Janie (Zembal) Reibel and her daughter Amanda have returned from their trip to Poland. Janie journaled her trip and with her kind permission I am reprinting it here. (April, 2007) ~~KR
I have finally started to catch up on sleep from my trip and am ready to share my "adventure" of Poland. I know this is very long so if you don't have time to read it all, please skip to the end where we go to stay with Maria (grandma Zembal's niece). My story about our visit with her is for each of you. It with Nick's promptings, "mom when will you come", "you just have to meet Maria", "I don't know where I will be next year" and ended with saying "I have no regrets", "I am so glad that I came", "I will never forget this trip and some battle scars that made the journey sweeter".
I have to say that my feet and ankles did not swell until I got home (could have been all of the sauerkraut and sausage). We walked about an average of 5 hours a day on most days. Amanda got blisters on her feet and an infected ingrown toenail and the muscles in her legs got sore. She played soccer for 3 hours one day with Nick and Marie's 3 girls and after that she could barely walk. She limped and could barely walk the day we flew back. She wore boots with heals and wore them out. We bought a pair of tennis shoes the second week. "She left those boots in a garbage can in Poland. So with that said I will tell you about my trip (from day 1 to day 15).
Tuesday March 27th
Departed from Portland airport 5 ½ hour flight. 3 ½ hours of reading. Arrived in Newark, New Jersey (4 hour hold over), Departed for Frankfurt, Germany (8 ½ hour flight) We arrived in Frankfurt International Airport at 9:45 in the morning and then had to get to another airport about an hour and a half away before 4:15 PM. That should have been easy, but Frankfurt Airport is the largest in the world and is 4 levels deep. What we needed to do to get to the other airport, was take the underground subway ( the S-Bahn) that runs under the basement level of the airport (which is 4 stories high), then arrives in Frankfurt City Center Train Station and then from there we had go out on the street and find the bus that takes you to the smaller Frankfurt Hahn Airport. The Subway (S-Bahn) was difficult to find and when we found it, we had to get our tickets out of a machine and figure out which platform to stand at. We were tired and totally confused, s o I asked a young man and he got our tickets, rode the subway (he was going that way anyway) with us, took us through the Frankfurt City Train Station (about the size of 4 city blocks, outside and down 2 ½ blocks to where the bus would arrive to take us to the next airport. The bus took us to Frankfurt Hahn airport and from there we took a plane to Katowice, Poland and by then it was the next day.
Wednesday March 28th
Nick was working so he set it up for two of the girls that he teaches with to pick us up. They were about in their mid 20's and both spoke English and they enjoyed hearing Amanda chatter about things with them and especially liked a couple of the stories about Nick when he was little. When Nick got home from work, he made a soup that has a base of fermented rye bread with sausage and egg. It is sour, but really good. Zurich, is what it is called. He had a huge cast iron bathtub and a gas quick recovery hot water tank. So we all took hot baths and then went to bed. Nick had 1 bed, so I slept in that and Amanda and he slept on the floor in the other room in sleeping bags. It was so nice, he had put out candles and had bought flowers for each room. His apartment may have been built in the early 1900's. It had these ceramic heaters in each of the bedrooms that were about 4 X 4 feet wide and about 6 feet tall. They used to be heated by coal, b but now they were converted to electric. They were on a timer and would heat up twice a day and then the ceramic tiles would radiate heat when they were turned off. The ceilings were almost twice as high as the rooms were wide.
