My parents and older sister left Poland while it was still a communist country and fled to Germany as asylum seekers and received refugee status. They applied to live in Canada and Australia, but it was Australia that took them in first. After the interview they had in Koln, a woman from the Australian consulate pinned a Kangaroo onto my sister's jumper when they left. Mum knew then that they had a good chance of starting a new life in Australia when that happened. My Mum said that after they had received and accepted their offer from Australia as political refugees, Canada had accepted them too (It's always interesting for me to think how different my life would have been if Mum and Dad lived in Canada).
My parents and older sister came to Melbourne in February 1983 and Mum said that she had a cold and it was really hot when they got outside. Plus, it was a shock because they had just left a wintery Europe behind! Mum told me that she didn't like it and she wanted to go back. They lived in a migrant hostel and Dad soon found work and now we can fast forward 31 years and we are all still living in Melbourne today. I can't imagine what it would be like for my parents to leave their brothers and sisters behind and not really know when they could go back to see them again. Especially since you need to start a new life from scratch. My parents are troopers and I think they raised all of us to be troopers too - thanks Mum and Dad!
Coming back to Gdansk (I was there when I was 6) was really exciting since I wasn't really old enough to remember everything and most of my memories come from the home movies Dad took and the conversations I've had with my twin sister about it. I hadn't seen my Grandpa or Aunties for 19 years and it was a whirlwind of emotions and happiness. Living in Australia and only having my parents around, I've never known how it feels to have aunties and cousins. I just never got to experience that type of family dynamic. When I went to Poland, I realised how huge my family is!
When we arrived in Gdansk, my cousin Nico picked us up from the airport and helped us settle in.
On the first day, we went to an awesome lookout tower and then went to see the Dom do gory nogami, that just means the upside down house. I didn't think I would learn anything there, but I did. There was a whole section of the place that told the story of Polish people being sent to Siberia which I didn't know much about. After that, we headed to a bar mleczny which is now popular for university students, because the food is good and cheap. It was really good; just like home food and I had missed it! After that Adrian and I hung out and walked around the city and then caught up with Nico again for a night time view of Gdansk.
The second day we went to the Molo in Sopot, which is the pier in a place called Sopot (not far from Gdansk). We had some Gofry there and walked around, then rushed back to meet my aunty where she took us from there. I went to see my Grandma's grave and that was pretty emotional. I remember when she died and my Mum went back to Poland when she was sick. It was a really sad day, I really loved her so much and I wished that she was around to see me again. My aunty then took me to my other aunties house where they overfed me soup and cakes and we talked and talked. I felt so comfortable around them, like I had known them for my whole life. I guess that's the beauty of family.
The third day was a catch up day with my aunty again and she took me to the Galeria in Gdansk to have a look at some stores and buy some gifts. Later that night, Adrian and I had our six year anniversary dinner at a close by restaurant called Velevetka. We were staying on Organa, just near the Dulgi Targ which is the main street in Gdansk's old town (Air BNB place in Gdansk). After dinner, we met up with Nico and his fiancé for a drink. I also got to hangout with my cousins children, (I think that makes me a cousin once removed, thanks google!), see my cousins, aunts and uncles. It was fantastic although pretty short!
The next day we flew out to Turkey.
I still have that leg of my trip to share with you on my blog. In a couple of weeks I'm going away again for my twin sisters wedding in Spain! I'll be visiting the UK and Poland again so, stay tuned for more family photos and personal sharing! haha