Something smelled when I woke up this morning. It turned out to be me. I was still wearing the same socks and underwear that I donned on Friday morning before I went to work. I was too tired the prior night to shower, so I just wore them to bed. Alex and I had gone to bed around 9:15, just when the sounds of trans music began drifting up from the street. Loud talking woke me up again at 11:30, so I put in ear plugs that I received on the plane. Fortunately, the ear wax accumulation held them securely in place. Anyway, Alex and I woke up and went to the gym. I ran 5k. Go me. Then we ate. Then our day really began.
At 11 am, Husband's friend Tom and his girlfriend Ewa met us at the hotel. They drove us to the Umschlagplatz monument, which commemorates the spot that over 300,000 of Warsaw's Jews were sent to their deaths at Treblinka. The names of the people who were deported are engraved in the walls. Tom's friend Bagus and her husband Krystof met us there. After I located the names of all the relatives I know - my great grandmother Pesa, my great aunts Doba, Estera, and Tema, and my cousin Beila - we began a five hour walking tour.
It was amazing and moving. We saw various monuments to the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. We located the lot where my Great Aunt Doba, Great Uncle Yitzcak and cousin Beila lived at Franciszkanska 12. (It is now a rundown block of an apartment building, although I suspect it was a rundown tenement when they lived there). We saw the last three remaining sections of the ghetto walls. We saw the sewer where the survivors of the ghetto uprising emerged to fight another day with Polish partisans. I was on the verge of tears many times.
Our tour ended at the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery on Okopowa. I wanted to find the grave of the person I think is my great grandfather. We were told that it was in section 18, row 6, plot 6. Our group headed out, only to become extremely lost in this vast city of the unliving. I shall post pictures, but it was the most unorganized, overrun cemetery I've ever been in. Yet it was also insanely beautiful, with lush foliage everywhere. After climbing down an embankment and Tom's foot sinking into what I swear was quicksand, we gave up. The cemetery was closing. On our way out, we discovered a map, and Alex and I decided that we will try again tomorrow.
During the tour, we did not stop to eat (although we did get coffee or water and made two pit stops), so we were very hungry. Tom and Ewa made a reservation at a beautiful restaurant in a park behind a palace. On the way, we drove by my grandfather's address, Dobra 81. There was no building on that lot. Insad, a beautiful jasmine bush bloomed. I found that fitting and infinitely sad. I wonder what he would think if he knew that his home was never rebuilt. I think he'd be glad. This makes me cry.
At any rate, we concluded our intense day with a lovely meal. I can't thank Tom, Ewa, Bogus, and Krystof enough for their generosity and kindness.