We arrived at Hotel Hancza in Suwalki for a one night stay on Friday. After checking in we had a great dinner which included soup, salad, choice of entrees and beverage. Great food at a bargain price of 5 zlotys.
Today we were driving to Wizajny to begin the search for my Grandmother Murwaska living relatives. I knew a little about the Murwaski side of the family from letters I had translated by a Polish guy who was working at a University in Columbus, Ohio. At this time there were 3 living relatives who were children when the letters were written. I did not expect for them to be alive but was hoping I would meet cousins.
As we drove to Wizajny we drove through the area of Maszkutinie the birth place of my great grandfather Leon Murawski .
We passed through Wizajny the village were Stefania and Kamila, my grandmother’s sisters lived. From the letters we knew my Great Grandmother lived a little past Wizajny which at that time, after WWII, was in Soviet Union. Today this area is Lithuania. We drove approximately 15 minutes and crossed the border into Lithuania. It was exciting for me to be in another country.
Shortly after we crossed the borders we came upon Wisztynieckie lake. This lake is very large. When you look across the lake you can see Russia. At the time of my Grandmother this area on the other side of the lake was Prussia. We knew from the letters my Grandmother lived before WWII on the southeast corner of the Wisztynieckie lake, then Poland.
Zenon knew this area may not be accessible by car but we tried. We drove down a muddy path past one old farm then the path ended. We turned around and I told Zenon I was happy to just see this area. Back on the main road again we continued to Vistytis (or Wisztyniec in Polish) a town in Lithuania. In this village there is a white wall and electric fence separating Russia and Lithuania. Zenon explained to me the history of this area….many times today. This area was affected by many wars, conflicts, changing of borders etc .
We then went back to Wizajny to check into our B&B. After checking in we went to the church of Wizajny. This is the church the Murwaska family attended.
A wedding was taking place at the church. I learned of a few wedding traditions which was pretty cool. The Fire department and local soccer players prepared so called bramas (gates). Bride and groom to cross the gate had to pay the firemen and players in… vodka :-).
Tommorrow we planned on returning to Suwalki to research records in the Archive there and to catch up on the blog.
But little did we know Sunday turned out to be one of the best day of this journey.