HeavenCore | IT Solutions Built on Open Source Software
Articles Hierarchy
The Diary in all its glory

World Youth Day 2005

Day 0 - mid travel

The time is 1.45 in the morning, we are heading towards Dover. Everybody
has fallen asleep and I find myself pondering the next few days. What
are my beliefs? Why am I going? I find myself feeling many emotions in
relation to the trip, a new sense of journey and adventure has come to
me, so I have decided to keep a log of what I do. At this moment in time
my biggest worry is the capacity of my battery of all things. I am
listening to the “Gladiator soundtrack”, very relaxing, although the
other coach has built in DVD players and they are watching “The Last
Samurai”. I'm kind of jealous; my coach has only a cd player, hence me
listening to my own music. The coaches music is some terrible 80's cd
that's been repeating for hours. The coach does have a TV and video;
however we only have DVD’s on us. We nipped in a service station for a
good videotape but to our amazement they only sold DVD’s, typical....
Anyhow I best stop writing now and conserve battery power. My next entry
will be after the ferry I think.

03.04: I am sat in Dover waiting for the boat to come in, which
unfortunately is going take ages, so I have bought a pasty and some
lucozade as a new high-tech nutritional diet by yours truly. So we wait
ever on......

Ok, it is now 03.30 and we have boarded the ferry, from now on entries
will be gmt+1 for the Germany time zone. The sea looks very calm however
it is very dark. The crossing takes about 90 minutes. As it is night
time, half the ferry is off limits including the deck, boooo I was
looking forward to the deck, but never mind, I may be able to get up
there on the return journey. On a brighter note the bar is still open!!!
So a few pints and Jack-Daniels+Red Bull; lovely jubly! So here we go...

Well, it’s now 05.30; we can see the French coast. Everybody is
completely knackered. I’ve just tucked into a Jack Daniels and Red Bull,
its working a dream! However my back is killing from the coach and we
have another 6 hours or something on the other side. A funny
announcement was made; that a packed lunch has been found in the shop!
Oh well...another 30 minutes or so and we are back to the coaches!

It is now 6.03 and we are back on the road, although the wrong bloody
side! Anyhow, the sun is rising and everybody is sort of refreshed and
ready to tackle the next leg. Just got a text message too, saying
welcome to France, amazing but sad... Anyway, battery is at 50% now so I
hope it lasts till I can get it charged! The atmosphere is good, let the
second leg commence! Although as I’m writing this some people are trying
to go back to sleep, although most people are wide awake! Here we go

06.29: the sun has just risen over the lush green scenery, whilst a soft
mist subdues the colours, a very moving image, the calm before the storm
one might say.

06.58: We have entered Belgium; the soft mist still shrouds the
landscape. We are making good speed, the roads are very quiet, nearly
everybody is asleep now, one bad thing however is my music, PDA (palm
top computer) battery at 40% now, but my mp3 player is at 5%....as I
write this it has died, dammit, spare batteries are in my main luggage,
which is stupid; I know, just have to listen to music on my pda and hope
the battery lasts....

Well its now 8.21, we have not stopped since the ferry, my body refuses
to sleep, and what’s worse is my back is still killing me, AND my
battery is now at 13%, music is really draining my battery, not going to
be long before I cannot write these logs.... I hope we are stopping soon
so I can walk about a bit...the journey goes on.... and no I am not
obsessed about batteries, I’m just scared of pens!

Ok, so its 09.00 and we have finally stopped for some breakfast, so I
had cheesecake because I did not know how to say anything else. We got
45 minutes before the last 4 hour length, hopefully it will pass

Well, it’s taken 16 hours so far, but we are finally in Germany, already
it has absolutely chucked it down with rain, I wonder if this is a bad
omen....well anyway, hopefully it won’t be long till I arrive with my
family. I have just remembered I have forgotten a towel, dammit! Anyway
the trip goes ever on...and for the record the battery in this thing is
at 8%, will it last? Anybody care!? Guess Not...

We have finally arrived at Ahrweiler, we are now all cramped inside
presumably waiting for registration and to meet our families, so we
wait, and by the way, someone SERIOUSLY underestimated how many of us
were coming, they are staring the introduction now.....

Its 12.57 ,This is taking bloody ages, still appointing us to our
families and stuff, looks like we’re not going to get sleep either which
sucks royally! Anyway batteries about to die, so we await


Ok, its 13.55 on the first day with our family; Ellen the mother, two
daughters called Manuela and Franziska and the father is called Jürgen.
The house is very nice. Jürgen seems to be a very experienced glass
worker, with an amazing portfolio of work including windows and stained

Just finished our meal with the family, the German language is way
beyond me, we just sat there confounded, anyway, Me and John both have
our own rooms, well; the kids rooms. They are now sleeping outside in a
tent; which makes Me and John feel rather guilty. But the family seems
bubbly enough. We are to set off soon for a meeting and tour of the
town, which starts at 15.00, its past that now; so who knows....

Ok, so we like just went on like a two hour walk, took loads of
photographs of the scenery, very historical. We are sitting down for a
quick nibble before a very long Mass. Apparently we are then going
somewhere else; although I would just like to get some rest; but this is
a journey of faith and strength, so we will all carry on till we drop.

18.15: finished munchies, so just having a beer before Mass. I could
live here if it was not for the language; we are all very tired now. 15
minutes till Mass.....

19.33: Mass was less than an hour, it has started chucking it down so we
have retreated to a youth community room thing with Manuela. We are
standing out like sore thumbs right now....time may help....time has
passed; naff all has changed...perhaps more time; and if the music loops
one more time I will not be held responsible for hurting something
bad!!!!!! Time goes on......

