POLAND, SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2000
12 Days, 2,229 km.
Debbie's Polish Pictures Home Page
This trip was taken by Debbie Greenlee and Sydney Broyles. We flew from DFW / ORD / Krakow. Return was Warsaw / NY / DFW.
Thursday, Sept. 28, 2000, Dallas/Chicago/Krakow
Arrived at DFW and switched to an earlier flight as the one we were booked on would get us in too close to the time our flight from ORD to Krakow would leave. Also had our two bags sent all the way through to Krakow. Security at DFW passed the wand over my bag. I had bought a navy blue diaper bag to use as my purse/briefcase. We carried on 2 small suitcases that fit in the overhead compartments. Arrived in Chicago and immediately checked in at LOT. Learned from previous trip not to wait in line but instead approached the agent saying we didn't have checked baggage. This allowed us to go right up to the counter and get our seat assignments. We then grabbed a hot dog (Syd's first Chicago dog with bright green relish), bought and sent postcards home. There wasn't much time between our flights even with taking the earlier one so we went through security and this time my bag was swiped with a cloth for drugs. Went to the gate and waited to board. Flight was pleasant enough although we couldn't sleep because of people talking and laughing loudly. We had a movie and several meals. All I kept thinking was, "When we land in Krakow I still have to drive to Sanok! I'll be dead tired!"
Friday, Sept. 29 warm
Arrived at Krakow airport. Plane drove around the airport and finally stopped away from the terminal. We walked down the stairs and onto buses which drove us to the terminal. Entering the terminal we could see a big crowd on the second floor waiting for their friends and relatives to arrive. Sydney took a few pictures. Went through passport control, which took awhile. Then to baggage. What a crowd. Stood back for a while as the baggage carousel was quite small; so was the room we were in. Finally I was able to retrieve our two checked suitcases. We walked past an "official" and out the only door to the main part of the terminal. Small terminal so it was easy to locate the car rental counter. My first stop though was at the kantor to change some money. Nice rate of exchange, about 4.43 zloty to the dollar; up from the summer's rates. Took care of renting the car, singed papers, showed my licenses and passport. I rented from National Car Rental for 12 days, unlimited mileage and I declined insurance because I paid for the car in advance using my VISA and VISA would cover any damages. The cost for the car was $480.00. We picked the car up at the Krakow airport but returned it at the Warsaw airport. The young lady brought the car out front and sort of gave me directions to the city. We pulled out of the airport and drove into the city, one lane all the way and the slow route, I'm sure. It seemed to take forever. Our first stop was at a bazaar where I was supposed to be able to buy old postcards and maps. I had gotten the address off the internet. We parked in a lot next to the bazaar. I located the address but we couldn't find the shop, if it was still there. I did buy an extension cord (8 zl) to use during our stay as well as bottled water to use for brushing our teeth. Two liters of bottled water cost 1.40 zloty or 30 cents.
After our short shopping spree we drove to the rynek where we were to meet Monika. We crossed the Wisla and had a wonderful view of Wawel castle. We found a parking lot outside of the rynek and walked down a side street towards the rynek. We stopped in a bookstore and I bought a couple of small paintings and two books about Polish culture and a map to replace the ones that were stolen last summer. We decided to go to Cloth Hall and buy souvenirs until it was time to meet Monika at the chapel of St. Wojciech. Our first stop was to go downstairs of Cloth Hall to use the restrooms. This was Sydney's first experience using a Polish bathroom.
Most everything I bought was to replace items that I'd bought the previous summer that were stolen. I bought a chess set and t-shirt for Josh, 27 pysanki for Josh's class and looked for a doll from Krosno which I did not find. I did buy a szopka (creche) as I had promised myself. I also bought a thimble, Sydney bought a sheep rug ($20) for her daughter. This was totally unexpected but Alison had wanted one for a long time. Syd also bought a chess set for her husband, a piece of jewelry, and some crystal glasses. Monika surprised us by arriving early and correctly guessing that we'd be shopping. We decided to grab something quick to eat and ate at a small crepe restaurant next to St. Mary's church. We heard the trumpeter and I explained the significance of his song. Monika explained that this was the Jagiellonian University's anniversary so there were many festivities planned at the school. We left for Sanok at about 5 p.m.
The drive to Sanok was incredibly long and slow. Not like what we had experienced on previous trips. We drove under 30 kph most of the way. We stopped twice at gas stations to use the bathrooms. By the time we arrived in Sanok at 8:15 p.m., it was dark. We had come into town a way that I did not recognize but I was somehow able to find our way to the Hotel Jagiellonski, which I'd stayed at in 1998. We checked into the hotel and carried our suitcases up 3 flights of stairs. Our room was like a suite. It was huge. We had a living area with a couch, large table with chairs, and a small refrigerator. The couch pulled out to make a bed and this was where Monika slept. The bathroom was big enough and had a stand-up shower. The bedroom included 2 double beds, a wardrobe, T.V., phone and skylight since we were on the top floor. We unpacked a little and then went down to the "basement" for something to eat. Our food cost 51.50 zloty ($11.73) for three of us. Being overtired, I over-tipped and left the waitress 16 zloty. On our way upstairs I stopped at the desk and asked for soap for the shower. Sydney and I gave Monika the presents we had brought for her, visited for awhile and then went to sleep. Our room cost 160 zloty ($36.00) for one night (3 people) and included the locked parking behind the hotel but not breakfast. Three breakfasts cost 30 zloty or about $7.00.
Saturday, Sept. 30, warm and sunny
We awoke at 6:30 a.m., took showers and then went downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast we packed and checked out of the hotel. On the way down, however, we stopped and took pictures of the area from the balcony at the rear of the hotel. I brought the car around to the front of the building and we loaded our luggage. We drove to the center of Sanok because I wanted to stop in the Cepelia shop I knew was there. We found it with no trouble but the Cepelia shop did not have any dolls from Krosno, Sanok's wojewodztwo. I was disappointed. The clerk said it was because the costumes were not fancy. I remembered sadly that I had found one during our trip that past summer and it was, of course, one of the many items that had been stolen along with our luggage. We stopped in a bakery to pick up some pastry to take to the priest in Bukowsko.
