Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Day Eight

Back to 7am starts today :( We had to have breakfast by 8am and met at 8:15am. We then got on the coach, which I never thought I'd be happy to get on again but after the metro yesterday I was, to go to Catechesis at Palacio de Deportes.

Outside one of the Sisters of Life helped us to get in because we no longer had our passes, as we had to give them and our passports into our group leaders earlier on. We went in to find the band that was playing comprised of some Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. They were brilliant and they taught us lots of songs but my favourite was about being a friar. It went "I'm in love with Jesus and he's in love with me, I'm in love with Jesus and he's in love with me, I'm in love with Jesus and he's in love with me, I love the church, I love the Pope, I even love my rope."

After the band, the inimitable Sister Bethany Madonna took the stage. She was extremely entertaining and became the source of much joy throughout the pilgrimage. She got us to have Mexican wave races naming one of the teams grace and the other mercy. After the races she said that 'waves of grace and mercy are surging through this place.' It sounded rather cheesy in her accent, but a lovely intention behind it all.

She introduced us to Sister Mary Gabriel who did a brilliant, funny talk. She was followed by Cardinal Pell from Australia. His talk was good but quite theological. After this we had a lovely Mass, though we were stood for ages at the beginning because of the amount of priests and bishops that were concelebrating.

Throughout the talks I was sat with some people from the Caymen Islands. I was sat next to Caitlin and we swapped some things. I got a cool pirate turtle keyring from her in exchange for a badge. The pirate turtle is their logo. As they were leaving someone else gave me a hat clip before I could give them anything in return.

After Mass, we went in search of some food before we split in two, half of us going back to the hotel and the other half of us going to explore a bit of Madrid. So off we went to the metro and Laura, Marie, Sophie, Bridget and I went off towards the Prada. I was keen to go in but when we got there the queue was enormous so we went into the church opposite, St Jeronimo's. Bridget and Sophie headed in while Laura, Marie and I were taking pictures outside. As we went up the steps the aid to the Church in need was outside and mentioned that if we signed up we could get a free t-shirt and other things. So in we went to the portacabin to sign up. We got some great things and spoke to the lovely people at the stand. I even got a handshake for being Welsh!

We then went around the church which was beautiful, and had lots of paintings in there from the Prada. It was a really lovely way to spend the afternoon. We had lost Bridget and Sophie by this point so we waited at the front of the Church for as long as we could and then headed to the metro. When we got back they were at the hotel, so all was well.

After a short time at the hotel, we headed to get food at the McDonalds near to the hotel, before we all made our way to the Alpha Awakening event. Worship Central was the band for the night, they were great. We had a lot of praise and worship and some testimonies, and some things about the Alpha Course. We had a good talk from an Anglican priest called Toby. I think we were all shocked that he was an Anglican priest. They showed us some great cartoons as well. During some more praise and worship I felt really moved standing holding hands with our diocese. It was a very special moment.

On getting back to the hotel a few of us sat with our feet in the pool. It was so good because it was nice and cool after a hot night dancing and singing. Finally I collapsed into bed ready for a good night's sleep.

Day Seven

We got a small lie in today which was very welcome, though some of the boys had to get up early to go to get the missing items from our rucksacks. It was an entertaining breakfast because Fr Phil had picked up a yoghurt and when he ate the first spoonful he made a face and said it was disgusting. It was passed around most of the table because it reportedly tasted of nothing. I abstained from this delightful yoghurt tasting, and was really glad I spotted the rice pudding instead.

Before we met up a few of us ventured to the supermarket around the corner to get some supplies for the day. We then met the rest of the group and we were given our WYD bags. We were told to go and empty the bags and come back with it, food, water, suncream, hat, and various maps. I enjoyed briefly looking at everything as I took it out. I put on my crucifix, from the bag, which is really beautiful. As I went to rejoin the group I had a brief chat with Fr Augustine and he very kindly blessed it for me.

We were then given our passes, food vouchers and tickets before we made our way to the metro station. Our nearest station was Canillejas and we were all told to really pay attention to how we got there so when we came back later in the night we would know the way back to the hotel. We then got on the metro to Opera and then walked to the Cathedral. We then split into our groups and all went off in search of food.