Loads of time has passed; and I am bored bad, soooo we are going to go
explore the frontier that is this town; first got to say bye to all
these Germans.....bye.

Anyhow, we ended up walking home on our own; Me and John that is. We
finally found the house; this was tricky because we had only seen the
way once, but we remembered in the end.

21.51: I sign off my first day here, the family has been very kind and
the next few days are not looking so daunting anymore. I cannot wait to
go to sleep; it will be the first decent sleep I have had since Tuesday.
The next log will hopefully be made on a fully charged pda and attitude.

Day 2 - Cake and vineyards everywhere

Well, its 7.28 and I have just had a great nights sleep; I can hear
breakfast being prepared and the clock chiming half past, time to get
up. First things first though; wash and shave....

We finished breakfast of cheese and hams and preserves and then I played
chess with the young lad of the family; he beat me hands down; we are in
the middle of a game now...

Just finished Mass and are now getting ready for cleaning grave
stones....as you do.... The weather has gone from rain to sunshine in a
matter of thirty minutes.

Cleaning gravestones turned out to be weeding....we destroyed a
perfectly good garden because we all suck. Anyway; its dinner time; and
apparently we should have a packed lunch; Me and John don’t; looks like
we are going hungry, no matter. Anyway, we've got a full day still ahead
of us; it’s spitting rain as I write this... Typical, after our
non-existent dinner we are doing another two hours of 'grave
cleaning/garden destroying'. John has forgotten to bring his tea token;
anyway best get back to not having my dinner.

Ok; turns out the last one was just a break; so now we are sitting down
to a nice meal. We are all wet through from when it just rained. We are
eating in a psychiatric hospital that has kindly provided a hot meal for
all 101+ of us. As well as us grave cleaners there where a few other
groups, each group received a brick, some were doing social workshops,
dance practice for an upcoming performance. The brick will be taken all
the way to Cologne where they will all be gathered up and used to build
a labyrinth or something similar.

We have just set off for a hill; where another group of us has erected a
large wooden cross, a direct replica of the official world youth cross.
The hill is proving steep but looks very nice covered in large vineyards
for as far as the eye can see. We've eventually arrived at the top
whilst reciting the rosary. It’s started to rain.

The rain got worse with brief gaps of nice bright sunshine; Father Simon
set us all off singing 'Our God Reigns' which was funny. We then set off
for a little coffee and cake in a hill top hut thing, which was groovy.
It was very nice cake. I had 4 pieces, butter cake!!!???? (Father Simon
was amazed that a cake could be made of butter) Well anyway; we set off
for home to get changed. The walk was very pleasant with the sun and
light breeze.

We are now changed and about to set off to the rock concert, we want to
set off early to get a good seat near the bar! All this hot sun demands
beer! Anyway I doubt we will be having any tea after all the cake;
however there are hotdogs tonight that we need a voucher to get, john
forgot his so mum (give up with family names, just calling them mum,
dad, big sister etc...) gave him hers, very kind of her; but now we are
back he is getting his anyway. Ok; I’ll just finish getting changed and
get gone....

Right, we’re here, got a beer, just chilling and waiting for the show to
start; €4.20 for two beers, bargain!

Ok; rock concert is cool; even though it’s mostly in German, some good
tunes including Evanescence and Franz Ferdinand. Anyway beer rocks too,
although standing up for four hours hurts feet. Overall today has been a
good day but arduous in terms of distance walked. The time is now 23.25,
and we are all very tired, so off to bed, we have to get up at 06.00 to
travel to Trier which is one and a half hours away due south.

Day 3 - Trier and Frankie's birthday

Well, it’s 6 in the morning; let’s just say that was the quickest six
hours ever! Today is going to be a long day too, we are going to have a
quick breakfast I think then get to Trier. Once there we are meeting
with the Bishop of Trier and attending a Mass, apparently we are also
going to be watching a play called Rachel, which sounds familiar. Just
looking forward to the coach rides to be honest; at least we can try and
get some sleep then too. I think I can finally hear people starting to
get up; I was first by the sound of it...

07.24: just got on the coach, freezing my **** off! Also forgot to put
on the official World Youth Day t-shirt; which sucks, but anyway someone
has brought some Peter Kay videos to watch on the trip, woo! Ok, just
found out our video player does not even work. We are on coach now;
scenery is very nice, vineyards everywhere. Just bought another t-shirt,
what a waste of €10. Our coach driver, Lee likes bugging everybody in
the morning; usually by rubbing it in that he's had a good time or
bacon. Already getting sick of sausages, got another week yet too...
Going to try and get some sleep now...

Could not get to sleep, and we have stopped for some reason; apparently
someone wants to get on or something....never mind, who cares? We’re off

Ok we have just arrived in Trier; we are rushing to the Cathedral, Mass
starts in five minutes!!!!

We’ve made it and all I can say is WOW!!! Huge, more like a castle than
a Cathedral. Beautiful sculptures and statues everywhere, there are
people from all over the world here; England, Nigeria, Italy, Japan,
Korea, France, Spain, Ireland and loads of others. Everywhere I look
there are flags. Mass is about to start; signing off for now....

WELL, that Mass was amazing, twenty two Bishops and loads upon loads of
Priests, including our very own Fathers Andrew and Simon. The Trier
bishop said his homily in six different languages!!! Amazing! The Mass
was long and we were all stood up, but the atmosphere and full band made
the Mass fly by. VERY good music and service.

