World Youth Day (another marathon)

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Today was the actual world youth day. There were about a million people in Marienfield there to have mass together. We were woken up at 7:30 to the theme song for world youth day: Venite Adoramus. Everyone was slow to get up and get going, but eventualy we were all up and eating breakfast. The night had brought a lot of dew and dampness, so the field was a bit mushy in spots and a bit muddy in others. The sky was clouded, but not with rain clouds (thank God). A lot of people were cranky from such a lousy sleep, but eventually their spirits began to get better and the entire field was full of energy. I took this opportunity to go for a walk and mentally prepare myself for the day to come.

Jenn was nice enough to get me a coffee in the morning…and I’ll tell you that is not an easy thing to do when there are a million people who also want coffee. I was very thankful even though the coffee was only warm because they were making it so fast. The coffee was really nice.
After the coffee it was time to pack up our stuff and get ready to leave. Only Peter, Rachael, Elizabeth, and myself had to leave early…the rest of the crew were staying there until the mass was over. We said our goodbye to everyone and put on our packs. Then it was time for a group picture, so we took them off again. The people sitting on the field behind us were getting a bit annoyed because we were blocking their view to the screen. With our packs on, I think the four of us could have blocked out half the sky for those people. Anyways, as we left I noticed Jenn had a few tears in her eye…I think she really missed all of us PG people. The four of us decided to walk to the very back of the field and watch most of the mass from there so that we could be ahead of the other million people who would be leaving during the afternoon after mass. It was about 1.5 km just to walk to the back of the field from where we were. When we got there we dropped our packs, sat down, and had a bite to eat while we watched the start of the mass. Yes, I know…eating in mass is not allowed…but I think God had no problem making an exception this time. We stayed until the homily was over and then decided to leave. The homily was about coming to worship Him. The theme of world youth day was based on a passage from the bible where the wise men travelled a great distance to bring Him gifts. The Pope talked a lot about getting out there and using our energy and youth to change the world. He talked about not getting caught up with the politics of the church. I can’t remember too much because I was so tired. I can remember thinking that his message was a message of empowerment…the same empowerment that Pope John Paul II would have gave. I have two thumbs up for Frank who gave me a radio with hand crank for a gift for being a groomsmen at his wedding. The radio has a hand crank on it so that you can charge it up whenever you want…you just have wind it up. It also has a big speaker on the front so that lots of people can listen. All the people I was with enjoyed hearing the mass in English (translated over the radio) and the radio really came in handy.

Anyways, it’s a good thing we left when we did, because I heard later that most people had a 2 hr wait for the shuttle bus to the train station, and then who knows how long of a wait at the train station. We, on the other hand, had to walk about 3 more kilometers until we got to the shuttle bus which took us to the outskirts of Bonn. From there, we took a train to Bonn and then took a bus to the Cologne airport. We managed to get to the Cologne airport in record time…the busses and trains were mostly empty (the big rush had not started). Our plane to Madrid took off at 5:30pm and arrived at 7:50pm. You would think that we had travelled enough for one day, but we still had to get to Ronda which is a smaller town near Malaga. Madrid is in the north and middle of the country and Malaga is in the far south, so there was quite the distance to travel. The lady at the info booth at the airport said that the best way would be to go by train so that we could get a direct route there. She directed us to the train booking booth nearby and we went and booked our seats (only 33.50 euro’s for an 11 hr train ride…not really that bad). We decided to just take an overnight train because otherwise we’d have to pay for a hotel and then waste a day on the train. So then we had the task of getting ourselves to the train station from the airport (it’s about 9pm now). We were directed to the metro (subway) where we could hop on for 1 euro and take it right to the train station. While on the tram, we noticed something on the map between where we were coming up to and where we needed to be. The message said something about construction and servicio speciale. Luckily there was a young lady on the bus who was reading Harry Potter (in English), so we asked her about it and she told us that they were fixing the track and had a free bus that would take us the rest of the way to the train station. So we managed to find the bus and get on it and we arrived at the train station about 1 hour early (about 10pm). We had a bite to eat again…filled up our water bottles and had a washroom break. When the train arrived we loaded up our stuff and fell asleep. Before I fell asleep I set my alarm clock so that we wouldn’t miss our stop. By the way, the alarm clock is also a feature on the radio that Frank gave me…that thing came in pretty handy.

Suffice it to say that today was a marrathon and a half. We took busses, trams, trains, and planes all in one day. I’ll leave our arrival in Ronda for another post.

Adios mi Amigos,

Comment for the picture: You can see the big white dome where the Pope said mass from in the distance. The entire thing was huge and at night it lit up different colours when music was playing.