Our group, on consulting the food map, decided to go back to Opera. We then stood in a burger king line for a good while before we realised that the queue just was not moving. Consulting the map again we went on the metro to Gran Via. There we joined the thronging masses attempting to get food in McDonalds. McDonalds was mental. It was comparable to being in the middle of a rugby scrum, only less orderly! It must have taken 2-3 hours from start to finish. I have to say I have never been so grateful for food in my life.

We got some other food at a place across the street, and then got back on the metro to Retiro to go in the park and sit in the shade and chill for the rest of the afternoon. Just across from where we set up camp, wheelchair and all, was a play area and off went Laura and Hannah to play. It was hilarious watching them on this spinny thing. After a while Marie and I went for a walk around the park, got some Madrid badges from some volunteers, and after queuing for ridiculous amounts of time to go to the loo, finally got back to the others.

We then made our way to the opening Mass. This was rather tricky, especially having to negotiate the crowds with the wheelchair. I was designated map reader and was taking us up and down side streets trying to get us to the right corner of Plaza Cibeles. At one point we were crossing a street full of pilgrims and we ended up in a disabled area. This was less than ideal because we were trapped then. Simon was in the wheelchair at that point and seeing that some of the others were going to have to pull the wheelchair up a rather high step sprang up out of it. Chris then thought we couldn't have no one in it so got in it. Someone wheeled him over and then he got out as well because the step was quite high up. It was all quite funny, especially seeing the faces of the group of volunteers sat on the bank.

After some more map consulting, and working out some new routes we got to Calle de Prim. Which was at least a little closer. However, we couldn't see anything and Mass was already at the Gospel. So after a group consultation we decided to leave, and make our way to the metro station, because we would then go and pray with the Scriptures at the hotel. Along the way we ended up going into a Mexican restaurant and having a good meal in there. The seats in there were made out of mayonnaise tubs!!

When we went down into the metro station we were all feeling quite cocky that we'd be on carriage to ourselves. That was until the train came in and it was heaving. So on we crammed, got back to the hotel and met to pray. While we were waiting for one of our group we had an interesting conversation. Then Darren led us in the prayer time, by reading the Gospel and then asked us if we had any thoughts. Some of the thoughts were really interesting including Darren's that the Gospel reflected something of the life of John Paul II.

Laura, Marie and I later went and had a cheeky glass of wine and chatted to Alan about the day. Quite a few of the groups were back quite late that night, everyone looked like they were ready for bed. But everyone seemed to have had a good first day out in Madrid.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Catechesis with Fr Augustine and Br Benedict

Fr Augustine, kicked off catechesis, and spoke about the Assumption. He said 'Thank God today's not about us it's about Our Lady.' Today is about the power of God in our lives. He then told us a little bit about how he got to this point in his life. He said, 'I can't deny what God has done in my life. I was minding my own business, went on pilgrimage, went to confession and came out wanting to be a priest.'

Br Benedict then took control of the mic and gave us his testimony. He told us how his Dad left and how he pretended to his friends that he still had a Dad at home, because they all did. He became a very angry child, and started stealing. He stopped going to church at 13 but he always believed in God. He got into drugs to try to escape from the hole in his heart because of his father leaving, and he didn't feel loved. He had to see a probation officer for a year at the end of school and it woke him up a bit.

He ended up getting into harder drugs and got the opportunity to go to Germany to try and escape that life but ended up getting even deeper into drugs. He eventually came home and got together with a woman that had a child. He ended up getting very isolated and one day was in the bath looking at a poster that said 'Get A Life' and he realised that he had nothing. In May 1997 whilst on holiday he was reaching for a cigarette in his hotel room got a profound sense of God's love. He went straight to confession. God opened his heart to what he could do in his life, and felt called to the Friars. He said that it has been an amazing journey this past 14 years, and he is still walking close to the Lord.

Fr Augustine had the final word and reminded us that Jesus is alive, with us, knocking on the door of our hearts, calling us to him.

Day Six

Today was the day we left Valladolid and headed down to Madrid. So after breakfast we all brought all our luggage down and took it to the coaches. Our group was then charged with leading everyone to the English College. I was put in charge of getting us there because I thought I knew the way, forgetting we weren't going to the Cathedral but to the English College. With the help of Laura and Marie I managed to get us all there.

