Roots Expedition in Czestochowa, Poland

Let me premise my trip to Czestochowa  with some of my family history. For most of my life,  my Grandmother told me she came from the City of Churches in Czestochowa, Poland. She said there was a famous Black Madona  in her city. Later in life I read a book about a young womans’ search for Black Madonas and after reading it it sparked an interest in my mind of what my Grandmother had said to me. Well, little did I know about the City of Churches, but when going there to seek out the possible gravesites of my long desceased relatives;  I realized this was The CITY OF THE CHURCH!  The Jasna Gora Bascillaca  & The  Black Madona is an ICON and people make pilgramages to see Their Lady of Jasna Gora every year. I felt like I was one of the pilgrams and when I saw her, I cried and  was notably the most beautiful piece of art work I had ever laid eyes on. I prayed to her like all the pilgrams and I was in complete AWE when I was in her presence. Fast forward to the following day when I met my Archivists who assited with me with filling in some blanks about my family that I didnt even know existed; which I will wrte about in a bit…

This story is not only of my trip to the city of my Grandparents birth and their family members it is a story of Immigration to the United States of America approximately over 100 years ago. My immediate 1st and 2nd cousins await this story and I hope I can reach out to other relatives who may  live  in France,  Israel and Australia. I have not heard that any of my relatives have undertaken a trip to Poland to find their roots so, I  hope this story inspires others to find out about their ancestors. About 15 years ago I had a second cousin Ezra , passed along a Genealogy Chart from the paternal side of my  Grandfathers family.

The history of my GRANDFATHERs’ family goes back to my Great, Great, Great- Grandfather Moshe Rozenzaft (the Rosensaft name was changed with “z” becoming “s”in early 1900; maybe at Ellis Island) b. 1799-d.1833 from Czestochowa, Poland.  My Great Grandparents names were Moshe Rosensaft and Pesa Shyay-Rozenzaft…My Grandfathers’ name was Julius Rosensaft (Juda Rozenzaft 1895-1988) married to Rachael Szoepa(1923) parents of Pearl Rosensaft-Cohen(b.1925-d.1995)Pearl and Phil Cohen are parents to  my cousins Lois Cohen-Husney and Larry Cohen. Anita Nikki Rosensaft-Balter (b.1930 d.1988) is 2nd daughter to Julius and Rae Rosensaft. Nikki and Jack Balter  are parents to Mitchell and Nanci (me). Grandpa Julius was a brother to 5 other siblings:  The siblings name were Beresch(Bernard b,1886=d.?)   Wolf Ber(B1883-d.1943) married to Ruchla -Sztajuinc , Wolf Ber was killed in the large Ghetto by Germans(in Czestochowa), parents  of Ella Rozenzaft-Bornstein(B.1916-d.? moved to Melbourne, Australia.  Tola Rozenzaft-Chajusin, MD,(b.1912 d.March-1943, shot by Germans in a mass execution with other Intelligentsia and Intellectuals(after being hidden in the Mikve Bldg. in large Ghetto) killed and  buried in  a mass grave in Czestochowa Jewish Cemetary.

Saba (b.1925-d. May-1943; shot by Germans in Czestochowa in small Ghetto)  Nathan Rozenzaft (b.1890 d.1961) father of Jeanne Rosensaft -Kantrowitz and Melvin Rosensaft, Peril (Paula)(b. d. Mother to Hanka (moved to Australia; mother Valla Bornstein-Monheit (alive and moved to Israel with a flat still in Poland?).

My GRANDMOTHER Rae Shopper (Rachael Szoepa 1901-1993) verbally gave me information on her family ( I do not have an official genealogy chart).  The info she as provided when she was alive is as follows: my Great Grandmother Pesa Szoepa (1857-1919) and bore 6 children (Grandma Rae being one of them); Ithcha (Izzy) father of Sally Shopper-b.? USA…still alive, Sally (Izzyz’ daughter )and Milton parents of Leslee  – and Audrey-USA.   Chaim Szoepa, Wolf Szoepa father of Moshe and Evan(possibly 2 more sons..alive/)resides??, Leah Szoepa-Kremsky(died 1943) mother of Avarahm, Mania Szoepa-Windman(died in