We drove to Bukowsko and I was pleased to find that I remembered the way we took that summer. The drive was absolutely beautiful. The trees were changing colors and there were still some flowers growing. Monika had arranged to meet with the vicar regarding the records I was interested in. The priest's house and office was behind the church. We rang the bell and the vicar immediately remembered Monika. He let us in and showed us to his office. He asked what I was looking for exactly so I showed him my list. He asked if I could leave it with him along with my address and he would get to it as time permitted. He did not want to do it then with me as he though it would take a long time. I agreed and gave him 100 zloty. I took his and Monika's picture and then Sydney took his and my picture. I told him I had been there during Corpus Christi and he said I should have left the information then. I told him we couldn't find him or the pastor that day. This priest's name was ks. Jaroslaw Pacanowski, phone number (013)4674452 and the pastor's (ks. Kudla) phone number (013)4674011. We left the priest and took pictures of the church, inside and out and also the WWII memorial plaque on the outside of the building. I also took pictures of the gmina office, motel, 2 shrines, Magdalene Zytka's house and the outside of the cemetery.
We were going to drive back to Krakow using the more southern route so we could stop at a manufacturer of pantofle but instead decided to drive to the Czech border since we were so close. Sydney wanted to have another country stamped on her passport. The drive was very pretty but when we reached the border there was a very long line of cars and trucks waiting to get through the border checkpoint. We changed our minds about going across and instead stopped in a little café and had a snack. Sydney and I had pierogi. After the snack we got gas (2.80zl liter) and headed back to Krakow. About 2 km from the border we were waved over by a soldier. He checked my passport and asked me to get out of the car. Monika got out also and we all walked to the back of the car. He wanted me to open the trunk which I did. He asked if we had any alcohol in the suitcases and I told him, "No." He asked me to open a suitcase and I asked which one. He didn't care. As soon as I unzipped a suitcase, he said, "Fine," and walked away. Monika explained that he thought we had gone into the Czech Republik and bought alcohol which is cheaper than in Poland.
We drove on towards Krakow. Homes in southern Poland were very picturesque. Even though it was fall many homes had flowers in window boxes and quilts and pillows hanging over the balconies to air out. We drove through a town, Dukla, and I immediately recognized the church from the summer trip. Monika was quite excited about this church and asked if we could stop and look at the inside. We did. This gave me the opportunity to re-take pictures of the war memorial and the statue of John Paul II commemorating his visit to this site. We went inside the church and I bought a couple of postcard souvenirs. We "joined" a group that was touring the church and listened to a young, impatient, but funny, priest telling the story of the church and St. John Dukla. After the tour was over we drove to Krakow. Sydney (and I as well) had wanted to stop for pantofle but it was too late in the day and I was certain the shops would be closed. It ended up taking us less time to drive from Bukowsko to Krakow, including the stops, then it did driving to Sanok the day before.
After several tries, we were able to locate the Pensjonat Rycerska which sits at the bottom of Wawel castle on the Wisla river. We emptied the car and checked into the hotel. Only Sydney and I were staying in the hotel. Two nights for two people, including breakfasts cost 560.00 zloty or $129.00 or $64.50 per night. I gave the clerk my passport and paid for the room in advance. We walked up the two flights of stairs to our room. The room was quite big and had three beds, two night stands, a chest of drawers, a wardrobe, large bathroom with European
shower, T.V., phone, radio, small refrigerator, and windows that opened to the street. A hot/cold bottled water dispenser was just outside our door. The hotel sat on a square where the street was one way. The locked parking was on the opposite side of the square, which seemed to be a park with a fence around it. Parking cost 70 zloty for two nights or about $15.80 ($7.90 per night).
We drove to Pod Baranem (Ram's Head) for dinner. It was near the rynek. We parked as everyone else had, one the sidewalk. The restaurant was small but had quite a few customers. We all had a glass of wine which was expensive. The food was very good and also expensive. The bill for the three of us was 94 zloty or $21.66. After dinner we drove Monika home. Monika told me how to get back to the hotel and I was pretty sure I would remember from our trip in the summer. At the first red light, I stopped and then turned right thinking I could do that. Police car lights shone in my mirror. I pulled into a parking lot and two policemen approached the car. The one who came to my side was talking and seemed very nice. I told him I didn't speak Polish. He asked for something but I wasn't sure what so I gave him my licenses. He wanted my passport. My passport! I hadn't picked it up from the desk clerk! I tried to explain this to him. He started talking very fast and I couldn't understand him so I asked him to speak slowly; he didn't. His partner suggested (it seemed) that they just let us go. The policeman talking to me wanted to see the papers for the rental car. They were in the trunk so I got out and we walked back to get them. He was satisfied but started ranting again. The only word I could pick out was czerwona. Red. I ran the red light! I apologized several times. He finally walked back to his car "talking" the whole time. That was an interesting experience. Syd and I once again, headed back to the hotel. We had a little trouble, of course as I couldn't see the street signs but we made it. Hit the sack almost immediately.
Sunday, October 1, warm to hot
Sydney and I got ready and had breakfast in the hotel's small dining room/bar. There were a couple of other Americans there who seemed to me to be rude and ignorant.
Breakfast was "off the menu". After breakfast we walked to the parking lot to get the car. The attendant, after some talking and gestures, conveyed that it was October 1, and cars had to have their lights on all the time. I thanked him and we drove to Oswiecim. We were intending not to stay long because we were going to meet Monika at Cloth Hall at 1:00 p.m.
Had a little trouble finding the city of Oswiecim as the road number signs had changed. We arrived in Oswiecim and drove right to the rynek which I'd never been to before. There were no signs indicating where the death camp was located. We parked the car and walked over to a kiosk. I asked the man if he had a map of Oswiecim and he said, "No." I then asked him for directions to the death camp. He asked if we were going by bus and I told him we were taking a car. He told me and we found it with little trouble.
We went into the main building and used the restrooms which were downstairs. I had intended for us to send postcards from Oswiecim but being Sunday, the post office was closed. We instead made a donation to the museum. I picked up a brochure so we could pick the buildings Sydney wanted to go into. We took pictures and went through two buildings. I showed Syd the Wall of Death and explained it. On our way out I bought a three volume set of books listing those who died at Oswiecim, some postcards and Syd bought postcards and a book for her brother-in-law. We left at 1:00 p.m. the time we were to meet Monika.
