G'day mates! I'm back from Sydney. Wow. That's all I can say. Even better than my last trip in 2006. Partly because I had already done the typical touristy things in '06, hence no pressure to do/see everything, and partly because World Youth Day (WYD) was AMAZING. I can't even fully describe in words how much the experience meant to me. It was a combination of fun, excitement, energy, deep spirituality, and the best chance to meet people from over 140 countries. Yes, that's right... 140 countries. I can't even name 50 countries in my head. I'd say the event had about 250,000 - 300,000 people, and the closing mass with Pope Benedict had about 500,000.
Here's a breakdown of my trip:
Thursday night (LA): Got upgraded to business class, so I actually enjoyed the flight to Sydney.
Saturday morning (Sydney): Arrived about 6am. Took the train directly to Circular Quay, and my hotel was about a block away from the train station. After checking in our bags, we (my friend L and I) walked around Sydney and ate breakfast at a local cafe. Then we met up with Kat from Blogland, at the Temple of Love, an interesting but tasty chinese restaurant near Darling Harbour. Kat is a sweetheart, and her children are adorable. We then went to the Lindt chocolate cafe for hot cocoa and then took the bus to an area south of Sydney. We parted ways and L and I went to register for WYD. After registering we checked in our hotel, freshened up, took a nap, then met up with Grace and her friends. We had tapas at a Spanish restaurant, followed by clubbing at the Ivy till about 2:30am (a big feat for me to stay up that late). Met some random Aussie at the club and don't ask me how it happened, but I let him kiss me goodbye. These aussies sure like to kiss.
Sunday: Slept in, had lunch with L and Grace on a small cruise ship that took us from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay. Great view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Then went to mass at St. Patrick's followed by a nap, and then dinner with a friend of my dad's.
Monday: Went to the Wildlife Park, followed by lunch with an aunt. Then we toured the Opera House, and Hyde park/St. Mary's Cathedral. Bought a bunch of WYD gear. Went to see Mamma Mia! the movie that night.
Tuesday: Opening mass for WYD. I have never seen so many flags from so many countries in my entire life. The crowd was amazing. The energy, neverending. It was freezing cold the entire time, but well worth it.
Wednesday: Morning, watched The Dark Knight. Followed by more WYD events, including workshops, outdoor concerts, and conferences. I really enjoyed Christopher West's session on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Excellent talk.
Thursday: Papal arrival. I got a glimpse of the Pope in his "Pope mobile." It was such a blessing to see him and I truly felt his holy presence.
Friday: Stations of the cross (basically, a reenactment of Jesus' suffering and death on the cross). Followed by more outdoor concerts.
Saturday: The Pilgrimage walk. We walked for about 5 miles or so to the Randwick Racecourse, where thousands of pilgrims would camp out for the night in anticipation of Sunday's closing mass. Unfortunately, L and I had to leave Sat night since our flight was early Sunday morning. It took us about 2 hours to walk there and 2 hours back. Crazy huh? But sooo worth it. I think about 500,000 attended the closing mass.
So to sum up WYD... I highly recommend it to those young people who want to make a deeper connection to God and to Catholics around the world. There is NO experience like it. I think there were more people there than the Sydney Olympics.
Now for the news I'm sure you're all dying to know. I met someone.
Let me start by saying, that it was totally unexpected and my feelings for him are strong. I don't know what's going to happen with us, but I'm pretty sure he likes me too. Physically, he's NOT my type. At all. He's not someone I would've seen down the street and thought, oh hey he's cute. So the fact that I miss him so much seems to be an indication of how much I like him.
So the basics. I met him at registration on Saturday while waiting in line. He's 3 years older, he's a lawyer, and he works for a rival Big Four firm. When I first met him, I wasn't attracted to him or anything, we just made small talk, joking about how long the line was taking. We ended up exchanging business cards and mobile numbers. I stashed his card somewhere in my purse, not even thinking that we would meet again. But he ended up inviting L and I to meet up with his group, since he knew we had no big group to hang out with.
L and I ended up meeting up with him every day for the rest of WYD, and I guess with each day, the friendship grew. He makes me laugh, he jokes with me, and he's also very spiritual. We had many discussions about our Catholic faith, and it made me realize how important that is to me. My ex, Benny, was not Catholic, which didn't bother me much. But now that I've been to WYD, I can honestly say that in my heart, I want a good Catholic man in my life.
I don't know how it happened, but things started getting flirty between us. Just little things, like giving me hugs, warming up my hands when it got cold, text messages to me saying "Good morning gorgeous." Stuff like that. During our final night, when we were attending the evening vigil we traded beanies. He said he liked my beanie, and I said it was from my brother, who gave it to me after visiting Japan years ago. He said his was from his visit to Japan also, and so we traded. The next day he texted me saying he was glad we swapped beanies because it was like I was still there with him.
So the only bad part, is that he lives in Sydney. I miss him already. We're already exchanging emails and I'm already thinking of doing a rotation to Sydney. Talk about a new motivation to pass my CPA exam. I will keep you all updated as things progress, but I just wanted to share with you guys that I'm so happy right now. I haven't felt this way in a long time (what, 6 years maybe?) and it feels wonderful.