Poland year?), mother of Wolf (b.1913 d.1989?), Livel and Polscha(b.-d.?)  Grandma Raes’ sister ( who remained in Poland) Mania, also had a  small business at the stall in the small Ghetto in Czestochowa and sold beans,peas and cereals on  boxes at a stall (Small gettho is still standing but may not be for much longer)…Her sister Leah had two sewing machines in the house and on Tuesdays they would bring the pants that she made to the square(small Ghetto) to sell. Moshe my Great Grandfather was a tailor and my Great grandmother had 6 children to take care of. My Grandmother remembers hanging around her older sister Leah while she would sew shirts and bedding. She also remembers going to kindergarten and grade A1 and remembers the books were in Polish but when the Russian inspectors came in to the school they had to take out the Russian books from their desks(hiding the Polish books). She said she knew how to say good morning in Russian plus a few other words.She said that making a living was very hard for her family, living next to the small Ghetto in Czestochowa. While I was there I was shown 400 year old underground basements and a shop above ground in which there was a hidden place where children were drugged and hidden from the Nazis in this small Ghetto before being sent away under the Nazis’ noses.. Now back to my Grandparents in America….

My Grandfather came over to New York in the early 1900’s from Czestochowa and entered into the US Army during WW1( I have his honorable discharge from the US Army dated April 19, 1919.). He taught himself English by using a dictionary/partial encyclopedia. He was a house painter by trade after the war. He had a brother Nathan who had died & whom I was named after..(The Jews use the 1st initial of their deceased relative and name their children in honor of them).. I never met any of my Grandfathers family. The only uncle I remember  was Uncle  Izzy (my grandmothers brother),. Uncle Izzys’ wife picked my Grandmother up from the boat after she came through Ellis Island in 1920.( she was with her sisters’ sister in law and 4 of 8 children); and a Russian sailor had helped her with repeating  her name in English, while on the boat (that is where her name Scoepa became Shopper).. People would come to her brother Izzys’ home (Harleem NY) to meet her and they called her the “greencazena”!  She would go out with groups of friends she met who were from around her home town in Poland. That is where she met Julius Rosensaft although he was 7 years older than she;  she’d go out to the movies (10 cents), on subways that was 5 cents(in groups including him) & trips  included  Far Rockaway and Coney Island.  My Grandfather encouraged her to learn English on her own and she quit school in Harlem after 3 weeks! She was proud that she didn’t have an accent after she learned English! My Grandmother lived in Harlem for a few years before she got married and she worked as a “trimmer”(cutting off threads on dresses) for $5.00 a week. Her next job was working with millinery for $12.00 a week. My Grandfather made $35.00 a week belonging to the Painters Union and once he had an increase in pay from $9.00 a day to $12.00 a day, they celebrated. She and my Grandfather  and got married in NY in 1923. My Grandmother said they didn’t lose too much money in the crash of ’29 cause she took her money out of the bank, but times where hard  because there was little work. She said there were long lines for food and coal she had  ration cards and she said her first born  (Pearl) started drinking coffee at an early age!  My Grandmother stated “Our parents celebrated our marriage by getting together in Czestochowa and had sponge cake and wine in our honor!”   After my Grandparents marriage they moved to Concorde Ave., Bronx to a 4 room apt.and two of her brothers lived with them until they got married. The apt. cost $64.00 in rent and it was considered a “cold water flat”, a 3rd floor walk up and she thought she was living in high style in that apt. My Grandfather  had a hand crank car, a 1930 Dodge touring Sedan without windows, long running boards with a little bench b/w two front seats (first child car seat)!. The books in the house were in Hebrew In 1925 Pearl was born and then in 1930 Anita was born. They all moved to a 1 bedroom apt. on Jesup Ave.(which was torn down, years later, to make the Cross Bronx Expressway). Both sisters slept in the living room(without TV but they had a radio). They would go to Open Air movies on Prospect Ave.  and when they went to the movies 2-3 times a week they’d get a new dish for each person in the family! I have my Grandparents Naturalization papers from 1942 and  1943. After the war years my Grandparents never discussed anyone in Europe.

