27 Jul 2016

WYD blog - Back to Krakow


WYD Blog July 27, 2016

We returned to Krakow yesterday (Monday) afternoon and after an induction by the Cosmos tour operators we were assigned our rooms in the largest university residential complex in Poland – two to a room with a shared bathroom for eight. We made up our bunk beds and tried to access Wi-Fi but you could only do so in the lobby – consequently it was rather crowded!

There were a lot of pilgrims arriving at the same time so there was a line-up for the small lifts and we were further delayed when we took the even number lift instead of the odd number one. A priest took pity on us and together with one of his pilgrims helped us lug our heavy suitcases up one flight of stairs.

We were all pretty tired and after picking up my media accreditation and WYD backpack we made a quick trip to the supermarket and prepared for bed. Getting my blog sent home proved somewhat of a challenge (not the first time either) because the Wi-Fi password wouldn’t work on my computer and after a few failed attempts I had to resort to transferring it to a USB and paying for an internet connection at the Uni shop.

This morning when the group headed off by tram to the Australian gathering I decided to go it alone and find my way to the media centre. I was a bit surprised at the small size of the room and the lack of facilities until a nice Italian man told me I was in the organising committee press room, not the main press room. A little embarrassed, I explained that the volunteers had directed me there (not sure if he believed me but he seemed impressed that I was from Australia at least).

It was a huge relief to get Wi-Fi access and start communicating easily with the rest of the world again, only to find that later in the day the Wi-Fi wasn’t working! In between that, I took a taxi to the Tauron Stadium about 20 minutes out of Krakow to report on the Aussie gathering and attend a press conference held by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. It was wonderful to see so many young Australians come together in this amazing venue (it seats 20,000 and is the largest concert venue in Europe according to the taxi driver).

When I left the stadium there were no taxis around and it took me two trams, a bus and a walk in the wrong direction before I finally found my destination.

There is an incredible atmosphere around Krakow with thousands of pilgrims roaming the streets wearing colourful T-shirts, backpacks, hats and raincoats. It is much busier than when we were here a week ago and a lot of the roads are closed to traffic. There is a huge police and army presence – not surprisingly following the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, including the shocking slaying of a French priest this morning. The bishop from the diocese where the attack in the church took place is here in Krakow and he put out a media release expressing his shock and great sorrow.

Despite the thunder, lightning and rain earlier in the afternoon, nearly 500,000 people are at the opening Mass right now. Miraculously, the rain subsided just before the Mass commenced and there were hordes of late-comers hurrying to make it in time. I have a birds-eye view through one of the many screens in the media room and a friendly volunteer has just organised a translating device so I can hear the speeches. But I can see from the look on the pilgrims' eyes that it is an incredibly emotional experience for them to be celebrating the Eucharist in the city of Divine Mercy.

Posted by Jenny Brinkworth at 1:49am

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