Gracias, Madrid!

Also known as: Madrid, the city that welcomed us for most of the trip

This post is a little over a month late — I apologize. Real life caught me in its grip and refused to let go. I still owe you guys like, a ton (or okay, five or so) entries about Europe. And so…here I am.

After the WYD festivities ended, we all had one more day to use up our free city passes and our unused food stubs from the past week. After a long night of figuring out our mission trip for the next weeks of our Europe trip (where I suddenly became one of the heads of our mission team) and booking our tickets, we all set out on a sunny Madrid summer Monday for a city tour. :)

I’m no expert in history or even tourism, and the fact that we had our city passes for free meant I really hardly got to experience Madrid in the most “rugged” way possible. We were only armed with a guide in our WYD pilgrim packs that lists the Top 20 places we should see in Madrid, which we attempted to visit. Attempted only, because the heat makes it really hard to go around. I think we managed to hit up to 8?

Anyway, photo dump up and comments up ahead! ((I’ve decided to quit putting the gigantic watermark on the images — it was tiring, and distracting. More subtle watermark from this post onward :P))

Here’s one thing I learned as we toured the city: the train systems are nice, but the best way to really experience and see Madrid is to ride the buses. The buses in the city are pretty efficient, and if you have a multiple-ride ticket for the metro, you’ll be able to use that for the buses, too. Oh, and they’re not like the buses here in Manila, too — they’re more of coasters with pretty comfortable seats and sometimes, Wifi. Interesting, yes?

Madrid buses!

We weren’t really sure were to head out first, so we just decided to ride a bus to Sol and figure stuff out from there. Of course, since it’s our first time to ride a bus to Sol and we were used to riding the metro, we weren’t sure where the bus would go. After some time, we decided to go down and we had no idea where we were going. But then we ended up here:

Plaza de Espana

And it turns out to be the real start of our walking in Madrid adventure. :D

Cookie at Plaza de Espana — one side of it, that is :D

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Firmes en la fe (WYD Chronicles, Part 4 of 4)

Also known as: The overnight vigil that challenged our faith
* Here’s part 1, part 2 and part 3 if you want to keep up with the entire story :)

As of this post, it’s been a month since I was in Spain and I was a part of World Youth Day 2011. I won’t even wonder how fast time flies.

So, the World Youth Day activities culminate with an overnight vigil at some big place with all the delegates. This ends with a mass with the Holy Father the following day, with his address and the announcement of where the next WYD will be. I’ve been looking forward to the vigil because of the things I heard from those who came from Sydney: they say it’s going to be a night of prayer, with adoration chapels and confession all around. I wasn’t really expecting it to be easy, but I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be hard, either.

Funny how God challenges these expectations and then blows them all away.


So for the first time since the WYD activities started, we got to sleep in that morning since there was no more Catechism. That gave us permission to stay up later that night and run a load of laundry and bond with our host. The next morning, we had a full breakfast again (and wow, was it a big one!) to get us ready for the vigil. Our host mom also arrived that day and she made us eat (again!), and we got to rest a bit more while we got ready to go out.

Truth be told, we were all kind of wary about heading out in the Madrid summer heat. The hottest temperature the previous day was 41 C, and we were supposed to head off to Cuatro Vientos, the venue for the vigil, at around 2, when it was usually the hottest time of the day. Ah well, but it’s not like we can’t go, right?

So we went.

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¡Esta es la juventud del papa! (WYD Chronicles, Part 3 of 4)

Also known as: Seeing the Pope, and the Way of the Cross
Rough translation: “This is the Pope’s youth!”
* Here’s part 1 and part 2, in case you missed them

You know how you know some things or some people are exist because you see them on TV or read about them, but it never becomes really real until you see it/them with your very own eyes? That’s how I can sum up my third day of WYD 2011.

Buenas tardes, Madrid!

The third day of WYD’s highlight was Pope Benedict XVI’s welcoming parade in Madrid. Here’s the thing about WYD that I learned that day: you need to be able to tolerate enjoy crowds if you want to enjoy and make the most of all activities. Remember that it’s an international crowd, too, so be prepared to squeeze in with people from all parts of the world, some of which seem even unfamiliar. And be prepared for all kinds of culture to surround you, especially those you are not used to. More often than not, you’d be standing with them for a loooooong time, so it’s best to learn to enjoy the experience because hey, all of you are waiting for the same thing, anyway.

So, we headed over as near to Cibeles as possible to wait for the Pope’s welcoming parade.

We're all waiting for him!

Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to arrive at around 7:00pm, but we were already at our spot by 4. So what do to while waiting?

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