The first time I visited was all planned but nearly got shelved because of a major surgery. Then my surgeon said I could go a month after the surgery. I went. With a dear friend and a nephew. Three years in a row, I went. My brand of thanksgiving involved solo trips and even driving all the way from Paris to Lourdes. Each visit, more meaningful.
A nephew. A niece. A friend. This time, my sister. It’s now just the 2 of us. Our parents and a middle sister are long gone. It’s my birthday gift for her. Still too early for the Marian Season. No procession till April, but we’ve done the Mass, Confession, Baths and Station of the Cross. All these 4 you can do starting from 9 am till noon. As for the procession, you can circle the entire Basilica complex saying the rosary and your personal prayers. We took to heart the homily said by the priest NOT to pray for ourselves or personal intentions. Rather, we should pray for others. And we did.
The day we arrived here, it rained and it hailed. It was also difficult to find dining places after 5pm as most shops are closed till April or closed early. But we were rewarded with the bluest sky ever. No crowds. No lines. So peaceful. I remember the times I was here by myself.
Our hotel balcony presented a perfect view of the castle. It’s closed too but it’s enough to view it from a distance with a very azure skyline.