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

OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
19 Nov 2011 #211
more Pasaż Grunwaldski then outside. There was still more ground to cover. I walked over "Most Grunwaldski" searching for the Hotel Panorama where I used to eat many a lunch and dinner. Along the way there was a lot to see

  • outside

  • one of my favorite Wroclaw bridges!
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
19 Nov 2011 #212
Thw weather was beautiful. just look at that blue sky!

  • An accident waiting to happen.

  • this used to be, I beleive, the commie HQ. Now it's a EU bldg?
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
19 Nov 2011 #213
Onward in search of my old Hotel Panorama and the Panorama Racławiska. Not far from the Grunwaldski Bridge is new roadways I wasn't familiar with. I stayed on the sidewalk which took me to a fork. I chose to keep to the left out of instict. It brought me to this

  • does not look inviting but....

  • urban art?

  • my favorite
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
19 Nov 2011 #214
Back into daylight....

  • so much building going on

modafinil - | 416
19 Nov 2011 #215
If you ever had a look at the classic 80s book Subway Art, you would see that this graffiti would not look out of place in that period. Even the stomping image has the mid-eighties hip-hop uniform of high top sneakers and baggies. Seems to be aping American street art. Someone needs to arrest them for piracy.

The ones that have merit to me are in the photo you left untitled, the two pieces on the right, I mean.
Enjoyable photo journal, btw.
BBman - | 343
20 Nov 2011 #216
I wish we had this!!!

Wait ... you studied in Polish??
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
20 Nov 2011 #217
Tak jest! (yup)
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
20 Nov 2011 #218
I, for the very first time since arriving in Wroław, had no idea where I was going. Neither left nor right seemed correct. Do I go straight? So many roadway changes: underpasses, overpasses, new signs. I was totally disoriented! With a little luck and the help of some passersby I found it but it wasn't the hotel Panorama of my past. It was big and modern-looking situated immediately next to yet another mall - the Galeria Dominikańska. I went inside, bought a bottle of water and a roll of floss(you'd think I was buying gold for what "Rosman"(sp) was charging! And went back outside to contemplate my next move.

OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
20 Nov 2011 #219
I decided to go look for my old dzielnica of Karłowice where I had lived for 5 years. I had long forgotten how to get there. Calling a cab to take me there was not an attractive option, seeing as I wanted to get a more personal feel for how my town had changed. Seeing it from a car window was not my idea of personal. So, off I went in search of my old neighborhood. Here are some of the sights I passed along the way:

  • The National Museum

  • buildings on the Oder river

  • my favorite bridge taken from its neighboring bridge
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
20 Nov 2011 #220
I kept walking for another 30 minutes recognizing nothing passing these:

  • great idea!

  • I couldn't resist

  • So much fruit; so many vegetables!!

  • a relic from my day
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
21 Nov 2011 #221
After a lot of walking and pain(plantar faciitis in my right foot) I came to an intersection and I hadn't a clue where I was. Nothing looked familiar. All I knew was that Karłowice is on the river and the river was somewhere to the right of where I was. So, I went right.

This section of Wrocław was very different form the city center. It was grittier, dirtier and exactly how I remember my Wrocław. It was blue-collar town. I felt very much at home. On the way I came across the abandoned Piast brewery. The purveyor of the worst god-awful swill that I had ever tasted!

  • The old Piast brewey

OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
21 Nov 2011 #222
Seeing the browar didn't allay my fears regarding my being lost. I kept walking past the graffiti-sprayed buildings hoping I would come to the river soon. After what seemed like a long time I came upon this:

  • one of many forks in the river
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
22 Nov 2011 #223
Upon seeing the river I breathed a little sigh of relief because I new I was close. But, I still hadn't the foggiest where I was exactly. Everything looked a little different. Bridges have been painted; road surfaces have been renewed; sound barriers have been installed. All these additions had changed things just enough to make it look almost unrecognizable!

On my way down the bridge I ask a Wroclawianka coming the other way where Karłowice was. She stopped and thought for a moment and answered with a gesture [pointing to my left] saying "it's over in that direction". Dziękuje, I replied, thinking "I hope I can get more dokładny (precise) instructions from someone else". I asked another pedestrian, who luckily, gave me what I needed to get there. I was excited! The thought of walking around my old neighborhood got me very psyched.

I crossed the highway, went through the "hole-in-the-wall" as we called it and came upon the grandest landmark in all of Karłowice, which showed me the way home.

