Mass in Central Park with Pope John Paul II

Watching the news coverage and seeing so many social media postings of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States this week, I am remembering the first time I saw the pope. It was Pope John Paul II, twenty years ago, when he visited New York in October, 1995, and said mass at the Great Lawn in Central Park.

Surprisingly, I found a picture of my friends that attended the mass and the altar where Pope John Paul II celebrated the mass. My friend Nora was able to secure tickets to attend – not an easy task as everyone wanted see the pope – and I was so honored and grateful that she invited me to join her and her friends Christine and Jen.

Kiera BlogI asked Nora if she remembered how she was able to find tickets, and this is what she wrote, “I had a theory that they mailed out tickets and some of them had to have been returned due to wrong addresses and whatnot — turns out I was right! I called the Diocese the day before and got four tickets.”

I must admit I do not remember much about the entire experience other than needing to get there early, it being a bit chilly, and the crowd chanting, “John Paul II! We love you!”

Nora shared a funny anecdote. She asked me, “Remember the guy on his cell phone talking about the Ave Maria?” I had to admit I didn’t. She said, “It was this big guy and in the middle of one of the prayers he called someone on his cell and was bragging about being at the mass and hearing the Ave Maria (sung by Jon Secada???) it was totally annoying and rude!”

I wonder now if the big guy she’s referring to is the man in the red jacket and baseball cap in my picture up above. I have one other photo of the altar, and he is squarely in front of it, blocking the view.

I do remember the distributing of the body of Christ – how we were all in sections on the lawn and priests came to each section and the whole process went much more quickly and orderly than I imagined it would.

I also remember it being a joyous feeling. Everyone was peaceful and happy.

Here are some articles I found recounting the visit. The NY Daily News provides an overview of his visit to greater New York City, while The New York Times reports on the mass itself which brought back many memories for me. And, to confirm Nora’s report of Jon Secada singing, The Baltimore Sun reported,

“Yesterday morning as the skies lightened, the music began. Roberta Flack sang “Amazing Grace.” Natalie Cole appeared with the Boys Choir of Harlem. Placido Domingo sang during Communion. Latino pop singer Jon Secada followed Kathy Triccoli, a Christian pop star.

But the star, the crowd made clear, was Pope John Paul.”

I also found this video on YouTube, shared by John Saffire, at the start of Mass with the Ode to Joy playing.

It is hard to put into words what being in the presence of the Holy Father feels like, but watching Pope Francis on television, my heart is filled with love, and I can not help but tear at the grace, beauty and joy that you can see in everyone’s faces.

I hope that everyone that sees Pope Francis during his visit, either in person or on television, remembers it for many years to come.

A Lamborghini for the Pope

Pope Francis touched down in the United States yesterday afternoon to much fanfare. I saw this photo essay by the Los Angeles Times highlighting some of the “Popemobiles” that the pontiff has used for travel over the past hundred years. I particularly liked the first photo showing Pope John Paul II in a Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet.

That picture reminded me of a papal golf cart I saw in the Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini several years ago. We were in Italy to watch the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix at Monza, and decided to visit Motor Valley in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, home to Italian auto manufacturers Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati to name a few. I booked a full day tour with MotorStars that took us to the Lamborghini Factory, Ferrari Museum, and Pagani Factory. One of the stops on our car tour was to the privately owned Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini (note the museum moved to a larger location in Funo di Argelato in 2014; we visited the old location in Dosso di Sant’Agostino). This museum is distinct and separate from the Museo Lamborghini which is attached to the Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese. We visited the Lamborghini factory and attached museum on our tour too, but the Pope’s golf cart was in the private museum.

Outside the Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini

Outside the Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini. Fabio Lamborghini, Ferruccio’s nephew, is on the right. He gave our group a tour of the museum.

While the highlight of the museum for many is the Countach and Miura on display, there were also other interesting vehicles to note, including some of the early tractors Lamborghini built.

The Lamborghini Muira (on the left) and Countach (right) on display under a photo of Ferruccio Lamborghini.

