The majority of our tour guests and other genealogy services clients are from the US. There are also people traveling from different countries where English is the spoken language as well as from other places in the world. If you speak English, we can help you with your genealogy discoveries. If you speak Spanish or Portuguese, we will not be able to help you as our genealogy guides don’t speak those languages, but we can do the regular tour with our tourist guides.
Many places in the world, including developed countries, experience higher and higher inflation. But paradoxically, if you earn in $US Dollars it is the cheapest to travel, shop, or even live in Europe now. For a few weeks now one US dollar roughly equals one Euro. The last time the Euro was so cheap (or the US Dollar was so strong) was in 2002.
In Poland, although we have been in the European Union since 2004, we have kept our national currency Polish zloty (PLN). In 1995 we had our currency denomination meaning that the old 10000 (ten thousand) Polish zlotys (PLZ) was converted to the new 1 (one) Polish zloty (PLN). Back then we as a country had been in the process of transformation from a socialist economy to a free market economy and we were experiencing hyperinflation caused by excessive money issuance during the years of a centrally planned economy.
Now, in 2022, our Polish zloty is becoming cheaper and cheaper which has its pros and cons. Today, the Polish zloty is the cheapest against the US Dollar since denomination. When I am writing this one pays 0.22 US dollars to buy one Polish zloty. Of course, it means that our goods and services are cheap, even (significantly) cheaper than in the other European countries where they use Euro.
In today’s economy and political situation nobody knows how long this will last and in which direction it will develop. We don’t know what the world and each country’s economy will look like even in the nearest future. We don’t know if the traveling will be free or restricted. We don’t know when and how the war in Ukraine will end.
This year many of the groups we have are those who planned to arrive in 2020 but were forced to postpone because of travel restrictions. On my last tour I was a guide of a family who is related to our other guests from 2019 and they have common cousins in Poland. In 2019 when I was with the first family from the US we met two seniors of the common clan in Poland. When we arrived at the beginning of July this year we learned that they passed away at the beginning of this year…
This is one of the recurring mantras we hear when we find cousins in Poland. They say to their relatives from abroad: “Such a pity you didn’t come a few months/years earlier… My father/grandmother was still alive…You would meet them and they would tell you much more than I know…”
Yes, there is the war in Ukraine. It may feel scary if you see what is happening there and when you think about it. On my recent tour, my guests often asked their relatives and other Polish people we met if we weren’t afraid of what could happen here because of the war in Ukraine. Some people were responding that we are not afraid because we are in NATO, others were saying that knowing stormy history, being in between big empires in Europe for ages, we can imagine that anything is possible.
I often tell people that the last 30+ years since we got rid of communism we are in the best period of our history in centuries. We had communism and the actual occupation of the Soviet Union since 1945. Before there was the second World War with its atrocities. We had a short 20 years period of independence between the two wars but with the threat from the Soviets, Germans, and many internal political issues. Before that, for 123 years we were under partitions (or even longer if you take into account that the first partition took place in 1772 and was followed by two more). Before that, we had lived for centuries in the feudal system where the vast majority of people were serfs, which was not much of a big difference from being a slave if you look at the “rights” and lives they had.
Our current freedom was won in 1989. We were the first among the communist countries who regained independence from the soviets. After us others followed with the most symbolic Berlin wall collapse a few months later. Believe me, the people of Poland will do whatever is required to keep our freedom. Our nation’s freedom and our personal freedoms. I am sure that as a descendant of Polish people you know these are not just empty words for us. If necessary, deeds will follow.
We live here and now. We adapted to the situation. I am in touch with people from Kharkiv who I met when they escaped war and found their temporary shelter in Poland. Now they are back in Kharkiv although it is still a war zone. The city of Kharkiv has been shelled every day since the war started. This is part of the message I got only a few weeks ago: “Yes, I am in the city, and yes, the shelling has intensified. Until yesterday there were only 2-3 rockets per night, but yesterday there fired 7. Every night from 23.00 to 23.30 shelling begins. We can only pray”.
It is hard to believe but when I talk to them they say that in a way they got used to that… They work remotely, they go shopping, they just have to live their lives to not to go crazy.
So yes, hundreds of miles from Poland in eastern Ukraine there is the war. Here we are safe now. We are happy that we are in the military alliance as a part of NATO. We are living our lives and we are aware that anything can happen. But we try to live normally doing what we are best at. Here in PolishOrigin it is realizing our mission of uncovering your roots in old Poland.
In the end, I share with you the recent feedback from this year’s tours for you to read in their own words how our guests see and how they feel about the experiences they had: https://polishorigins.com/testimonials . Some of the feedbacks are like full stories like the ones from Steve and his family: https://polishorigins.com/blog/testimonial/steve-1st-tour/ , https://polishorigins.com/blog/testimonial/steve-and-family-2nd-tour/ ).
There is also a new blog post written by another Steve describing his adventures in Poland. Let me quote him: “Hollywood couldn’t think up this movie. This just doesn’t happen but it did.” :-). Here is the link to the story: https://polishorigins.com/blog/jans-paintings-zalipie/ .