But on to memories of my trip to Eastern Europe this past October, 2013. It was a land trip offered by Odysseys Unlimited. I had traveled with them before and knew they limited their trips to 24 guests, a perfect size. I traveled with my good friend, Jackie, and this, our fifth trip together, all would be well. It was a wonderful trip and included most of the places I wanted to visit. If I had it to do over, I might investigate similar trips planned through Jewish organizations and compare the places visited. But then I might have missed some of the other things I was fortunate to see and do. As my grandmother would have said, "We should all have such problems." I do want to share some highlights with you in this and future pages.
A map of the places that we visited during the 16 day tour called Discovering Eastern Europe.
Our first stop was Warsaw. We visited all of the places we hoped to see and new places as well. Upon arriving at the hotel, we walked out for our first look around Warsaw. The first thing that my eyes landed on was HUGH ad for Hyundai on one full side of the apartment building across the street. That really made me laugh to have my first view in Warsaw be an ad for the car I drive. The next thing we discovered was how wonderful Polish food was. Our guide and the hotel chef informed us that the amazing, wonderful mushrooms that we devoured were grown in Poland and only in Poland. The white look-alike Walt Disney mushrooms were delicious. We tried to have them at any and every meal when we could. One could be charged for extra weight on the plane after eating in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe.
Touring Warsaw gave us a view of the past and what has been done to bring the city back to what it had been before the World War II and reminding us of the cost of the war.
This statue sits in beautiful Lazienke Park. It was erected shortly after WW1 and was the first monument destroyed by the occupying Germans in 1940. Because the original mold was saved it was able to be replaced after the war. Throughout our tour of Warsaw we saw many memorials that were reminders of those years. I focused on the history of WWII in Warsaw and there was much to be seen. Within the city there buildings and monuments that, to me, seemed to act as a way to remember the horror of those days for many and honor the actions of many partisans working to fight back against the attackers.
This memorial is located on Krasinskich Square. It was designed to honor and remember the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. There are many monuments that can be found on sites throughout the web.
Other memorials have been erected in Warsaw to recognize the thousands of Jews that were sent to extermination camps during the war. On the one remaining small segment of the Ghetto Wall remains is a map delineating the great size of the area enclosed by the Wall itself. What remains today is a very small segment about 14 feet wide (left picture). In future entries we will also visit the wall fragments in Krakow and in Budapest. The center picture is a building located on Prozna Street. The large
photographs are of people who were sent to the camps and never came back. The last picture is of the Umschlagplatz Memorial, one of the most tragic places in Warsaw. This is the location of a side-track with a platform where many of the 300,000 Jews from Warsaw and surroundings were transported from the city to the camps. Most left between July and September, 1942 on their way to the gas chambers at Treblinka.
Today Warsaw remembers and also moves forward. I wanted to come home and paint all our building to look as beautiful as those on some of the areas of Warsaw as well as other areas we visited in Eastern Europe. No matter what the weather you have to smile as the colors and decorations on many buildings as you walk the streets.