All done packing and ready to go and immerse myself in prayer for two weeks.
I hope my luggage does not go over 20kgs. The PAL domestic flight from here to MNL only entitles me to a baggage allowance of 20 kgs, and although the international trip from MNL to Rome is already 30kgs, the flights from Rome to Lisbon, then to Barcelona and to Paris are considered domestic travels so we’re back to 20kgs.
I am a little excited now — yes, just a little and that’s already better. About two weeks ago when Ondoy came and wreaked havoc, the glitter of this travel abroad faded. I could not help feeling uncomfortable, going out of the country, splurging a substantial amount of money, when the country is in crisis. Somehow, it does not look good to me – we’ll be making merry (even in deep prayer, hehe) while many of my countrymen are drowning from the tragedy of the unexpected flood. My husband and I made our simple contribution to the victims of Ondoy, though. I’m so glad that the generosity of the Filipinos reigned in the unfortunate incident that at least, it does not look so gloomy and desperate now and I can leave with a happy and peaceful heart.
Anyways, I was struck in surprise when my sister called me after she attended the pre-departure briefing of our trip last Saturday. She relayed what was taken up:
- There are many thieves in Europe. Whoa, I didn’t know first world countries would have so many thieves who target tourists and pilgrims. When I told my mom about this, she said my uncle was robbed some money when he went to a similar pilgrimage a few years ago. Because of this, we were advised to wear a waist bag where we will be placing our passports and some pertinent items plus our money, credit cards, atm cards. Then, it was also advised to wear a neck wallet where we will be keeping a small amount of money that we expect to spend for the day (so that we don’t have to open the very much coveted waist bag). We are to wear both the waist bag and the neck wallet under our clothes, closest to our bodies, gosh. On top of these, it’s also better that we carry a day pack where we shall be putting our jackets, snacks and drinks, and souvenirs we might buy for a given day. I can already picture myself suffocating from the bags. Even then, I got mine this afternoon [see pix above, hahaha].
- It’s skinny dipping in Lourdes. My mother really intends to dip in the sanctuaries of Lourdes, France. So, I told my sister to ask our travel agency if we were to wear swimsuits during the dip. My sister said she got embarrassed when she asked and learned that there, the pilgrims are to wear birthday suits and take only one quick dip. Apparently, the waters are so cold (even in Summer, what more in Fall) so it’s not possible to linger in the water and immerse in prayer, hehehe. I don’t know if my mom will go on with her plan to take a dip because she’s not confident to dip stark naked with only one breast. My sister consoled that there are several separate bathhouses for men and women and each only accommodates a few persons per house. This early, hubby says he’s not taking a dip for fear his blood pressure might rise due to the cold. Me? I will pray to have courage to take a dip. Let’s see if I gather enough : P.
- Dress code in the Vatican. I’ve done my part and I already know that the churches in Europe are conservative that those who are not in proper attire cannot enter them. So, I didn’t pack any sleeveless [as if I could wear them in fall season!] and skirts above the knee [no skirts for me!]. However, I did not know that during the papal mass which we will immediately attend upon arrival in Rome, the faithful are supposed to wear conservative colors as well. In fact, our organizer strictly instructed us to wear black coats [or jackets] over our conservative clothes. Wearing loud and bright colors appears to be scandalous and against tradition. Big No-no is the color white too as it is considered rude and only reserved for the Pope [and the priests]. Now I understand why GMA was wearing a black long overcoat and a black veil when she visited the Pope before.
- No pictures inside the Basilica. Too bad that the grandeur I shall be seeing inside the Basilica will only be buried in my memory and in my heart and mind. Taking pictures inside is prohibited – because the camera and video flashes will destroy the paintings. They say we can take pictures without the flash, but I’m imagining the Basilica is going to be dark as it is, so taking pictures minus the flash will be useless. We were just advised to buy pictures thereof as souvenirs. ngea.
- No smoking within Vatican territory. Hahaha, hubby’s gonna have a hard time.