I remember having Jewish holidays at my Grandparents house in the Bronx on Jesup Ave. and then in Coop City where they lived into their later years. I used also visit my Grandparents up in the “country” in a Bungalow Colony in the Monticello (Pine Tree?) area of NY during the summers. Fast forward…  I celebrated my Grandparents 50th Anniversary with my family in the Bronx. My fondest memories of my Grandmother was her “mish mosh”  soup and she always had chocolate pudding in the green colored glass dish and tuna fish was always on hand for me! I thought she was the greatest cook on earth! My Grandfather always had a crossword puzzle book and I thought he was the smartest man in the room! Before  my Grandfathers death I visited him in Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx. I was the last family member to see him at the age of 95 years old. He said to my husband and I at the time that he was checking out tomorrow (which he did to Heaven) and he also “thanked my husband for marrying me and said I came from Good Stock!” . My Grandmother went to live with my Aunt Pearl and Uncle Phil to live out the last years of her life in Las Vegas . I got to introduce her last Great Grand child (my son Dorian; the last of her 4 Great Grandchildren) before she died in Las Vegas , NV.

My cousin Lois passed the geneology chart from cousin Ezra (whom I never met),  to me and I have had it hanging on my wall for years. I once went to a program in Davie, Florida at the Nova Southeastern University produced by the children of Czestochowa, which depicted the Life of Jews from my Grandparents town. It sparked my interest to find out more about my family who remained in Poland after WW1. I had no clue about the information on the deaths of some of my family during WW2 until I met with an achivist in the town of Czestochwa in 2015! I also saw the area where the Large Ghetto stood (not far from the train station where the Jews were hearded into cattle cars to be deported to the camps). I was handed four pieces of paper from the Archivists (who also happened to be the Archivists of the Czestochowa Museum) which were all from Yad Vishem in Isreal. Noted on each paper was the birth, death, parental lineage etc and where my family memebers were killed and the year of death. Stories were told in each area we visited to trace where the family members lived (and some died). I did not go to any camps of death b/c prior to this trip I didnt know I had family left behind during the war that were killed by the Nazi’s. I had also read a small book prior to going to Poland called “I Survived Auchwizc” and the book had one line in it towards the end that made me decide;  I didnt need to go to see the camps. The line in the book stated “I am standing on a million peoples ashes” and that was enough for me as I had been to the Holocausyt museum in Washington, DC, Miami, FL memorial and heard numerous survivors discuss the Holocaust.

After the tour of where my relatives lived after my Grandmothers verbal history plus the Arcivists information; we drove to the Jewish Cemetary of Czestochowa. The Cemetery  was started in 1803 and the last Jews were buried there was in 1970 (very few Jews still live in my ancestors city of birth). The Archivist, Mr. Weislav,  actually wrote the book on the Cemetary and had my family information prior to my coming! He was responsible for mapping out approximately 4,000 existing stones in this cemetary. He is doing his PhD and writing a 2nd book on the cemetary. We hiked throughout this sacred place and it was a very solem time for me. I had brought a memroial candle from the Shoah in France to put on my Great Grandmothers grave. Her gravesite was one of the only graves where there was  Roman numerals and her name spelled in letters that were not Hebrew that I could read. We got  to  the last gravestone which was upside down, but both Mr. Weislav(my Arcivists) & Krystof (my City Host of from Czestochowa) turned the stone over and brushed off the many +(?) years of dirt. This was the last of  the 5 gravesites I was being shown that day. Mr. Wieslav told Kryztof in Polish that I should carefully look to the top left corner of the stone and observe a small amount of gold leaf paint that was in the engraved area. He explained that the stones had been knocked over by the Jews who were made to work in the cemetary to collect the granite, marble and gold leaf that was engraved in the letterings.  Afterwards,  the Jews were lined up in front of the stones and shot. I have pictures of a famous Rabbis’ sarcophagus that was shot up with bullet holes and automatic rifle holes that went straight through the stones where the Jews were told to stand(the Nazis’ didnt want to have the bullets richocet off the stones and get hurt).