Thursday March 29th
We walked around downtown Gliwice (population 230,000) looking at shops, statues, parks and churches. We walked as far as where Nick works and then he went to work and we were on our own to find our way back to his apartment. I had drawn a map as we walked, but it was still confusing as the blocks of the city don't run square, more like a jigsaw puzzle. We found a mall that ran 3 stories underground and spent the rest of the time going through those shops. I noticed that all of the women, even the older women wore heels on their boots or dress shoes. They all had wool coats. Except for the school children, I did not see anyone in jeans, tennis shoes and parkas. The women and girls had their hair cut layered in the front and longer in the back and most had it highlighted. Nick said there are an innumerable number of hair salons in the city. The buildings were all dated from the 30's to the 50's, well kept up and tall, but not a single new or modern building. I did not see anything even remotely modern in traveling across Poland except in some parts of Krakow. It gave you a feeling of being in a geographic time machine, contradicted only by some fashion and the fact that everyone seemed to have one of the "new fangled" phones that they carried with them wherever they went. Nick said that few people own land phones. There are a lot of black soot deposits on everything though because coal is the main source of heat. It is especially odd to see the trees all black instead of the usual colors of bark, being tan or grey. Trees are small in diameter and height, probably because of the cold weather rather than the cold (but in Rabka where Maria lives I did see some very large old trees in a park). They had not yet sprouted any leaves because of the cold temperatures. The houses our all built with cement block and stucco on the outside and inside walls which are about 12 inches thick. Most of the homes are 3 stories, high not c counting the basement, and many were 4 and 5 stories high as they have very steep roofs and there are rooms all of the way up into the peak. Maria told us later that many of the homes used to have several families living in them, but now only one family and usually only 2 to 3 children.
Nick got off work and then he and Amanda went to the market and bought perioges and sausage. We had Polish and European History and Polish Lessons from Nick when we were walking, and eating and riding on trains/buses for the next two weeks. He had spent his first year in Poland owning just two books in English. One on the history of Poland and the other on the country and culture of Poland. They had been a gift form Mark (Maria's brother) in 2005 when he spent Christmas with the family. Having no TV or radio, he had read these books over and over.
Friday March 30th I saw how Nick operated as he navigated around Poland and from Country to country. He would check the internet the night before for some details like train/bus times, but most the time it was get to the get to the bus/train station as early and quit as we could check the reader board for times and destinations and you could go anywhere in Poland, because the buses and trains left so frequently. Sometimes we had to get off of one train and wait for another. Everything went like clockwork with trains going and coming on several tracks at a time, buses leaving sometimes every 15 minutes for the same destination. The tricky part was getting the bus driver to stop where you had told him you were going to need to get off. After taking a tram, we walked to the wooden Radio tower that Hitler started the war with Poland over. If I remember right, Nick said he dressed his German soldiers up in Polish army uniforms and then attacked d the towers and radioed across Europe that the Polish army had attacked the tower. Here is a blog about that event Fake Invasion at Gleiwitz that Changed the World.
In the late evening of Thursday, August 31, 1939, German covert operatives pretending to be Polish terrorists seized the Gleiwitz radio station in the German/Poland border region of Silesia.
The station's music program came to an abrupt halt, followed by frantic German voices announcing that Polish formations were marching toward town; Germany was being invaded by Poland!
Then, like a bad imitation of the previous year's infamous War of the Worlds broadcast, the transmission went dead for a moment of dramatic silence.
Word of Gleiwitz Reaches Rest of World
Soon, the airwaves popped and crackled to life again, and this time Polish voices (clever little devils, those Germans…) called for all Poles in the broadcast area to take up arms and attack Germany.
In no time, radio stations across greater Europe picked up the story. The BBC broadcast this statement:
There have been reports of an attack on a radio station in Gleiwitz, which is just across the Polish border in Silesia. The German News Agency reports that the attack came at about 8.00pm this evening when the Poles forced their way into the studio and began broadcasting a statement in Polish. Within quarter of an hour, says reports, the Poles were overpowered by German police, who opened fire on them. Several of the Poles were reported killed, but the numbers are not yet known.
And thus, Hitler invented an excuse to invade Poland, which he did the next day: September 1, 1939. The day World War II began.
I think at that time that part of Poland had belonged to or was occupied by Germany). We walked through cemeteries. They are all near Churches and the Polish people visit their loved ones every week after church. They spend a lot of money on very fancy large graves with statues (Kathy and Diane already know this).. We went to lunch in what Nick said was like a Polish soup kitchen. He said that ladies just volunteer to cook home cooked low cost meals. I have to say I never saw a single bum on the streets or anyone resembling a homeless person except for in downtown Frankfurt Germany and there I only saw one.
