A Visit to “The Old Country”
(This post continues on from the earlier post: Germany and a Baltic Cruise)
We had a few days spare after our Baltic cruise, so I decided this would be an excellent opportunity to vist the town that my Great Grandfather hailed from. After picking up the hire car in Frankfurt Oder, it was back to the hotel to load up our luggage, then I fired up my GPS unit (just in case!) and we set off on the drive to Radnica. There were no border formalities between Germany and Poland and the road was in good condition, so it didn’t take us long at all to reach the town where my great grandfather had set off from when he emigrated to South Australia in 1878.
The first thing that struck me as we drove through Poland was how green and lush the countryside was – a far cry from the relatively desolate saltbush interspersed with mallee scrub that is typical of SA’s Mid-North east of the Goyder Line.
We passed through Krosno Odrzańskie (formerly Crossen an der Oder) on the way. This was and still is the provincial capital.
First impressions of Radnica were that it’s a small, sleepy town, far removed from the hustle and bustle of modern life. We drove around and soon found the cemetery – I was curious to see if any old German headstones were still standing. They weren’t unfortunately. It looked as though everything had been flattened at some stage. The only remnants were a few pieces of German headstones stacked around a tree.
The kids spotted a small playground across the road from the cemetery, so we stopped there for a bit to let them get some of their beans out. I’d spotted a sign for an Inn on the outskirts of town, so we drove a little further east to check it out. It turned out to be a lovely spot named Stary Młyn – comfortable rooms, lovely restaurant, gardens with a dam, stream and water-wheel. No-one there spoke English though (we were off the tourist trail), but one lady did speak German, so even though my German is terrible, we were still able to communicate!
After a nice hearty lunch at Stary Młyn, we drove around some more, visiting Brody (formerly Gross Blumberg) and Pomorsko (formerly Pommerzig). We stopped at the cemetery at Brody, but there too all the old gravestones had been removed and only recent Polish ones were standing.
We only had spare time to stay the one night, then the next morning we drove back to Frankfurt, returned the hire car, walked to the train station and caught the train back to Berlin. We were out of luck with the weather again as it was raining again. Since it was the last night of our trip and we were staying at an airport hotel, I didn’t want to go there too early as I thought there’d be very little there to keep the kids occupied, so we tried our luck and jumped on one of the double-decker tourist buses that ply routes around the city. The rain didn’t let up though, so we ended up staying on the bus for the whole circuit – nearly 3 hours!
When we got back to the Hauptbahnhoff the kids spotted a pretty awesome ice cream shop, so after indulging ourselves we jumped in a taxi and headed off to the Mercure Hotel at Tegel. It turned out to be really quite nice and the little guys even got to have a bubble bath.
Next morning, courtesy bus to the terminal then flew home via Zurich on Swiss Airways. All in all a very enjoyable trip.