All Saints Day

2 11 2009


November 1st in Poland was always a special day for me.  It meant visiting my babcia, buying a chrysanthemum plant, a few votive candles and making the annual trek to the Sopot cemetery.  We would visit my grandads site (both grandma’s husbands are buried in one grave – after all they have a love of one woman in common) and after some cleaning I was allowed to arrange the flowers and candles on top of the stone.  We would linger there, breathing in the scent of fallen leaves and votive candles, each of us lost in our memories of the 2 men:  for me it was the piggyback rides, trips to the candy store and pretty dresses at Easter.  For my grandma…well, I can only imagine.

A lot has changed in 40 years.  The Sopot cemetery has expanded tenfold.  The simple grave stones have been replaced by imposing monuments, the votive candles by expensive torches and the one-plant-per-grave no longer applies:  the cemetery is awash in colors and smells of all kinds of plants and flowers.

One thing has not chanIMG_1499ged – my grandma is still here.  Do you like how I arranged the flowers for you,  babciu?


Brother, can you spare a flat?

16 10 2009

IMG_1433real estate office, Sopot

Getting your teeth drilled without anesthesia – that’s  what looking for a rental apartment and dealing with Polish realtors is like.

The real estate brokerage is a fairly new concept here and therefore mostly unregulated… and absolutely inane.  The agents don’t do much work for you – you bring them the listings you are interested in (found online) which they will show you and then expect at least one month’s rent commission (if you end up renting  the place).  But before you even set foot in the apartment, you must sign several documents agreeing to pay their commission (most of those signings take place in cars, elevators and hallways).  Since they do not like to share listings with each other, I have to contact a different agent for each apartment I find interesting.  As of now, I have met with 16 brokers…Trying to keep their names (and offers) straight is an exercise in futility.  I also have a stack of 36 “prowizja” agreements in my purse.

One sure thing in Poland you can count on:  the bureaucracy.

And the winner is…

6 10 2009

While searching for a rental apartment in the TriCities, we considered all our options.  Gdansk is cosmopolitan, full of history and culture.  Sopot (also known as my birthplace ;-)) is a touristy,  laid-back  beach resort.  But Gdynia combines it all – beach, port, shopping and cool jazz clubs.


The choice is clear – we are moving to Gdynia!


4 10 2009

Welcome to Sopot!

ul. Polna, Sopot

After many productive years in the land of milk-and-honey, my American born husband and I are retiring to my hometown of Sopot, Poland.

Can we adopt?  Can we acclimate?  Can we learn to live without a clothes dryer?

Stay tuned.