Nick went to work for couple of hours that evening . He had the next week off.
Saturday March 31st
- We got up and did our laundry in Nick's bath tub, a ritual of soaking and scrubbing, wringing and hanging (clothes across a line above his tub) that had become routine for him. He explained that we would be leaving in two days and it would take that long for the clothes to dry. Left for the Train/bus stations ( a brisk walk across town) and bought tickets for the train to Auschwitz. We spent 5 Hours of touring the camps of Auschwitz.. It took 2 hours to get there by train. It is by far the most memorable thing that we saw on the trip. We saw Auschwitz I, the administrative center, Auschwitz II, an extermination camp and Auschwitz III, a work camp. Because this site is so internationally visited, every information plaque is written in several languages. We saw the ovens and gas chambers. "Horrible" and the courtyards where the executions were performed. The second camp had acres and acres of horse’s stables and foundations of horse stables. These were designed to hold 12 horses, but they housed 400 people each. They had a horizontal chimney running the length of the floor with vents to heat the stable. It still must have been incredibly cold and dark. The foundations with chimney's were all that was left of most stables as Hitler tried to destroy the evidence of his "evil deeds" when the war was over. A lot of Polish and European History there that should never be forgotten, but heart wrenching to remember.
Sunday April 1rst
- Visited the church in Czestochowa (near Krakow) containing the painting of the Polish Madonna. I spoke with Uncle Eddie this week and he said that Grandma Zembal made a pilgrimage here. He also said that a painting of the countryside and church of Czestochowa hung in her room and that a photo of her taken next to this painting, when developed, shown a beam of light emanating from this painting was directed right on her head ending in a halo. I had heard of this picture of Grandma, but had not seen it before. I don't know who may have it. Maybe Eddie knows. We toured the church and buildings (monastery and towers) that contained history about the church formally a fortress during wars. I should have done this one alone, as after yesterday, Amanda was very anxious and emotional and not at all patient about traveling 3 hours to see a church. Because it was Easter week all of the church and side chapels were full and we could not see the painting, but later I went back in and Amanda and I were able to see the picture, over the heads of several people. I wished that I could have gotten closer, but it was beautiful.
Monday April 2nd
- We took another 2 ½ hour train ride to Krakow and this time we took our suit cases and bags with us (Nick took his hiking back pack) as were going to be gone for 7 days. Amanda and Nick's favorite place to pass on the train was the dog park. It was kind of like an out door dog pound with a fence and inside the fence were a dozen dog houses in a circle with dogs sitting on the top of them watching the trains go by.
We arrived in Krakow, we got a room at the very top of a building in the dormer. It was kind of neat to look out the windows and see the whole city from all angles. We Toured the Gothic Wawel Castle and dungeon and church. Toured the Old Town Market Square and St. John's Cathedral at the square, then went to the market and got food to cook in our room. We had a nice dinner. Groceries are cheap and it is 3 Zlotys to every $1 American. Poland joined the European Union about a year ago, but they are not yet using the Euro. When they do, it will be possibly a great hardship to adjust wages and prices because 6 Zloty is equal to 1 Euro.
Tuesday April 3rd
- We were still in Krakow. We Toured the Wieliczka Salt Mine A tour of the Mine includes beautiful chapels sculpted in salt, statues of Poland’s military leaders, great poets and spiritual leaders. We were at a depth of 400 feet below the ground. According to legend the salt resources were brought here from Hungary by the "Blessed Kinga", who married a Pole and dropped a ring down the Hungarian salt mine shaft to say "farewell" to her homeland. Salt reserves were soon discovered in Wieliczka. When excavation started, Kinga's ring was found in the first salt lump. They showed us a block of salt about 3 feet long and about 2 feet in diameter and said that salt was so valuable when the mines were in their prime that, you could buy a whole village and all of the people in it with just one block of salt. It was shipped all over the world. We had kebobs for lunch. Kebob stands are everywhere in the cities. They are like a piece of round flat bread s split open and then shredded cabbage, chicken and red pepper with a yogurt and a sweet sauce drizzled over. Nick said that because of the cold weather, you will not find regular lettuce or romaine in markets, restaurants or grocery stores, "Cabbage in everything". They also have a lot of shredded carrot salads in restaurants. The cabbage is never bitter though. They must know how to grow it. That evening we ate at a polish banquet restaurant where you could try different types of polish food.
