Someone I knew in high school who I’m friends with on Facebook is currently in Warsaw, Poland. Seeing her posts about being there immediately took me back to my trip there in October 2012 (before I started writing this blog, actually!), which made me think of some of the great things I did there so I could recommend them to her. Bigger than that though, it reminded me that the whole reason I went to Warsaw on that trip is because I’m Polish. My dad’s mom was born and raised in Poland, lived through the German occupation there (including being forced into labor, though thankfully not into a death camp), and then married a US solider who brought her to the US. I’ve always had an interest in my family tree, even more so in the last few years as all of my grandparents have passed on. Sadly, my little Polish grandma had already died by the time I went on my trip to Warsaw, but I did get to meet up with her nephew while I was there. My uncle had given me his e-mail address, so I contacted him when I arrived, thinking I may not even hear back from him. Imagine my surprise when he called my hotel a mere 5-10 minutes after I sent the e-mail! We met up that evening and he walked me around Warsaw and told me more about our family. He even showed me this:
I know it doesn’t look like much, but once upon a time, there was an apartment building here. My grandma’s family lived in that building and she was even born in it! Like much of Warsaw though, it was destroyed during World War 2. Still, it was cool to learn about that history and to see where the building used to stand. Although Pawel (that’s my grandma’s nephew) and I didn’t get to meet up a second time during my trip, I was really grateful for the time we did spend together so I could learn more about that side of my family.
The whole point of this post (other than a quick trip down memory lane for my trip to Warsaw – ha!) is to ask how many of you have traveled to find out more about your roots. Where did you go? What did you discover? Would you go back? I think one of the great things about travel is that we often have the opportunity to learn about our own backgrounds and families. Just another reason to keep on travelin’!