Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI in NYC

Hi bloggers, welcome to my blog!!!
This is my first time ever for writing a blog, even though I’ve been planning to do it for a very long time. This blog will be mainly about food and anything related to it. However, for this first one, I will write about a very exciting event that happened to my husband & me today. We saw Pope Benedict XVI very closely twice! We are Catholics, so this was a very special experience for us.

This Saturday morning (April 19, 2008) we woke up at 5:45 am since we planned to leave the house at 6:30 am. We wanted to arrive in Manhattan as early as possible so that we can get the best spot. We stopped by at Ceci Cela Patisserie first to get breakfast, which I’ll write tomorrow. From there, we drove straight to 5th Avenue area through 6th Avenue. We saw many people (who were very lucky to get the 5,000 limited tickets) were already lining up near St Patrick’s Cathedral. We decided to leave our car at the nearest parking garage, which was located on the 58th Street. Then we immediately walked straight to 5th Avenue, passing many police officers along the way.

When we reached 5th Avenue around 8 am, a lot of people were already standing on the sidewalks. Luckily we got a good spot on the second row. There was a group of people who were singing, playing guitar and tambourine, as well as dancing.

Pope Benedict XVI: The crowd at 8 AM

Around 9 am, the motorcade started, I got very excited, and within couple of minutes the black limousine that carried Pope Benedict XVI passed by. The crowd (including us) were screaming, waving to Him, as well as trying to take picture of Him. I took the photo but we won’t be able to see Him on it since I took it too early and the car was moving considerably fast. We saw Him waving to us and smiling, what a wonderful feeling. I could feel that my heart was beating very fast; this was once in a lifetime experience.

Pope Benedict XVI: The limousine that carries the Pope (on the way to St Patrick's Cathedral)

Some people started to leave, so we were able to move to the first row right behind the barricade. We opened our folding chairs and started to have our breakfast. Within 5 minutes more people started gathering on the sidewalks, to wait for the afternoon Popemobile parade. The weather was cold in the morning, but around 11 am the sun started to shine and it was getting warmer. We decided to fold our chairs around 12:30 pm and started to stand. By that time the sidewalks were full, people stood shoulder to shoulder, from the barricade up to the building wall behind us. Nobody could move or pass through anymore, definitely a lot more people compared to the morning.

Pope Benedict XVI: The crowd at 12 PM

Around 1 pm, more police officers came and stood on the street 10 feet apart, facing the crowd. The security was tighter compared to the morning. As time got closer to 1:15 pm (the scheduled time for the Pope in Popemobile parade), we could feel that people got more excited. Every time we heard a screaming sound, everyone started to look towards the street thinking that it was the Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI: Motorcade at 1:15 PM (from St Patrick's Cathedral)

At 1:30 pm, we could hear the sirens getting closer and within 1 minute we were able to see the front of the Pope mobile. Finally, Pope Benedict XVI passed right in front of us, he was smiling and waving to us, the crowd were cheering and waving to Him. He looked very peaceful and I thought he looks younger than on TV. What a wonderful feeling inside of me, no words could describe it, I felt very blessed to be able to see Him that close. I took a very clear photo of Him and my husband took a video of Him using his cell phone. This time the Popemobile moved slower than the limousine ride in the morning, but there were a lot of police officers and secret service around it. Still, it all went through too quickly.

Pope Benedict XVI: The Popemobile

Within minutes people started to leave and we walked back to the parking garage to get our car. I could feel that my hands were still shaking, I was very happy. I will definitely remember this for the rest of my life.

From there, we decided to have lunch since we were very hungry. We wanted to try Kampuchea since I’ve heard that their food is good. Then we went to Batch and L’Arte del Gelato before heading back to New Jersey. I’ll write all about it tomorrow since I want to dedicate my very first entry in here for Pope Benedict XVI.

It is already 1:30 am on Sunday, so I better go to sleep now. Have a good night!

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