I also passed  a stone that had the name Windman on it and knew that my family had cousins named Windman (Wolf) and I had also seen two names at the Shoa (memorial)in France that had two names of two female( possible cousins ?), named Windman and their birth dates and death dates. I was told at the time it couldnt be any relatives , but I know for a fact my cousin Wolf WIndman , was a Philantorpists to this particular cemetary and came back to Czestohowa, to help out in the cemetary! A half a year later Mr. Weislav gave me a record that Wolf Windman was indeed born in 1913 in Czestochwa and I also know for a fact that he came to America on a big boat to NYC from France where he had lived after  the war. He had owned a French Sweater factory and brought us sweaters upon arrival to NYC!. I was sure the two Windman names on the Shoa were his sisters. I heard a story from my cousins Audrey and Leslie (Izzy was their Grandfather and their mother Sally is still alive in NY as I mentioned above), who stated that theyn heard Wolf had escaped the concentration camps but I belive his sisters and other family members were not as lucky!  It is possible that his Philantropy was why he assisted with his time and money in the Jewish Cemetary of Czestochowa!


Back to the ending of the story of my visit to the last grave site of my great great Grandfather and the gold leaf lettering. I had not had any particular sad reaction prior to seeing all the graves and  the dark green moss and wet brown wood and the gravestones strewn about. When  I saw the gold leaf lettering, I cried… In fac, prior to seeing this last gravesite ( I kept telling every gravesite I walked over and around that I was honored that I was there and that some of their families did indeed survive and I thanked them for thier lives and said Kaddish at many of my families gravesites)! Both Mr. Weislav  and Krystof stood there looking at me as the tears just streamed down my face as I looked at the gold leaf paint…. They said Nanci what is wrong? I told Krystof to explain to Mr Weislav that I feel that I have come full circle at this family members gravestone! They asked why? I said that seeing the gold leaf lettering reminded me of my Grandfather Julius; as one of the things I was given after his death was a small can of Gold leaf paint from his painting days!

Also while in Warsaw. Poland a new friend (Margozolata) who hosted me at her  home gave me an Amber necklace. I was overwhelemed by the Generosity as we discussed that The Amber Guild was started back in 1499 and was used as a currency… When I got to Krystof’s home and I was getting ready to go to the Cemetery with him (he had NO Clue about the Jewish history of my family or even hadnt known of the history of the Jewish Cemetery in his city); that I had passed the necklace in my bag. I had found that 6 stones had broken off the necklace. I pocketed the stones and was able to lay the Amber stones on the graves of my family to honor them with words of gratitude for their lives(with stones from POLAND).

As I walked out of the Cemetary with the thought that all the Jews of Czestochowa  were a reminder of  many that I am sure have lived full lives (info from the visit I had at the 1,000 Years of Jewish History in Warsaw).. There were many that were buried in mass graves andmemories of  my own long ago relatives (whose stones I just visited) ….Plus the ancestors that hang on my Geneology chart in Florida reminded me that walking the Jewish Cemetery of Czestochowas was an Honorable way to explore some of my roots.. ..

I also have  a pretty interesting memory of the gravesites that Tuesday morning; as we all walked out to the road….  To the right of us were three people  standing there… one was a Bride in white, the 2nd  Groom in Black and the 3rd person was their photographer… They were having their wedding pictures taken at this beautiful cemetary that sunny morning (without the gravestones in the picture; just the beauty of the peaceful surroundings)   and the reminder that all lives are sacred and begin with LOVE…




My visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines & My Walking Tour of Krakow

