So this train. You enter it and children are singing over the loud speakers (too loudly) in other languages and the flat-screen TVs play videos of John Paul II. Rock. Star. Two hours later you pull into Wadowice, take stupid pictures, and follow the signs to Pope’s House.
Being that it was Sunday I was able to attend mass in the same church that Karol Wojtyla went to every day. I’m sure this had nothing to do with the fact that he lived across the street from it. Again. Rock star. I was blown away (distracted by) the ceiling, which had murals of each of his encyclicals upon it.
Of course, mass ended with yet another delightful picnic lunch, including a “papal cake” which apparently JPII once reminisced about, so now people make lots of money off of them. I could not pass up the excuse to eat creame and pastry.
On the way back there was also a stop at St. Faustina’s convent. Which, silly me, I hadn’t even put 2 and 2 together until I arrived in Poland. When Jake told me we might possibly have the opportunity to see the Image of Divine Mercy, I pretty much flipped out. And so it was. The Papal Train made a stop in the Krakowvian (yes, I made that word up) suburbs and we disembarked. I’m pretty sure Liz was rolling her eyes at my excitement.
On our last day together we ventured to Oświęcim to walk the grounds of Auschwitz. It was a chilling day that we both spent meditating on our own, walking in and out of each building. I was so saddened to be there, but the impact was great, and I am happy that we made it part of our trip. Admittedly, when the rickety bus game to take us back to Krakow, we couldn’t help but be a little enthusiastic.
We went out to dinner, hoping for one last time of filling our bellies with traditional Polish food, but instead accidentally sat down at a Georgian restaurant. (who knew!? ) The evening commenced with lots of packing, about 2 hours of sleep, and the sight of Elizabeth waving a white cloth as my train pulled out of the station.
Some 21 hours later I’d arrive back in the US, greeted by my mom and dad and a full day of work in the morning.
It was worth it.