When Mass finished a Massive procession took place; leading us all round
the tunic wore by Jesus in the tomb or at least part of it. Preserved in
a beautiful room adorned with solid rock sculptures reached by a solid
black marble stair case leading upwards to the arch. Inside a glass case
the tunic lies preserved in a beautifully decorated box with brass
fittings. The reflection of the ornate roof on the glass was beautiful.
As we left the room I could glimpse a view of the entire Cathedral,
straight down the middle, very impressive.

The Cathedral itself is the oldest in Germany dating from the third
century. It has a massive organ raised up on a side wall at a dazzling
height, and a second less spectacular organ resides at the back of the
Cathedral near the tunic room. Every pillar in the Cathedral had a grand
and ornate sculpture, very impressive. As we left the Cathedral I caught
a glimpse of the rear dome roof, at nearly 100ft high its beauty was
beyond words, a photograph could not do this building justice.

As I finally left the Cathedral we were provided with a free hot meal
consisting of chicken, rice and a spiced sauce. It was very nice and the
service was very efficient; serving nearly 2000 people in a matter of

It is now free time till 16.30 when we are to go and watch the play in
the Trier arena, all 2000+ of us. I have grouped up with Craig and his
host family who were going to show us around, which was very kind. We
first set of for town but then decided to go to the Cathedral café for
cake and coffee, finding it took us through a beautiful courtyard with
the graves of past Bishops. When we arrived at the café we found it
fairly empty, it was well out of the way across a car park..... Then
another act of kindness; Craig’s host family bought us all cake and
coffee, all seven of us, which was nice. The sun was shining brightly
and the birds where singing; very peaceful and picturesque. Anyway we
decided to go to the Basilica of St. Eucharius and St. Matthias.

The bus to the Basilica was not for two hours, so we wandered round
Trier for a while, we played giant Jenga and walked on stilts, not to
mention cutting full body silhouettes and decorating them. The bus was
free to all world youth day folks like us. We got on the bus and arrived
shortly at the Basilica, we were welcomed in by the Brothers of the
Basilica. They introduced us to the tomb of St. Mattias (an apostle) and
then split us into groups according to language. I joined the English
group whilst Craig’s hosts went on the German tour. The tour started
with a large aerial photograph with commentary relating to parish
boundaries and Basilica evolution over the last 100 years. Apparently
the Basilica was owned by the French and was disbanded, and was sold to
a rich family which starting splitting the Basilica in half, destroying
lots of stonework. The Basilica was eventually re-bought under German
rule. The land which the family had used for agriculture was given up
for building houses for the needy. The damage has been partially
repaired since; however during the war the Brothers where caused to
leave again; few returned. The Basilica merged with another Basilica
under one Abbot to survive. The tour also covered the Brothers daily
routine including getting up at 5.30!!!!! We then saw a library with
many ancient texts stretching back 1500 years; one had been restored and
was very impressive. Once the tour had finished we just caught the bus
in time back to town.

The bus was very lively, just an ordinary public bus yet everyone
started singing, amazing. We arrived back in Trier central; anyway; this
then left us with one hour to get to the arena which was two miles away!
We had to walk our legs off! But we made it with time to spare. We
passed the famous black gate, which has gone black over the many years
due to rain; it’s constructed of sandstone for some bizarre reason. We
arrived at the arena absolutely knackered, 2 miles in 45 minutes in the
baking sun, but the arena was an ice ring and had great cooling systems,
obviously they had got rid of the ice and put seats down. The show
'Rachel' was very good although I had no idea what was going on as it
was all in German. However the music and dancing was excellent...the
show went on much later than expected so we ran for the coach which is
where I wrote most of today's diary, sorry for discrepancies in past
tense. So we are once again on the journey back home, hopefully I can
get some sleep now.

Ok, got no sleep....every bugger started a good old sing along on the
coach. Once we arrived we joined the parish festival, very good, more
beer and food.... And yes more bloody sausages. It is a very friendly
community, we spent some time talking to our host families, they kindly
bought us a beer; the generosity around here is amazing as well as the

The music guy has just played the Benny hill theme tune, it was
hilarious to see Old German people ball-room dancing to it however
Father Simon and some woman running around in true Benny Style, it was
very funny….

01.04: We just got in. The party really livened up once someone asked
for YMCA to be played (I hate it personally but hey it got people's up
with the help of the strong German lager). All the music was coming from
one guy who was playing most of these tunes from memory as well as
singing all the lyrics. We get a little lie-in tomorrow as Sunday is a
relatively free day. Although I think we may be going wine tasting if my
basic understanding of German is remotely accurate. Jürgen called it
wine proofing.

Day 4 - free day - yea right!

Ok, its 09.00! Woo, I got like a mini-lie-in! Anyway breakfast is ready,
and Mass is at 10.30 which gives us time to talk and finish our chess
game, the young lad is very good he's beat me once but I got him on the
ropes now. Anyway as I said earlier, after Mass I think we are going
straight wine tasting, can't wait. Ok I won the lad in our second game
eventually, then beat him again much quicker, I must have been out of
practice. But I got my Mojo back it would seem.

Right, it keeps on raining; we definitely brought the weather with us!
The Mass was all in German and which made it seem 15 hours long, it
finished eventually and we went outside for a coke, the beer tent was
open already; how cool is that!?

It then started to rain again; so our host family went home and we
returned to the hall for coffee and cake...hmmmm, Now we are just
chatting and writing a bit of a speech explaining why we decided to come
on World Youth Day and thanking the community.

