Roots

IMG_7092

The main point of this holiday was to discover where Joe’s ancestors came from, so we spent a full day doing that. We hired a car, and after an eventful adventure trying to find the car rental location, we managed to get on the road! As an aside- Europcar in Bydgoszcz could definitely use a sign. Any sign, but at LEAST a sign!

Finally around late morning, we were on the road and driving on the right side, which came as a big relief to Joe. Bydgoszcz is a large city of approximately 350k, but we were outside of the city and into the country roads within minutes. The town is about 30 minutes north of Bydgoszcz, and surprisingly it was all paved. Even the rural roads, with the exception of one that we ventured down. Reminder of driving in Italy. Eeeek!

Wudzyn was first on the list, which is where the family church is located and the weddings would take place. The church itself was closed, unfortunately, but we were able to walk through the cemetery surrounding the building, as well as the one a few minutes down the road. We weren’t able to find any relatives there, and Joe noted that nearly all of the headstones there are from the mid-1900’s to today, making us curious as to what the burial practices were prior to 1900.

We decided to walk the town afterwards, all 10 blocks of it. At least it was big enough to have a fork in the road, and a roundabout! Of which had a really cool actually. A stone in the centre of it said 1307-2007. Amazing how old some of these towns and villages are. There is a school, which I can only guess services the surrounding farms and villages too, as it is highly unlikely that many kids live in Wudzyn itself. There was an even split of what appeared to be low income housing, as well as some very cute, large and well-kept homes. I can only guess that many people who have made their money already, or whom work in the city, live out here as it is cheap, quiet, and relaxing.

Next up was Brzezno, where the family was born and raised, according to family records. This was even smaller than Wudzyn, although it appeared to have a fire station? Still not quite understanding that one. Anyway! There wasn’t much to stop for, so we drove slowly through, taking in what there was before moving on to the next town. Serock appears to be the main local hub for nearby towns such as Wudzyn and Brzezno, with 2 slightly larger grocers that carry the basics, as well as boutique shops with toys, secondhand clothes, and basic hardware supplies. There was another cemetary in town , so we stopped to see if we could locate anyone again. No luck. It also seems there is a tradition of lighting candles and placing them in glass lanterns on the graves. It was actually surprising to see how many of these were lit!

By this time it was late afternoon and we were exhausted. It was wonderful being able to see all of the history and heritage of these small towns though, and I’m really glad we were able to make the trip.