I never ended up finishing my dad and mom's trip over here in October. But I figure if I 'm going to make this blog into a book, I gotta finish it. So, stop reading here if you're gonna be bored.
If you'll remember, my mom and dad both wanted to do different things in the short time they were here. They couldn't agree, so I suggested maybe taking separate trips. I would take mom to London and dad could go to Poland to research where his ancestors came from (a part of Poland that used to be Germany). So, he booked a trip to Gdansk, Poland and mom and I flew to London.
The main reason I was waiting to post this one was because I asked my dad to give me a quick description of the pictures he had taken and sent to me and the first email he sent was this amazing commentary of his time over there. He only got to the first day, so I was intrigued and wanted him to write more. But alas, he never got back to me. So, hopefully one day I'll be able to get the rest of it. However, I've included the first part below. He's a good writer, isn't he?
|Armory in the 1700's- Gunpowder was stored around the city.|
"When I arrived in Gdansk, it was nighttime-- raining and dark and gloomy. Kind of depressing. I don't know why I was so drawn to go there. I guess I was hoping to start some genealogy, but that was a little far-fetched. I think I just wanted to experience it for myself-- to find out what life was like for my Gr. Grandparents, Julius Schultz and Amelia Weinke. And why did they leave?
"While at the airport, I hadn't realized they did not use Euros even though they're part of the EU (European Union). So I hadn't changed any money to their currency by the time I left the airport. I did, however, manage to ask the lady at the information desk about a taxi who said it would cost 17. I thought she meant Euros which was too expensive, so I asked about a bus where my hotel was located. She gave me the number and I got on the bus. When I paid for the bus I hadn't realized I didn't have the right currency. The driver was nice enough to take my Euro and gave what I thought was change from a Euro.
"As I rode through the town, both residential and shopping areas, it was like I was in old East Germany again. Old rundown homes and dirty buildings. Some empty. I would later learn that Gdansk is trying to remake itself since the end of Communism.
|Housing in Gdansk-These are apartments built during communism and are now condos of about 400 sq ft. The picture only shows part of the complex. It's at least twice what you can see.|
"The bus started to move close to my hotel and I showed the bus driver where my hotel was from my iPad GPS. He said he didn't go close enough. I got off expecting to walk, but found myself what seemed like the Gdansk Ghetto. I should have gotten off one stop earlier at the historical train station. Now I was getting a little scared. The GPS told me I was only a few blocks away, but I would have to cross 2 main elevated thoroughfares. I didn't see any cross walks or any other way to cross the very busy, wide streets right at a junction of what seemed like the 10 and 110 exchange in downtown LA.
|Old Street-This was all rebuilt after being destroyed in WW2. See the porches they call balconies.|
"I found a taxi stand and showed a taxi driver the name of my hotel. This driver spouted off a bunch of Polish to me that sounded like Russian, German and Jewish all rolled into one. I pointed to the iPad and the hotel name. He shook his head yes and shrugged his shoulders. He went on an on-ramp and made a quick left and immediately exited on the right into my hotel. I had been standing right across the busy street from my hotel. I only needed to walk under the street through a pedestrian tunnel. Oh well.
St. Mary's Church-Was originally Catholic, then Lutheran, then Catholic after WW2. My Great Grandparents, Julius and Amelia Schultz, may have attended. I'm trying to find their records.
"Then I showed the taxi driver a 5 Euro bill and he shook his head no. I thought he wanted more so I showed him a 10 Euro bill. He again shook his head no. This guy was ripping me off. I finally gave him 15 Euros ($23) and he finally took it. I felt stupid and ripped off. What I later realized was that he just wanted Polish money and not Euros. (I've since repented of the thoughts I had about Polish taxi drivers.)
"Anyway I checked into the 4-Star Qubus Hotel. More about that later!