Soon after we left and followed Manuela to a football match; seven aside
against a German team, we walked to the football pitch which was over
the river. The ground was very wet, however the grass was good and the
game went on....I joined in too, but was crap so got 'substituted' very
quickly. As we had too meet our host family we could not stay long; by
the time we left it was 7-3 to the Germans, and we only had three
because the Germans scored an own goal. We let them win.....only manners
and set of on the 45 minute walk back home. We arrived had a wash and a
cappuccino and we are now on our way to meet some of the others before
going to the wine warehouse.

We have just finished the tour and tasted us some winage! Then we all
bought a bottle or two, one girl bought seven; which was funny. We are
now on our way back to the town for the youth festival. Our last night
in Ahrweiler; a shame, we are all expecting next week to be insane. We
have found out that we are sleeping in a school hall, as in a big room,
with 100 of us, not looking forward to that at all.

The youth festival turned out to be an annual parish festival but with
more music, beer and entertainment than normal because of us lot. It was
excellent, the entertainment was great if not a little disturbing..
German fashion parade, cross-dressed cane dancers and lots of other
totally crazy stuff. We drank beer and even more beer because it was
that or more rotten sausages. The night passed swiftly on...then beer
got cheaper as today was the last day of the festivals and parties
(sob....).anyway by 01.00 everyone started going home but I stayed a
little longer, and guess what? More beer!!!! And this time it was free,
they were using up the last parts of the kegs (barrels). We eventually
set of home at 01.30 ish with our host mum because she was there in an
official capacity AKA; an organiser.

01.52: We have arrived and I have just but bits back in my bag as I am
off to Cologne (Köln) tomorrow (although I never really unpacked so that
was quick). So now I will get what is most likely to be my last night in
a comfy bed! On a completely different note, my main concern about next
week in Cologne is the fact I will most likely not have access to a plug
to charge this palm computer or my phone. My phone I can just turn on at
night or when needed which will easily make it last, but my pda will
only last a few days, I mean I may have to resort to using a pen and
paper!! Time will reveal all....

Day 5 - leaving

Ok, got up at 7.30 still tired; but had to sort out my bag ready for
leaving Ahrweiler; which did not take long. I have charged everything
over night as I may not have access to a power socket at all next week.
We then had our last breakfast with our family, quite upsetting really.
I did not see Jürgen but Ellen was there; she also made me and John
giant pretzels, must be a German thing, very nice nevertheless. Around
this time Ellen got a phone call asking if I would like to do the first
reading in English at the farewell Mass; I agreed without considering
the fact that there would be 1,300 people present at this very important
Mass. Anyway I was glad at being offered the chance. We then made our
way to the fire station (Jürgen dropped us and Ellen off) where we were
to deposit our luggage on the coach before attending the Mass. We said
our last goodbye's to Jürgen; thanking him for his hospitality and sheer
kindness. The rain started...badly.... Anyway we headed to the market
square where the Mass was to be held, with Ellen.

Ellen went and got me a copy of the reading as I spoke to a few people
in the square. As I looked over the reading in preparation I noticed it
was long depicting a dragon eating a newly born child but the child was
saved by the lord. We then went to the square café for one last time. It
was raining hard so we ate inside with Father Steven and Father Chris
who kindly got a round of hot drinks in whilst we where waiting for Mass
to start.

The Mass started at 11.30, I headed to the front of the crowd ready to
do my reading. When the time came I got up on the stage (the Mass was
outside, the church was not big enough for all the newcomers from the
nearby parishes). I climbed the stairs, turned to the congregation and
saw an ocean of umbrellas; it was still raining. With over a thousand
people looking at me......I started to read; very loud and clear I have
been told, but half way through I hit a snag; the word 'diadem'
hyphenated over two lines. I stuttered and without thinking laughed,
shrugged, and said 'whatever' and carried on reading un-daunted. People
said it was a good recovery. The rain was persistent for all hour and a
half of Mass.

Once Mass has finished we were invited for soup which was being served
by the army; 1300 people is a lot!! Anyway, everything went very well
and the soup was nice. We only had 30 minutes to get to the coach and
eat so there was not much time for anything, I walked to the coach with
Deacon John in the rain, yet morale was still high.

Once on the coach i said my final goodbye's to Ellen and her daughters,
as were other people and their own host families. This was a very sad
time and both English and German people where close to tears, the
atmosphere was very strange and sad yet such emotion makes the trip
worthwhile. The true emotion and atmosphere cannot be written in so few

As we set of on our journey to Bechen; a town near Cologne where we are
going to spend the next few nights in a school hall as mentioned
earlier. As we approached Bechen we got lost, and lost a bit more, the
rain is starting to get to people but we are plodded along nicely. We
eventually found our way by asking a local who conveniently knew fluent
English. We arrived at the school, and to our amazement a huge crowd was
waiting for us with drinks. After a few dilemmas with baggage and
splinters (you know who you are) we found out we are going with families
instead of the school hall! Brilliant!!!!! We received our pilgrim pack
which is basically a backpack with information and novelty inflatable
hands; fantastic. We then hit a snag, we all needed grouping and
assigning to families with no prior preparations made. It then started
to rain. We all got brought back to the coaches where we received
information and me and John got split in order to establish the groups
which was fine with me. This took bloody ages but we eventually got
grouped up with families. Me, 3 priests including Simon and Phil and his
mate got grouped together with a new family. The new host family cannot
speak a word of English but Father Simon can speak German. He did not
arrive for twenty minutes though (he was of registering the group for
tickets) which made the time quite awkward. We unpacked and went to the
church which is literally over the road, which is good. In the church we
had a welcome service and then proceeded to another festival, with
tokens for free beer, which was nice. Unfortunately I have spent most of
the evening writing this journal.

