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Published: September 17th 2016
I woke up a few minutes before the alarm and as I was lying in bed waiting for my phone to ring, I started getting butterflies in my stomach... This time it wasn’t about flying as the flight was really short. The actual wait at the airport would last longer than the flight itself! As usual my head was overflowing with thoughts though... Millie was about to meet her grandparents for the first time... Would she warm up to them straight away? I knew how happy my parents were about meeting her so I didn’t want them to feel rejected at the beginning... Since we were planning to make my parent’s house our base for a while, I was also wondering how Grant was going to cope with all that, it sure can be hard to live with your in-laws, doesn’t matter how great they are... on top of that he didn’t speak much Polish either – his knowledge of thank you and beer would not exactly be the most helpful here... Thankfully my parents do speak pretty good English but they don’t have a chance to use it too often and besides that Grant has a bit of an odd
A statue of a baker in Elblag
The legend goes that with one swing of his shovel he saved Elblag from imminent danger from the Teutonic army in 1521
native accent as well... 😉 Also I was wondering how my doggy was going to accept Millie? I hoped he wouldn’t be too jealous about getting a bit less attention than he did before? And finally there is me in my new role, would I be able to handle all the comments and advice (somehow nobody ever calls it criticism!) as to how I should be raising my daughter? My patience can only go as far... who am I kidding? Patience almost doesn’t exist in my vocabulary... That probably would be just a short list of my little doubts and worries as there sure were plenty more thoughts were these were coming from... I most certainly know well how to overanalyse and let’s be honest: simply overcomplicate things... After all I have been practicing this skill for quite a few years now... Grant’s approach of simply letting the things run their course and dealing with any problems at the time they arise may sound like the best idea there is, yet it’s not that easy to master...
Once the alarm rang there was no more time to worry about any of that anymore as soon after I
was running around frantically trying to pack and get things organised for the journey ahead... Usually we would make an effort to take the public transport to the airport – mostly to save money of course but also because it’s so convenient in most places. Yet with our three gigantic bags, moving further than 5 steps was simply impossible, so we took a taxi instead that day. We actually booked it a day before and even though we mentioned to the taxi company we had quite a bit of luggage, still were wondering what kind of car would arrive. Thankfully they got the message and we did manage to squeeze everything inside, all ready to go now! I wasn’t too impressed when the taxi driver started smoking a cigarette, you would think that he’d notice there was a baby in a car! But then I had to remind myself we were in Europe, smoking ‘culture’ is still very much present everywhere! I thought that it was banned to smoke in restaurants, hotels and all that in all the European countries but as I soon found out it wasn’t exactly the case as every country still had its own set of
rules when it came to this topic... I think I got spoiled in Australia about its approach to smoking as it definitely isn’t very popular to smoke there and the cigarettes are very pricey, while in Europe smoking is still very social and the prices, even though they are rising, they are still at a very low level. Ah well... thankfully it was a short trip to the airport...
When we got to the airport, it turned out the driver didn’t have any change... Well sorry man, but you’re definitely not getting any tip! Credit card it is then... After that all went very smooth and soon after we were boarding the plane already. Millie was due for a nap but with us sitting right next to the engine, she was never going to fall asleep – you forget how noisy these little planes can be! I guess the nerves were getting to me a bit as everything was really bothering me... Only 50 minutes flight though... Before we even reached the high altitude, the crew was already being advised to prepare for landing... Now just to get the luggage... Not sure why they decided to put
three flights on one belt only if all the other belts were empty? I felt as if the steam was going to start coming out of my ears any moment... Think it was time to change my approach as stressing out was getting me nowhere... After all we were in Gdansk already... 45 minutes later our bags finally arrived and soon after we were greeted by my dad. 😊 Millie was a bit shy at first and I probably should’ve thought that giving her to my dad to hold her when she was overtired wasn’t the best idea and yet I did just that and of course she wasn’t too happy... Silly me... Not a great start... I was hoping she would get some rest on the way to Elblag and thankfully she shut her eyes almost immediately after we took off... After a nice nap she was ready to meet her grandmother and give grandpa another chance. 😉 Few minutes and everybody bonded, pheeeeew... what a relief! 😊
So I was back at home again. Even though I left Elblag 12 years ago, it still is my home. My parents live here and I grew up
here as well. It is an average size town with a population of 125,000, set by the river and only 40km from the Baltic Sea. Even though it’s a nice town I was always surprised to see tourists here and wondered what brought them here as except for the small Old Town, there wasn’t much to see here... When I was a teenager I knew that probably I would end up settling down somewhere else as in the 90ties there certainly wasn’t much to do here either... The city didn’t create many opportunities for young people back then... In the late 90ties and beginning of 2000s the unemployment was sky high, at some point it even reached 30percent... No wonder why many people, just like me, started thinking about leaving this place... Out of my close friends, only one of them stayed in Elblag, the rest straight after studies went either to the bigger Polish cities, like Gdansk or just like me went searching for some more opportunities abroad. The biggest wave of emigration took place in and just after 2004, when the EU borders opened for the Poles. Many of these people went with the idea of saving some
money and returning back to Poland but out of my friends none of them came back to Poland just yet and I seriously doubt they ever will... I most certainly can’t see myself living in Elblag again, at least not in the near future, not in any future actually... I simply moved on from this place and can’t picture myself coming back here for good...
