The #1 highlight from our trip to Poland was seeing our friend's Matt and Natalia and meeting their 4 1/2 year-old daughter, Gabriella, for the first time.
Ebert and I flew into Krakow respectively late Saturday afternoon, our planes conveniently landing within minutes of each other. The flight from Chicago was long and only slightly miserable without Ebert. Besides just missing my husband in general, I also missed not having someone to lean my head up against or even to just talk to. I flew LOT Polish Airlines and most of the people around me only spoke Polish so it wasn't easy to strike up conversations. I mostly communicated through friendly smiles, pointing, and shaking my head yes or no. It was a great way to immediately get out of my comfort zone, even though it was a little intimidating at first. Otherwise, it was a smooth and easy flight. Matt was kind enough to pick us up from the airport so we were able to decompress on the 45-minute drive to their little town of Chrzanow (pronounced shaw-noff or something close to that). We spent the drive admiring the beautiful Polish countryside and drinking beers. What!? I know, it's so crazy that you can drink in the car in Poland. Of course, this is only as passengers and not as the driver. Even though it's legal it still felt like we were doing something wrong but we were weary travelers and happily drank our first Polish beers. When in Rome…or Poland!
It was overcast and dreary in Chrzanow with a slight chill in the air- it certainly did not feel like summer. Matt dropped us off at our hotel so we could wash off our layers of travel funk. Then Ebert and I, feeling quite refreshed after a hot shower, waited for our friends outside the hotel which was conveniently located in the main square and just a 10-minute walk from their apartment. When we all saw each other from across the square, Matt and Natalia took Gabi out of her stroller and Ebert and I stood there watching as she eagerly approached us with this happy smile on her face like she had always known us. She politely extended her hand out to greet us but Ebert went in for a hug and she lovingly obliged- from that moment on we were willingly at her command. We both confessed later that we almost started crying at that moment- she was just so excited, as were we, and not at all timid to meet us. We spent the next few days playing and laughing and chasing her around their apartment. Our time with her was pure joy!
Just look at that smile! How could you not want to give everything to the girl with that sweet smile? This picture was taken on our last day in Chrzanow shortly before we had to say goodbye to these lovely friends. We sure do miss them and are looking forward to when we can visit again.