Maastricht, Netherlands is just a short train ride from the Belgian city of Liège. But once we Socks crossed the border, we were in a different world. The Maastrichtians spoke little to no French. So, the international students of French in the summer program at the University of Liège unabashedly muttered utterances in the only language they had in common with the locals. The lingua franca of the city was – the horror! – English. Drat! (Students in the program came from Greece, Italy, Turkey, Estonia, Spain, Peru, Thailand, Ghana, and the United States of America, to name a few off the top of our socks.)
Nature decided to throw a heatwave at those of us in Europe during the summer of 2018, and we gathered that Maastricht was, indeed, as hot and humid as anywhere in Louisiana. We ducked into the Our Lady, Star of the Sea Basilica (Basiliek van Onze Lieve Vrouw Sterre der Zee in Dutch – say that three times fast) and experienced both a brief respite from la chaleur (rather, de hitte) and the wonder and beauty of ecclesiastical artwork.
The most captivating sight was that of an ancient bakery whose mill still generated energy through hydropower. The water wheel wasn’t just useful and efficient – it was just plain pretty. And the pièce de résistence was a wall. Yes, a wall. Not just any wall, but the one where D’Artagnan dueled his foes! (We suppose one has to be a groupie of the Three Musketeers to understand our fascination with this wall.)
We walked the streets of Maastricht for but a few short hours. But it is a path we would gladly take again, given the opportunity. There is much more to discover than a few moments would allow.