Monday, August 22, 2005

Missed the Pope!

It is Sunday, the last day of the new Pope's visit to Cologne for World Youth Day (WYD). If you have seen any of the coverage on the news, you know that there were a few people in Cologne for this event. In case you didn't know, Dusseldorf is about 1/2 hour away from Cologne, and so Dusseldorf was handling the overflow of people who couldn't fit in Cologne. There were young folk from all over the world here - all congregating and travelling around the city in groups, usually following a person raising aloft a flag of their country (I imagine so as not to lose their countrymen and women).

It was a fascinating thing for me to see, this overwhelming devotion and excitement (as I am not a religious person, this kind of fervor is rarely aroused in me; however, my growing fascination with Robbie Williams may be the thing that does it). I must admit, it was also a little scary - total mob mentality in action. I went out of town (to visit F in Frankfurt) on Wednesday, which was the official second day of WYD. I arrived at the main train station here, and had to fight my way through the throngs of youth milling around and chanting in the main level of the station. The groups seemed to be dueling - one group would start chanting something in their language for a few minutes, and then erupt into a loud scream and finish with thundering applause. Then, while one group was chanting/singing, another group in another part of the station would begin their rallying cry. I thought I would escape it once I got up to the platform where I would wait for my train to arrive.


There were what seemed like a few hundred kids up there, repeating the same scenario as downstairs, which is a little scarier when you are precariously standing on the edge of a train platform. I think the reason there were so many still downstairs was because they couldn't all fit on the platform! I figured out that they were all waiting to go to Cologne, and I panicked because I knew that my train would stop in Cologne on its way to Frankfurt - I thought I was going to have to press in to the train with all of them and find a seat (I had reserved a seat for the wrong train - long story). I was soon relieved when the local train to Cologne pulled in across the platform and they all piled in without injuring themselves or any innocent bystanders.

It seems that it was a big success for all involved, and quite something to witness.


Anonymous Karin said...

Heyah--I was wondering how you were surviving the Papal visit and now I see--you ran away! That much news I did get in the North(east)Woods (about the Pope, not you--what do they call the pope in German?).

6:50 PM  

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