My older brother was kind enough to give us his car for our 2nd week in Poland. It’s an automatic, since both Rick and I do not know how to drive a manual vehicle. We first drove to the city of Bialystok. It’s located on the very east side of the country, about an hour from the border of Belarus. My mom was born and grew up here, and my sister Kasia and older brother Piotrek went to college there. Before I came to USA, I also lived there for about 6 months. We booked a cute apartment located in the heart of the city. The first night, we were hosted by friends of my parents for a lovely dinner. Pan Zbyszek (Mieroslav for those who attended our wedding in Poland) cooked an amazing meal for us; sausage, bacon wrapped kielbasa, and roasted pig. After consuming way too much food & vodka, we all took a stroll through Branicki Palace and Park and stopped on Lipowa street to get some ice cream (like we really needed it, ha). It was a beautiful night that makes you very thankful for all the friends in your life. The next day we drove to Suprasl (a small village 12 km outside of Bialystok) where we visited my aunt & uncle. We took the kids to a local beach where they could play at a park along the river. Later on we drove back to the city and took a family walk. That night I met up with one of my high school friends and enjoyed a wonderful night with my old pal :)
The next day our friend Mauricio arrived by train to Bialystok from Germany. We picked him up from the train station and grabbed lunch. From there, we drove to a village called Wojnowo (Mazury Region). My sister’s in-laws live there and they were organizing a huge celebration for The First Communion of both my nieces. They own a bed and breakfast and we all stayed there for the weekend. Mazury is a beautiful region filled with lakes, rivers, forests, and little towns. It felt like a reunion since my entire family came to attend the Communion. Thursday morning, Rick and Rafel went for a kayak adventure on the Krutynia river and I joined them later on. It was a perfect day; clear, sunny, and cool. The evening brought a perfect sunset over the river. We stayed up well past our bedtimes enjoying the moment. Friday was preparation day for the First Communion. We all pitched in to get the place ready for the event. Saturday, we attended mass and after church, the party began. Communion is a big event in Polish culture, and the party is even bigger. We ate, drank, and danced well into the night, finishing up at 5 am…Polish hospitality has no limits!
Sunday felt like a marathon since we had to drive back to my hometown of Sokolow from Wojnowo (2.5 hours) where we would have Mila's baptism that evening. I am not sure how we all got back in time but the Baptism went according to plan. My mom did an excellent job preparing an eloquent dinner. We all enjoyed an amazing meal and evening together. The kids played outside and bonded even more. It is a bittersweet feeling knowing that we’ll be departing for a year and separating from family and friends in Poland. We had the time of our life here. Thank goodness for the Internet, WhatsApp and FaceTime, those little technology miracles that will keep us connected throughout our trip.
The last three week felt like a ride on the bullet train and we are very tired. Nevertheless, it was the best visit to my homeland yet. I got to spend three amazing weeks with my friends and family, laughed till tears ran down my eyes, and made countless new memories. I will treasure these moments forever and if anytime during our trip I feel lonely or homesick, I will look back and remind myself about all of these amazing people who stood behind us. Love you all and please, come meet us somewhere during our wanderlust adventure!
Na zdrowie, Cheers, Prost, Salut!