Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nail Biting

Day 219
I was up early, not only did I have a lot to do and little time to do it in, but I had gone to sleep really early the night before.

The first place I wanted to see was the Independence Museum. I walked in just fine but it kinda looked like there was work going on. After several phone calls the security guard told me that it was closed. You would think he would know these things.

I had an hour to kill before the next museum I wanted to see opened so I headed to an area that used to be a textile factory but is now a mall and activity center. There is also a museum here about the factory.

The girl I bought my ticket from was very bubbly and spoke really good English. She asked me how good my English was and I told her that I'm from the States. She said that was perfect. Apparently some of the board members from their sister museum in the UK somewhere were coming for a tour that afternoon. She asked if she could give me the tour and if I would mind correcting her English. It seemed great to me. I love Poland, the people here are fabulous.

Most of the factory complex was built between 1872 and 1914 by a guy named Isreal Poznanski. They produced low quality fabrics. When it was first built it was groundbreaking and received an award from the 1878 Paris world exhibit. I just don't understand how they got the whole factory over there for viewing.

About 12,000 people worked here at any given time. Apparently it was for a pretty good wage as well. There is a rumor that at the end of the day Poznanski would climb up to the main clock and knock it back 15 minutes to make everyone work just a bit longer. Initially all of the workers were male, but after WWII this changed. Magda's grandmother had worked here and lost a couple of fingers in an accident. Perhaps this is why she was really passionate about the place.

By the end of WWII most of the machines had been used for other things or simply scratched. They were quite antiquated at this point anyway. The factory chugged through communism but couldn't survive the switch back to capitalism and was closed in 1997.

Magda turned on 2 of the 4 looms for me. They were incredibly loud, but it was really cool to see them in action. She also pointed out an old medical chest to me. Magda had thought it would be nice to fill it with period items and asked a woman who had been a nurse there what it had contained. Apparently it was always just about empty so they decided to leave it that way.

I thanked Magda for the fabulous tour and she thanked me for helping with her English. She really didn't need much help though so I think I got the better end of the deal.

My next museum was the Lodz History Museum. I don't know why they call it that though. It was located in Israel Poznanski's former house. Most of it was on his family, old furnishings and such, but some of the rooms were dedicated to other important Lodz figures. There wasn't much explanation and without being allowed to take pictures I got board quickly.

I tried to ask if the building was original but just got blank stares. I said thank you and went into the next room. I could here the women in the hallway saying thank you and laughing. Buttheads.

I then followed part of the ghetto history tour that I had picked up at the tourist office. Lodz looks pretty bad, I don't think that most of the building here have been painted since 1920. This goes doubly for the area of the former ghetto, the largest one in Europe. I was told to be careful with my camera and took extra care every time that I took it out.

Eventually I found a memorial and then a few minutes away the largest Jewish cemetery in Poland, and if not, it is certainly the most populous. Few people were about and I had to remind myself that dead people don't tend to come back to life. Parts of the cemetery were in better repair than others.

I started by walking left. On the wall there were plaques that were pretty recently installed by families from all over the world who lost relatives in the Holocaust. Many of them were by Americans. Also along the wall were grass covered pits. These had been dug as mass graves but were never used. They were left in testament. One section, called the ghetto field, held the mass graves of 43,527 ghetto victims.

Not wanting to head further back, it was creepy, I went right. I then came to a section that was being completely reclaimed by the trees. I could only see a couple of rows back. The Poznanski family tomb was massive and I wanted a picture. The thing was that I wasn't really meant to be taking pictures and there were a lot of people about, so I just didn't do it.

After the cemetery I gook a tram back to the center of town and got some really yummy pirogies for lunch. I was actually running a little ahead of schedule.

Back at the hostel I grabbed my things and headed out. On the train I met a girl named Lidia who was from Warsaw. We chatted all the way there. I wasn't stopping at Warsaw though, I was headed to Lublin.

Once I was on the train to Lublin I got more and more nervous as the hours ticked by. There are two places to stay here and both close at 10pm. When I got to the train station I had to wait about 40 minutes for the right bus, luckily there were people around to help. On the bus asked the girl sitting next to me if she spoke any English. She understood a bit and told me that she lived just a few blocks from where I was going and could walk me there. Because of her I managed to check in right before 10pm.

I was ravenous because I hadn't had anything since the pirogies. I went to the city center (about 3 minutes walk) and found a falafel place. It was the best falafel ever. When I was walking back it started to pour and I ducked into a pub, I didn't want to get wet. This is where I met Anne, the bartender. She spoke good English and we chatted as she worked. After one drink I was falling asleep though and the rain had stopped. We made tentative plans for me to meet her there the next night and said goodbye.

1 comment:

Anna said...

You know...I realy don`t know what is a 'farafel' xD