city of history

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.

open air history

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.

foreign flavors

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.

Tomek & Ania’s wedding

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

last tango in Krakow

Back to my beloved Krakow where I met with Jimena from Buenos Aires. Naturally, a tango was in order! Jimena is on a journey of her own, and most serendipitously our paths crossed. Together with Ola we shared many memorable moments, soon joined by Sooji…

My mom joined us in this city where she spent her university years.

A party with Malgosia and Matylda, friends of mine and my mom’s for many years.

Drinks with Marta and Piotrek as Jimena bids us farewell…

 A final night of cocktails with Magda, a dear friend of Ola’s. And mine now too.

a day in Bykowce

The day began in the manner that all days should begin, with a massage. (Dream or reality?) My body was then ready for a little yoga on the terrace, as the sun welcomed me with it’s late summer glow. For breakfast my mom and I filled our palates with raspberries in the garden. Yes, life is good! Nature was beckoning and along with Dagmara we took a long walk into the woods. We reached a grand rock upon which my grandparents inscribed their initials so many years ago. The peace in the woods is truly immeasurable. For lunch we had a date with my eldest aunt Aleksandra who prepared quite a feast.
After lunch we headed to Sanok for a little shopping and preparation for a visit from my mom’s friend of long ago Elizabeth and her brother, a respected and accomplished composer and poet, Wojchiech Rybicki. It was a full and rousing day. And now for a moment I shall sit beneath a sky illuminated by stars, in gratitude of the wonder and warmth surrounding me. As tomorrow I temporarily part with these woody paths for the cobblestones of Krakow…

children of the wild

As I so fondly recall my childhood in Poland, so many endless summers spent outdoors, playing in the haystacks, finding refuge in the depths of the woods, creating worlds that only a young and curious mind can understand. At one with nature. so too have my cousins Dagmara, Michał, Ewa and Julia found a home in the wilderness, creating a world very much their own, composed of branches, twigs and rocks and great imagination. The line between fantasy and reality exists outside my doorstep.