Well we are back in now, its just gone midnight; at least we have a bed.

Day 6 - Bechen

08.09: we are going for breakfast soon which is prepared in the church
hall. I got very little sleep but better than a school floor I suppose,
plus I have a plug to charge my phone and stuff. I have also been given
food tokens for the rest of the trip, so I’ve put them in order.

Ok, breakfast sucked compared to Ahrweiler, but it was ok. It was
provided by the World-Youth-Day commission because our new host family
is not providing anything except a bed which is still very kind. Once we
had finished breakfast we headed to the church which was just across the
yard. It was not a Mass, it was just Morning Prayer; with an unusual
twist. They read the Our Father with someone acting as God, interrupting
the prayer giving guidance and asking the reader if they really
understood what they were saying. Quite innovative really.

We then went straight to the coach and set off for the train station. It
was still raining, we got sort of lost again. We arrived at another
smaller station further down the line; here we split into our groups,
mine being led by father Michael.

We got on the train to Cologne; it was packed to the brim. We were not
sure where to get off, until we arrived in Cologne station, then we
knew, hundreds of people where crammed on the platform. As the door
opened the noise hit us like a wall. The amount of people and noise
caused a feeling of euphoria, but we ploughed through and dived to the
loo where we had to pay!

As we left the station we were hit by a building site and a kind of
horrid smell, kind of bad first impression. After walking around we
decided to go back into the station and through it to the Cathedral
which was incredible. The amount of people was insane. After a quick
wander around we decided to head out and get something to eat; easier
said than done with so many people. It took us ages to get our bearings
and find somewhere, but we are here now. I just ordered a pizza and the
biggest beer they do, all in metric, and not knowing metric litres I got
0.5 litre, well good when it arrived. Anyway we are going to head over
to a stadium for Mass, the only big enough building to say Mass to us
all in.

Ok, we got on the underground to the main road, the trams where packed
so we decided to walk, it turned out to be a 5 kilometre (3 mile) walk.
We collapsed into the stadium grounds (outside the stadium) and sat down
on the concrete floor because we were that knackered. We got tickets and
waited for everyone to arrive. The walk to the stadium took an hour and
a half which left an hour to sit around; we played keep-ups with an
inflatable ball. As we entered for the Mass we where hit by a massive
stadium with 55,000 Catholics, not to mention thousands on the
surrounding fields. Mass was attended by the Chancellor and was mostly
in German but the sheer amount of people and occasional translations
gave the Event an excellent feeling of unity and faith. During Mass a
national TV camera crew interviewed john for TV. Anyway, communion was
very impressive, kind of made the feeding of the 5000 look lame. Once
Mass had finished there was going to be a carnival, we split into groups
for people who wanted to stay and people who wanted to go for food.
Unfortunately as we left the gates groups got broken up - a disaster
beyond your imagination occurred (well not really, just sounds good). We
actually completely lost John. The last time we saw him was in the crowd
waiting for the Chancellor of Germany to leave. Then Father Michael
legged it so I ended up with another group; Lorraine’s group. We could
not find a food point so we decided to walk back all 5km and buy
something. There were only nine of us left in Lorraine’s group, so we
made the walk a lot faster. By the time we fell into a café we were
absolutely knackered. We ordered beer and food in our amazingly good
German....... Two hours later and several beers we still had not
received our food. We then got a phone call off Deacon John telling us
the last train was in 40 minutes; we ran (without paying for our drinks)
to the station. We arrived with VERY empty stomachs. The Cathedral
looked very impressive at night with the lights illuminating the ornate
carvings. The train was late which had our hearts in our mouths for this
was the last train home. We were delirious with sheer hunger and
fatigue. The train finally arrived at 00.05, we wrestled on and
collapsed onto the seats. 20 seconds later the train was cramped. We
returned home and started a sing song. Mathew said: 'today has been
shockingly shi*e!' which was funny and true with the only exception
being the mass. When we returned to Bechen the bus to our parish was
still running; thank god (and I mean that!) We finally arrived home at
01.05; I just collapsed into bed with a headache and empty belly.

Day 7 - Leverkusen

Ok got up at 07.00, not good, so little sleep is starting to take its
toll. We dragged ourselves to Morning Prayer and had a bread roll and
jam (bread rolls and sausage, ahhhhhh!), did not make a dint on my
hunger. We grouped up ready to go to Leverkusen for catechises Soooo
tired. So we are now on the coach. Hopefully the weather should be nicer
today, hopefully today should be good, just a little too tired to enjoy

We have just arrived at the stadium, its cool, there is a built in
McDonalds, yum yum, not usually a fan of McDonalds but after 3 days of
bread rolls anything is good. This stadium was for English speaking
people hosted by Cardinal Theodore Mc'Arick from Washington DC. The
stadium was most impressive capable of holding 20,000+ (witch compared
to Cologne is not much, I know), but it also looked good. About 10,000
people turned up for the catechises and Mass. The catechises started
with a very good speech lasting about fifty minutes by the Cardinal.
Time to discuss the speech was followed by a short break. Then a Mass
said by the cardinal took place. It was very special. Once the Mass had
finished we got a drink at McDonald’s then we sat on the grass in a
circle and said some prayers with Father Michael, and a decade of the
Rosary. We took this opportunity to focus and re-fill our water. The
prayers were very nice. We then went to a pub and got a BIG beer. We
headed straight for the coach. I headed home and had a good laugh on the
coach. We arrived back in Bechen in what seemed to be a short amount of
time; probably because we where having a laugh. We sat on grass and
chilled for an hour (whilst Craig was recovering from
dehydration\bread-roll overdose) in the nice warm sun. A couple of
groups tried to go to Cologne but it was very busy. After a while we
went to pub, twelve of us and had a bloody good time/meal. We finished
and I returned home, but no key or answer to the door bell prevented me
from getting in; just at this time other groups started to arrive
including Father Simon and Thomas who I am staying with, so we returned
to the pub for a few more beers. Good night....so we finally called it a
day and returned home and went to bed.

