22 July 2008

A Pilgrims Progress

"She was quite excited (not due to consuming too much sugar either) and said "do you want to see the Pope on Sunday?"... I kept expecting the Pope to break into a karaoke session but alas for me he didn't"

There I was fully engrossed with work matters, for a change, when I received a phone call. It was from the wife aka 'No Worries'. She was quite excited (not due to consuming too much sugar either) and said "do you want to see the Pope on Sunday?" After a few seconds thinking I said "yeah, why not". "Cool" exclaimed No Worries. "I have tickets for us and the gals" I was quite excited as it's not every day that you get to see the Pope. Even though we were not Catholics it would be a great experience, especially for our daughters.

A couple of days later I picked up a leaflet about getting to Randwick Racecourse for Sunday's big bash (aka 'the Pope does Sydney"). More that 400,000 pilgrims were expected to be there. The information guide suggested catching a train to Central and walking 4 kms to Randwick. The only bus services would be for the elderly and frail. That was fine, but could you really expect a 5 and 4 year old child to walk that far?

I then decided to consult with my great friend Mr Google. Typing in World Youth Day I came up with the same information. What the heck? Had the NSW Government stuffed up again? Had they overlooked the needs of the young, especially their bowel requirements whilst undertaking a 4 km walk? I looked at my wife and said in a bad put on American accent "Houston, we have a problem". No Worries replied with a puzzled look on her face "we live in Sydney not Houston, silly!" Naturally my wife is not a big movie watcher!!

Once I explained the issue we both started to think of a solution. Further consultation with Mr Google, and our basic knowledge of the area gave us a potential resolution. We then had to work out the finite details of our 'covert operation' to ensure that we got to Randwick in time to see the Pope and witness the Final Mass. I have to admit that we planned it down to the 'nth degree. In fact, any military organisation would have been happy with our planning skills!

So what was the plan? Well on Saturday night I would drive to Randwick and park as close as possible to the Racecourse taking in account any road blocks. Then I would return home. Once home No Worries and I would pack a picnic and in readiness for the morning. At exactly 0700 hours we would wake up the gals, give them breakfast and get them ready for the pilgrimage. Next would be a walk to the local railway station, travel two stops, get off, catch a bus to Randwick, experience the Final Mass, leave the Racecourse, find the car and drive home. Easy really!

The big day came and all went according to plan. In fact, it was even better than what we had anticipated. We caught the train and bus and got into the grounds of the Racecourse as the Pope entered hooning around in his souped up Pope mobile. He literally drove within a few feet of us while dancing to Madonna (who else?).

We found a spot and laid out a mat and sat down to witness what was an awe inspiring event. I kept expecting the Pope to break into a karaoke session but alas for me he didn't. Mind you, seeing the Pope singing "I should be so lucky" would have been a lot of fun! Seriously, it was great to be part of 400,000 pilgrims from 170 countries.

We left as the fireworks started and headed towards where our car was parked. After struggling against the tide of pilgrims travelling the other way we were politely told by the Police to turn around. Even when we explained where our car was parked they didn't budge. We had to go back and eventually take a 2 kilometre diversion to get to the car! Great flexibility shown by the boys in blue!!

Once in the car we drove to Maroubra beach for a 'Youthacino' and an afternoon snack before heading home happy in the knowledge that our meticulous planning had paid dividends! As for the Pope, well he headed back to the city for a well earned cup of tea (made with Holy Water) and a rest.

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