After four rainy, cold days of a professional meeting in Munich, I piled my mother and our luggage into a rental card and headed north and east towards my family roots in Poland. For many years, I had shared with my mother an exploration of our family roots-searching out clues to their lives, digging to find more remote relatives, and to solidifying our family tree as far back as possible. For me, part of this journey of discovery was the desire to "walk in their footsteps" and as such had looked for an opportunity for my mother and I to find time to spend in Germany and Poland. Finally that time had come.
So we sped north on the marvelous Autobahn passing rapidly from Bavaria into the heart of what was East Germany though nothing about the road or the cities/villages betrayed significant evidence of this recent history. Another welcome surprise was the easy transition from Germany to Poland-both are now members of the EU so there was really no border patrol-just a short stretch of highway that narrowed to 1 lane with a 30 miles/kilometer speed restriction (all the police I saw were busier drinking coffee than watching the passing traffic). The clear benefit of EU membership was in clear evidence as the excellent highway continued through the western entrance to southern Poland. Slowly the flatlands gave way to rolling hills as we neared our first destination, Krakow. Despite imposing (and traffic stopping) roadworks on the periphery of the city and the challenges of navigating the narrow, confusing medieval streets of the city center, we parked the car right in front of our hotel right on schedule. After a full day of driving, we were more than ready to check in and then stretch our legs, explore the streets of Krakow and find some authentic Polish vodka and grub. This we did, ultimately relaxing to a flight of Polish vodkas (who knew?) with amazingly tasty food with direct views of the impressive central square.
Night in Krakow's Central Square
Next up: Jewish Life in Krakow and Auschwitz/Birkenau.