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Going back to the Old Country of Poland after more than 25 years! (from USA)

beckski 12 | 1,612
24 Sep 2011 #121
When greeting my heretofore-never-met ciocia do I kiss her cheeks, kiss her hand, hug her all of the above?

When I met my dear ciocia for the first time, we exchanged kisses on the cheek and hugs. She gave me a kiss that she referred to as a Russian kiss. It was 3 kisses on alternate cheeks.

My male second cousin shocked the hell out of me. Whe we met, he gave me a huge kiss right on my lips, with his bushy mustache. it was so grotesque. My advice... don't let any male cousins kiss you in Poland.
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
24 Sep 2011 #122
don't let any male cousins kiss you in Poland.

I still remember the kisses. It was also to the count of three. I think I will kiss her on the cheeks and forgo the hands.
Jimmu 2 | 156
24 Sep 2011 #123
I think I will kiss her on the cheeks

You probably have no choice in that matter. The kiss on the hand will be thought charming by the woman getting it and silly by everybody else (my experience anyway). But who cares about everybody else?
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
4 Oct 2011 #124
The time has come. The eve of my flight back to Poland after a quarter of a century's absence! I'm nervous. I spoke with my cousin for the first time ever yesterday. It was a surreal experience. He sounds like a young version of my father! I plan on spending a few days in Wrocław just walking around my old haunts weather permitting. Then my cousin will drive from Zabrze to pick me up. The drive back will give us about three hours to just talk. I do my best talking in a car :) I decided not to bring my laptop so I will report back in about a week. To those of you, who have patiently "listened" to me whining - I thank you. I also want to thank those of you, who answered my many questions. You should know that I'll be taking a lot of your advice and acting on it.

Do następnego razu!
Wroclaw 44 | 5,369
4 Oct 2011 #125
You should know that I'll be taking a lot of your advice and acting on it.

bring a camera and when u get back home please post some pictures.

enjoy your trip.
beckski 12 | 1,612
4 Oct 2011 #126
bring a camera and when u get back home please post some pictures

I'm also looking forward to seeing some pics of Poland :)
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
14 Oct 2011 #127
Well, the week's done and I'm back. My trip was udany(successful) and I'm almost ready to report. All I've got to do is gather my thoughts and pictures.

To those, who have been following me and offering helpful suggestions these past months, I thank you once again. Your tips came in handy. As you know I was very nervous prior to my trip. Most of you told me to stop worrying and enjoy the journey. You all were right! As soon as I landed in Wrocław, my nervousness turned quickly into excitement. In the next few days I'll give an account of my trip. Thanks.
14 Oct 2011 #128
Did you find your youth?
Teffle 22 | 1,319
14 Oct 2011 #129
After 25 years?

Wow - this should be interesting!
milky 13 | 1,656
14 Oct 2011 #130
So, do you think the drivers are crazy and the people never smile??
14 Oct 2011 #131
He already knew that ;)
f stop 24 | 2,501
14 Oct 2011 #132
In the next few days I'll give an account of my trip.

I can't wait!
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
9 Nov 2011 #134
The skies were clear and blue as we flew out of Frankfurt. "Here we go" I said to myself, took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Once we leveled off reaching our cruising altitude a pretty German stewardess(right, flight attendant) offered me a sandwich and something to drink. I took the wrap-like construction and asked for a beer. As I was sipping my delicious cold drink (I swear in all my years I have yet to have a bad German beer) I was wrapping my mind around the fact, that in less than one hour I would be planting my feet on Polish soil! With that thought in my head I closed my eyes.

I opened my eyes with a start at the sound of German being spoken over the speaker. All I understood was "Breslau". "We must be getting ready to land!" Looking out my window I could see the airport with its long runway (in my day the landing strip was much shorter). At one end was a modest, modern-looking structure but at the other stood a yet-to-be-completed, significantly larger terminal made largely of glass. Wow! Beyond this structure my eyes made out rows and rows of buildings. Large ones, smaller ones stood where once there was forest and farmland. "Brace yourself" I muttered under my breath, "brace yourself for yet another bout of culture shock".