Day 8 - more catechises (arrival of the Holy Father)

07.31: we have missed Morning Prayer because we where all in comas,
incredibly tired. Got a shower this morning which is cool, so we are now
going to set of to the hall and try and grab some coffee, and another
bloody bread roll. And, get this; in our dinner bag we were given a
bloody box of cornflakes without a bowl or milk!

Ok we headed out as soon as possible but just missed Morning Prayer; but
we headed to the community hall and had our breakfast with coffee!!!
Woo. Anyway we finished eating and headed off to the coaches. We are
going to the same place as yesterday, but returning earlier in time to
watch the Pope's reception on a big screen. I am still debating whether
or not to go to Cologne and watch it live, but I have serious worries
concerning the amount of people that are going to be there; hence the
big screen.

We are now on the coach; I’ve just been nominated to lead the dinner
teams as I know the way. The weather is gorgeous today, expecting 30
degrees Celsius which is bloody hot. Feeling a lot more awake; probably
because we had a good meal, little more sleep and a shower. Time is now

The talk was by bishop Clarence of Halifax USA concerning the Eucharist,
nowhere near a good as the day before. After the talk at 11.48 the
Popes’ plane landed, everything went wild all over Germany; the stadium
roared with praise and celebration. The whole stadium was then glued to
the big screen waiting for the plane to come to a stand still. Cologne
airport is packed with people waiting for the Pope to emerge from the
plane. The flags of the Vatican and Germany are attached to the plane,
every time the camera looks at the Popes plane window a cheer and roar
shakes the stadium. The plane is approached the red-carpet. The Pope
emerged from the plane at 12.08, once again setting foot on German soil;
it would appear the new pope still has enormous respect. The Mass
continued shortly after and was very good, however the cheesy American
Christian rock is really starting to bite.

We have now left the stadium and are enjoying the sun on the grass. We
are going to get the coach back to Bechen at 15.00 and then watch the
pope's reception on the big screen.

We have arrived back in Bechan, and we have decided to take a trip to
the supermarket to stock up for the next few days.

We just got back just in time to see the Popes reception events kicking

At 16.50 the Holy Father arrived by car at a dock Near the Rhein, he
then Boarded a boat; the Rhein-Energie cruise boat. He then met
officials and some very lucky people able to also get on the boat. He
was then seated and was visited by representatives of smaller
nominations, who all knelt before him, kissed the ring and spoke a few
words. The banks of the Rhein were filled with people as far as the eye
could see. Hymns were then being sung as he was still meeting people.
Whilst on the boat the Gospel was read. The pope then read a speech in
German and English, as well as other languages.

At 18.00 the boat arrived at quayside near Hohenzollern bridge. The Holy
Father then walked a short distance to his vehicle which then took him
to the Cathedral where he spoke and gave Blessings. After it had
finished we wondered about looking for somewhere to eat, we did not
really find anything so ended up at the pub again (shame). There we had
a nice pizza and a nice cool drink. We headed back to the yard to greet
the groups that had braved Cologne today; they had all had a really good
time. We said goodnight and headed on home, we don’t have to get up till
8.30 tomorrow which is nice.

Day 9 - lie-in and tour of the Cathedral.

Ok, we had the lie-in woo, its now 08.45 and we are getting ready for
Mass. today we have to go to Cologne as we have a tour of the Cathedral,
expecting some good photographs I think also.

We had catechesis instead of Mass at 09.00, I brought up the points of
never being alone as God is always with us, the Holy Spirit binding us
across the language barrier, and my wishes for this diary to help people
understand that they are not alone in their beliefs. We then had a
period of questions where some interesting questions came up concerning
relationships and the uniting of faiths.

We have now split up for a small break. Then we will have Mass.

Mass was nice, in a small church for a change with seven of our own
priests, the music was arranged at very short notice by our very own Ian
and co. Once Mass had finished we had a quick lunch. We then set off to
the coach which was going to take us to the train station where we where
going to catch the train to Cologne. Instead off getting of at the
central Cologne station we decided to get off at the station before and
walk across the Rhein Bridge, the central station will most definitely
be saturated with people. Let’s just hope everybody has not had the same
idea. The time is now 13.32 our Cathedral tour starts at 16.00; someone
has just changed the station to the one after the central station, a
good idea really.