At the College we celebrated Mass with Leeds, Middlesborough and Birmingham. It was the feast of the Assumption today and we heard yet again a little bit about the Vulnerata. We also sang the CJM Magnificat at communion, which made me happy. I love singing that hymn.

After Mass, the coaches came to pick us up and we were whinging our way down to Madrid. Fr Phil had gone on ahead of us so Darren and Trish were left in charge. Darren did the announcements and with his dry sense of humour, he made them very funny. We then put on the Sound of Music and after some trouble with the subtitles we managed to watch some of it. It was brilliant, Michael signed the beginning, and then Daniel and John were singing at the tops of their voices, Daniel as Julie Andrews and also dancing away. It was epic.

We stopped at some services along the way and there were some Aussie and South African pilgrims there. A group of the girls were talking to a girl from South Africa so I joined in chatting with them. She was called Cinthea, and we were the first pilgrims she had spoken to. They'd been staying in Palencia and that diocese had given them hats!

We got back on the coach and we managed to watch just up to the wedding scene in the Sound of Music before we rocked up at our hotel in Madrid. We had to wait on the coach until Trish and Darren had sorted out our rooms. They came back bearing the news that we were going to have to wait 2 hours to get into our rooms. We were able to put our bags in one of the rooms and then we walked to McDonalds where everyone got food, I just had a drink.

When we got back our rooms still weren't ready, and finally at 6pm we got the keycards, with a lot of persuasion from Fr Aidan, Fr Bob and Trish and Darren. It was beyond belief really. I did some travel washing for me and Marie, before we went back out to the pool. Not being able to swim I just dangled my feet in the pool, and wrote in my travel diary. I was lovely and cool sat there.

After a while we had to get ready because we had catechesis with Fr Augustine and Br Benedict, in the bar area. It was lovely, Sister Catherine and Sister Veronica did the music. Fr Augustine I discovered has a wonderful sense of humour, and Br Benedict's testimony was really inspiring, just to know how much God has worked in his life, it's incredible.

After catchesis we had a bit of a wait before Lancaster and Middlesborough could have food so we sat and did diaries, though mine was up to date so I was just listening to Rachel take us through the pilgrimage so far. She was really funny doing it, commenting on people's rooms that had balconies.

We had our food and then we had free time until midnight. We had the opportunity to go to confession, so I went to Fr Phil. He was wonderful and he reminded me to just keep trusting in God. I think I really needed the reminder, and as time went on throughout the pilgrimage this message was really hammered home.

After confession I went and chatted to Amelia, John, Daniel, Bridget, Gina, and Sophie. I discovered that John had once been offered a modelling contract! From that to the seminary. He is very comical, I can really see him having his future parish in stitches. After a while I took myself off to bed and prepared myself for what was to come the following day.

Catechesis with Fr Phil.

Fr Phil spoke to us about 'The Life'. He said to us that 'When you come to a place like this you see what God is doing in the hearts of young people.'

It was the feast day of Maximilian Kolbe, and so Fr Phil told us his story. He told us that today there is a flickering candle in the cellar that the Germans kept him in Auschwitz, as a symbol of hope.

 Fr Phil said that death is not the last word, which is why Resurrection day is such a happy day. The Resurrection of Jesus is unlike any of the other resurrections that he performed. Love raised himself, and the power if love is invincible, it burns through everything. Resurrection is not just a spiritual experience, Jesus wasn't a ghost. God is interested in everything we are body, and soul and so Jesus takes our risen humanity and ascends to heaven. Our humanity is inserted into the heart of God. We will see God face to face.

Fr Phil, explained the idea of perichoresis after we watched the dance that Amelia had choreographed. It explains the great Divine movement, and dynamism. We're led into the life of God, and we are drawn into the dance of life, we can touch it now. Heaven begins now for each one of you.

Day Five

This morning things were a little different, because after breakfast we were due to have catechesis with Fr Phil, rather than heading out to do something straight away. I was due to help set the music up and got sidetracked so was a little late to help...oops. Zaf went through a song that we were going to sing that I didn't know and then Fr Phil kicked off his catechesis on 'the Life'.

