Some of my fondest memories as a child are feeding the pigeons on the main square in Krakow. I always felt well amidst the charm of this city, even during those many years of Communism, when my young mind struggled to make sense of all the disparities. Each trip to visit my family in Sanok included a stop at this city, the place of my mom’s Alma Mater. On my last visit to Poland I returned, though now I do my best to avoid the pigeons. I still love to wander the winding streets and visit my old haunts. Or simply sit at one of the many terraced cafes and watch the world go by.
This former capital of Poland was miraculously saved during World War II, and here now lies much of Poland’s rich historical, cultural and intellectual splendor. As is evident around every corner.
I caroused the thriving, creatively inspired and very much bohemian neighborhood of Kazimierz, which remains one of the most culturally significant Jewish areas in the world.
Hidden courtyards off the main square were explored, revealing charming bed and breakfasts, this one run by a family friend, aptly named Antique Apartments. (My next home away from home!)
I took a long walk across a newly built pedestrian bridge, decorated with love locks just like in Paris!
As much of the world as I have seen, and have yet to see, I will always welcome a return to this vista.
During my recent trip to Sanok, the town where my mother grew up and where I spent many childhood summers, we took a trip to one of the largest open air museums. Skansen museum, established in 1958, recreates 19th and early 20th century life in this region of Poland. You begin to understand the simplicity and often the hardship of life so many years ago. Along with our tour guide, and my mom who herself studied ethnography, we explored this long forgotten world.
The tour begins with a replica of a Galician town square from the second half of the 19th century.
A historic tailor shop and pharmacy…
Even a horologist, with quite a sense of humor.
Each section features an ethnic group who lived in the region prior to the post-WWII resettlements.
As I walked in and around these dwellings, I imagined the lives that once inhabited them.
Amidst the homes and churches we discovered elaborately sculpted bee urns.
There too was an exhibition of long lost Jewish treasures, some of the few that remain.
Within the stillness of Skansen, I better understood the history of this part of the world.
The beginning of my Parisian life has proven a proper foreign adventure. The first few weeks have tasted of many flavors other than French, the sweet and savored tastes of family. We traveled to the South of Poland where my roots are firmly planted. Deep in the woods of Bykowce, the place of my youth and still now, my place.
A brief return to Paris and away we flew to taste of Northern Italy. More family and feasting, the setting of this dream in Monterosso on the Mediterranean, his place. The experiences defining dreams and reality are becoming more vague, and I willfully allow myself to be taken. The adventures seem endless as our respective cultures meet and mingle, creating an even more resplendent reality.
I shall soon leave this landscape behind and enter another. this time has been some of the happiest during these travels, as it was spent with family. I look forward to the chapter of friends which shall continue in the months ahead. Tonight I board a train enroute to Berlin…
One of the many delicious meals cooked by my aunt Gosia. The Polish kitchen is one of my favorites!
My mom creating a masterpiece…
Sooji and I spend an evening with Tomek, Aga and her boyfriend Peter.
Piotrek and his wife Kasia stop by with little Zosia.
Tomek and Ania walking down the aisle on September 8th, a grand wedding and family affair!
Tomek, Aga, Michał, Ewa and Julia (Magda was dearly missed!)
Aunt Zosia and Uncle Marek, mother and father of the groom
Uncle Eligiusz, Aunt Marysia, Aunt Aleksandra, my mom, Aunt Gosia and Uncle Grzesio
The Michniowski cousin clan (missing are Magda, Basia, Kordian, Stefan and Bogdan)
A happy family: Basia, Maciek, Bernard, Julia and baby Alicja