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My Trip to Poland
My Trip to Poland: August 25-September 10, 2012
Friday, August 31, 2012
Today I will be going to a place out in the country called Radocza, which is not terribly far from the town of Zator and the village of Podolsze where my maternal grandparents grew up. The hotel I will be staying at is called Radocza Park Active & Spa. Once I get there, I'll see if I can rent a bike so I can pedal around to see the sights/sites -- today if possible; if not, maybe tomorrow. I loved Krakow, but the real purpose of my trip is to venture deeper into the country, deeper into Polish culture, and deeper into my family roots. I cannot think of anything more that I would like to do.

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Arrival in Radocza
So I got to Radocza okay. On the way, we drove through Zator and I saw the church that I believe my grandparents attended, although I am not 100% sure. Quite an active town.

You can see from my photos that Radocza is a very beautiful place and the view from my balcony is spectacular. As soon as I got here, I decided to walk down the hill to get a closer look at the very old wooden church I saw in town on the way in. I orginally thought I'd do a little biking in the area today, but that's out. The roads are much too narrow for me and I think it's too dangerous for biking. Maybe there are back roads I could take, but I think I'll put that idea on hold for now. The weather could be better; it's too drizzly and windy right now.



​ on the w
A Room With A View
Walk to see the old wooden church in Radocza
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Big news: My luggage was delivered to my hotel in Radocza late last night. I am happy it arrived if only because today looks like it might rain and the light rain jacket I packed for the trip might come in handy.

Today is a big day. All my life, I have been dreaming about what it must be like (and what it must have been like) in the almost legendary village of Podolsze. Today that dream will become reality. I will be leaving in about an hour for Zator, where I will meet two of my most special FB friends, Maciek (a cousin) and Marysia, a beautiful Polish English teacher -- both from Podolsze. We plan to meet in front of the big church in Zator, and from there enter the nearby village of Podolsze.

As I sit here at my computer, I can see two farmers out in their field doing their harvest work. I don't know if it will be possible to locate the land my babcia and dziadzia farmed one hundred years ago, but sometime today I will put my hands deep into Podolsze's earth and feel the very same soil our people felt as they tilled the land throughout the ages. Stay tuned.


*************************

Such an amazing day! I felt I was dreaming as I walked along the streets of Zator and Podolsze and visited places that undoubtedly were once very familiar to my babcia and dziadek. I enjoyed walking to the local river where people have fished for ages, the soccer field where Dożynki will be held tomorrow, and the firehall where we got to climb up into the tower to take photos of the surrounding area. 

A special treat was getting to meet Maciek's grandfather who remembers hearing where the Adamski's lived and was able to relate other fascinating tales about this village where he has lived his entire life. I also got to see the houses of many family members and even two of the old Adamski houses. Both are now very old and crumbling, so I was able to scavenger fragments of brick that lay at the building's foundation. I think these will make precious momentos for my family back home. What a day!



​The above video shows many of the photos I took of my tour of Zator and Podolsze with nephew, Maciek, and friend, Marysia. We covered a lot of territory and met other family members along the way, including Maciek's grandfather and his brother, Krzysztof, who is the Podolsze firechief. As you can imagine, it was a wonderful visit and I am very greatful.
  • NOTE: Many of the videos I have been posting lately are just quickies. Some will be redone or have appropriate Polish music added when I get back to my desktop back home. Thanks. 
  • My battery needs recharging (the computer's battery, not mine), so I will try to post commentaries about some of the photos in the above slideshow at a later time. Then it's off to Dożynki  tomorrow. Can you believe that! Dobranoc.

This is one of the Adamski homes. At one time, many Adamski's lived in the village. Most of their homes did not survive the war. Only two still stand.
This is the house where dziadek lived, and I have never seen a more beautiful home. 