  • what is this?

  • the hole-in-the wall

  • getting closer!

  • Isn't it beautiful! The greatest landmark in Karlowice
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
22 Nov 2011 #224
I came upon ul Kasprowicza and started walking in the direction of my old apartment. The neighborhood had changed. It appeared cleaner and greener than I remember.......I have to add, that by this time the ever-present grafitti was starting to really bug me. Why these punks had to desecrate as they did all over town was beyond me!

  • I love this kiosk!

  • one of the clinics I trained in

  • ul Kasprowicza; Luv the bike lanes all over town!
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
24 Nov 2011 #225
More .....

  • old commie HQ

  • neighbor

  • another neighbor

  • street in the neighborhood
f stop 24 | 2,496
24 Nov 2011 #226
rybnik, as much as I appreciate your pictures, your write-ups are infinitely more valuable.
skysoulmate 13 | 1,275
24 Nov 2011 #227
Agree. You need a "Mama, I'm coming home" blog. :-)

Coming home for a much different reason but I love the song.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,366
24 Nov 2011 #228
rybnik, as much as I appreciate your pictures, your write-ups are infinitely more valuable.

i am enjoying both. i walk the same streets, go by car or tram and see things in the photos that i might not notice otherwise.

the write-ups are telling me about a time before i got here, which helps with my understanding of the place.
Gregrog 4 | 97
24 Nov 2011 #229
what is this?

Looks like "ekran akustyczny" -
24 Nov 2011 #230
Let Rybnik do as he pleases. And then we watch..... so pleasing.
24 Nov 2011 #231
beautiful pictures and lovely commentary rybnik. you obviously had amazing time!
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
2 Dec 2011 #232
Standing there on ul Kasprowicza in the warm Karłowice late-afternoon was one of many surreal moments I experienced during my brief return. The street seemed more "cozy" (przytulny is a better word) than I remember. (It sounds nuts I know but that's how it felt. In my day, grey, hard and cold were the operative adjectives - even in the late Spring! I know most of it was in my head but nevertheless, the contrast was noteworthy). The trees that line the street were definitely bigger and bushier; the road surface appeared new. The sidewalks were undoubtedly newer with wide bike paths!!

The houses were all well-looked after with abundant landscaping. LANDSCAPING! (I don't know how many times I did a double-take and shook my head in disbelief). In Karłowice I did a lot of both.

All this was very, very nice indeed but it did not detract from the fact, that I, for all intense purposes, was lost. I knew there was a street I needed to turn right on but what was the name? Hell if I knew. I just kept walking. I knew that I needed to walk away from the water tower(thank God for that tower-saved me in the old days; it's saving me now). So walk away I did. Suddenly, as if on cue, a sign caught my gaze. That was it - MY STREET!

  • I found it!
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
2 Dec 2011 #233
I found it! I was good now. From here I could find my way to the tram rondo and get back to Plac Grunwaldski and beyond. This was great! I made the right onto Wincentego Pola (the same right I made a thousand times before under very different circumstances) and continued my trip down memory lane.

Again, the first thing I noticed was the sidewalks (which were clean and free from that greyish sediment that was everywhere in my day) and the houses with their clean facades and pampered lawns. (PAMPERED LAWNS! I still can't get this out of my head).....To my chagrin I came upon an old neighborhood spożywczy, where we used to get milk, mineral water (Grudziska - Delicious!) and ground meat in better days. It was abandoned and the front was overgrown. I wonder why? This was a bit disturbing for me. In my day this was the local "barber shop", where locals hung out and plotkowali ie gossiped. I have nothing but warm memories of this place. Here is where my neighbors and I bonded. After my first year, thanks to this local joint and the people I was able to meet and befriend here, I was no longer the American but "Pan Herbert the Polonia from New Jersey studying Medicine" - a big difference and a major upgrade in status.

  • my old hangout - a victim of the times
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
2 Dec 2011 #234
From the old Spo (that's what we called the sklepy spożywczy) it was literally a few steps to my old apartment. The one I lived in for 5 years. But for the life of me I couldn't remember the name of the street. All I knew was that it was a long name....A few steps from the store and there it was - my street ul Goszczynskiego! And there was my old place - wow! A flood of emotions overwhelmed me. I needed to take some time through this - so many memories.

  • the old spo

  • my street!

  • in its day it was quite a looker!

