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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) _ Pope John Paul II, looking rested at his vacation palace, joked with pilgrims from his native Poland Wednesday, about a week before he is to make a pilgrimage to his homeland.

The pope appeared before thousands of pilgrims for his weekly audience in Castel Gandolfo, in the Alban Hills southeast of Rome.

``At 83, it is nice to hear 'Hip! Hip! Hurrah!''' the pontiff joked, after Polish pilgrims had given him the cheer.

The pope will turn 83 next May.

Despite his ailments, including slurred speech and a hand tremor, symptoms of Parkinson's disease, John Paul is keeping up a busy travel schedule.

He came back Friday from a grueling 11-day trip to Canada, Guatemala and Mexico. On Aug. 16 he is set to begin a four-day visit to Poland.

Except for his travel abroad, the pope will stay in this lakeside town in the cool hills through September.