The Handover

Today I say goodbye to the Pruskis, who will be heading home to the UK. It’s been so wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time together and to be side-by-side on our journey to Belarus, Chris and I standing where it all started for our families, the reason for our living continents apart.

My road trip continues now, down to the south of Poland, to hunt for clues about my step-grandfather Michał Keller, who was also born in Poland. You may think, why would you do that if he was only your step-grandfather? Well, he was the only father my Dad knew and we have his surname. He was a wonderful, softly-spoken gent and his story deserves to be discovered. Especially because its quite a different one to my Babcia’s.

But first, Zbigniew has to attend a conference tomorrow so I’m part of a gas station handover just outside of Warsaw to my new guide Zenon. Zenon is the creator of Polish Origins and I feel lucky to have him on this part of the journey. He is also from this part of Poland.

We spend the hours on the road chatting and discover we share a love of music. Thanks to his teenage son, he has just begun listening to a bit of hip-hop. So we compare notes, I don’t know about Kękę and he hasn’t heard of Planbe, but we both know Quebonafide. ‘I never thought I’d be on a tour, chatting to an Australian girl about Polish hip-hop’, Zenon laughs.

Our first stop is an overnighter in the town of Rzeszów, four plus hours south of Warsaw. It’s the largest city in south eastern Poland. A pretty town square awaited exploration, but the rain had other ideas forcing me into a wine bar for shelter (what a shame!!!).

Here, I had a chat to myself about starting to use some of the Polish I had been learning for the past year, and emboldened, I ordered my first glass of wine in that oh so difficult language. There was no jeering, no confused look or ‘huh?’ muttered and the wine arrived exactly as I’d intended, so I toasted myself to success.

The rain also cleared a little so I wandered around the streets, buying icecream and Polish language children’s books. For myself. I know a lot of Polish words now, but I’m not so good with sentences so I’m hoping that learning from scratch, just like I did as a child, will help.

It really was a pretty town and I enjoyed exploring the streets a little. As always, more time would have been great.

If I thought the town was pretty, my room was even sweeter. A real girlie kind of room which almost made me feel too grotty to be there. Settling into bed with a glass of wine, I half-watch a Polish dubbed version of some American block-buster which doesn’t hold my interest. I’m thinking more about Michał and his life and what we might find over the next few days.