cześć , that’s hello in Polish!
As of late my main focus has been getting ready for our trip to Poland. It seems surreal that I’m going back again. Much has changed since my last visit in 2013, when I was single. This time, I won’t be traveling alone as my wife will be traveling with me. She will get to witness firsthand the beauty of the land and people I love dearly.
You can only understand that saying if you have stepped upon the motherland yourself. While there in 2013, I felt like I had been transported back in time, to when I was a child. Customs long forgotten here are still alive in present day Poland. While being there itself is surreal and walking on the very ground my forefathers walked upon can be moving, it’s the people, my family and friends that make the trip so amazing. I can’t wait to see as many of them as I can again. To dine on amazing Polish food, drink vodka, “mineral water” and simply enjoy their company. Nazhtrovia!
Initially things were going well with our trip, we had an itinerary and hired a guiding service called PolishOrigins. I’d done business with them in the past and they have amazing reviews. From having worked with them and knowing how professional they were, I didn’t hesitate when we started our planning months ago to contact them.
Then three days ago we discovered an error with our airline tickets that pushed us into panic mode. The mistake itself would cause us to stay a “little longer” than what we had initially planned. Altering our tickets would cost a small fortune and canceling was not an option. That’s caused me a few sleepless nights (including tonight) while I became an “expert” on where to go and what to do with our “extra” time. The guiding service has been great in trying to help accommodate us with alterations to our itinerary. That speaks volumes to me. And then out of the blue, my family in Pysznica came to our rescue! Thank you, you are truly wonderful! I should have expected it, knowing how people in Poland are. While you’re there, you are treated like they have known you your whole life. They make you feel so welcome and at home, you really don’t want to leave.
We both believe this all happened for a reason, one we don’t fully understand yet. We adjusted our schedules, recreated our itinerary with the help of my cousin Gienek, and the team from PolishOrigins, and plan to enjoy it to the fullest! Take a negative and turn it into a positive!
Right out of the gate, I will be off to Torun to embrace its beauty and history from the 13th with the Teutonic Knights and Torun castle. Its also the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus and home to Pierogi Stary Torun a restaurant I dined in during last trip. I also look forward to seeing some of my cousins and dining with them.
The next portion of the trip will focus on trying to locate records on my maternal grandmother’s family in Skulsk. This also includes hopefully meeting some living relatives. Recently a genealogist/friend in Poland traveled to my maternal grandmother’s village and found a great detail of information on my grandmothers sisters who stayed there. This helped heighten my chances of finding living relatives. While I don’t have a vast amount of time in each location we visit, fate has stepped in once again.
I feel truly blessed as our guide who has been assigned to us for first leg of this amazing journey is also a professional genealogist. That in itself will be great as I can talk shop with someone who knows Polish history, genealogy and culture way better than I ever will. A true learning experience that I totally look forward to! Oh it gets better, he has done genealogy research work for the tv show, Finding Your Roots and ancestry.com’s contest winners. What are the chances of that? What luck to be paired with Zbigniew Stettner of PolishGen.com! I know my chances of finding my family are the best they ever will be.
The second part of our trip we’ll be traveling to the European fairy-tale capital of Pacanow, Poland. A short drive north and I will be visiting Olesnica, Poland once again! Both of these locations are where my maternal grandfather’s family lived since the early 1800s. My grandfather had two brothers and one sister who remained behind in Poland when he left in 1913. Most of them died in the 1980s, but had extensive families. My last trip to Olesnica wasn’t a positive one. I left there very sad that we couldn’t get anyone to help us locate our living relatives. I refuse to let that happen this time around. I recently made contact on facebook with one member of the family over there and hope to finally get to meet him, shake his hand and explain how we are related. Hopefully when he views the photos I have of his late grandfather it will all make sense.
The third part of our trip takes me back to my paternal family hometown of Pysznica, Poland. My own genealogical research done over the last five years has my paternal family traced back to my fourth great grandfather, Sebastian Mierzwa born about 1740.
I cant say enough good things about my family from Pysznica. They have come to our rescue in regards to our flight problem and ill be spending a “few” extra days with them. I’m so looking forward to spending time with them and visiting cousins I’d met last time I was there.
I also plan to so some genealogy work while im there. Recently I made contact with a large number of DNA matches that have Mierzwa ancestors that came from south of my paternal hometown of Pysznica. I hope to visit these towns and villages and see if I can find living relatives for them. Remember, you get back what you give out. And I thoroughly enjoy helping people connect with their past!
The fourth and last part of our tour will take us deep into the southern part of Poland, visiting a few cities before spending a well-deserved “break” in Krakow. I fell in love Krakow in 2013 and plan to see everything there is this time around. I won’t go into detail as you’ll have to watch my daily posts from Poland as we travel and post pictures.
Finally, before leaving Poland I’ll be spending a few days in Warsaw, touring the city and hopefully meeting up with friends and family that reside there before coming back home.
This is going to be a trip of a lifetime and I’m excited to share it with all of you.