Of Family and History

After a long and tiresome bus trip from Frankfurt (Germany) to Wroclaw (Poland – Derek’s hometown) we knocked on Derek’s parents door and surprised them.  They weren’t expecting us to visit for at least another week or two 🙂  What a tremendous surprise it was.

We started off with a train ride to Zagan, where Derek and his family spent their earlier years.  The town was very small and rustic looking.

We then visited Krakow to see Wawel (Royal Castle), Wieliczka (salt mine), and Auschwitz-Birkenau (concentration camp), where millions of people lost their lives during the World War II.

After Krakow, we headed to Warsaw (the current capital of Poland).  Warsaw for Kama was more modernized with new buildings and busy work life-style. Compared to the rest of Poland, this city can be considered snobsville. We saw the beautiful Lazienki (Baths) park and walked around the restored Market Square as most of Warsaw was destroyed at the end of the war.

We went to visit babcie (Polish for grandma) on Derek’s mom’s side.  We saw Derek’s aunt (Ala) and her husband (Leszek) there as well since they live close to grandma (1 hour drive from Derek’s parent’s home).  After visiting grandma we went to see Derek’s cousin who also lived close by.  Ula and Andrzej has a daughter, Ania, who spoke a bit of English so Kama finally got to talk to someone without a translator.  Yea…

A week later we decided to visit Derek’s father’s side of the family.  Tato (Polish for dad) decided to drive us to his old hometown in Ostrow where he also wanted to stop by and visit Derek’s grandfather’s grave.  We took a small detour to see a cathederal where Kama and Tato went up to the towers.  It was so windy we were afraid to stand outside for too long.  Great view though and lots of fun trying to communicated to Tato that I was okay and wasn’t afraid of heights.  Where’s my translator?  LOL!!!

After a brief visit to the gravesite, we fianlly made it to Ostrow where Derek’s aunts still lives at the farm.  The town is very small with only about 500 residents and about 100 houses top.  There were cows and sheeps in the fields.  Derek’s aunt, Lidzia, and her husband was at a wedding when we arrived and so we were greeted by their sons Krystian and his wife Anita, Tomek, and Dariusz (yes, another Derek).  Tato left the next day and we stayed for a few more days visiting.  The last night was spent at Derek’s cousin’s house with Lena, Andrzej, and their son Hubert.  Both parents are teachers and had their son take English class so they were excited to have us speak with Hubert.  We had a great time seeing everyone and hope to see them again soon.  Maybe someone would visit us in the US sometime?.

The majority of our time in Poland was spent with family though.  We spent a lot of time at home with Derek’s parents while we rested and relaxed.  We pretty much got spoiled rotten here, so much food.  We also visited Derek’s friend, Marcin who also spoke English (yea!), got to see Market square, Ostrow Tumski (with 1000 year old cathederal), Derek’s old university, lots of malls, antique markets, and outdoor markets.

Now it’s time to head off to England to visit with Derek’s brother, Sebastian.