The Wrocław terminal is small, clean and bright. It is a huge change from what once stood there. I remember a dark,dingy building with old seats.

Once out of the terminal I just stood and took in the surroundings. To my left was a billboard. A billboard!! " Here we go" and off I went to the cab stand.

A cab was waiting as I approached. The driver helped me with my bags(something that never happened back in the day) and off we went. My guy, pan Robert, was cheery and very eager to tell me how Poland has changed. (I regret I hadn't asked him to take me to the new stadium). 20 minutes later we were driving past the old Soviet Army cemetary. The Sky Tower was visible in the distance and Robert began telling me ALL about it. After which he added, in typical Polish fashion, "it may be tall BUT it's only one building, it's no New York. It looks so alone". Immediately, after hearing this, I smiled, began to relax telling myself " You're home, you're with your people". Before I knew it we had stopped in front of the hotel "Etap".

I checked in noticing the cooler to the right of the lobby filled with beer! "I'm gonna like it here" I thought to myself, got my key, found my room and collapsed on the bed.

(my pics won't load)
beckski 12 | 1,612
9 Nov 2011 #135
(my pics won't load)

Try resizing them to a smaller size. We've been waiting patiently to see the beautiful pics of Poland :)
skysoulmate 13 | 1,276
9 Nov 2011 #136
Awesome, can't wait for more. Whenever I end up going it'll be after 30+ years... Wow, has it really been this long?? Give us more scoop and pics. I was born in Wrocław so this diary is extra interesting to me...
Wroclaw Boy
9 Nov 2011 #137
Whenever I end up going it'll be after 30+ years...

You're an airline pilot but you haven't been to Poland in 30 years?
skysoulmate 13 | 1,276
9 Nov 2011 #138
Correct. Long story but really no excuses...
stash1 3 | 7
9 Nov 2011 #139
Good to read your thread - 1978 since I was back in Poland!!! Keep the diaries rolling in please and pictures ;o)
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
9 Nov 2011 #140
I think I got it

  • wroclaw airport
BBman - | 343
9 Nov 2011 #141
Tell us more rybink!

Compare the poland you left 25 years ago to the poland you experienced on this trip. We're all very interested.
Seanus 15 | 19,672
9 Nov 2011 #142
His Polish wife won't let him. That much hasn't changed ;)
BBman - | 343
9 Nov 2011 #143
^ lol

i think he's divorced...
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
12 Nov 2011 #144
You're both right. My ex-wife would've frowned on it. I've been a busy soccer Dad lately.

Anytime I travel to Europe upon arrival I always want to sleep. This time was no different. However, with the help of my trusty melatonin I didn't sleep long- only one hour.

I woke up with a start to some noise above me. The banging and clunking sounded like a vacuum cleaner doing its thing. I got out of bed thankful that I had only slept an hour. On previous European trips I've slept over 8 hours and wasted a day!

Splashed some water on my face and out the door I went. Thought about asking the receptionist where to the nearest tram stop but then pussied-out - lack of confidence. MY POLISH SUCKS! So, out the door I went into the Krzyki suburbs hoping to find the przystanek tramwajowy (google it) that I thought I remembered. Luckily, I found it without any problem. On my way there, I noticed that the villas I had passed, were ALL clean and shiny. In my day the facades AND the sidewalks were covered in a dark, dirty film( have the Poles stopped burning coal?). Now they were clean, bright and shiny!

Once at the tram stop the question remained how do you buy a ticket? Back in the day, one went to a ubiquitous number of "RUCH" kiosks and simply bought one. Now, who the fu*ck knows! Luckily, there was a young lady already waiting. In my very rough and un-polished, not really spoken in over-20-years Polish I ask "How does one buy a tram ticket?" I was very surprised to hear English coming back at me. " You purchase yor ticket on the tram. I'll show yo if you'd like". ???? I took the longest double-take in history!! HUH? I thought I heard English. Could it have really been English?? She spoke it soooo effortlessly!! (in my day NO ONE spoke English).