I just flew in from Gdansk (there are some pictures I found of my friends and myself at the Baltic Sea that I forgot to post on last blog); to Krokow late one evening and went directly to my Airbnb host. It was a first time not using Couchsurfing and I found myself at the Hosts’ Grandmothers Flat (who did not speak any English). I went to bed after looking at the maps she left for me in English (thankfully.) I had Zlotys for the tram billet and I awoke and off I went to the Wieliczka Salt Mines( which has been a source of rock salt & monetary usage in the beginning, since the late 13th century). This underground Saltworks Museum has been mined for the past 700 years! It has many stairs (370 stairs just down to the 1st level alone) and this treasure of Poland has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. It has nine levels where men worked and created over 2,000 chambers.  One of the chambers has an artist rendition of Jesus teaching to the Rabbis. There was no one artist who did the extraordinary  work over the years, just miners who spent their time below the ground who made Spectacular Art Works! There is an entire underground Church (where the Pope had visited 3 times in his life time, starting when he was a schoolboy). There are dozens of life sized statues carved out of the rock salt and huge rock salt chandeliers! There is a newly built micro climate called the graduation tower built on site to specifically to treat people with upper respiratory sinusitis, dermatological diseases, etc. There are subterranean lakes (like the dead sea) and this has been a tourists site since the 15th century! I then found a train to go back to the main railway station and walked to the Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny). I must admit I got a little lost as my goal was the Jewish Quarter (that I saw and passed on the bus there) but I was able to know how to get to the rail station to change tickets later and to catch a inexpensive bus to the airport the next day, so it was not all in vain (and very inexpensive). The trials and tribulations were my tired poor feet.. ….trying to put three days of touring into one day! Anyway, I went to the Main Square to look at  the medieval architecture (13th century merchants’ town and magnificent churches  with heir stunning interiors that I have only read about! When I got to the Old Town I remember reading about a restaurant in a Rick Steves’ travel book; which he said I couldn’t pronounce but the food was good (Gruzinskia Chaczapuri) with a great vegetarian selection. I sat under the Henjal tower (where the famous trumpet call sounds hourly, the call is unfinished in memory of the Medieval trumpeter who was shot with an arrow, while sounding an alarm). This Basilica tower  of  the Church of Saint Mary (construction began in 1355) which was magnificent inside and out was right next to my outdoor lunch seat and I saw the trumpeter in the tower! The square was lively, colorful with all sorts of galleries, shops etc.  I then took a tram to the Wawel Castle and walked around the outside the medieval walls/gates that was built in 1499! I walked some more looking for the Kazimierz (The Former Jewish Quarter). I finally made it  there and went into a few of the Synagogues . A trio of Krokow Jewish musicians were playing (the Jascha Lieberman Trio)  in one of the Synagogues. I went into the Kupa Synagogue (17th century) and it is converted to a Jewish Cultural center. The streets were old as were many of the remaining buildings and I slipped into yet another small cafe for dinner to get my last fix of  Polish Borscht! I called my friend (Iwoka) up in Gdansk (still in the Tropical Hospital) and we talked and laughed as if she was right there sharing my meal with me! It was decided after 20.000 steps that I was too tired to walk back (in the dark and I had no clue how to get back to the Airbnb) by both of us; DSCN0063DSCN0064 DSCN0071 DSCN0070 DSCN0076 DSCN0079DSCN0082 DSCN0090DSCN0123DSCN0120DSCN0115DSCN0096DSCN0245DSCN0231DSCN0230DSCN0251DSCN0242DSCN0234DSCN0228DSCN0226DSCN0208DSCN0206DSCN0175DSCN0150DSCN0141DSCN0140DSCN0139DSCN0134DSCN5028DSCN5022DSCN0139that I would take my first taxi cab ride in Poland. It worked out and it was a perfect way to end my trip in Krakow… Got up the next morning and knew how to get a bus to the train station, as I had walked all over the city of Krakow and truly put 3 days of touring into one! Onward to Czestochowa for my “Roots Expedition”… This blog is still a work in progress so I will move on backwards (and come back to it when the translations from my Archivists sends me the English versions of some of the paperwork he retrieved from the Ntl. Archives for me) and blog about Paris:-)

GDANSK to POZNAN (and back) via Blah Blah Cars!