Fr Phil spoke beautifully as usual, and after he had finished his catechesis he handed over to the dance group who danced to Alive Again, which Amelia had choreographed. It was beautiful and Fr Phil likened it to Perichoresis, the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity.

After catechesis we walked to the English College where we were given a tour of the college by Bishop Terry. He told us the story of Our Lady of Vulnerata and pointed out the paintings in the rafters showing stage by stage the story of the statue. Bishop Terry told us that for the 200 year anniversary of the statue being in the college, they took the statue to the Cathedral, and people came in droves to venerate the statue. Then they had a procession back to the college from there and a 5 minute walk took 4 hours! People even came out of the bars and toasted the statue... Amazing.

He also told us of the myth that there was a secret staircase up to the grills for the seminarians to remain anonymous during Mass because it was too dangerous for them to be out in the open. However, he dispelled this myth and we were told that the Chapel was constructed after this so it couldn't be true, and the grills were just there so people could go and say their private devotions.

We then moved into the sacristy where Bishop Terry told us about the window in there and how it lists all the martyrs of the college, it depicts the rivers of life and also the blood of the martyrs. The men who came to seminary in Valladolid had to sign a contract to say that they would go back to England after they finished their training because they knew they would be going back to die and so they probably would have preferred to stay in Spain.

After a brief stop in the refectory, seeing a painting that was in Seville seminary, then Ushaw and now here, we continued through the corridors seeing pictures of the rectors of the college, the beatified martyrs of the college, and then the canonised martyrs of the college. I was surprised to find a picture of St John Lloyd there, though it was good to see a Welsh link, and made my praying at the relics in the chapel even more special.

We had a quick look in the pig skin library which contained an original copy of the Nuremburg Chronicles! I got very excited at the prospect of all these books, and it really reminded me of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith's library. We then headed up to the other library upstairs and Bishop Terry told us about how the inquisition would take the books, read them, and anything they didn't agree with they would scribble out. He showed us John Speed's History of Great Britain which had a dedication to the King and the inquisitor (or as they now believe the rector of the college) scribbled out 'Defender of the Faith' and changed 'lowly' to 'cowly'. Whoever the person was they certainly had a sense of humour!

We then began the walk back to the hotel, and Fr Phil, Trish, Amelia and I took a little detour via the church opposite the Cathedral. It was very dark but beautiful none-the-less and as we went in we stumbled upon a baptism. That was a really special moment.

On arriving back to the hotel some of us decided to go to the Plaza Mayor to find a supermarket. We then met some Tanzanians, and Mary, Me and JP had a photo with one of them. The others had found some French people who I gave some badges to. We then went and got an ice cream and I got a lolly that had a water pistol in. On the way back to the hotel I filled it up and shot Hannah in the back. She thought a bird had pooed on her. It was so funny. When we got back to the hotel we found Fr Phil and some of the others sat outside and Fr Phil shot John right in the face. Hannah then took the water pistol and got Fr Phil in the face. It is rather powerful!

After lunch, I went to sit in the cool for a while before going to explore, but everything was shut. Though I did see some other English Dioceses around. At 4:30 we met in our small groups and headed to a bar near the Cathedral, where Darren filled us in on what would be happening when we get to Madrid. As he was doing this there was a mic check going on for the concert that was going to be taking place later on.

We then went to get some food and ended up getting a nutella croissant, that took a long time for us to get but it was hot and beautiful when we got it. We then met the rest of the group and headed to the Cathedral where we met people from Canada, one of whom gave me a Canada sticker for my lanyard. I also met some people from Thailand and Max (I think he said) swapped me a bracelet for a badge. I then swapped a badge with Sami from Wyoming and had a good chat with her and a girl from Laura. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all these people and the concert was awesome. There was a Spanish priest singing at one point and we did a dance to his song. It was so much fun.