We took a different route back to Krakow which took us through Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. We finally got near stare miasto in Krakow but streets were closed off! I kept driving until I found a way into the rynek and located a parking lot. On a big building across from the parking lot was a huge banner that stated," Kwasniewski i Swierci - persona non grata Krakow." Evidently the president of Poland was in Krakow for the university's anniversary. The banner was saying that the president and an aide of his were not welcome in Krakow. Monika explained that this was due to something the two had done on returning to Poland several years before. They kissed the ground as the Pope does. The presidential election was to take place in about two weeks so a journalist had taken this opportunity to broadcast what Kwasniewski and Swierci had done. This had upset many Poles.
It was 2:30 p.m. when we met up with Monika. She was having an iced coffee outside of Cloth Hall. I felt very bad that we had made her wait so long. Monika took us to the ornament store we had visited on our last trip and I replaced the ornaments that had been stolen. These were small glass ornaments shaped like long pinecones and cost 4 zloty (90 cents each) each. We went into St. Mary's Basilica and Monika showed us around. Outside we watched a street mime and some young musicians then quickly went through Cloth Hall again. On our way to the restaurant we stopped into a store off the rynek that looked like either Christopher Radko or Polonnaise glass ornaments. Priced one ornament at 89 zloty = $20.00. Dinner was at Chlopskie Jadlo, now a favorite restaurant of mine. We ordered the lard and Sydney tried it. Agreed it was pretty good but only had a little. Desert was free on Sunday so we all had a little piece of cake. After dinner we took a cab to the parking lot. We drove Monika home and had tea with her in her apartment. Monika showed us her picture albums. I used the bathroom and noticed that Monika had a washing machine in the tiny room. The washing machine seemed awfully large for the amount of clothes it could hold. After tea Sydney and I left. No problems getting back to the hotel this time.
While walking from the parking lot to the hotel I found a wallet/purse on the ground. Inside was a Ukraine passport. I turned it in at the hotel desk and the woman said she would call the police. Upon entering our room we found that the maid had not cleaned the room at all. I was surprised but considering the late hour didn't say anything to the clerk. Got to bed about 11:30 p.m. I enjoyed being able to get hot water for coffee from the cold/hot water bottle dispenser just outside of our door.
Monday, Oct. 2 drizzled for short time, cooler.
Syd and I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, grabbed our suitcases and checked out of the hotel. We took a couple of pictures of the hotel and bought a few souvenirs from the vendors across the street closer to Wawel. We went to the car and I paid the parking and we left. My plan was to buy cheap china from a factory store in Opole. I had an address that Monika had located for me. We had no problem getting out of Krakow and finding the tollway to Katowice. We had 2 tolls and each was 4 zloty = .90. Taking the tollway was great. Nice and fast. I was concerned about making good time because it was a long drive to Gniezno where we were going to spend the next five nights. On our way we took pictures of a nuclear plant on the north side of the tollway. It took about 45 minutes to get from Krakow to Katowice. However, getting through Katowice was a nightmare. The main road was under construction and down to one lane. I didn't see any signs that indicated a detour. I finally decided to turn right and see what happened. I lucked out! At the next large intersection I turned left and we were once again headed for Opole. But none of the numbers on the road signs matched my atlas. Katowice is a large city that didn't appeal to us. The road we were on took us right through the center of the city. Coming up over a hill the speed limit dropped drastically from 90 kph to 50 kph. I didn't slow down fast enough and a policeman at the bottom of the hill held out his "lollipop" indicating that I should pull over. He approached the car and I explained I was American and I didn't speak Polish well. He had me get out of the car with my papers and follow him to his car where another policeman was waiting. I got in the back seat of the car and they showed me my car and speed coming down the hill on a video screen. I was quite impressed. One of the policemen said "mandate" and I took that to mean I was getting a ticket. I asked if I should pay them or go to the station and they didn't care. I told them I would pay them so I wouldn't get lost. I paid them 100 zloty and they gave me these little chits as receipts. The speeding ticket which I think was for going 40 km over the limit, cost me $22.57. Not bad, really. However, I found out later from Stefan Tomalski that the receipts were old ones that aren't used any more and the policemen pocketed my fine. That's what happens when you don't speak the language.
Between Katowice and Opole the road was made up of huge cement blocks left over from WWII when the Germans put them down so their tanks could travel without problems. The constant sound the tires made crossing over the cracks between the blocks was a little nerve racking but Monika had warned us about this. On our way into town I stopped at what I thought was a petrol station but it only sold LPG gas so we had to drive on to Opole. My gas was getting low and I was concerned. We saw some "ladies of the road" (panienki) and took some pictures. Some panientki stopped at the same petrol station we did so Sydney and I got to see them up close. We used the bathroom and drove on to Opole. We arrived in Opole a little after noon. It was difficult getting around Opole and it reminded me of Gniezno. We found the Cepelia shop but it was not what I had expected. It was small but I didn't think the prices were that great. If we had more time I would have looked for other Cepelia shops or other factory stores. This shop was located at 10 Katedrlna. We had to go around the "block" several times before I found a place to park. I bought a few dishes and a wycinanki. When we left the Cepelia store we parked in a paid parking lot, walked across the street to a kantor and then back down another street to a cukernia. This was Sydney's first cukernia and she really enjoyed it. This part of town seemed to be the center and it was quite busy. Again, concerned with the time, we didn't spend as much time as I would have liked. On our way out of town we stopped at McDonald's for lunch and we both got a Happy Meal with a Smurf toy inside. We were given our choice of the Smurfs.
We left Opole for Gniezno at 3:00 p.m. and it took 1/2 hour to get to Kluczborg. We took road #11 from Kluczborg almost all the way to Wrzesnia. Kluczborg to Ostrow Wielkopolski took about 2 hours but we stopped to use a bathroom and had coffee and pastries in another cukernia. We also checked out the Cepelia shop that was in front of where we parked the car. Had a little difficulty getting out of this town due to lack of signs and the signs that were posted had different numbers that those indicated on my map. We took highway #11, not 40 as shown on my map. Then took road #15, again per the road signs and not the map. We took pictures of a windmill about 8 km south of Pleszew. We had to take a small detour through a tiny village because of a jackknifed truck which was blocking the main two lane road. Most driving was slow going but roads were being built and repaired everywhere. Driving through Poland in the fall is another beautiful experience. The trees were gorgeous and the leaves were falling like snow. The only drawback was that the farmers were burning their "field waste" and the smell of smoke was everywhere.
