, Kraków, Poland, Jul 28 – Pope Francis became the first pontiff to hop on an ordinary city tram on Thursday, on his way to the opening ceremony of an international Catholic extravaganza in Poland.
The Argentine, 79, boarded a yellow and white street car with “Pope’s tram” on the destination screen.
He looked thrilled as, perched on one of the blue plastic seats, he waved to the snap-happy crowds lining the streets of Krakow as the tram trundled from the archbishop’s residence to the sprawling Blonia park.
Francis was sharing the ecologically friendly tram, which was painted in the colours of the Vatican, with 15 young disabled people and their carers for the 800-metre (0.5-mile) journey.
He had been met at the stop by youngsters in traditional Krakow dress and given the keys to the city by the mayor.
Thousands of pilgrims from around the world packed the streets on the route despite the rain, with some even perching in trees to get a good view of Francis.
The pontiff, a fierce defender of the environment, has always been a fan of public transport. As archbishop of Buenos Aires he was known to take the underground train to get around the Argentine capital.
Francis was to address several hundred thousand pilgrims in the vast Blonia meadow as the 2016 edition of World Youth Day got underway.
Polish police said 600,000 people had gathered for the event, most wearing colourful rainproof ponchos to party with the pope.