The #17 tram arrived and we all jumped in. Without any prompting my tramwaj-angel took me by the arm and led me gently to a grey box hanging on the wall. She told me I need a credit card, swipe it and pick the ticket I wanted(day, 24hr, 48hr, etc). I did what she advised, a ticket was spit out and I placed it in my pocket. I was grateful and I let her know it.

I had no idea where exactly the #17 tram takes you. All I knew was that it takes you in the direction of the Rynek and that was where I wnated to go.

  • new apartment building in Wroclaw

  • apartments

  • my nocleg

  • my first tram stop since returning
12 Nov 2011 #145
<i>I took the longest double-take in history!! HUH? I thought I heard English. Could it have really been English?? She spoke it soooo effortlessly!! (in my day NO ONE spoke English). </i>

It's now obligatory to choose at least one foreign language at the matura exam and about 70% of people choose English. Also, there are many foreign companies, expats and exchange students in Wrocław, so it's easy not to encounter someone speaking English. (Don't expect it at the post office, though. Or any other public office, to be frank. They're still way behind times.)

****. That'll teach me to use html when it's not needed. :/
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
13 Nov 2011 #146
I took a look around inside the tram and noticed how clean and new it all appeared. The seats, in particular, were definitely replaced. All being bright, shiny and new-looking. Save for the ticket machine that takes only credit cards, the other bit of technology on this tram was the LED signs flashing what stop is approaching - very cool!

Looking out the window I noticed the TV and Radio stations passing us by. Also stood a "Biedronka", a car dealership (I think it was a BMW), and several new office buildings. The people on the street were all dressed fashionably with a discernable "spring" in their step. [there's a lot of talk on this forum how Poles are surly, never-smiling people. I would use the word "neutral" to describe the Polish expression not angry. Angry was the default facies encountered in the PRL days not now. I saw a remarkable improvement in their demeanor and body language. Overall, they looked to me to be happier]. They also looked healthier. Gone was the pasty skin and greasy hair. And it was good to see that the middle-aged Polkis still fancy themselves sexy and attractive wearing their tight pants and high-heeled shoes! In addition, I saw very few fatties (in Jersey there's an epidemic).


  • hotel wroclaw

  • office building

  • sky tower under construction

  • inside tram
beckski 12 | 1,612
13 Nov 2011 #147
Thanks for sharing your photos. The tram pic looked pretty jammed. At what time of day did you take that shot?
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
13 Nov 2011 #148
Once I passed the Hotel Wrocław I, more or less, regained my bearings. I got off at the next stop, a major intersection, and headed toward what I hoped would be the Dworzec Głowny. It was great walking on the city streets again! The smells and sounds were different though. Their absence was palpable. I'm refering to the chain-saw sound of the two-cycle engines and the smell of their burnt fuel. They were gone! And I was very glad about that.

Besides the olfactory and accoustic changes, the horizon, too, had been modified. I'm talking about the construction cranes. There must've been 3 or 4 between the tram stop and the train station! Speaking of which, was closed off from the street. Apparently, it's undergoing a massive make-over. Most likely in preparation for the EURO 2012. Too bad. I wanted to revisit the great hall where I had experienced so many things including having an AK-47 trained on me during martial law.

  • Dworzec

  • Dworzec

OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
13 Nov 2011 #149
The tram pic looked pretty jammed. At what time of day did you take that shot?

I was returning to my hotel so it must've been late in the day.
OP rybnik 18 | 1,454
13 Nov 2011 #150
At the train station I turned around and went back toward the Rynek

  • barber for dogs? lol

  • the "new" RUCH

  • Hotel "Monopol" Looking Good! Went there in my day for the best jajecznica.

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