Stopped in Wrzesnia, just south of Gniezno, for gas and coffee for me. Arrived in Gniezno from a route I was unfamiliar with and it was night. Had trouble finding the Hotel Lech but finally did at about 8 :00 p.m. It's located on a one way street. We pulled into the locked, guarded parking lot and carried our suitcases into the hotel lobby. No problem checking in and we took our things up to our second floor room. I thought the hotel smelled musty but Sydney didn't notice it. The room was very basic but fine. Two twin beds, chairs, a desk, dresser, TV, phone, water, locking closets, and a shower stall in the tiniest bathroom. One window wouldn't open. I had arranged for this hotel over the internet and we were getting a discount because we were staying a week. There was a big agricultural fair in Poznan at this time and most other hotels, including the Hotel Victoria, had increased their room rates tremendously. We were charged 562.50 zloty ($126.97) for 5 nights, two people, including breakfasts and parking. That came out to about $25.00 a night! Great! I was pleased that I had asked for a discount! Syd and I went down to the restaurant which was below lobby level and had soup and bread. We weren't really hungry but just needed something small. We rearranged our suitcase contents to hold the items we had bought in Opole.
Tuesday, Oct. 3 it rained overnight, cool during the day
Syd and I had breakfast in the hotel. We chose from a set menu and we both had soft-boiled eggs. After breakfast we gave our laundry to the clerk at the desk along with hangers and asked that it be taken care of. We left the hotel and I expected to have trouble finding parking around the archdiocesan archives which are located behind the cathedral. I had brought along the parking ticket Dave had received during our last trip so I would know where I could legally park. We had no problem locating the archives and even stumbled on a tiny "parking" area right next to the archive building. We researched from 9:30 - 5. On Tuesday the archive is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I found that the archives had made a second copy of the index of the parish records it held. When we finished we decided to walk to the rynek and get something to eat there or nearby. I put on my jacket as it had gotten chilly for me. Sydney and I bought candy to take home, stopped at a cukernia, walked around a bit and had dinner at the Hotel Pietrak. The food was good but we had to wait a long time for the waiter to bring out check even after I had asked for it. We had lody (ice cream) while walking back to where the car was parked at the archives. Driving back to the hotel we had a little difficulty finding our way. At the hotel we went to the restaurant and I asked the waiter for a filizianka (glass) and karafka woda goraco (hot water in a carafe) so I could have coffee in the room. Back in the room Syd and I relaxed, turned on the TV and went to bed early.
Wednesday, Oct. 4 cool
Breakfast in the hotel. We decided to find the post office first and mail some postcards. We found a parking space in front of the post office and went inside to buy stamps. While standing in line a young girl came up to me and said in English, that I was in the wrong line. I thanked her and went to the correct line. Once outside the girl came up to us and I asked how she could tell I was from the US. She said I looked that way. She had a friend in Stephenville, Texas who had visited her that summer while attending a Baptist conference in Gniezno. I told her we too were from Texas and not far from Stephenville. She said her heart was in Texas and I wondered if her friend was a boy. She was on her way to the hairdresser so we said goodbye. We took some pictures of the church and statue of St. Wojciech (St. Adalbert) across the street from the post office and then drove to the archives. Today would be a short day of research because the archives closed at 2:00 p.m.
My plan was to search the Pieranie records which had been given to the archdiocese the summer of 1999 by the parish. Unfortunately there were a lot of missing records, many loose records and some burned. Sydney and I decided to go through the archdiocese museum which was across the courtyard from the archives. It didn't take very long and when we were finished Sydney bought a couple of angels and I bought some postcards. We drove to Wrzesnia so I could re-take pictures that I had taken the previous summer. I took pictures of the church as this was an ancestral parish for the Chojnackis that lived in Bierzglinek. We stopped at the same cukernia Dave, Josh and I had stopped at and had a snack. Sydney really liked cukernias now. I asked the girls in the cukernia where the cemetery was and they directed me to the old cemetery which was on the main road back to Gniezno. Evidently we had been in the new cemetery last summer because I did not recognize the cemetery Sydney and I went into. I took some pictures including a couple of a war memorial that listed all those from Wrzesnia who died during the war. Took some more pictures of the town and then drove to Gozdowo over a very primitive road; it was mostly dirt ruts. Sydney didn't like this road. I think she was afraid we would get stuck. I didn't tell her about doing just that on our last trip when I was trying to turn around on a narrow road that was between two fields. We arrived at Gozdowo with no problem. This was an ancestral parish for the Chojnacki family that lived in the village of Nadarzyce. We took pictures of the church and cemetery. There were some cows grazing very close to the cemetery. This cemetery had markers indicating where the plots were. Might be a good idea to contact the priest and ask him about old cemetery records. This is a particularly picturesque village. The large church sits on a hill and can be seen from the cemetery. There are a few priests and important people buried in the church courtyard. There is also a small brick building next to the church and possibly the priest's residence behind the church. We drove to Nadarzyce as this was an ancestral village for the Chojnacki family and I took some pictures. We then drove on to Bierzglinek, another Chojnacki ancestral village and I took more pictures. This village had clearly grown. There many "new" homes, streets, shops, post office etc. It would have been impossible to locate the ancestral home without an old map. While in Bierzglinek we stopped at a small sklep (grocery store) and bought snacks of paprika potato chips and drinks. We also bought more bottled water for the room. We drove back to Wrzesnia and stopped at the rynek. We had to pay to park around the square. Sydney and I went into a bookstore and children's store where I bought a Lego set for Josh. We made one more stop for gas and then drove back to Gniezno. It wasn't late when we arrived in Gniezno so we parked at the archives and walked to the rynek. We had dinner at the City Café which was just down from the Telekomunikacja (telephone) office. We walked down the street after and bought another ice cream. Back at the hotel I again went to the restaurant for hot water for coffee. Our laundry had been delivered to our room and the shirts were on hangers. We washed out some underwear and my blouse. Syd and I watched a program on TV about the development of safety gadgets for cars through the years. The program was dubbed in Polish but we both found it interesting anyway.
