Our group left KCI midday on Saturday, and after a brief layover in Atlanta, we flew across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Brussels Sunday morning local time. (We are seven hours ahead of everyone in the central time zone.) (For those of you who are geographically challenged, Brussels is in Belgium, which is north of France.) After a one-hour bus ride, we arrived at Hotel Derlon in Maastricht.
Hotel Derlon is on one of the three main squares in the city. Two doors down from our hotel is the Basilica of Our Lady, Star of the Sea. Divine Providence would have it that mass was starting right when we arrived at the hotel at 11:30, so some of dumped our bags and hopped next door to attend the liturgy. It was a good way to start the trip…even though the mass was in Dutch and we couldn’t understand a word that was said, apart from “Amen.” Here is a picture of the façade of the basilica.
To the north of the basilica is a shrine to Mary, under her title “Star of the Sea.” Natives and tourists alike frequently visit the shrine to light a candle and offer a prayer to the Blessed Mother. Today someone told me that many local people are more likely to go in and light a candle than to attend mass on Sunday.
Here’s a view down one of the city streets. No shortage of shops and restaurants.
After we all had a chance to grab some lunch and settle in, the university arranged a guided tour of the city. Stay tuned for the highlights.