Having said that, I do like coming back here for holidays. It may not be the most exciting place in the world but it certainly has changed a lot since I moved out of here. When Poland joined EU in 2004, finally we got some funds to either repair or to improve some things around. The biggest improvements you can see are in the Old Town... or rather the New Old Town... Elblag’s Old Town was almost completely destroyed during the World War II and due to the lack of funds, it was left in ruins for many years. Not only that, since the main attention was put into rebuilding Gdansk and Warsaw after the war, whatever was left of the old buildings in Elblag, was used to rebuild Gdansk and Warsaw
instead – if you’ll look at some of the buildings in the Old Towns of these cities keep it in mind that quite a few bricks used to reconstruct these buildings do come from Elblag! Finally in the 90ties somebody decided that some attention should be given to the Old Town in Elblag as well and new buildings (in the old style) started popping around. In my teenage days I spent quite a few evenings in the Old Town and even though some buildings were still left in ruins, it was the place to go to, to hang out with friends. And it still is the main attraction in Elblag, only there are quite a few more streets in the Old Town now than there were there back in my teenage days. Nice place to spend a few hours at, to have a cold beer in one of the pubs, eat something at one of the restaurants, stroll by the canal and climb the cathedral’s tower to see Elblag’s panorama... There seem to be quite a few events happening here in the summer as well – many different sports events from short runs, triathlons to some ironman long-distance tortures, concerts
and many other local events... It seemed that every time we went to the Old Town there was always something going on there. Very positively surprised about that! The city is definitely changing!
So that’s about it when it comes to a quick introduction to Elblag. It’s funny that you can live in a place all (or most of) your life, know every street and probably most of the people around you as well and yet somehow don’t know too much about its history. It’s quite embarrassing to admit but I probably still wouldn’t know or feel the need to know much about the actual history of my home town if it wasn’t for Grant bombarding me with all sorts of questions... I wonder if we ever went through the whole history of Elblag at school at all, as if we did, sadly it came through one ear and quickly evaporated through another as I didn’t remember any of it. All I knew about my town was that at some point in time it belonged to Germany (probably that’s why most of the tourists coming to Elblag are German I would assume) and that more or less
would be about it... Yeah, not too proud about that... I’d say it was about time I found out a bit more! And so I did as you can find a lot of information about it in the local museum. 😊
So in short, my town’s history goes back as far as... 890! More or less that is, as apparently that’s when it was first mentioned in the history books, it was known back then as Truso settlement and it was an important seaport serving the Vistula River, connected to the Amber Road. Around the 10th
century it burnt down and only at the beginning of the 13th
century Elbing is mentioned for the first time when the Teutonic Knights conquered this territory and founded the town by the lake. Throughout the next centuries the town was basically thrown between Polish and German hands – it first came under the Polish rule in 1466 (that’s when the Polish name of Elblag came in place), then during the First Partition of Poland it came under the rule of Kingdom of Prussia in 1772 and during the unification of Germany in 1871 it became a part of the German
Empire. Finally it went back to Polish hands after the World War II in 1945. So it turns out that my town was actually a part of Germany for most of its life, but as a result of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, Germans were expelled from the city and it was repopulated by Poles. Among these Poles were my grandparents who chose Elblag as their home at the time, my mum was born here and so was I and that’s where my story begins... 😊
The more I think about it, the more I realise that there is much more to Elblag than its Old Town... and history... Thanks to some EU investments the city has developed and certainly become more attractive during the past ten years. And I would recommend it for a short visit to anyone. 😊 You can stroll around its Old Town, have a bite to eat at one of many restaurants around, even do some exercise and bike through the nearby forests... It can be a perfect spot for side trips as well as there is plenty to see around. You can start with sailing over the grass by going on
a cruise through the Elblag canal or going to Malbork to see the castle of the Teutonic Order, which actually is one of the biggest castles in Europe. Apart from that the Baltic Sea is only 40km away and Elblag is at the edge of Mazury, Polish lake region... The choice is plenty!
So no wonder we used Elblag as our base for a good while... During this time we spent a lot of time with family and friends, but also walked through Elblag there and back many times and did a few trips around as well of course... but more about it in the next blogs to come!
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