Thursday, Oct. 5 very foggy and a little cool
Breakfast in the hotel consisted of either soft boiled eggs or scrambled eggs with ham, cheeses, bread, juice and tea. We left for the archives at 9:40 a.m. and again had no problem finding it. I had this down now! We researched until 2:00 p.m. with Sydney helping me. Afterwards we drove to Pieranie, a Kolodziejski ancestral parish. This was also the parish of Waleria Chojnacka's family. Ks. Zgorzelak had been the pastor here for a very long time and had retired in June, 1999. He was now living in the old priest's home in Gniezno. We did not stop to visit him in Gniezno because I did not have an interpreter arranged and I had forgotten to bring his address.
We took Road #15 (new #) from Gniezno towards Wloclawek, driving through Trzesmeszno where there was another Hotel Lech, and then through Kruszwica, the home of the Tower of Popiel. It took about 1 hour and 40 minutes to drive to Dziewa, the ancestral village of Kolodziejski and Kruk families. Dziewa is so small I'm not sure it can even be classified as a village. We drove over its "roads" and I took many pictures. The manor house was, of course, still standing in disrepair, although lived in. I was certain I drove down roads that I hadn't been down before even though this village was so tiny. The highway sign for Dziewa was now gone so there was no indication that Dziewa and Konary, across the road, were in the vicinity. We drove across the road into Konary. The only indication of the name of this village was on the bus stop sign. Konary has a skelp with a WWII memorial plaque outside. There is also a house with a large, beautiful garden in Konary. It has a large shrine of Jesus, a pond, a garden gnome and a white picket fence. We took several pictures of it. We drove on to Pieranie. Pieranie has a post office, school, parish church and a house with a pretty garden and windmill that sits on a triangular piece of property across from the post office. I took some pictures of the church. It was much easier to get pictures with the trees losing their leaves. I took pictures of the priest's home since the new pastor had made many changes since taking over. The large trees to the right of his house had been cut down and he had little stools arranged in circle as if for a gathering. The property did look more manicured then when ks. Zgorzelak lived there. We drove on to the cemetery and I took some pictures of it. This was the first time I had been in this cemetery. It was well kept and small. Obviously the graves were re-used.
On our way back to Gniezno we stopped in Kruszwica near the Tower of Popiel which was closed. We went into the restaurant to see about dinner but it was apparently being used for a group of people. We used the bathrooms downstairs (50 grosze = 0) and I "chatted" with a couple of old ladies who, of course, spoke only Polish. It was very pleasant though and they enjoyed my "broken" Polish. I tried to buy a small mouse souvenir for Josh to (again) replace his from last summer but the souvenir stand didn't have any! I guess that was because the tower was closed. Syd and I decided to eat at the little stand across the parking lot. Parking cost 2 zloty (45 cents). We had hot dogs, frytki (french fries) and herbata (tea). The cost for both of us was 11 zloty ($2.48). What a bargain! We sat at an outside table to eat. I noticed a car had left the parking lot without paying even though the woman attendant called after them. When we left I paid her for that car too. It was too cheap not to! The next time I go to Kruszwica I must stop and see the museum and basilica. After eating we drove around the rynek and then headed back for Gniezno. Once in Gniezno we stopped at a large store and bought candy, a writing book for Josh, instant coffee and lody (ice cream). Back at the hotel I again got more hot water from the restaurant. We watched TV while getting ready for bed and writing in our journals. The news on TV was about Yugoslavia and the civil unrest and take-over that was occurring in protest of President Milosevic's attempts to ignore the results of the presidential vote, which had gone against him. We also watched the "Crocodile Hunter" in Polish as well as "Animal Planet" and "Emergency Vet." There was also mention that Solec Kujawski was going to be on TV on Sunday.
Friday, Oct. 6 cool and very foggy
Breakfast in hotel and on to the archives for my last day of research. We were there from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I had Sydney copy down a few of the parishes and their records that were stored at the archives. At 1:00 p.m. I returned the record books that I had been using telling the priest I would not be back. I left a donation of 200 zloty for the archives. Sydney wanted to buy a couple more angels so we stopped at the archives museum. We also took pictures of Boleslaw I in front of the cathedral, the building around the area and the cathedral itself. The fog had not burned off. We went into the diocesan bookstore as I was looking for any diocese directories. They did not sell them. The priest at the archives had suggested this store. We went next door to a souvenir shop and bought two pictures of Mary (nursing Jesus and Czestochowa) and a statue of Boleslaw. A Polish woman bought another statue of Boleslaw and gave it to me! I couldn't believe it. Two beggar women had been begging for money around the cathedral and the rynek. I think they were the same ones Dave, Josh and I saw during our trip to Gniezno. A beggar woman and her baby entered the souvenir store and wouldn't leave. The police were called and took the woman out of the store.
Sydney and I walked to the rynek as I was trying to locate the Orbis office to see if they could help me locate a few things such as the diocesan directory. A bookstore was now at the address I had for the Orbis office. I asked the clerk where Orbis was and she told me it was now on Warsawska ulica. I decided not to bother so we went back to the car. On the way we took more pictures of the buildings around the back of the cathedral.
We drove to Gradowo, a Chojnacki ancestral village. It took about 2 and 1/2 hours. I didn't want to take the same route going east of Gniezno as we had taken the day before so I mapped out a different route. Unfortunately, there were no road number signs and this made it difficult figuring out which roads to take. We ended up taking very back roads; driving through a forest on sand roads. Sydney didn't like this and suggested we take a different road back. We weren't the only car on these "roads" so I felt pretty confident that we would be O.K. I guess my radar was working because we took all the correct turns in the forest and found our way to Gradowo. I didn't recognize Gradowo at all even though I had been there during the summer. We drove around the "village" on mostly dirt roads. I even asked a little girl who was walking if we were in Gradowo and she said, "Yes." Took several pictures including one of the simplest shrine I had seen in Poland. It was picture of Mary fastened to a tree with some silk flowers and ribbons.