We arrived at the train and got a quick ride into the station. The
station was not that bad. We then set off walking to the Cathedral; the
weather was very nice; we then got lost and ended up walking back on
ourselves for Father Simon was map reading. We found our way eventually,
and then we went to fill our water bottles but the water-tower was
broken. So we went for a slush puppy, and then a thunderstorm broke out,
and then it rained all day. We all got very wet; we walked down the
Rhein saying the Rosary. Father Simon was leading the way, it was still
pouring with rain, not to mention thunder and lightning. The whole city
centre was one big one-way walk going through the Cathedral. As we
approached the Cathedral the amount of people was immense. The queue
went slower and slower. To get to the Cathedral took two hours in the
rain, but it was well worth it. Sing along and conversation made the
queue pass more swiftly. We eventually arrived at the Cathedral and
entered, all I can say is wow! The roof must have been 100ft high. We
explored the Cathedral for a little while; could have stayed in there
all day. I got a lot of good photographs; we left and headed to the
train station as the rain was forcing us home. However we were turned
away as the station was full. So we had to walk in the pouring rain to
the next station. It then started to rain with a passion. We got soaked.
We then got into the next station and had to queue up for ages to get
the train. We eventually crawled onto the train very wet and fed up
after the massive crushed and crowds. The rain had forced everyone into
the station at the same time. It took ages to get onto the train. We got
home after making up a few songs with Craig. We finally arrived, sang
our made up songs whilst waiting for the bus back home. A we headed home
some of the girls made up a song/rap:

Jesus was cool, and he rode on a mule,

he spread the word it was heard,

he said a little prayer whilst sat on a chair

the pope is cool, but there is no mule,

he travelled in a box and it really really rocks,

he fell from the sky to do Gods will,

his name's Benedict but we call him bill, coo I e....... by Tina, Liz
and Fran.

Very intriguing..... We finally arrived back home and went straight to
the pub for a good meal, a few people went home to get changed first. A
good steak and a few beers later; everyone was feeling better. I have
been left to pay whilst the last to arrive finish eating, which is not a
problem. It is now 23.10 and this is our last night here, this time
tomorrow we will be in the pilgrim field.

ok, its 23.55 I am about to go to sleep for the last time in a bed for
the foreseeable future. Tomorrow we will be in no-doubt, one very wet
field from all the rain today.

Day 10 - leaving beechen and heading to hell

Right, its 7.45 and we are up, Not had time for a shower, we just dumped
our main luggage on the coach, and had two other bags, one for the vigil
in the field and one for when we stay in the convent. Mass went well,
said by the bishop of the Bechen diocese, although he put Father Simon
on the spot by asking him to translate. Father Simon was trying his best
when the bishop said something like 'very loose translation' then
struggled on in his own English, however Father Simon did much better
afterwards and finished with applause. We then ran for the coaches, I
grabbed some bread rolls on the way; I can see me being very hungry over
the next few days. It is now 10.26, we are getting the coach as far as
possible, they are cutting of an entire motorway to use as the car-coach
park. We are then going to have to walk the rest of the way.

Ok its 12.44, and we have arrived in the rough area, but where the hell
we go, no-one knows… We can’t even find where we are supposed to park,
in fact there are more coaches going in the opposite direction.
Typical... All part of the fun though I suppose.

Well we've arrived, the walking turned out to be 8km (6 miles), we are
all very knackered, we have set up camp and are awaiting the vigil, I
just need to find a water point.

Ok, found the water, the grid system is quite good once you get you're
head round it. The queue for the toilets is getting ever longer. The
field is nearly full, capable of holding 2,000,000; I can not describe
the magnificence of the event. Food was supposedly ticket-based, that
went right through the window. Being nice I was not pushing in, but
everyone else was, and as I was responsible for the whole group’s food I
barged in and got a load. Well, after the fight for food was over I
returned to the camp, got lost on water trip, but this time I had it
sussed. An ocean of people with no stars.

I’ve been chilling with some music and sun whilst we wait for the vigil
to start. The sunset is lovely. I have spent two hours looking up at the
clouds pondering my existence etc.... Very relaxing, yet I must not
forget why I am here.

Ok, its 20.00, and the holy father has just arrived. The vigil was
brilliant, with English translation on the radio. Its starting to get
cold now.

Day 11 - World Youth Day

Ok, its 05.58, its bloody freezing, morning dew has wet everything
through, including my boots, I have not been robbed though which is
nice. Got very little sleep last night, very cold, knackered and wet.

Well, morning is surprisingly nice once I have a nice hot coffee, the
official numbers for yesterday where 700,000, with similar numbers
arriving today, totally out of this world.

It is now 08.00 and morning prayer has just begun, it is nearly all in
song form. Very beautiful, listening and singing as I watch the mist
lift over the near-by tree's, the sun poking through the clouds forming
beams of light in the mist. There is so much beauty here, I’m afraid
most people are missing it. I regret not bringing a better camera so I
could share these images with others, I only ask that you use your
imagination, the music, the cool soft fresh morning breeze, the
atmosphere and sense of unity. Incredible. The main World Youth Day Mass
is due to start at 10.00.

It is now 08.57, the sun has gone the way of the dinosaur, and the cloud
is thickening, its not looking good, I’ve packed up so my stuff doesn’t
get wet, knowing my luck now though the sun will pop back out. The rain
has held off, the Holy Fathers Mass is about to start; and wow is it
starting. Have you ever heard a million voices singing the same song? I
have now, four times bigger than Glastonbury, this is something of such
power and force that the emotion can be felt all around us, one cannot
begin to imagine this without seeing for themselves. With 800 Bishops,
10,000 Priests and the Holy Father; God is truly with us, for Jesus says
when “two or three of you gather together in my name I will be with
you”, now there is a million of us. The Papal Mass was excellent, his
homily was so deep yet easy to understand, even though I was listening
to a translation over the radio. He talked about youths creating a new
community in the name of Christ. He talked and explained the Eucharist,
not to mention the symbolism of the magi in accordance with the world
youth day phrase 'we have come to worship him'. Very deep in a lot of
ways. Unfortunately the schoenstatt group had to leave during the Mass
as they had a plane to catch. The hymns where beautiful if not a little
long as most where sung in several languages. As soon as the Mass
finished we set off on the 10km (6 miles) walk back to the coach, this
may not sound like a lot but after only doing it the day before and also
carrying 20 kilo on our backs not to mention sleeping bags and things.
We were VERY knackered, but when we finally arrived the relief of
sitting down on the coach was incredible. The coach is now weaving very
slowly out of the network of roads which have been used as giant car
parks. We are now heading back to good old Ahrweiler to stay in a
convent, our host family went on holiday so they won’t be there, but I
am still looking forward to seeing the town and looking over its
beautiful vineyards one last time. Not to mention use the loo, a 6 mile
walk without loo's is not good. Traffic is kind of slow, there is nearly
a million people leaving Cologne, lucky we are on the side of Cologne
nearest Ahrweiler. Speed picked up a bit now..... We are on our
way...... Still not rained either. My shoulders are killing from all
that walking and flag waving. The flag waving was critical sometimes,
when there was so many people they were the only way you could find the
rest of the group. Seriously; it made Glastonbury look like a slumber