We then went to an extremely long Mass in the Cathedral. The homily was in Spanish which was a shame because I think I only caught little bits of it and it did go on for quite a while. Ste ended up doing a little reading at the end which was really cool to see him, doing that. After Mass, we got given a picnic tea, ate it there and then headed back to the hotel.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Day Four

Can't say I slept as well but still managed to drag myself to breakfast, make some lunch and go retrieve my rain coat, which in the end I didn't need. We all met in the entrance hall again and made our way to the coaches to begin our adventures to Avila.

Along the way Fr Bob regaled us in stories about St Teresa and we learnt that she once ran away with her brother Rodrigo to go to Africa to convert the moors and die for Jesus. Now that is dedication to the faith on her part, and total trust in her on her brother's part!

Fr Phil then put on a dvd about the World Youth Day cross. It was a little dated because it was obviously pre-Cologne, and before JP2 had died, but it was interesting none-the-less. It was a lovely dvd and really gave you the sense of how the youth really owned this cross and how hard it was for them to hand over the cross when WYD was over in their country.

Shortly after this we approached Avila itself. It was a shame the coach couldn't pull over because we would have had some beautiful pictures of the walled town in the distance. Eventually we parked up and ended up with quite a hike up the hill to the walled town itself. Fr Phil was in the wheelchair at this point and Fr Augustine was pushing him. I don't know how he managed it I wouldn't have had the physical fitness to do it, because that hill was steep and it was hot.

At one point we had to go up some steps so Fr Phil had to get out of the wheelchair and pick it up with Fr Augustine. It was quite a comical sight and did hark back to when Jesus said 'pick up your mat and walk' to the paralysed man.

We made our way to one of the squares and whilst we were waiting to find out the plan of action Alan and I sampled some of the cheeses on offer at the market. They were really good and had I thought they would survive until we got back to the UK I would have bought some.

From here we walked to Puerto De San Vincente, and told we were to meet back here later. Jane, Anne-Marie, Laura, Marie and I decided we'd like to have a look in San Vincente Church and so we went in, after the volunteers checked it was ok, because there were some French people in there having catechesis. It was a very ornate church, and I was really glad that we managed to get inside.

Laura, Marie and I ended up separating from Jane and Anne-Marie because we fancied scaling the walls. Unfortunately we would have to pay for the pleasure so we just had a walk around instead. We saw a lovely statue of St Teresa we wouldn't have seen otherwise so I guess it worked out in the end.

We met up with everyone after stopping off at a souvenir shop, and then we all walked to the monastery that St Teresa had at one stage been Abbess of. The walk there, although exhausting, was nothing short of entertaining again, because as Fr Augustine was wheeling Fr Phil along, he pretended to head straight for a tree, made a sharp right turn and the treads came off both wheels of the wheelchair. This then became a 'how many Catholics does it take...' moment with all hands to the deck to get them back on. After a struggle they were worked back on and the journey to the monastery recommenced.

We had a little wait at the monastery before we were able to go and have a wander around the little museum that they had in honour of St Teresa. We saw loads of her things, a painting she commissioned, and even her chamber pot! Also the drawing that St John of the Cross did of Christ that inspired Dali's painting of Christ.

We had to make a sharp exit out of there to get in for Mass. By this point in time I was really in need of water and felt quite ill. I managed by the grace of God, to get through Mass, get an extra bottle of water from Marie, see the confessional St John of the Cross would use to hear the sister's confessions, see St Teresa's original cell, and get to the gift shop before the coaches came to take us back to Valladolid.

After resting in the hotel for a few hours it was time to meet again. And to my surprise when I came downstairs there were Ste and Lizzie. It was good to see them and hear about how things were going for them in Valladolid. They were telling us they'd been fighting bulls in the bull ring there and Ste showed me the wound on his arm. We were then all to get our Magnificat's and go out to the plaza for evening prayer.

We gathered in our groups and played the song pictionary game, and if you didn't sing or sang the same song as someone else you would have water poured on you. It was quite comical, we got the water treatment once. After this fun and games we said evening prayer together and it really was a beautiful moment shared together.

We then made our way inside for food and I sat with Becky, Bridget, and Sophie, and some of the Leeds boys: Steve, Daniel, Dom and Ben. It was fantastic, though that couldn't be said for the food. We had a good laugh and were actually crying with laughter when Steve was talking about breakfast.

