Chorzów City Center

Even though Chorzów’s history dates back to 13th century (or even 12th according to some sources), the city became an important landmark of Upper Silesia only towards the end of the 18th century. For centuries, until the end of the Second World War the city was known as  Königshütte or Królewska Huta. There is about 113 thousands people living in Chorzów today – same as before the Second World War, but the number is slowly declining. Back in 1977, there’s been almost 157 thousands people.

The bureaucracy in this country is still enormous and it took us almost half a day and tons of money to achieve… almost nothing. Apparently the road to Polish passports for our kids is more bumpy than the cobblestone streets in some parts of this city. We also wanted to renew Agnieszka’s Polish passport which expires next year, but run out of money and patience. We’ll do it next year in Mexico City or New York. Fortunately today we took the camera with us, while trying to finalize the official matters in the Registry Office. Unfortunately, I didn’t check the camera settings before shooting and it looks like most pictures are over exposed. I decided to post them here anyway and made a mental note to myself to always double check the settings before pressing the trigger. Or take my wife’s point and shoot camera, which despite being pink is probably more suited to my photography skills. But hey! It’s one of my goals for this trip to learn digital SLR photography, so you’ll have to suffer and watch my progress (if any).

Chorzów – Amelung

Amelung is a name of a small pond, which has been recently revitalized. Located in the middle of a large residential district, this body of water attracts mostly children and anglers. Not sure about fish, but there is a large playground area, where local youngsters with or without their parents spend countless hours swinging, sliding and building sand castles.

Since we were too lazy to do anything more challenging in the afternoon, we’ve decided to spend a few hours watching our kids integrate with the locals. It quickly became apparent that even though Nadia and Alex speak perfect Polish they have a tendency to build sentences in English. It doesn’t seem to bother other kids, so they had a really good time playing. The one thing we’re a bit afraid of is that they will learn few new words from the angry anglers, which even though very popular, are not among the ones to be used in company…

 

 

Chorzów Stary

Chorzów Stary is the oldest part of my hometown. Supposedly it’s roots date back to the 13th century, when it was first mentioned as a village established by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem – a Roman Catholic order of knighthood under the protection of the pope. There isn’t much left from that distant past. Most of the buildings have been erected in the 19th century, and quite frankly haven’t been well maintained ever since. It’s been a cloudy day today, but I think the weather suits this dark and rather dirty district very well.

Upper Silesia

It is 4 AM. I wanted to start this post by saying that I’m sipping my coffee and enjoy the bird’s morning concert out my Parents house window. Instead, I’m sipping my coffee and listen to my parents going back to bed after I offered them a rude awakening. Going down the stairs I forgot about the security system installed in the house. Normally, at night the upper two levels of the townhouse are defined as a safe zone, free for everyone to roam around, while the lower two are guarded by movement sensors and therefore off-limits, unless deactivating the security system. It’s been two years since my last stay at the house and frankly speaking, I forgot all about it. The kitchen is downstairs, and trying to get there I didn’t switch the damn alarm off. The sound of a siren was loud and it waked up everyone in the house. Well, except my Father, who needed to turn it off. I could tell he wasn’t happy, when he finally got out of bed. He had to call the security company and explain the situation, so that they don’t expedite a commando to the rescue…

We arrived yesterday. The trip was good, excellent in fact. Flight from Rochester was one hour delayed – no surprise. The one from Newark arrived in Munich 20 minutes early and to my delight, there’s been no queues to the immigration booths, no security checks, no customs. The gate for our connecting flight was on the other side of the terminal, but after a brisk walk we arrived there in time to have a cup of a good European coffee before boarding the last leg of our trip. My Father picked us up at the airport.

Even though I grew up around here, I couldn’t recognize the surroundings. There’s a lot of new developments going on, especially roads. The predominantly industrial identity of the region is nowhere to be found. The coal piles, the shafts, the smokestacks – they’re all gone. The region is promoting it’s tourist attractions instead – old castles, mountains, natural resources. I never thought about Upper Silesia in those categories before, but it is a very diversified region.  Rich and complex  history, multicultural influences  over centuries slowly shaped it’s today’s unique identity. Before the second World War as an autonomous region, with it’s own treasury and parliament, it’s certainly still capable of managing it’s destiny today.

In the afternoon we took a walk to my in laws apartment, which is within half an hour from where my folks live. I didn’t take a camera with me, but this part of town isn’t the nicest anyway. It’s the type of neighborhood we will try to avoid in our travels. The houses are old, the streets narrow and dirty. Plenty of filthy joints selling cheap beer, some passing doorways smelling like urine. It would definitely not be a good idea to walk around here after dark. The “hood” always been like that,  it always will be.

There are things that change rapidly in my hometown,  others seem to be stuck in the past for eternity. It’s now 5 AM in Chorzów. I sip my coffee and listen to the sounds of my Parents trying to go back to sleep. It’s hot and I wanted to go outside and enjoy the morning breeze, but I’m not going to risk that the security system is not fully deactivated.

I’m back home and it is my birthday today…