I flew from Warsaw to Gdansk and was picked up by my friend Iwona (Ifka in my pronunciation) and my new friend Anna (Darek’s sister). We drove straight to the Tropical hospital in Gdynia to drop off Iwona for some testing..U may ask why a Tropical hospital in the North of Poland but Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot are all Port Cities.. A majority of the Polish people from this area are all in the Ship/Yachting industry and are World travelers (and Iwona lived in Ft. Laiuderdale, travaveld on Yachts and visited Columbia, hence the need to visit the Tropical hospital for specialized tests)! Gdansk has over a 1000 year history (from medieval days, Malbork Castle, late 13th century, considered the largest fortified Gothic Building in Europe!) with its Main Town square, Great Grand Harbor Crane, St. Marys Church, (medieval alter) and Gdansk has the most beautiful streets surrounding its Square .  I found out that Amber-Baltic Gold came in more than 300 varieties and that Gdansk registered it 1st Amber artisans Guild in 1477… I especially loved the unique “Chinese dragon gutters” and I fell in love with this awe inspiring city!~ Anna took me around at dusk to the Shipyards where the Solidarity Movement began  in 1980, it is no longer a stronghold in Shipping industry and is a little sad to see the big cranes unused as it was in its heyday. There is a grand plan for re-gentrification of the area. On our walk past the OLD buildings (passing Lech Walesa’s office, famous Solidarity citizen and past President), the pulse of this city was apparent.   Anna shared her knowledge which was passed on to her from her grade school teacher who must have been a tour guide! She took me to a small restaurant where I had a bowl of  fish soup; which was the best fish soup I ever had! The next day she took me to another famous church where we stayed and listened to an Organ concert and had Borscht and  Lody (Ice Cream) from a favorite  childhood stand outside the church. I met another pilgrim who was on a” roots expedition” in Gdansk and he (and his Archivist) found some old papers through the church plus he was given an honor of being allowed to play the enormous Organ (4,000 pipes) earlier that day. Anna assisted in changing dollars for Zloty at a great rate and we thoroughly enjoyed each others company as kindred souls!  She also shared her house and her(and Dareks’) fabulous Mom and it was great to eat in their  Polish veg. kitchen (Both Iwona and Darek were veg. while living in Ft. Lauderdale and I realized where it came from!)..Anna assisted in my plans to visit Poznan while Iwona was in the Tropical hospital and that is where I found out about Blah Blah cars! Anna found a lady who was driving to Poznan and she picked me up with in the hour and off we drove. The expense was nominal for the 4 hour drive which took me  down a drive that was fun and exposed the beauty of the country. Speaking of being exposed, we drove through a forested area and there on the side of a small forest driveway was something that shocked me… It was a sparkly dressed woman of the “day” in hot pants , fishnet stockings and a revealing bodice dancing to a tune she seemed to know.. and then not one minute later was another lady of the “day”… My driver said that it was not unusual and there was a pimp standing near by to be sure and that the girls are probably from the Ukraine??? She stated that the closer to the Ukraine boarder it is more prevalent and not thought of as shocking.. Which I certainly was….. shocked! There was a truck stop about five minutes later at the end of where the road  wound down to a truck stop.  I have never in all my life in traveling along the highways and byways throughout the USA and Canada (and I have been coast to coast numerous times); have I seen these skimpily dressed woman of the “day” dancing to their own tunes on the roadside! Oh well, It is still in my mind as being a site I really don’t care to see (especially after seeing the movie Taken with Liam Nisson)…it was disheartening even though I know prostitution is one of the oldest profession.  Anyway, I got dropped off in Poznan and my friend Pawel’s place of residence (door to door service). Pawel is one of my Polish friends I hosted back in Florida and he has the project he has been working on for the past few years. He was busy working on his project diligently when I arrived at the “green, smart zero energy house”. He took me out for some great vegetarian food at a place called Go Veg.. and we had some Lody at an infamous place that was very good! The next day, Pawel gave me a ride and dropped me off at the City Square.. I then got a map and explored the old town square…. “Stare Miastro” was typical in including a fountain, A church or Cathedral colorful buildings, pubs (in this square an archaeological dig was ongoing) and my favorite was the Poznan Town Hall “The Pearl of the Renaissance from the 16th century! This building houses the Poznan History Museum. This museum had two billy goats which appear in the tower and they butt heads 12 times everyday at noon time! In the museum I saw a manuscript (monograph) of Joseph Stall MD (from the 1500’s), he was the doctror who founded the Blood Vessel System! I also saw an original seal from the 1200’s which was the original seal of the founding father in Poznan. I spent a great deal of time in this museum fascinated with the history of the town. I then walked around the surrounding streets and walked by one of the  renaissance tenement house which held the Poznan Croissant Museum! Yes it was founded to provide information/show on the  making of Saint Martin Croissants. Besides the the kitschy show and a taste of the croissant the house that this “museum” had 500 year old painted ceilings and 600 year old brick walls with Saints and Latin lettering under the paintings of the Saints. I didn’t eat my croissant and John (Jan) asked me why and I said I would like to eat my croissant with a cup of coffee. He proceeded to give me a drawing on my map to to Erik Witsoe’s (hailing from Seattle, WA USA) BIGFOOT  Coffee Shop in Pasazu (Passage) Apollo… It took a while for me to find this little gem of a shop and it was so worth it! I enjoyed chatting with Erik (and his clients) who started this shop 4 years ago  when he moved to Poznan with his Polish wife so she can finish her PHd. Erik is an accomplished photographer and makes a wonderful cup of coffee and has a good command of the Polish language! I walked around and found a Doctor of Chinese Medicine office, a lovely little shop where I bought lunch  and a small bath and body shop where I picked up some bath salts for a future bath to soak my tired feet and legs (walked 3-6 miles daily).  Pawel picked me up and he took me out to dinner with his house mate Marek and his friend and we went out for Pirogies at the Old town square. The next day, Pawel dropped me off again in the old town square and I found my way to the Porta Posnania which is the first heritage interpretation center outside The Cathedral Island. This was a fabulously planned place which showed much of the history of Poznan such as the 3 brothers legend Czech, Lech and Rus who all founded Czech, Poland and Russia. Some of the interesting subjects aroused my interest in the late 11th century (which pointed to some of the artifacts I saw in the Poznan History Museum). The displays also explored Catholicism/Baptism and the local lifestyle for the early settlers of Poznan. The cultural heritage of  Cathedral Island which was built in the 10th century, thew main alter from 1512 and the Cathedral housed early tombs and sarcophagi and statues of the first Polish rulers  which was previewed in the interpretation center and then in the Cathedral itself! I took a tram afterwards to The Bigfoot Coffeehouse to ask Erik where to eat and he sent me to the local “Milk Bar”.  Along the way I passed an interesting looking photography show of “Kressy” (from the early 20th century) in a library. At the Milk Bar I met a couple who helped me with the ordering of  “spinach type crepes/pancakes”, the borscht I could point too; we shared the table and chatted up a storm. He was there on vacation from Lodz (he was the 2nd archivist I have met, the first one in Gdansk and I was to meet my own Archivist in Czestochowa for my own roots expedition) to see the INEA Stadium (footballer/soccer lover), which is the where the European Football Championship is held (for 43,000 viewers/fans). I wanted to introduce them to the Bigfoot Coffee house and Erik (which I did) and as we walked by the library I asked him about accompanying me into to see the Photography show.  This gentle man went on to explain to his wife and I about the photos and which were still there in this part of Poland (near the Ukraine boarder) and which pictures depicted of places that were no longer standing (leave it to the archivist to know), and I felt like I had a personal showing/interpretive history lesson.  After the coffee and the chats Pawel came by to pick me up on his motorcycle. I didn’t tell him the last time I was on a bike was 40 plus years ago! I held on tightly and he drove me through the Citadel Park which held the the Museum of of Arms and held old bunkers from WW2. It also had sculptures and held the cemetery of soldiers from both world wars. We got home safely and that evening he called Blah Blah car service and found someone who was driving back to Gdansk early in the morning. I drove with this guy who had to pick up a package in Torin (which had another old city square).