Ok, we were met at the convent with a hot meal and open arms. We also
met up with the sisters we were travelling with. They were as glad to
see us as we were them. We then freshened up and went for a reflection
session, which was nice. We are all sharing a room, girls in separate
room obviously. But after a hot meal and wash we are all feeling much
better. Today has been a very long and hard day, but by this time
tomorrow I hope to be writing the final entry.

Day 12 - the end

Well, its 04.30, and its wakey wakey time! I’m just about to go for a
shower. Breakfast is at 05.30, and we are setting of at 06.00.

Ok, just got back from the shower, and its official; nuns are hard! All
the showers are cold water showers, refreshing but lethal to the weak I
bet, ice bloody cold. Anyway, just got changed into a nice fresh outfit.
We are now on the coach and ready to hit the tyres and light the fires,
its 06.09 so we are already late. We had a good breakfast of salami and
cheese with hot coffee!!!!!! They also had stuff for dinners including
cartons of ice tea and more bloody sausages. Our deepest thanks go out
to the people of Ahrweiler and the sisters of the convent, their
generosity and kindness has moved us all, we hope to see them all again
sometime. We have just set of, its now 06.11. Here we go....

Lee gives us all one of his daily hello's... They are funny, kind

Well, its 08.36 and we hit rush hour, still moving but only just. The
trip is nice enough though, got music, plenty of batteries, just warm
enough, really quite pleasant. Although I wonder if I will be saying
that in another 12 hours. Just being able to sit alone and ponder the
last few weeks is great, we have done so much, perhaps much more than
recorded here, but I must say I am looking forward to reading this diary
myself reminding myself of the good times as well as those spent in
sessions of faith and discussion. Sitting here I am also pondering what
to do in terms of this diary and all the pictures I have taken. I am
going to make a website with a forum, picture gallery, and a section
where people will hopefully read this and add to it. The forum will
allow people to register and then talk about the trip, general chat,
catechesis, and just basically try and keep the Salford group in touch
with each other.

09.00: and we have stopped for a loo break; ferry is booked so we can’t
hang around for long.

10.30: and we've stopped again, this time for 30 minutes. We are in
Belgium now and making good progress. We just had a vote about whether
or not to stop at the hyper market; I don’t know the outcome of that

Ok, its 12.28 now, we have stopped for coach-go-juice, we are now in
France. So, it’s now 12.57, and we are approaching the customs, time is
tight to get the ferry, so passports are at the ready. We got through
customs easy enough, heading for ferry now. Its 13.10, just so you know.
Ok, we made it onto the ferry, but unfortunately the other coach did not
make it. We set of at 13.30 due to arrive at 15.00. We headed straight
for the café and had a meal. The crossing was a bit choppy. France was
blue-sky, which was funny because as soon as we approached England it
was shrouded in mist, typical....

Well, its 14.10 English time. Everything is normal, back on real money,
real food, proper side of the road and proper weather, the difference is
amazing. Looking upon the white cliffs, it seems to most of us like an
eternity since we left. But we are back. Were all just hoping we get
through Birmingham before the rush hour.

17.38, we are just going past Oxford, there is a singing competition
going on here, between the front and the back of the coach. I’ve given
up trying to go to sleep as I’m in the middle, the back is definitely
louder but I would say the front is better at singing. hymns, re-writes
of the ‘Saints Come Marching’ in and God knows what else, kind of funny.

18.51: we just had a nice 45 minute break at Watford gap. The other
coach has just caught up which is impressive. However we are going to
leave them as we have had a break and they are only just starting
theirs. We have just swapped drivers, we did a collection for Lee, he
seemed to appreciate it and enjoyed the trip. So it’s now 19.00 and we
are about to set of again with our new driver.

20:51: we are 24 miles from Manchester so things are looking good. This
trip is coming to an end. We have spent the trip writing in books and
saying goodbye's.

Arrived back at 21:29, it has been a long trip, they have all had one
last session of Rise and Shine, Father Michael gave us a blessing before
we arrived which has given the last 11 days a perfect ending. I then
said farewell to the people, and I hope to keep in touch with them all,
if only through my website.

And so the Journey comes to a close.

God Bless us all.

No Comments have been Posted.
Post Comment
Please Login to Post a Comment.
Rating is available to Members only.

Please login to vote.

Awesome! Awesome! 100% [1 Vote]
Very Good Very Good 0% [No Votes]
Good Good 0% [No Votes]
Average Average 0% [No Votes]
Poor Poor 0% [No Votes]