After a full day in Madrid, we loaded up on a mini bus and set on the road for Barcelona.
I have to say, we were lucky enough to be able to go on this road trip as there was just so many things to see that we would not have been able to if we chose to get on a plane.
First stop was Zaragoza. There, we visited the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. Very beautiful and grand church! This basilica was built around the pillar that was believed to be where she appeared to St James the apostle when he was loosing hope trying to evangelize the Spaniards. There we were able to kiss the actual pillar and attend mass. After that we went for lunch at a tapa place nearby. It was nice to be able to just have a walk around and see the little shops.
We then pushed on to Barbastro. Such a lovely small town! I can only imagine everybody knowing each other at that place. When we arrived there, people were having their ‘siesta’ (afternoon nap), so a lot of the shops were closed and you barely saw anyone on the streets. It was very quiet. There we met up with a lovely lady who showed us around. This town was Saint Josemaria Escriva’s hometown, where he was born and grew up. We were lucky enough to be able to visit the home he lived in and the school and church he used to go to. It was unbelievable to be walking the same streets that he once walked many years back! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture any photos but I will forever remember this beautiful little town.
After a long day, we got to our accommodation which will be the place where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. The next day we were heading to France for a day!
It’s weird to think that just by driving for a couple of hours through the Pyrenees that you would end up in a total different country! Amazing that is! As we crossed the Pyrenees, we came across such beautiful views. Aaaahhh! Such amazing scenery that driving to France was worth the long hours in the bus. We were able to see beautiful french like homes by the mountains and pure white snow!
Once we arrived, we headed to Lourdes where we attended mass and had a lovely lunch by the park nearby. We were able to pray in front of the grotto where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette and be able to touch the rocks where the spring of holy water flowed from. We were also very lucky enough to be able to collect some of the holy water that has been known to heal many. There, you could also have the experience to bath in the water itself. It was something that we all wanted to experience but due to lack of time and a very long line, only a few got to do it. Lourdes is such a beautiful place and would have liked to explore more if only time permitted us. Definitely will look to coming back!
The last place we visited before finally arriving in Barcelona was Torreciudad. No words can describe the beauty you are surrounded with. It reminded me so much of back home whilst I was there. Torreciudad is a shrine dedicated to Our Lady which was built by Saint Josemaria and is located in Aragon, Spain. We were toured around by a very enthusiastic man which made it a lot interesting for us. Then from him a wonderful priest took over where he showed us the beautiful church where we were able to hear mass and more of what Torreciudad had to offer. One of the things I loved was the different statues of Our Lady that was gifted from different countries. There were so many of her dressed in the different cultures. It was so nice to see her very multi-cultural which to me just showed her great love for each and everyone of us.
From there, we headed to our final destination. Barcelona. We arrived late afternoon, got to our accommodation and right a way was toured in the city by 2 beautiful ladies. The streets of Barcelona were very busy with everyone going about their after work routines or meeting up with friends. It was a very modernized city with all the high-end shops around. We walked around till dinner time at 8pm (normal dinner time for the Spaniards!). We went to this small tapa restaurant which was very busy. Later did we know why it was so popular as the food was amazing! We had different options of tapas and of course we had to have Paelia too! It was nice to be able to experience how Spanish people went about their daily routines with the timings of their meals and all. Something that we all had to adjust to!
The next day, we went to Sagrada Familia. A very beautiful and artistic church! Such amazing architecture and the details and depth that came into it. It has been under construction for years now and it hasn’t been finished yet but I can only imagine how beautiful it would be once the whole thing is done. Definitely would need to be back to see it all finished! I love how each side of the church represents a mystery of the rosary and is structured and done very differently. It just blew me away. I wish I was able to explore it more and be able to take photos but I had to do a quick tour as I had a plane to catch for my next leg of the journey. England.
With our Barcelona trip ending, the rest of the team packed their bags to head back home but for me and my fellow kiwi friend, we were headed to experience some British culture. I have to say, I had the most amazing 2 weeks with the most amazing people. It was nice to be able to experience all this with people who shared the similar ideas, likes and faith with you. It helped us grow in a way and brought us together allowing us to form good friendships with one another. I feel so blessed to have been able to attend this trip with such amazing girls and forever will I keep these memories with me.
Adios Spain, we’re now off to see the Royal Highness!