I got back to Gdansk to Annas house and we went to go meet with Iwona as she planned to go “awol” after her morning regime.. She met us outside the Tropical hospital and we drove a few minutes to the National Forest (in Gdynia) and walked down a path to the beach. Anna and I had picked up picnic foods for the beach and I walked along the beach to find rocks (and 1 piece of Amber) to bring back home (which I usually do in whatever country I go to). We had a great time together and I enjoyed my time with my girlfriends at the Baltic Sea (which I only put one toe in the frigid water).   after dropping Iwona back to the hospital Anna and I went to Sopot , which is another quaint city and we bought my train billets/tickets to Czestochowa for my anticipated roots expedition and to see The Lady of Czestochowa (The Black Madonna).. I flew to Krakow from Gdansk and that wonderful city will be featured in my next blog.. Thanks for reading any comments are welcome. Ciao for now, Nanci |J.DSCN0566 DSCN0548 DSCN0530 DSCN0523 DSCN0615 DSCN0593 DSCN0572 DSCN0563 DSCN0607 DSCN0505 DSCN0510 DSCN0509 DSCN0625 DSCN0631 DSCN0644 DSCN0667 DSCN0658 DSCN0722 DSCN0723 DSCN0718 DSCN0728 DSCN0732 DSCN0726 DSCN0744 DSCN0763 DSCN0779 DSCN0805 DSCN0827 DSCN0836 DSCN9892 DSCN9899 DSCN9900 DSCN9904 DSCN9910 DSCN9911 DSCN9925 DSCN9937 DSCN9943 DSCN9950 DSCN9960 DSCN9969 DSCN9993