Wednesday April 4th
- In the morning we had 2 hours to shop for Amanda's prom dress. Thankfully we found one (it was her goal that she should buy her senior prom dress in Poland). A very stressful goal. Prom dress shops are not that common in Krakow and since it is more of a tourist area of the city where we were, I did not think it possible. We went into 3 bridal shops and they had some beautiful gowns for far less then we would have spent in the US. There was even one shop that had nothing but formal gowns all hand made by this one designer, but we finally found one in a store called HEX (it looked more French) and it was $200 US (that price looked very reasonable by this time). By now she had 3 blisters and was developing an ingrown toenail. So walking had become difficult. Nick kept reminding her that she needed to find a store to buy some comfortable shoes, as she had been wearing boots with heels for 6 days of intense walking and he could see the trouble she was going to have finishing out the next week in those shoes. About 5:00PM, we got on a bus for a 5 hour ride to Zakopane (located in the mountains, where the highlanders live). It got dark early so we could not see the view as we got near the mountains. We arrived at 10:00 at night at the bus station and Nick said to stay there and he would walk about ½ mile to see if he could get us a room. He had a map and list of hotels. He was only gone for about 15 minutes and he said that there was a van outside that would take us to our room. He said the man said he had cabins for rent. I felt a little leery, but when I saw that he had a nice van and (Nick assured me that the man had taken him already to look at the cabins and they were really there, it did sound nice to not to have to walk across town at 11:30 at night dragging our suitcases in the dark. It was a nice cabin with a kitchen and 3 beds. Did I mention that Nick has learned to speak Polish pretty good. (He does have to concentrate to think of the words and form his sentences so he would always say that Amanda and I had to stay back when he would go to talk with a salesperson, so he wouldn't be distracted). We walked into the town that night and found an all night grocery store and brought home food to cook for breakfast in the morning.
Thursday April 5th
- The next morning we saw the mountains out the window. They were so beautiful. I thought about how Grandma Zembal must have loved that area. We were only about ½ hour from where she grew up. By now Amanda's feet were hurting pretty bad. She begged to stay in the cabin for the day, while Nick and I went up the mountain. Nick told her that she could, but tomorrow she would be going shopping in the village for tennis shoes. We walked into the village and there was a highlander dressed in fur vest and bright colored clothing (standard highlander attire) and he had a baby lamb and was charging 10 Zlotys for pictures with lamb. I would have been glad to have paid that just to hold the little lamb, but I did get three pictures for the price. It was so sweet. There were rows of merchants selling hand knitted socks, hats, sweaters and leather (animal) fur lined coats that would have kept a person "toasty" in sub zero temperatures. We then took the tram up the mountain. We could see the whole village below as it was a clear day. There were log homes being build all along the ridge and it seemed odd seeing homes built on property that would have been prime real estate property for tourist shops and hotels in the US. When we got back, Amanda had spent the time photo editing pictures that she had down loaded to a website. She got dressed and then we walked back to the village and she found a pair of tennis shoes.