After food, we headed to the Plaza Mayor, had a few photos, and then we split off into groups and people went for a drink. The Leeds lads had mentioned a prayer vigil and I had that in mind for the evening. As we were wandering around the Plaza a Spanish couple saw our ID and started talking to me, and Lizzie. We couldn't understand too much but I understood enough. Alan ended up translating a bit for us. It was quite a strange moment.

After a little while sat with a group on the Plaza I went to the Cathedral to check out the vigil. I was really late so I had no idea what was going on. They were just reposing the Blessed Sacrament and then a bishop began to speak in Spanish to us. After a little while, I left and went to take some photos of San Pablo Church beautifully lit up, before making my way back to the bar we had been to yesterday. I stayed there for a little while before I headed to bed as it had been a really long day.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Catechesis with Fr Paul.

Catechesis with Fr Paul, on Friday 12th August 2011, was based on 'The Way.'  He read us the washing of the disciples feet. As he was reading there was music from the hotel playing. It was hard to not laugh out loud. Especially because it was classical and was dramatic at all the right moments...proof God has a sense of humour I think.

Fr Paul began by talking about pilgrimage. He asked us to think about what a pilgrimage is and said that we were on a pilgrimage now but the stations of the cross are also a pilgrimage.

He said that the first thing in the catechism was wrong because it said that God created you and I. It should say that God is creating us always. God is not finished with you yet.

He returned to World Youth Day and said the whole point of it is not what you do here but what you take home with you because you will be new when you go home.

He then talked about the stations of the cross, and focussed on the station of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus. He said that when people look at each of us they can see a tiny bit of Jesus in us. We are all beautiful and we should walk in our own way.

Fr Paul reminded us that Jesus can change anything in our lives, if you just let him. He said our relationship with Christ is being shaped and moulded by him. We are on a unique way and we need to be brave to allow Jesus to change us into something new. If we allow this then we will be very powerful pilgrims all of our lives.

After he had finished speaking the Castlerigg team did the skit showing us how God loves us and how he fights for us, if we let him into our lives.

Day Three

I slept so well during the night that it was so hard to get up. But by 8am I was up and getting ready. Anne-Marie and I headed down for a scrumptious breakfast, and then proceeded to go on the hunt for a toy gun with Amelia. She needed it for the skit that the Castlerigg team would do later on after catechesis. Sadly, we didn't find a toy shop and even if we had in all likelihood it would have been shut, like the other shops.

We got back to the hotal and met everyone, and were given our packed lunches. Sadly for me and Kate, the hotel did not understand the concept of vegetarian and had given Fr Augustine one bag of fruit and one bag of yoghurts for all the dietry requirements, so on Emma's brilliant suggestion we went and got a meat eater bag and switched the meat sandwich with some of the others for their cheese one's.

We then went to the coach and, after waiting for half an hour while they located one of the coaches, began to make our way to the College Gardens. We all switched seats and we were treated to an interesting conversation from some of the boys regarding shaving/waxing. One of our male pilgrims who shall remain anonymous, said 'From here (indicating his neck) down I would quite happily remain bald.' It was priceless.

A lot of our group went straight into the pool when we got there but I went for
a wander around. I came back to find Jane tending to Simon who had been stung by a bee when he accidentally kicked a bee nest whilst playing football. After that Jane, Alan and I went to the chapel, to pray for a while. It was beautiful in there, simple but beautiful none-the-less.

It was then lunchtime, and after being fed up of being pestered by the bugs where I was originally sat, I went to sit with the priests and Alan. Fr Bob had been going around trying to get people to put sun cream on and we both agreed we needed a hunky young man to go around and people would then put it on.

Shortly after this it was time to don the polo shirts before we had a group picture and then made the journey to Duenas, to the monastery that St Raphael Arnaiz had belonged to. When we got there we had to wait to be able to go into the church because another group was using it, so after our tri-diocesan photo, we made our way into the church for Mass. It was beautiful in there and it was wonderful to be in a place that was so holy. I joined the music group again and enjoyed singing in there, the acoustics were amazing. I was really moved at communion especially when singing 'Lift your eyes to heaven, there is freedom.'

