Monday, June 12, 2023
Our last day of the tour. We spent the morning in the Diocesan Archives in Włocławek Cathedral. Zbigniew wasn’t sure if there were any records there that we couldn’t find online. I had told him that even if they were the same, I wanted to see the original books (so much better than seeing online records). He also thought it was worthwhile to go because the archives are up a winding staircase behind a door that we had to use our cellphone flashlights to find. It was so worth it! And we did find the Polish versions (the ones online were in Russian) of my 2x great-grandmother’s (Elżbieta Bronisława Dąbrowska) baptism record and her marriage record to my 2x great-grandfather Józef Więczkowski.
And even without a visit to the Archives, Włocławek Cathedral was stunning and so worth a visit.
Zbigniew and I then toured the Kłodawa Salt Mine. (Dad stayed in the car because it would have been too much walking for him.) It was a very different experience than visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine because Kłodawa is still in operation. We saw the workers start their shift, descending on the same elevator that we took. The scale of the salt mine is unimaginable; we probably saw only less than 1% of it. It is the only other place, except for the Himalayas, where pink salt is found. In fact, we were each given a chunk of pink salt and a bag of table salt at the end of the tour.
After seven days of travel, research, walking, villages, churches, cemeteries, and lots and lots of emotion, Zbigniew dropped Dad and me at our hotel in Warsaw this evening. This truly was a trip of a lifetime, something that almost cannot be put into words (although I did try here). If you are at all thinking about taking a trip like this, do it. My father and I are forever grateful to PolishOrigins and especially Zbigniew Stettner for making our trip back to our Polish roots unforgettable.