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Poland trip preview

On September 1st – soon, eek – I’m heading off for a five-week solo adventure. Poland is the main focus with a dash of Ukraine and a dot of Germany thrown in as well.

The choice of Poland as a destination is a bit unusual (judging by some reactions I’ve had) but is something I thought I’d like to do one day due to ancestral ties and an interest in the devastating scars left by WW2. Mum’s genealogy activities are focusing back into the Polish line and the timing of that pointed me toward making the trip happen this year.

Recently we acknowledged the 139th anniversary of my great-great grandfather Joseph Fabich arriving in NZ with his family. Coincidentally they disembarked in Wellington, where I live, though they promptly relocated to their permanent home. Several of Joseph’s siblings also emigrated (to either NZ or USA) though there may still be family left in Poland – we’re not sure, but are working on finding out. More on that another time.

fabich family in poland

When I started to work out what I’d like to do in Poland I found myself utterly spoiled for choice. Originally I was intending to cover Germany as well but it would’ve required a fast itinerary and a week or two longer away from work which I wasn’t comfortable with. So a proper go at Germany will have to wait. Here’s a quick rundown of my plans:

  • Kraków. Based here for several days as there’s a huge amount to see, top of the list being Auschwitz-Birkenau. I’ll also take an overnight run down to see the mountains.
  • Lublin. An overnight visit to see the old town and Majdanek death camp.
  • Warsaw. Something of a hub as I come and go three separate times. Don’t have too long in the city itself.
  • Toruń. It had me at “one of the most beautiful historic cities of Poland”.
  • Kiev/Chernobyl. From Warsaw I fly to Kiev for 3 days where I’m booked on a tour into the Chernobyl exclusion zone. In a trip full of highlights, this will be a massive one.
  • Gdańsk. Here for a couple of days, not long enough really but there are side trips to squeeze in: the castle at Malbork and Wolf’s Lair (Hitler’s first WW2 Eastern Front HQ).
  • Pomerania Province. South of Gdansk is the region our family came from. For my last full day in Poland I’ve hired a guide to take me around the family villages and parishes.
  • Hamburg. Back in 1876 the most likely scenario is that our ancestors travelled by train to Hamburg from where the ship left. I plan to somewhat recreate that journey. Will finish with a couple of days in Hamburg and fly out from there.

Except for the deviation to Kiev I’ll be relying on bus and train to get around and will also be walking a huge amount so hopefully the body holds together. English is becoming more widespread around the main tourism sites, and there are great apps and things now to help ease language barriers, but I have also been learning a little bit of Polish as well. Blog-wise, I hope to post a daily recap with other more in-depth stories as time permits.

In the meantime there’s a lot to get sorted at work so it will be a mad fortnight ahead. To ease the pressure I’ve abandoned any ambitions about getting caught up with other blog posts before I go. The calm before the storm if you will.

So, do widzenia for now and catch you next from Kraków.

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Haley you must be a glutton for punishment. Be rested for the long trip. I hope you find some long lost relatives. My mother and her siblings, and dad all sailed from Hamburg about 1908. They left a little hamlet called Bau and sailed to Texas. They stayed 4 years and then returned to Bau and left Germany again after their dad died. They all came back to Texas after WW1.

    Have a safe trip and get that camera ready. We’ll be waiting for your travel log.

    Best regards,
    ~yvonne

    16 August 2015
    • Thanks very much Yvonne – yes it probably has all the hallmarks of yet another non-relaxing holiday! Your German ancestry is really interesting and your mum making that voyage three times sounds pretty hard going.

      16 August 2015
      • Haley, even if you don’t get to relax much, at least you will have your own photos from your perspective and hopefully only good memories.

        16 August 2015
  2. It’s very cool that you traced your family tree. Poland is great – so much history!

    16 August 2015
    • It’s my mother who’s done all the tracing, but thank you – I’m really looking forward to visiting!

      16 August 2015
      • Aah ok 🙂 I’ve only been to Kraków and Warsaw, so looking forward to reading about your travels all over Poland!

        16 August 2015
  3. Wow, Hayley! This sounds like such a momentous and meaningful journey. I look forward to reading about your explorations, discoveries and seeing the sites that you visit. Safe travels 😉

    16 August 2015
    • Thanks Amit – it’s the most adventurous I’ve been for a few years! 🙂

      18 August 2015
  4. Janice Strong #

    Hayley this is an incredible journey for you and us reading your looked forward to blogs. I am in awe of your passion. An amazing trip to take and so meaningful with your Polish ancestry. Your Mum will be chuffed I am sure. Have a safe and wonderful time and I look forward to all those photos and blogs. Much Love Janice

    18 August 2015
  5. Have a wonderful trip Hayley. If you get a chance, Wroclaw is also very cool, and leave some time for relaxing in Kraków’s Rynek. ~James

    29 August 2015
    • Thanks very much James. It’s hard to pick and choose isn’t it, when there are so many interesting places. I’m having to bypass Wroclaw but I most certainly will be spending time in the Rynek in Kraków!

      30 August 2015
  6. Oh wow. You’re off on your solo adventure tomorrow — meaning, today for you. Your itinerary sounds busy and fulfilling. Have a fantastic trip!

    31 August 2015
    • It’s still Mon night so yes not long now! I guess the fact I’m reclined on the couch and not flapping over my packing is a good sign :). Thanks very much Cindi.

      31 August 2015

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