Abbot Enrique said a few words to us before Mass was over and invited us to pray in the shrine of St Raphael. I took him up on that invitation and headed in, picking up some prayer cards along the way. There was a stained glass window in there that I was really taken with, it was just so beautiful. After I prayed at St Raphael's tomb, I made my way towards the door, and in came the Abbot. He reached out and held onto my arm, and said goodbye. I felt really touched by this. I quickly went to the shop and then we headed back to Valladolid.

On our return to Valladolid Amelia and I resumed the hunt for the toy gun. We managed to find a tiny toy shop and told the owner what we were after, having to use a lot of gestures. He got the picture and then he sold a toy gun to us, that should have been in a set. He was very sweet and helpful. He even said goodbye to us in English.

After showering, and washing some more clothes by hand, we headed down to catechesis in the bar led by Fr Paul, during which the Castlerigg team did the skit. They did a great job and yet again I felt moved by it. We then had tea. I had salad, spanish omlette with weird flavoured veg, and fruit for desert. A group of us, headed to the bar across the road and spent some time chatting before we were rounded up and headed to bed. Altogether a brilliant full first day in Valladolid.

Days One and Two

So the journey to Madrid began on Wednesday 10th August 2011, my 25th Birthday. My present was to travel alone for the majority of the day. I left Swansea at 8:30am, travelled down to Dover and arrived at the port at about 3pm. I waited in the travel office until just before 5pm when I boarded our coach. The group were fantastic and sang me Penblwydd Hapus i ti, gave me a birthday cake and I had a seat decked out in Welsh bunting.

We then proceeded to the ferry and I spent my time offering around my birthday cake. The crossing was a little rough and we couldn't walk in a straight line for love nor money. We eventually got to Calais and then spent the night travelling through France.

During this time we said a 'cheeky decade' of the Rosary, followed by 2 quizzes, and then watched 'Up'. I'd never seen it and I was glad we watched it though it did make me a little sad thinking about my Nanna.

As we travelled around Paris we got stuck in a fair amount of traffic. but we did get to see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. We had a pit stop so people could get ready to sleep from 12:30 until 7am. I managed a few hours but not much really. We then had breakfast, and here we met some German pilgrims, and the priest from their group came on the bus and gave us a blessing in German. We watched The Incredibles, and had another stop where we met some more pilgrims, this time Slovakian and French.

We finally got to Valladolid at 2pm just as forecast. We ended up with a great bus tour of the city whilst we tried to get the coach into the street with the hotel on. In the end the coach was parked up at Plaza San Pablo and we walked from there. Group One was the first to go and we had no idea where we were going, so we asked some people and found our way there. Embarassingly we were right outside the hotel when we asked some people.

And so we made it. Anne-Marie and I got our key and headed up to our room, showered and settled in. We did some travel washing and then made our way to the foyer to meet our groups.Once our group was all there we went for a walk around, a few of us went into the Cathedral, and a few others went to a bar, where we joined them later. The Cathedral was quite plain
inside, aside from the altar and the banners that they had hanging in homage to all the World Youth Days. We then rejoined the others got our drinks and free popcorn and sat outside and watched the highly entertaining car lift that
would not work for this lady.

We made our way back to the Hotel and from there we went to the English and Welsh College with Leeds and Middlesborough Dioceses, for Mass. It was beautiful in there. I joined the music group for Mass, which I was glad of because it was a bit more spacious over there. A few people had to leave because they felt ill and it became clear we were really going to have to drink a lot of water.

We headed back to the hotel where we were fed. I had consumee, I'm pretty sure this was chicken stock, tuna fillets, which were really well done, and chips, and then some ice cream cake thing. We had to stay behind for a short meeting about tomorrow, and then headed to bed concluding our first 2 days travelling.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

World Youth Day.

I have just returned from World Youth Day, in Madrid and having written a diary whilst out there I thought it might be nice to put it somewhere that people would be able to read about my experiences. I will have to shorten my entries because I do love to ramble on, but hopefully this will be a nice way to continue the sharing and discussions. :) It will take a while for them to all turn up but do bear with me and check back. A big thank you once again to everyone I shared the time with out there it was truly amazing, and I will always hold you all in my heart.