Warsaw to Stara-Stajnia-Poland:

I arrived in Warsaw and was met by my Couch surfing Hostess (with the Most-ess) at the Chopin Airport. We got on fabulously and she brought me to a great “Milk Bar” for some Pierogi  and Borscht which wet my whistle and was reminiscent of my Grandmothers’ cooking. I traveled around Warsaw and we saw the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which was very dark ; as was the time  and the Ghetto housed approx. 500,000 Jews. I  was  in Poland on the remembrance of the 71st anniversary of the Uprising.  After WW2 , the Final Solution and Operation Rhinehardt liquidated to Ghetto and it was sad to see the maps of the majority of 29 concentration camps in Poland alone.. The Nazis’ didn’t only kill Jews, but targeted the  whole Polish nation (amongst the other Eastern European population). I visited The 100 years History of Polish Jews@ the Polin Museum which was enlightening. The first recorded Jew was from Cordoba, Spain in 960. The amount of Jewish people in Poland consisted of 3.3 million Jews before 1939. I didn’t go to the Jewish Cemetery b/c I had planned to visit the Jewish Cemetery in Czestochowa where my ancestors were buried (another blog). I also went for a Sunday walk in the park and listened to a Pianist playing Chopin under “his” Statue! I experienced some of the best Chocolate(Chekolady) by E. Weidle, walked in the old town square (viewing a Rebuilt Warsaw), walked along the river seeing the stadium, bridges and the existing wall or two left after the bombing of Warsaw. I counted 15 churches near the University of Warsaw and went to the Kafka Cafe and had pizza by the Modernistic train station before leaving Poland.. I also Went to the Zapiecek Polskie Pierogarnie one more time with Margaret my friend and Couch Surfer host… She blessed me with insight on life in Warsaw, went to her personal church which was lively with song and a neat Baptismal area in the floor. She adorned me with many memories and Baltic Gold (an Amber necklace of small unpolished stones) and  a “I’ve gotta friend in Warsaw” feeling and it may not be the last time we will see each other!

The English Immersion program (ANGLOVILLE) involved a bus ride from Warsaw to Stara-Stajnia 3+ hours outside Warsaw. It was a beautiful ride  to meet the Polish Participants who had an opportunity to PRACTICE their English with about 20 of us English born speaking folks. We had a great time together and met very interesting and Impressive  people of all walks of Polish life. We conversed in English morning, noon and night and ate, played and got to know one another in a 6 day intensive conversation. The English participants also had varied backgrounds and brought interesting skills and travel stories. My roommate, Bobbie, was volunteering on her ninth program and had also done the Diverbo program(English Immersion program) in Spain.The last night there I tried the Vodka and decided to bring some home to the USA so I could share some with my Polish Couch Surfers when I start hosting again (I’ve had more Polish CS than any other nationality so far:-)… From Warsaw I flew to Gdansk on the Baltic Sea to see some of my Polish friends who I met and hung out with in Florida… To be continued….DSCN0476 DSCN0471 DSCN0459 DSCN0453 DSCN0469 DSCN0507 DSCN0538 DSCN0559 DSCN0575 DSCN0576 DSCN0578 DSCN0586 DSCN0588 DSCN0603 DSCN0607 DSCN0623 DSCN0628 DSCN0630