The road out of Gradowo led right to the "highway". There was a large cross shrine at the intersection. We headed for Piotrkow Kujawski, which was the ancestral parish of the Chojnackis that lived in Gradowo. I did recognize the road from Gradowo to Piotrkow Kujawski. It would have been quite a distance for people to walk 150 years ago. I remembered Piotrkow Kujawski form my last trip because we had such a difficult time locating the cemetery. There is a big billboard map of the city just outside of town but even using that I had trouble. We spotted a woman carrying things that indicated she had been to the cemetery so we knew we were close. I stopped people twice and finally found the cemetery. It is located behind the church and down a single lane dirt road that is lined with large trees. At the end of the road is "rondo" with a statue of Jesus in the center. The cemetery was directly behind the statue. A war memorial sign was on the outside wall of the cemetery. We parked to the side of the entrance and took pictures of the cemetery and surrounding area. It appeared that the stone cutter had a shop across from the cemetery. We walked through the very large cemetery and took a few pictures. I wanted Sydney to see all the big statues in this cemetery. After leaving I stopped and took a few pictures of the parish church. We drove back to Gniezno going through Kruszwica again. We stopped in Kruszwica at the "Ladybug" supermarket for Fanta, chips and vodka for the Tomalskis. A 1/2 liter of Bison vodka cost 19.50 zloty ($4.40). Too bad we were only allowed to bring back one liter of alcohol a piece! It was incredibly foggy out and by now it was dark. The roads do not have lights and this makes it difficult driving. We arrived in Gniezno and stopped at the MAX supermarket. It looked like a small mall or very large discount type store. We bought some pastries, bread rolls and cheese for our drive to Solec Kujawski the next day. Back at the hotel I paid for our stay and the laundry (48 zloty = $10.84). We decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant and afterwards I had my carafe filled with hot water. In the room we re-packed our suitcases and had the dessert we bought at the MAX supermarket. Barbara Tomalska called and I answered the phone, "Slucham?" She was taken aback because she didn't think it was me; she said I sounded so Polish. Karol got on the phone and we discussed what time we would arrive at their home in Solec Kujawski the next day. I thought we'd get there about 2:00 p.m. Barbara had to work but she wanted to be home when we got there. Stefan was in Rome with friends on a little holiday but he would be home Sunday night. Karol mentioned that Waleria, his great aunt was feeling better and walking outside. Karol, 17, hadn't gotten his driver's license yet but was going to do so on the Saturday after we left. He wasn't allowed to drive at all until then.
Saturday, Oct. 7 cool and foggy
.Sydney and I had breakfast in the hotel, packed up and checked out. We drove to Lednagora, a village comprised of 100-200 year old homes, barns etc. assembled in a park. It is open to the public and festivals are held here during certain times of the year. Dave, Josh, the Tomalskis and I went to a festival at this park during the summer. Lednagora was just passed Lubowo between Gniezno and Poznan so it only took us a few minutes to get there. I stopped at the Hotel Victoria in Lebowo to take pictures of the hotel I had stayed at during the summer. Syd and I looked through some of the homes, the church and grounds of Lednagora. Even for a Saturday I thought it was pretty empty but everyone was probably doing there Saturday morning shopping. I bought a few souvenirs and postcards but the items I had bought in the summer were not available. I took a picture of the bathroom at Lednagora for Sydney. She wanted a picture that showed how you paid for the toilet paper. We left the park and drove down the road a little (north?) to see what was down there. Though we didn't stop, it looked like there was a church and a museum. We turned around and drove back to the main road that runs between Poznan and Gniezno and headed back towards Gniezno and on to Bydgoszcz. It was about noon.
We ate the rolls and cheese that we had bought at the store the previous night. While driving we spotted a front yard that was decorated with homemade dummies and yard decorations. I stopped, turned the car around and pulled over to take pictures, as this was an unusual site. We arrived in Bydgoszcz at about 1:15 p.m. I was able to locate the centrum and we parked. We went into an antique shop to look for old postcards for Sydney's husband and then stopped in a Cepelia shop, of course! We both bought a sheep and a few other small things. Trying to get out of Bydgoszcz was difficult since the road numbers had changed. The signs that indicated what towns were in which direction used towns that were so far out I couldn't use the signs to help me get somewhere. We ended up going the wrong way but I realized my error and we turned around and went another way. This way turned out to be the "back way" to Solec Kujawski. I remembered going this way during one of our trips with the Tomalskis last summer. Although it wasn't what I had planned, it worked. We were, however, late arriving at the Tomalskis because of the confusion in Bydgoszcz. It was 3:30 p.m. and I had told Barbara I thought we'd arrive around 2:00 p.m.
We drove through the center of Solec and I pointed out a few things to Syd. We found the house and everyone came out to meet us (Stefan was in Rome). Atos and Cika were wary at first and barked but it didn't take long for them to remember me. Basia had Sydney sleeping in Karol's room and I slept in her room. The downstairs "junk room" had been transformed into a bedroom for Florentyna. During our visit though, Florentyna would go back in with Waleria and Stefan and Barbara would sleep in Florentyna's room. We had obiad immediately. Sydney's first experience eating in a Polish house. After obiad we took a walk around the house and yard. The pool was full of water now and the debris that had been behind the house from digging the pool was gone.
Erena, Basia's best friend came over for a short visit. We made plans to see her garden on Sunday. Sydney and I went into Waleria's room . She showed us photographs and gave us some. While we were in the room Adam and Jadwiga Bozejewicz came over with Beata and Gregorz. They were on their way back from the civil wedding of their other son, Roman and Teresa in Bydgoszcz. Waleria and Florentyna stayed in their rooms and called Syd and I back in. They let us know in no uncertain terms that they didn't like Jadwiga. This was Barbara's brother and sister-in-law. I had already been told by Stefan what everyone thought of Jadwiga. Adam and Jadwiga did not stay long. They had picked up a cement mixer which they were towing to Jan and Zofia's farm. Jan was going to pour a cement pad for some of his animals.
After the Bozejewicz left it was time for kolacja! Sydney couldn't believe that we had to eat again. After dinner I handed out gifts of towels to Barbara and Karol and also gave Karol some jeans. He liked those. I handed out more gifts to Florentyna and Waleria. Sydney also gave Barbara a gift. We did this in the breakfast room instead of going upstairs like we usually did. Florentyna and Waleria looked good although Waleria was still thin. After dinner we went upstairs and Barbara and I went over some family information again, trying to make up for the information that had been lost in my suitcases. We had some wodka and visited. I sent an email to Dave telling him we were fine. It was wonderful to be in Barbara's home. We didn't stay up too late. Karol was going to sleep in the computer room/library. I explained the tub/shower arrangement to Sydney before calling it a night. Sydney says she never did get the hang of the shower arrangement.
