21st July – The Official start
Day three started with a pleasant lie in for everyone. The group was given time to recover from our late arrival in the early hours and the group took full advantage of the late start, some more than others! Our hosts then provided us all with a large traditional Polish breakfast to prepare us for the day. We all then proceeded onto the bus to begin the hour commute into Bialostocka. Upon our arrival we were greeted by groups of friendly local WYD volunteers. Each one with a wide smile and a warm welcome. Next, we were all given lunch which we collected from the friendly volunteers in the food marquees. As a group we sat down on the grass and ate our lunch and we all took in the surroundings. We were in the middle of a field surrounded by hundreds of other pilgrims from across the world. There were so many different languages and flags. There were groups dancing and singing and others taking photos and playing games. It provided our group the opportunity to now mix with all the other pilgrims and begin to get a sense of the global scale of this festival. Soon our group separated and began making new friends and meeting all the other pilgrims. Exchanging stories, photos and trying to explain where Wales is!
Shortly after lunch we were treated to a walking tour of Bialostocka. We were shown all the landmarks of the city, including the opera house, town hall and palace with it’s gardens. The tour was rich in history and provided the group with a better understanding of the area we are residing in for the next few days. Following the walk the group was treated to a drink at a local British pub called Sherlock Holmes. Fr Michael was buying and it gave everybody the opportunity to rest and prepare for the Mass that evening.
The Mass was held at the city cathedral and delivered by the Archbishop. It began with a parade of all the different nations flags. The Mass was delivered in a number of different languages, once again reminding us of how global and multi national this WYD celebration is. Directly after the Mass all pilgrims and the congregation proceeded through the streets of Bialostocka, waving flags and singing songs. The streets came to a stand still with traffic stopped and pedestrians pausing to take pictures of wave at the passing pilgrims. The procession provided yet more opportunity to meet other people and admire the different flags and languages of the nations that walked alongside us.
The procession was the last of our activities for the day and it was another hour journey back to the accommodation. The effects of the day’s activities and the excitement we had been surrounded by was evident in the group on the bus journey back. The coach was filled with songs and laughter and a constant noise.