If I am dreaming, please do not wake me ...
THEN                                                  NOW

Shrines like this were very often taken down during the war and hidden by the townspeople to save them from the ravages of invading armies. Podolsze today has four such shrines, but one had to be replaced because it was lost during the war despite all efforts to protect it. Not long ago, it was starting to fall into disrepair, so a family member decided he wanted to make it his mission to rebuild it before he died. He was successful, but both he and his wife passed away shortly thereafter .

Thank you, Józef Domagała (Maciek's 
grandfather), for your help and kindness.
As you can see, I did get to sink my hands into Podolsze's soil, and  you can be sure it felt good. I don't know how I will ever pay back the people of Podolsze for their generosity and hospitality. Such great people!

It's getting late now and I'd better start thinking about packing for my trip back to Krakow Airport early tomorrow morning.  Week two begins now.

Sweet dreams, everyone!

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Coincidence
Mass was being said in the name of my mother's cousin, Bronisława Adamska, on the day (Sobota) I arrived in Podolsze. She was the sister of Res. Lt. Henryk Franciszek Adamski who lost his life in Katyń.

More great photos of Dozynki can be found
 HERE 
on the town's web site.
October 10, 2012 
1. It is exactlly one month since my return home and I am still thinking about my visit to Poland. I am currently reading a biography of Pope John Paul ll (by Tad Szulc) and it tickles me to read about a young Karol Wojtiła swimming in the Skawa River. That's the same river that runs through Podolsze where my mom's family lived. The Wojtiła family, as you probably know, lived in Wadowice, upstream and south of Podolsze. Small world.
Bridge over the Skawa in Podolsze: years ago this bridge was made out of wood and was used mainly to get the cows across the river.
You can see how low the water level was when I took these pictures in late August. In the spring the river is prone to flooding, but the village is protected somewhat by a levy. There are several videos of the flooding in 2010 on YouTube. Here is one:
2. Okay, enough about the river and the flooding, but let me ask you this: do you know anything about Saint Nepomucene? I personally do not know anything about the saint, but I do know something about SISTER Nepomucene. If my memory serves me right, Sr. Nepomucene was my brother Jake's eighth grade teacher. (Am I right, Jake?), so I was surprised to see this shrine to St. Nepomucene (below)  just a few steps away from the old Adamski home.

WAIT HOLD EVERYTHING! I just checked Wiki to find out more about the saint and this is what I found: "John of Nepomuk (or John Nepomucene) (Czech: Jan Nepomucký) (c. 1345 – March 20, 1393) is a national saint of the Czech Republic, who was drowned in the Vltava river at the behest of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia. Later accounts state that he was the confessor of the queen of Bohemia and refused to 
divulge the secrets of the confessional. On the basis of this account, John of Nepomuk is considered the first martyr of the Seal of the Confessional, a patron against calumnies and, because of the manner of his death, a protector from floods."  

FLOODS! Now I get it; and come to think of it, I have heard this story before, (so my memory did fail me after all). Święty Jan Nepomucen is very much revered in Poland and shrines in his honor can be found throughout the land. 

Święty Jan Nepomucen
Podolsze (gm. Zator, pow. Oświęcim, ): na skrzyżowaniu ulic Św. Jana  i Starowiejskiej stoi odnowiona w roku 2009 staraniem mieszkańców i miejscowego zakładu kamieniarskiego figura Jana N. z roku 1880 (nad: M.Muryn) 
Ruminations
Karp Zatorski
BELOW: While in Zator I was treated to Zator carp, a local delicacy and a Wigilia favorite throughout Poland
Source: Discover Cracow
Radocza Park - Hotel Active & Spa
Here's a nice photo of the hotel I stayed at. It's located between Zator and Wadowice ( Pope
 John Paul II's hometown). Too bad the weather was dismal when I was there.

"Poles are extraordinarily hospitable, they entertain without a grudge. The Poles are fond of gayety, of amusement, of society; they love pleasure in all its bright and charming forms"
The New York Times November 19, 1882

The above comment still holds true.