Sunday, Oct. 8 cool
We had breakfast at home and drove to Torun for a short tour. While walking through part of the castle ruins Barbara hired a tour guide who explained things in Polish and Karol tried to translate into English. He did a good job. Karol's English vocabulary gets better every time I see him. The guide gave us certificates when we were finished. We then walked into the rynek and walked around. We showed Sydney the leaning building and talked Karol into putting his hands on the building. This would assure that he would be a good provider as a husband. I bought a couple of straw ornaments and we stopped for coffee in a little café that was through a courtyard and downstairs. Afterwards we drove back to Solec across the Wisla. We drove to the forest to look for mushrooms. We found many this time including some poisonous ones. Barbara showed us which mushrooms were okay to eat and which ones were okay but old. The road into the forest was just like the ones Sydney didn't like. I think she was probably comfortable with this because we had people along who knew for sure, where they were going. We drove way out to the radio station and I explained to Sydney about the tour we had received the last time we were there in July. I took pictures again.
We stopped at home so Basia could change clothes. She was wearing slacks and didn't want people to think she was poor because she wasn't wearing a skirt or dress. We drove to the Hala Sportowa and found a place to park on the side of the road. This was the new sports building that I had taken a tour through in July. It was now finished and there was a big celebration going on. Evidently this was the reason Solec Kujawski was on T.V. We went inside and were able to see some of the rooms. The rooms were very nice and available for private rentals. At this time the cost for three people in a room was 120 zloty ($27.00) per night; four people cost 140 zloty ($31.00) per night. We watched the basketball game that was taking place in the gym for a few minutes and then left. Outside we walked about a block to the building where Florentyna was watching a demonstration of some sort. The room seemed to be filled with senior citizens. We said hello and then went back to the car. We drove to the center of Solec to Erena's house. The backyard is very big and completely landscaped with ponds, statues, trees, vegetables and flowers. We stayed for a few minutes wandering through the garden taking pictures. Afterwards we took Basia to vote for a new president. There were 16 people on the ballot. Barbara did not vote for Kwasniewski, the current president because of the ground kissing situation. The voting took place inside a kindergarten school and took all of one minute.
Back home we visited while Barbara made obiad. Stefan arrived home in time for obiad. He had some good stories to tell which were translated by Karol. Stefan told of forcing the coffee pot plug into the hotel outlet causing it to burn up. He told of one man who had gotten so drunk he got lost and made the rest of the group late. They had gotten to Rome by bus. Erena's husband had also gone to Rome with Stefan.
After obiad I gave Stefan his new towels and a few other gifts. Stefan, Basia, Sydney, Karol and I went upstairs to visit. Karol explained to us that Waleria's cancer is inoperable but she doesn't know that she has cancer. The doctor thinks Basia should tell Waleria but Basia doesn't see the point. Even though Waleria doesn't know about her condition, she's made it known that she does not want to go back to the hospital. Karol also told us that Florentyna has a lump in her lymph nodes but she won't let the doctor do anything. This was terrible news. Waleria is the reason these people and I were now like family. To hear that both women, the oldest in the family and the youngest in the family, both had cancer was incredibly sad. I felt that this would be the last time I would see either of them.
Atos and Cika had warmed-up to me and I noticed that Filemon was spending more time in the house now that it was getting cold. Sydney and I washed out some sox and underwear and after some wodka (Sydney had a cherry vodka) and conversation we went to bed. Barbara had to work the next day but Karol did not have to go to school.
Monday, Oct. 9 cold
Breakfast (sniadanie) at home served by Florentyna. Barbara had already left for work. Stefan had gone into work for just a little while but would be home by 10:00 a.m. I had mentioned to Barbara that I wanted to go to Chodziez but she had vetoed this idea. When Stefan got home he drove us into town to a store that sold Chodziez porcelain. The prices were a little higher than in the town of Chodziez but there were a few items Sydney and I picked out to buy. True to form, Stefan paid for everything. I didn't like this but there was nothing I could do. Karol was no help to me; understandably. We stopped by the parish church off the rynek and took pictures of the memorials. Then onto to Bydgoszcz to look around. We went into the church that has the gold gates Stefan made. We couldn't take pictures because there was a mass going on but I told Syd I'd giver her a picture that I had at home of Stefan and his gates. I bought more film! Surprise. I believe I took 20 rolls of film with me. I never bring enough film!
While in Bydgoszcz Stefan bought bread for home from a bakery and some pastries for all of us to eat when we got back in the car. Stefan drove us to Stopko for lunch. Sydney and I had barely finished our pastries! But this was wonderful. We ate inside as it was a little cool and then I bought a couple of postcards and we walked around outside taking pictures of the machinery and the people carved out of trees. Our next stop was a surprise. Stefan would not tell me where we were going except that I had been there before. After several guesses I finally told him I'd never been wherever he was taking us! But I had. It was the palace at Lubostron with Atlas on the top. I tried to tell Sydney how lively the place was in the summer and all the goings on but I think you really had to be there. We went over to one of the smaller buildings for coffee and ice cream. I think Sydney was about to burst.
After our short stop Stefan drove us to Dabrowa so I could take pictures of Jan Chojnacki's house that was given to him by the Polish government after WWII. Jan Chojnacki was Stefan's grandfather. Stefan drove by the church where Florentyna had been baptized and through the forest. Karol drove through the forest for practice. I imagine that someday he, too, will know his way around the forest without the use of road signs. Stefan took us to the first house owned by Jan Chojnacki when he moved up from Konary. It was an old cement house that was still lived in. Stefan then took us to an old German cemetery that had not been taken care of probably since the war. There were several graves and markers. There didn't appear to be a fence around the cemetery and it was difficult to see how big it was due to all the trees and undergrowth. We took a few pictures and drove on, looking for poisonous mushrooms.
Basia was already home from work when we arrived. It was time for obiad. After dinner Waleria and Florentyna gave Sydney and me gifts and more from Barbara and Stefan for Josh and David; candy, cookies, ham and vodka. Sydney and I went to our rooms and started packing again since we were leaving for Pultusk in the morning. We had a few vodkas and went to bed.
Tuesday, Oct. 10 very chilly
We had breakfast with the Tomalskis and then everyone went outside for pictures. Stefan loaded the trunk so everything fit. Tearful goodbyes from everyone, even Sydney. We left Solec at 9:15 a.m. We stopped at the skansen on the way just to take pictures of the sign and the people carved out of trees. We stopped in Ciechanow for gas, the bathroom, a cukernia break and we browsed in the Cepelia shop as well. We had trouble getting out of town and headed in the right direction but after back tracking, we finally got on the right road. We spent about 1/2 hour in Ciechanow.