Friday April 6th
In the morning we all went back to the village and saw the same shops that we had seen the day before without her and Nick had found some used clothing shops and discount stores that were interesting. We went to the bus station and checked the schedule and saw that the last bus left for Rabka (home of Grandma Zembal's great niece) at 5:00 PM. So we walked back to the cabin and got our bags and checked out which meant that we had to drag our suit cases around town till we got on the bus. We got off the bus in Rabka. Nick had spoke with Maria by phone earlier and she told him that she would meet us by the train station. We weren't sure where that was so we just started walking down streets (dragging our suit cases) and then we saw the train tracks (eight of them running parallel to each other) so we followed them until we could see a train stop. We had to cross all eight tracks to get to the stop and when we got on the other side, we saw a whit e small car driving in our direction. It was Maria and she pulled over and got out of the car and gave us all hugs and then apologized that her car was not very clean (it was just fine). I was more worried that all of our suitcases would not fit in it. She spoke good English. Simple but well thought out words and she just made us feel so welcome. Of course Nick had stayed with her last Easter and the Christmas of 05. Maria's grandfather , Fransiskis Sutor is grandma Zembal's brother. He was her favorite brother. Maybe that is who she named her daughter Frances after? We drove to the edge of Rabka, turned up a side road and climbed a winding hill to her home. The home that she and her husband, Stanik, built taking almost 15 years, first buying the property, going up on weekends to work on it and finally moving in about 10 years ago. I remember Maria's mother (Zophie Hanula) sending letters to Frances talking about her children (Maria, Teresa and Mark) and going up into the mountains to help them work on the house. Marie and Stanik lived with Zophie and till the house was finished. Marie is a school teacher in the junior high teaching Math and Chemistry. She said her wages "are bread and butter" and Stanik's wages buy the extras. Stanik works only 4 months of the years. He has a van that he fills with shrubs and plants and seeds and goes to Krakow to sell them. He gets up at 6:00 in the morning is busy till dark out in the yard with plants and building the garage. He also built the house that they live in. The children are Gosia 12, Kasia 10 and Basia 8). When we got to the house, Maria made perigees with mushroom, cabbage and onion filling. She just had a bowl of flour, put in an egg and some hot water and rolled them out so easy. I got to help put the filling in them and she made some with apple too. It was good Friday so I went to the church with her and Stanik to pray for ½ hour and then we came home and watched the story of the pope John Paul's life on television (in Polish).I fell asleep thinking about Grandma Zembal. How she must have missed her family and how much it meant to her to have Frances and her other children write letters and share each other's lives all those years. Eddie told me that she was only 7 years old when her mother died in that field struck by lightening. One day I drove Grandma Zembal to the cemetery and she told me about it. She said her mother was working in the field and was hit by lightening. She said they went to get the doctor and he gave her aspirin and they gave her too much and it killed her. She talked about her father getting remarried later to a lady that had a girl. She said a baby was born later when she was older and living a working in Krakow with a family, she said she would come home to visit her father and the baby would be sick and she would ask the baby where does it hurt and she would hold her head. Grandma indicated that it was the girl's responsibility to take care of the baby and that she thought baby died because the girl did not take good care of the baby and this made Grandma very sad. She had a step brother from this marriage that lived in America that she wrote often to, but she was closest to her older brother, Fransiskis (Maria's grandfather).
Saturday April 7th
Nick, Amanda, I, Marie and her youngest daughter, Basia went for a walk up in the wooded hills behind her house. At the top of the hill we came out on a road that took us back down to her house. There was a shrine to Mary on the way down the road. Maria said these are common on roads.. We came back to have Marie make us a lunch of cheese and apples and more peiroges and Tea (lots and lots of tea). We had tea with every meal and between every meal and some really good juices and in the evening Stanick would bring out his homemade berry wine and some other liquors that were handed to us un a shot glass to sip. I asked Maria if the water was safe to drink and she said that yes it was, but that she never drinks water (I never saw any other member of the family drink water in the 3 days that we were there). I have to say that I rarely drink tea or coffee because of the caffeine, but it was so ………..very cold in the mountains and it did really warm us up. After lunch Amanda and Nick played cards with Gosia, Kashia and Basia. The card playing went on almost non stop for 3 days, "crazy eights, rummy, and war", with later Maria and I joining in too, after the kitchen work was done.. Marie said that she did not encourage playing cards because she felt it was a waste of children's time, but she said that she saw that it was good for them because it makes you think and is a fun thing for her and her girls to do together. There is that practical thinking work ethnic mentality that I saw in my father, he always thought that sports was a waste of time and money, but then they did wear out many a card deck playing pinochle and "started many an argument too". After lunch, Maria went in the kitchen and said that she had to prepare and Easter Cake for her husband. She said it was his favorite (and I could see why, it was the most delicious cake I have ever had). I am glad that it was eaten by all, but Stanik probably thought that it would last more than a day. Stanik and Nick had many good conversations together. I realized how really well Nick was really able to understand and talk to someone other than the store and bus merchants. I was unable to get Stanik to understand anything that I was saying , but Maria and Nick helped. After Dinner, the children got out their musical instruments and played for us. I say that Gosia plays the Viola, the piano and the saxophone (which she hates but her father makes her play it), Kasha plays the violin and Basia is learning an instrument (it might have been the flute). Stanik plays the Tuba and the accordion and Maria said the she does not play any instrument. We watched the story of the pope again before bed and Marie said we would be leaving the house at 5:45 AM, because Easter Mass is always before sunrise.
