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Each of my babcia's villages is near the beautiful town of Łasin. The above map is less than ideal, but if you look carefully, you can see the village of Święte directly east of Łasin, then go north to Nw. Jankowice, then further north to Szynwałd at the top of the map; Nogat is west of Szynwałd. Ideally, I would like to visit eact of these villages by bike. Either Łasin, or the important and historic city of Grudziądz could be my homebase.


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RETURN TO POLAND NAVIGATION MENU --->
Return to Poland - Leg 1: Rochester - Toronto - Kraków - Zator/Podolsze - Oświęcim 
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<-- Bociany / Cherished Storks of Podolsze

TRIP OVERVIEW

I have decided to go with John Gora for the group tour, however, I plan to take two side trips on my own so I can visit family and friends in Zator/Podolsze (west of Kraków) and later explore the ancestral villages of my paternal grandmother in north-central Poland. [Leg 1]Rochester - Toronto -  Kraków - Zator/Podolsze  [Leg 2]: Kraków to Gdańsk (Tour with John) [Leg 3 ]: Gdańsk to Stopiński Ancestral Villages in North Central Poland. The group will depart from Gdańsk, and so will I, but not with them. I will stay behind, rent a car, then drive to Grudziądz or Łasin to begin my tour of the Stopiński family villages. After a few days, I will return home to Rochester via Toronto. Then I'll begin to but together several videos documenting my experience.


RETURN TO POLAND: Follow me as I continue my quest to visit the ancestral villages of my Polish grandparents. I say "continue" because in 2012 I already visited the villages where three of my grandparents grew up. (You can read all about that HERE.) The goal of my return to Poland in 2015 is to visit the final village. Finding out where my babcia, Ewa Stopińska, grew up required a fair amount of research and luck. To make a long story short, I discovered that generations of Stopińskis resided not in one, but several villages within close proximity of one another. The villages are located east of the town of Łasin in the north central part of the country -- and I plan to visit them all on bike, documenting the experience with photos and videos along the way. You are invited to check my progress by following me online right here. 
July 26 & 27,  2015
The drive to the Toronto Airport and flights to Warsaw and Krakow were fine. We spent time in the business class lounge in Toronto before boarding our plane, so we were exceedingly relaxed for air travel. I was amazed to see my friend, Buffalonian Andy Golebiowski on our plane on his way to a family celebration in Poland. Small world. I sat with two young guys on their way to Bulgaria and near a trio of ladies headed for Poland. The ladies spoke little English so speaking with them in Polish was great practice.

We had a wonderful dinner our first night in Kraków with a number of non-group guests in attendance. Among them was our leader John Gora's brother, Staś, who was there to help everyone celebrate John's Birthday. Sto lat, John!
Sto lat, John!
John talking to Wanda (Chopin Tours) before dinner. She picked a wonderful restaurant.
John with wife, Diane (Danusia)
Na zdrowie!
Nicole-It's nice to have another younger traveler (like me) to talk to. (;-)
Zurek
Zurek
Monday - July 27,  2015 (Late Evening)
After dinner I took a nice long walk around the old town. It was a perfect evening with plenty of activity and interesting sights to take in. 
BELOW: View from my room at Kraków's DEL'S HOTEL. If you look closely you will see an orchestra performing on the square. They played their first number just as I started to settle in.
Tuesday - July 28,  2015: The Day of Days
You have already read that I had recently visited Kraków and plan to use this day to go off on my own and visit friends and family in my maternal ancestral home of Podolsze/Zator and nearby Oświęcim. That's exactly what I did, and I can tell you that it was one of those special days that I like to call, the "DAY OF DAYS''. But before I get into that, you might like to know what the others in our group did. Here it is:

In the morning, they took a walking tour of Kraków including Royal Wawel Hill, the Old Town with the Cloth Hall, the Barbican, St. Mary's Church with the 15th century Wit Stwosz Altar inside, and Floriańska Gate. In the afternoon, some took the excursion to Auschwitz; everyone later dined at a local restaurant.

I on the other hand was met by my friend Maria and my nephew Maciek, who took me away to spend an action-packedl day of high adventure and learning. It was great! I mean really great!!!

To start things off, they took me to the Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek Lipowiec located on the road to Podosze. The museum featured a collection of various types local buildings, mostly from the 19th century. I especially loved the house that was moved from Podolsze, which I suppose was typical of the homes my/our ancestors lived in. I feel at most at home in Podolsze.
Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek
Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek
<------ Maciek at Podolsze House
<------  Marysia, such an angel!
Old wooden church (in background)
Church interior
Rectory (priest's house)
Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek
Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek
Marysia
Really the highlight of the day was being treated to dinner at the Masialski's in Pololsze. Real people - wonderful people! And the food... ah, the food! Smaczneno! (What is the Polish word for 'sublime'?)

I also enjoyed a visit to the Adamski house where Krystyna Adamska showed me many old Adamski photos and the house where my grandfather was born. I also picked an unripened grape from a vine that still climbs the old house. Later I was shown around the city of Oświęcim where we visited two beautiful old churches, the Jewish Museum/ Synagogue and Education Center and had ice cream in a cafe at the city square. I wish people would understand that Oświęcim is not just the location of the former Nazi German concentration camp, Auschwitz, but a vibrant city with much to see and do.
Old grapevine --->
With Krystyna Adamska in Podolsze
Old Town Square in Oświęcim
Jewish Museum/ Synagogue and Education Center
Jewish Museum/ Synagogue and Education Center
Jewish Museum/ Synagogue and Education Center
Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek Lipowiec
Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek Lipowiec
Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek Lipowiec
Muzeum Nadwiślański Park Etnograficzny w Wygiełzowie i Zamek Lipowiec
Must see! --->
Must see! --->
On the bus from Kraków airport to our hotel.
Welcome dinner
It was nice to meet John Gora's brother, Staś.