Since 2013 our guests participating in Galicia Tour are hosted by the Cultural Center in Strzyżów and “Kłosowianie” folk group. These country parties became the tours highlights! Watch some of the best moments from 2016.
First thing next morning we are off to Tropie. Zenon gets out of the car and just walks right up to who we assumed is a neighbor and starts asking him questions about the possible location of my family….try that one in the U.S.! He gets back in the car and says, “your cousin lives across the street” WHAT?!?
For many years I have been trying to find my Polish relatives. I knew they existed in the 1960’s because I remember sending clothing to “cousins”, however, I was young and did not know the value of family. In the meantime, life got in the way and my search was hit and miss. When I retired and my search became an addiction. The one bit of information I had was 3 letters to my babcia, from my swietny dziadek in the 1920’s. He told of very sad stories about their life at the time and one story really touched our hearts; it was about his grandson, Josef. The letter told about how sick the child was and he wasn’t expected to live, mostly because they could not afford the medicine to make him well. We always wondered what had happened to this little boy.
At some point I talked my husband (of Irish descent) into going to Poland and had no idea what our adventure would bring. Why would anyone go to Poland?
When my cousin Andrzej e-mailed me and asked if I would like to accompany him to his goddaughter’s wedding in Poland, I accepted immediately. What could be better than traveling with a native son, who spoke the language and knew the relatives? I soon found out.
Ss. Simon and Jude Thaddeus Church, the 17th Century church in Dobra-Limanowa where my great grandparents were married in 1883.
Well today is my last full day in Poland and I’m already sad to go. Despite the foreignness of the language, architecture, and customs, I feel very at home here. Perhaps it is my knowledge of Poland’s history and my familiarity with some aspects of its culture like food that makes me feel at home so far away. I had plans for dinner later just outside of the city center but that wasn’t going to stop me from enjoying one last run through Krakow. There is still so much I hadn’t seen yet that I ran around and got a lot in on this last day.
In the morning, I started off with a walk through the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz including the Old Jewish Cemetery. The wall of the cemetery is lined with fragments from the tombstones of Jews buried all over Krakow in cemeteries that were destroyed by the Germans.
The Old Jewish Cemetery, Kazimierz, Krakow, Poland.
Traveling usually fills me with joy and wonderment. I love exploring places and experiencing new things. Today was a little different. There would be no joy in today’s travel and I knew that last night. Today, I went to Auschwitz. Today was the day when I truly wondered how the words “human” and “humanity” could possibly be related. The evil that took place here lingers and the criminality that took so much from so many continues to draw millions to this place, yet thankfully, their crimes only inflict grief and draw tears today.
The famous gate at Auschwitz I that translates to “Work will set you free.” Our guide said that he has never found an example of a prisoner who was ever set free due to their dedication to work at this camp.
Today I spent a great deal of the morning searching for a great gift for my niece Olivia. I had in mind a necklace made of amber for which Poland is so famous.
After shopping a bit in the Cloth Hall (see below), I went up to the Sukiennice Museum on the 2nd floor of the Cloth Hall which features great 18th Century Polish artists. A couple of my favorites are below although the images were difficult to take because flashes are not allowed.
Today was getaway day as we left Nowy Sacz for Krakow. Before we checked into our hotel, however, we stopped by a museum I found online dedicated to the Polish AK in WWII. AK stands for Armia Krajowa and it was the primary Polish armed resistance movement during World War II and the largest from any country in the entire war numbering approximately 400,000 members.
Today was an extremely productive day in a number of ways and one of my best in Poland. I saw beauty, met relatives, and learned some very painful stories. Of all my days in Poland, today had a bit of every type of thing I hoped to see and learn – and all in a single day. If you only read one of my updates all the way through, this is day to read it all. The stories our cousin told me are heartbreaking.
After another ridiculously large breakfast, we set off to Tarnow where the Catholic archdioceses is located for this region and therefore where we could research the repository for copies of all the records one would find in the local parish. The only down side is that it is very unlikely one can learn anything about current relatives as no one there is likely to know anything about your family.
But there was a way around this problem. Without getting to deep into the records, I found a lot regarding both the Rosiek and Paruch lines and much of the bare details are shown below in my ancestry.com tree (to which anyone interested is invited to examine…just let me know).
My family tree chart for Genevieve Paruch’s ancestors.
We’re staying in another sort of open air museum in Nowy Sacz but it appears that the houses and shops are only open during the day when we’re gone so the novelty of the place is sort of lost on me. The good part is that there is a restaurant in the compound and they make good zurek. It’s a little touristy and anytime a guest stops into the restaurant, they turn off the radio and put in a polish folk song CD. Zen is pretty amazing as he can just listen to the song for a few seconds and tell you what region it’s from. The Rzeszow region, for example, has a lot of violin and whistling.
We begin our day with exploring the Zmiaca area from which the Rosiek family came. Zmiaca is pronounced very differently than how it appears it would be pronounced in English. The ‘Zm’ beginning is sort of buzzy swishy sound….try make the shhh sound (as in “shhh, be quiet”) and then hum at the same time…that’s sort of the sound. Or if you’ve ever heard the French pronounce the “G” in Georges. I’ll use the “ZH” to mimic this sound… so it would be pronounced zhmee ONT suh. The word Zmiaca gets translated to “wrinkle” in English which I can only assume comes from the wrinkled contour of the valleys and gorges in the land.