The Lamborghini Muira (on the left) and Countach (right) on display under a photo of Ferruccio Lamborghini.

And, there was this little golf cart made for Pope John Paul II.

Lambo pope cart 1If you zoom in on the front seal it reads, “Papa Giovanni Paolo II.”

Lambo pope cart 2From the side, you could see a Poland scarf draped on the seat, honoring Pope John Paul II’s home country.

Lambo pope cart 3Lambo pope cart 4The museum provides an interesting look into the history of Lamborghini and showcases not only cars, tractors, and unique vehicles like this golf cart for the Pope, but also family photos and Lamborghini memorabilia.

If you are a car enthusiast, a visit to Italy’s “Motor Valley” in the Emilia-Romagna region is a must. The tourist website for the Emilia-Romagna region has information about the museums and private collections to visit, along with other places of interest.

I found a more detailed review of the museum (at its new location) by Mark Smyers on the site here.

So far the photos of Pope Francis’ visit have shown him in a Peugot in Cuba and a Fiat after landing in the US though his official popemobile for his visit will reportedly be a Jeep Wrangler.

What is your favorite popemobile?



Spotting Advertising for #FriFotos

As I gather photographs to share for this week’s #FriFotos theme of Great Britain, I look back to a #FriFotos in June (June 26, 2015 to be exact) when the theme was Advertising. I shared a few photos from my travels in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Stockholm along with a photo from closer to home in Hermosa Beach, California. I like to snap quick photos of ads when I’m traveling – it is always interesting to me to see how ads for global brands are often the same as in the United States but in a different language. It is also interesting to spot ads that are unique to the region I am visiting.

In the Spring of 2006, I visited China for the first time. Tiananmen Square was a short distance from our hotel, and as an Olympics fan, I was excited to see this large clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the start of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. As you can see from the bottom of the clock, it is also an advertisement for Omega watches, the official timekeeper for the games.

Countdown to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics in Tianamen Square

Countdown to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics in Tiananmen Square

On this street near our hotel, I was interested to see big signs adverting stores and products, much like you would see in other large cities (New York, for example), around the world.

Street advertisements in Beijing.

Street advertisements in Beijing.

I took the subway back to my hotel and saw this advertisement for the cosmetics company Estée Lauder.

Beijing subway ad for Estee Lauder.

Beijing subway ad for Estee Lauder.

During my 2006 trip to China, I also was in Hong Kong for a few days. The signs in Hong Kong reminded me of the huge billboards in New York City. Here is a large ad on the side of a building for Konica Minolta.

Huge street ads in Hong Kong.

Huge street ads in Hong Kong.

Switching continents to Europe, I was struck by this simple ad in Stockholm, Sweden. It says, “Where is the clock?”

Simple ad in Stockholm, Sweden.

Simple ad in Stockholm, Sweden.

In the United States, it is impossible to attend a professional sporting event without seeing advertisements. The AVP beach volleyball tournaments are no exception. There are many ads courtside, especially in the courts with larger stands. This is a photo from the Hermosa Beach Open several years ago. Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May Treanor are on the far side of the court (Misty is leaping for the ball here), playing against Nicole Branagh (I think). There are advertisements everywhere – courtside, on the tents, even on the net!

AVP Beach Volleyball has ads alongside playing courts.

AVP Beach Volleyball has ads alongside playing courts.

Here is a favorite photo from Vancouver (full disclosure – I did not share this on Twitter on the #FriFotos day). My colleagues and I always had a laugh at the Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world” ads and commercials, so when I saw this on a bus stop in Vancouver, I had to take a photo to share it with them.

Stay Thirsty my friends.

Stay Thirsty my friends.

New to #FriFotos? Here’s a quick guide on the rules by Jeffrey Epstein.

