out! I know people have had amazing experiences there (including the Pope), but we just weren’t into it. There was a computer there, so we logged on and tried to find out what this place was all about. One fun fact we found was “with about 270 hotels, Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels per square kilometer in France after Paris.” Why, you may ask? Well, in 1858 there was a sighting of the Virgin Mary…and many other healing & miraculous things happen there. She was seen in the water, so they now call Lourdes water “magic water”. I wanted some. We had to get something out of this trip! We found a train that was leaving at 7:30am. So, we got up, got our packs on and took off to find this “magic water”. We were sweating by the time we found it, not to mention running out of time! We bought 4 small souvenir bottles to fill up and take back with us. When we walked in the gates, I was speechless. It was so beautiful…but, we were running out of time! What else were we going to do there if we missed our train!? We got the water, took it in as much as we could, and made our way to the train station.
From there we headed to Marseille, France. We were in transit the whole day, and decided that we really just wanted to get to Italy. We arrived late again, and were very tired. A taxi took us to the hotel, which ended up being a 4 star hotel (doesn’t happen when you’re backpacking). This was a huge surprise to us, because when booking this we were in a hurry, and looked for two things: best rated & lowest price we could find. This place was 26 euro, with outstanding ratings…we booked right away. On our way there I said either my bank account was being drained and this place didn’t exist, or …there was a mistake! I love mistakes 4 star hotels in Marseille make. They were changing something on the website the exact moment we were booking and turns out they forgot to add the 0 after 26. It was meant to be 260 euro!!! They had to give it to us, which was awesome. It was the coolest hotel too, with art everywhere including a painting of Obama in the main entrance. Sweeet. I felt so clean and rested the next day…what a treat! We couldn’t stop laughing about it.
- Lourdes & Marseille, France
From there we went to Italy! Our first stop was Rome. Our B&B had amazing reviews, and we stayed a whole week just because of this place (our longest stay of the trip). Our host, Giovi, treated us like family, leaving us gifts in our room, making us breakfast, telling us what to see…she was the berries. We took in all the sights, and got to relax a little too.
I found out things I like in a hotel or hostel are: 1. showers that don’t have the hose, but actually have a wall mount 2. free breakfast 3. good location to the train station. We always tried for a private room, and free wifi was a plus. We did pretty good with our picks. France gave us winners for both best and worst. And, although we didn’t really get to see southern France, the train ride through was beautiful. I would go back there if it were summer and I had a lot of money! Here are some pictures from the beautiful city of Rome.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be back with more.