Sunday April 8th
Before we left at 5:30 in the morning, we all had a piece of the delicious cake (and after lunch and dinner and with wine in the evening). The church was full in the aisles, the foyer, the entrance step and down onto the sidewalks. First we went in and thought we were doing so good because we found a place for all of us to sit (except Stanik and Gosia, they were playing the Tuba and Saxophone in the choir, which made Gosia very upset, as she wanted to sit with us).Then the mass started and as is the custom, Maria said, now we will all leave the church and go outside and walk around the church 3 times. She said that is to show the 3 days Jesus was in the tomb. So it was bright and sunny and halfway pleasant at first, but the blistering cold wind soon sent a couple of elderly people and some not so convicted younger people scrambling back into to the church through a side door (after they had lagged to the back of the line), before we had finished our second lap around the church. Of course by the time we walked back into the church our place was gone and we considered ourselves fortunate to have a spot to stand in the back of the church out of the cold weather. The singing at the mass in Polish was so beautiful. After a dinner of breaded pork chops and sauerkraut and cabbage salad, Marie and her husband went for a walk. This happened unannounced so I thought that they had gone to bed to take an Easter Sunday nap. After several card games, Nick, Amanda, Gosia, Kashia and Basia went outside to play soccer. Maria and I and Stanik went outside to watch. Presently, I looked over at the edge of the field and there was a patch of grass on fire, racing along as the dry cold wind blew the flames horizontally with the ground. Beside it stood Stanik with a pleased and crazed look in his eyes (I had seen that same look in my dad's eyes when he would throw gasoline on piles of brush, even after they were lit). Stanik smiled even more a s he watched his oldest daughter Gosia throw a bucket of cold water on the fire and then shout at him and run to fill it up again ( all the time shouting at her dad in Polish). Basia was in tears and could not be consoled by her mother. Maria explained that Basia says, that the little animals under the ground will die and papa will go to jail and we will have no food or clothes to wear. After sometime, the fire met the rock on the road and ran out of fuel and everyone went in the house. Nick reminded me about the pictures I had brought that Maria's mother had sent to Frances through the years. I spread them on the table and they were all excited to see Maria as a young teen, and mother, baby pictures of the girls, her mother (Zophie Hanula) and of course other relatives, some unknown to Maria. I had a letter that her mother had written and she read it through and then said, "my mother loved her children and family very much". I left the letter with her and a holy card of St. Teresa ( she was going to give this to her sister, Teresa). I regret that I forgot to ask her to see her scrapbook that her mother had kept of 70 years of letters and pictures from the United States, but Nick had been shown this on his first visit and told me about what it was like to look through it and see pictures of his grandpa, great uncles and there were even pictures of his brother, sister and cousins. We ended that night watching the story of the pope's life again, quietly sitting in the dimly lit room, thinking about the morning when we would be leaving this family who reminded us over and over what we meant to them because of what our fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles had done for them, her mother and grandfather (Fansiskis Sutor). I felt the recipient of misplaced gratitude, having mailed only an occasional package for Frances. I remembered the joy that I felt when I was able to donate some items to the boxes and the admiration I had for my aunt as she rallied her siblings to participate and they willingly gave of their finances to keep the packages going, month after month, year after year. They knew the importance of what they were doing and delighted in this task, bringing clothes and cash to smuggle (finding ways to keep the communist from finding the $'s as they would search every package, reading the letters and taking any food items sent in their original package to sell on the black market) before sending it on to it's destination. But most of all they knew how much this meant to their mother, (Grandma Zembal) whose heart went out to her brother, Fransiskis, in her home land. A brother and a family who suffered daily to eat and live, but more so she mourned that their freedom to worship Jesus and go to mass, was bound by fear and tyranny. As we fell asleep, we could hear Gosia and Kashia singing together as they feel asleep on the couch down stairs. There singing sounded so sweet and beautiful.