#FriFotos was started on 15 October 2010 by Jonathan Epstein (@EpsteinTravels). Jonathan is the President and Owner of Celebrated Experiences, a company focusing on travel to the UK and Ireland. He is passionate about photography, his favorite hobby. Each week Jonathan cohosts #FriFotos with Stephanie Diehl (@TravelDesigned), Charles Yap (@CharlesYap), and Spencer Spellman (@SpencerSpellman). Jeffrey Epstein (@jeffreyinmotion), CEO of HBIM was a key advisor in the creation of #FriFotos and continues to assist in the Forum’s growth and success.

Dreaming of Monza!

The first Formula 1 race I attended was the  Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 2007, and I was fortunate to attend again in 2009. It is a very special race. Every year when I am watching the practice sessions, qualifying and the race on television at home, I wonder why I did not make plans to attend.

It is quite a sight to see the tifosi, Italian fans supporting Scuderia Ferrari, in person. Their presence in Ferrari attire, walking around the track with Ferrari flags on poles or draped across their shoulders certainly adds to the event.

I wish I was in Italy right now so we could head to the track at Monza this weekend. It is sure to be a fantastic weekend.

Forza Ferrari!

This photo from 2007 shows the podium after the race, with the tifosi and other fans on the race track. Fernando Alonso, driving for McLaren, placed first, with his teammate Lewis Hamilton placing second. Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen placed third.

Monza full

The 2007 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix podium with the tifosi in the foreground.

Canada #FriFotos Bring Memories of a Special Family Trip

Last week, the #FriFotos theme was Canada. I shared several photos of a trip my family took to Whistler three years ago. What made the trip especially memorable was the unexpected arrival of my nephew Gael. My sister and her husband were enjoying a last vacation before returning home to southern California, moving into their new home and becoming parents. I guess Gael heard all the fun we were having with my parents, my other sister and her husband, and he decided to join the fun.

Since my sister was not due for another two months, it was a very scary situation when she went into labor. Luckily (to make a long story short), she and my nephew received excellent medical care, and we will be celebrating his third birthday tonight.

Here are some of the photos I took before our plans took an unexpected turn to the hospital in Vancouver.

I arrived early in Vancouver to explore the city before our family headed north for a week in Whistler. One of my favorite ways to explore a city is via a bike tour, and the tour I took with Cycle City Tours Vancouver did not disappoint.

We stopped in the Granville Island Public Market where fresh produce was on display everywhere, like these Rainier cherries.

Canada cherries

Rainier cherries on display at Granville Island Public Market.

I was very excited to see the Olympic torch from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Canada flameWalking around the city one night, I spotted this Maple Leaf on the McDonald’s sign. I have to say, I do like visiting McDonald’s wherever I travel. There are always a few items on their menu that are unique to the country where they are located.

Canada McDAfter the weekend in Vancouver, we drove north to Whistler. We stayed in a rental home and explored the area by bike, foot, ski lift and sea plane. Our first night in Whistler, we saw a beautiful sunset over the mountains.

Canada Whistler sunset

First sunset in Whistler.

On our first day, we took a lift up Whistler Mountain and saw this friendly sign on our way to the top.

Canada Mountie gondolaOne day, I hiked around this beautiful lake with my sister and her husband.

Canada Whistler hike lakeThese Canadian flags looked beautiful in the sunlight atop Whistler mountain.

Canada Flag WhistlerI have many more photos to share from this beautiful corner of the world, but these were the ones I shared for #FriFotos last week. Thank you Canada, for a beautiful family vacation that we will always cherish, not least because my nephew Gael was born there!

New to #FriFotos? Here’s a quick guide on the rules by Jeffrey Epstein.

#FriFotos was started on 15 October 2010 by Jonathan Epstein (@EpsteinTravels). Jonathan is the President and Owner of Celebrated Experiences, a company focusing on travel to the UK and Ireland. He is passionate about photography, his favorite hobby. Each week Jonathan cohosts #FriFotos with Stephanie Diehl (@TravelDesigned), Charles Yap (@CharlesYap), and Spencer Spellman (@SpencerSpellman). Jeffrey Epstein (@jeffreyinmotion), CEO of HBIM was a key advisor in the creation of #FriFotos and continues to assist in the Forum’s growth and success.