When the Pope cruised up and down the Rhein, there was a mass of pilgrims (and volunteers!) on both side of the Rhein hoping to catch a glimpse of him and to hear his welcome address. There were so many people there that I had no time to take out my camera; I'm sure my team members did take some picture of him! The first time I saw him, some of us were trying to climb onto trees, and I was hoisted up by a friend in my team! He was a white spot waving from on top of the boat.
The second time was when his boat turned around, and he was much much closer to the river bank that I could see his eyes twinkling ;)
The third time was quite a miracle. Our team split up, half was waiting on top of a Polizei van to catch a glimpse of the Pope traveling around in Koln to the Dom, while I went off with the other group to reach the volunteer center. Well the streets around the Dom were packed, and we were jostled, rather than walked, because it was impossible to cross the road. A few minutes later, there was a cheer and the Pope in his Popemobile crawled past us, not three metres away! *Snap, Snap* Again I was staring at him, and didn't have time to take out my camera (but my friends did have a good shot of him!)
At the Marienfeld, I saw him from afar, traveling in Popemobile to the hill of the altar. But so did one million other people!
"What do you think of the Pope?"
This is an interesting question that our team leader asked all of us the first day we met. What do they mean by that question anyway?? Of course we love the Pope! I don't know what kind of person the Pope is, but I love him for being the Pope. From his writings you get a glimpse of the kind of character and style he has, from his sermons and addresses you get to know about his concerns and his thoughts! I have never met nor seen the late Pope JPII, but Papst Benedikt XVI is his own person, and a great teacher too, even from what little I've heard from him!
Above are two pictures of the two Popes at the Domforum, at the Domplatz, behind the Dom itself. Here at night, often there was a Polish crowd (and all sorts of other nationalities!), alternating between "Giovanni Paolo" and "Benedetto".
Since most of my time in WYD was spent working and traveling between Koln and Dusseldorf, I heard only parts of the sermons in English, and read the transcript afterwards. Despite this 'delayed' experience, its effect on me is no less profound. I'll write more on the spiritual aspect of the trip later...