  • it's kind of sad looking I think
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
2 Dec 2011 #235
another view

  • my bedroom window the one on the right

  • looking at ul Wincentego Pola; the bunker and Kino Ognisko are behind the camera
2 Dec 2011 #236
rybnik, as much as I appreciate your pictures, your write-ups are infinitely more valuable.

have never even been to your home town rybnik, but you write with so much passion and enthusiasm about it. please upload more pics. this is really interesting!
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
3 Dec 2011 #237
I was hanging around so long I began to worry someone might call the cops! I was seriously thinking about knocking on the door, explaining myself and asking to take a look inside my old apartment. After some inner deliberation, I decided not to. I'm such a coward......................

Saying goodbye to my old digs I continued on ul Goszczynskiego towards the tram rondo
passing the old Nazi bunker and the Kino Ognisko (this place was a godsend back in the day. Here I watched all the recently-released American films of the day. The movies played a big part in curbing the homesickness and helping us feel we were keeping current at least when films were concerned)....It was very sad to see the place empty, without purpose and covered in grafitti.....Oh well, change is unavoidable I guess.

Walking towards the river I passed the old przychodnia (walk-in medical clinic) that I used to shadow the docs in during my last year in Med School. It appears to be a private clinic now.

  • the bunker-there used to be a playground on this spot

  • the Kino Ognisko - sad looking

  • the local medical clinic

  • on the way to the river
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
3 Dec 2011 #238
The walk back to the Odra was short and uneventful. I came upon the river bank and recognized almost immediately, that all the high grass had been cut so that now one could walk all the way to the river's edge. In my day that would've been very difficult. You needed to hack your way through all the reeds and undergrowth. This I liked. What I didn't like, however, was the lack of park benches. Why did they get rid of them, I wondered? One of my fondest memories of Karłowice was the lazy afternoons spent sitting in one of those benches, drinking beer purchased from the local "mordownia" as the locals called it and watching life go by. I loved those times! I was looking forward to sitting in one of those benches (or an updated version) and to reminisce. But alas, it was not meant to be(time marches on and all that).

I spent about 20 minutes looking around on the riverwalk and this is what struck me:

  • one of the bridges into Karlowice

  • "my" segment of the Oder river

  • the "defoliated" riverwalk

  • I saw this curious "fad" on TV back home but didn't expect to see it!
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
3 Dec 2011 #239
It was approaching 6pm. I was starving and it was getting dark. Hopped on the tram hoping I would remember when to get off. Luckily I made it back to "Marche" where I enjoyed a kotlet schabowy, kapusta smażona (very good, I highly recommend it) some obligatory ziemiaczki and a couple of cold Pilsners. That good, simple yet delicious food put me in such a great frame of mind. I was happy to be alive and grateful to the gods for allowing me to return to my Wrocław enjoying myself so. Life was good. I made it back to my hotel sated and contented planing in my head what I would see tomorrow.........It was one hell of a day!
OP rybnik 18 | 1,453
4 Dec 2011 #240
The next morning was announced abrubtly by two Germans arguing in the hallway directly in front of my room. Naturliche!..........Too bad I didn't understand any of it. It was a very animated "discussion" , so much so, that the receptionist had to threaten calling the police if they didn't stop "right now". Luckily they stopped and an international incident was avoided.

This was going to be my last day in Wrocław and I was beginning to get lonely. Also I was most eager to met my new-found cousins and aunt from Zabrze. After the typical "continental" breakfast, I went out for one more exploration expedition this time to Ostrów Tumski.

When I was in school I came to visit my ex-wife's retired uncle, the "wujek ksiądz" nearly every week for 4 years . He had it great. The diocese gave him room and board for the rest of his life. The nuns even came to clean his room once a week! Anyway, I became quite attached to this place and couldn't wait to see it again.

The weather was starting to turn cold and overcast (showers in the forecast for the next day). In spite of the ominous sky, the churches, streets and other buildings all sparkled - just as I remember. During the PRL-days this place was like an oasis amidst the PZPR-nonsense that was going on outside this island outpost.

Everything was clean and well-swept as I remembered. As I approached the Most Tumski I saw something that did not exist back in the day: the bridge was covered in locks! What the....? I came closer to the locks and saw that each and every one had a date and 2 names inscribed on them. Is this some sort of wedding tradition? It looks awesome.

  • interesting

  • it's actually ornamental in a weird way

  • is this a Wroclaw wedding tradition?

  • next time I'll bring my inscribed padlock

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