We arrived in Pultusk without any problems. It took us about 3 hours. I drove right to the rynek which is marked pretty well. We decided to look around before going to the hotel so I parked in the rynek. We walked through what was left of the bazaar but didn't find anything to buy. We walked around the rest of the rynek and towards the 2 churches and then around the block. On our way back around the other side of the rynek we decided to see the museum. We ended up climbing 7 flights of stairs but learned about the meteors that had fallen in the area as well as the excavation of the palace. When we were finished we drove to the hotel and checked in. Sydney and I drove back down the twisty drive to the "stanica" (stable) where we were staying. This building was separate from the main palace and had two stories. A bellmen in his long, heavy winter coat helped carry our luggage to our room on the second floor. The room was very nice and certainly large enough for two people. Two people staying in the stanica cost 195 zloty ($44.00) per night including breakfast. The room charge did not cover parking which was 15 zloty ($3.38). We unpacked and decided to walk around and see the palace and the shops down below. I had made arrangements to meet Paul Valasek and his wife who were also staying at the Dom Polonii so I left a note for him at the desk. The clerk knew who the message was for because, as she said, we were the only four Americans at the hotel. Since we weren't going to meet Paul and his wife until late for dinner we decided to have a pastry and coffee in the kawarnia in the upstairs of the palace. This room had lots of heavy wood with sofas, arm chairs and tables. It was very pleasant. This snack cost 31 zloty ($7.00). Afterwards we walked around and looked at the latest exhibit in the hall behind the front desk. It was a WWII exhibit. At the lower level of the palace near the driveway entrance are two gift shops. I took Sydney to them in case there was something she or I couldn't live without. There wasn't. The prices were a bit high.
We went back to our room to wait for Paul to call. Our room had two twin beds, night stands, a table with four chairs, T.V., radio, telephone, small refrigerator, complimentary juices, water and cookies. There were slippers, shower caps, sewing kit, shoe polisher, clothes and shoe brushes, shampoo, bath gel, soap, kleenex and a closet. The bathroom was a little small but included the sink, toilet, a shower and a hair dryer. The shower was the reason I decided to stay in the stanica. Paul called shortly after we arrived back in the room saying that he and his wife were ready for dinner. Syd and I quickly freshened our make-up and got dressed. We met Paul and Andrea in the lobby. Paul was the former president of the PGSA in Chicago and it was because of Paul's suggestion that I had stayed at Dom Polonii the first time during the summer.
We decided to have dinner in the dining room where breakfast would be the next morning. There were about four other occupied tables in the restaurant. Syd and I had the stroganoff. We all wanted it but the waiter indicated to me that they couldn't handle that many. Paul and his wife ordered something else. Paul ended up paying the bill because we had forgotten to ask the waiter to separate the bill. I told Paul I'd send him the money once we got home. We had dessert and coffee and the conversation was interesting. I had hoped we might meet the owner of the hotel but no such luck. We left the restaurant about 11:00 p.m. We walked downstairs and went out through the lower level under the bridge. It had gotten very cold out. Paul and Andrea were staying in the apartment next to the palace archives in a separate part of the palace. Syd and I walked to the stanica. We had two keys. One was to unlock the outside door and the other unlocked the door to our room. Syd and I got ready for bed and went to sleep.
Wednesday, Oct. 11 cold and clear
We awoke at 6:00 a.m. and had breakfast in the same restaurant as the night before. We both had hot tea in the mornings unless I asked for just hot water and used the instant coffee I brought from home. After breakfast we packed up the car, checked out, paid the parking on our way out and left for Warsaw to catch our plane. Got on the road about 8:50 a.m.
The trip should only have taken about an hour but traffic was terrible due to construction I think. At one point I got off the main road and got ahead of some of the traffic by taking side streets. This did help. Once in Warsaw we had to contend with street signs that were hard to spot and we had to get gas before we dropped the car off at the airport. This wasn't much of a problem. We got to the airport at about 10:45 a.m. and ended up going around a few times. Where I thought I wanted to go was blocked off. In the summer I left the car at the curb at the terminal but that was blocked now. I saw a policeman standing in the outside lane and asked him where to park. He indicated "right there" so I pulled up and parked. Evidently rental returns had been moved since July. We checked the car in with no problems and went upstairs to stand in line to have our luggage checked and get our boarding passes. This is always a long wait. No problems. We had time to browse through the gift shop and pick up a few more things.
By the time we got to the boarding area we were almost last in line. When we got to the agents who checked our boarding passes they put stickers on our suitcases. When we walked down the gangway we were stopped by another agent who said our suitcases had to be checked in with the luggage. I go upset about this considering what happened on my last trip. He said the crew had decided. Syd later said she had seen him watching us while we were in line. He went over to the boarding agents, whispered something, and then proceeded down the gangway. We let him take our suitcases even after he said one of us could keep ours. Besides the possibility of losing my suitcase I was also concerned that we hadn't packed them well enough to be thrown around. I had all my film and research in my carry-on so at least that was safe this time. We boarded and I immediately asked for 2 scotches and had wine with dinner. I bought a bottle of Baileys' onboard and paid in zloty, 55.50 zloty for a 1/2 liter ($12.53). The flight was uneventful to New York.
Once in New York we got off the plane it was about a mile walk to passport control. After that we picked up our suitcases and all were there! Through customs next. I handed the agent my declaration form, he glanced at it and waved me through; same for Sydney. Yes! We brought in extra vodka! I noticed that many others, apparently Polish nationals, were getting their luggage inspected. We found the check-in desk for our suitcases and took care of that. We decided to have a couple of Starbuck's and browse through some shops. At the baggage check-in counter I asked Mike Peters if our luggage was going on the same flight as us. He assured me they would. We took our smaller suitcases onboard this time. Our seats were in the bulkhead. We boarded the plane at 6:00 p.m. for a 6:25 p.m. take-off but the plane had hit a bird while landing at Kennedy and the FAA had to do inspections. We didn't take off until 7:30 p.m. New York time. At that point we had been awake for 19 hours. This was a dinner flight. We finally arrived at DFW and Dave, Josh, Johnnie and Alison were there to meet us.
End of Report
Debbie's Polish Pictures Home Page
Corrected 20 March 2006, 30 March 2006.