Tomorrow came too soon.
Monday April 9th
We left early at 7:00 as Nick had a long ways to go and had to work that day. Maria drove us to the bus stop near her home. She brought the two youngest girls and we got our suitcases out and began the hard good byes, when Nick noticed that I was still wearing my slippers (we wore them always in the house). Maria jumped back in the car and said she would be right back. She came down the hill just minutes before the bus arrived. She said that Gosia was crying at the house because she was going to miss us. We had just enough time to say a few words, but as always with Maria, they were well thought out. When we thanked her for all that she did and such a wonderful time, she reminded as she always did, "We are the ones that can not ever thank your family for all that they did for our family". Then she had some very wise advice for me, "Jane, I want to tell you …. be careful with your money". I knew instinctively knew that she wasn't warning me about being robbed. She had seen Amanda's lap top and nice clothes. She knew that it cost money to travel half way around the world, but mainly she knows that a simple life is full of more joy, more purpose and more rewards. I will miss her very much.
We arrived in Krakow and said another difficult goodbye to Nick this time, boarded a bus to the Krakow airport and arrived in Frankfurt, Hahn Airport, took a 1 ½ hour bus ride to downtown Frankfurt, Germany where we walked the streets looking for the "Stay and Learn Youth Hostel" (it was located right next door to a upscale Porn night club, on a street that had more of them in between the restaurants and internet cafes). Amanda told me that Europe was very relaxed about these things and that this was a safe neighborhood area for us to walk in. We were too tired to wander far and everything is closed the day after Easter, but we did find a combination Italian and India food restaurant and dinner there and took the rest home for breakfast in the morning. By that time Amanda could barely walk, limping along at a snails pace. I was not aware till we got home just how badly her toenail was infected.
Tuesday April 19th
Our plane departed at 11:30 AM and we left early because we had to take the S-Bahn subway (in reverse this time) to Frankfurt International Airport. Even with Amanda having to walk so slow we made it in plenty of time, landing in Newark, New Jersey again. It was bad weather and a rough landing (several people around us had to use their little blue paper bags, of which I would think they would have used plastic. But then I noticed later that several of them left them sitting upright on the floor, with the tops neatly folder over for the stewardesses to find and that would not have worked with a plastic bag). We had another 5 hour hold over and then the 8 hour flight to Portland. I made sure to sleep on the plane and with Coffee from McDonalds, made the 2 ½ hour drive home with my eyes wide open. Amanda? Well she slept for the ride home and 12 hours the next day and for 12 hours the next day. And her toe? Well we soaked it twice a day in Epsom n salts and baking Soda and I boiled up some herbs that pull infection out and speed tissue regeneration "Comfrey" and after 3 days of doctoring and soaking she could put her shoe on and walk again without looking like a cripple.
Well, if you were able to make it through this long journal of my travels. I remind you that although I am not the first of our family to have taken this journey , it awaits to be experienced by any of you that feel you would like to take it. Although I regret that I was not able to see Eliza in Northern Poland, she too waits with an open heart to meet her family in the US and as you can tell from my words about Maria and her family, they will make you feel so welcome and comfortable in their home and you will find in each of them a part of yourself that you want to know better and express more fully as you understand who your parents and grandparents were, in the "light of the people they left behind in Poland".