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alternative to Andrew Durman

Hi,

For those of you who loved Andrew Durman's services (me included), I am sad to report he is not doing well medically and isn't working as a guide/driver anymore. My BIL now needs a driver to take him to a village southwest of Krakow, about 1 1/2 hours. Do you have any recommendations?

Posted by
4857 posts

Donna, sorry to hear this. I don't have a recommendation but my fallback is looking at Viator, tourguides.viator.com listings for private local tour guides in specific destinations.

Posted by
1400 posts

Last summer. andrew was already booked and arranged a driver for us. Unfornately, after looking through my emails, everything went through Andrew. I don’t have the drivers info. But, we have hired drivers in Dublin, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Havana, and Croatia through toursbylocals.com. We have never been disappointed. All fees are in the description under the tour guide, a calendar tells you up front if they are free, and you can email them what your needs are.

Posted by
6061 posts

I assume he trained some younger staff to fill his shoes? Maybe ask him for recommendations? Young people in Poland are taught English in school these days, so it should not be difficult to finds a guide. But it's probably not comparable to someone who has vast experience and could converse about all the political, economic, and cultural changes in Poland that have occurred in the past 40 years or so. Very young people don't know what it's like to have grown up under Communism, for example. They are lucky.

Posted by
227 posts

I am so sorry to hear that Andrew is having health issues. I hope that he has been a mentor in an effort to pass on his talents.. He has so much to offer in knowledge as well as how he handles his tours. We found his contact information in our RS guidebook. When we read about him in the guidebook our first thought was that we probably didn't have a chance in contracting with him since being mentioned by RS more than likely meant that his time was quickly taken up. But we took a chance and were surprised to hear back from him so quickly! The time that we spent with Andrew will always be a highlight of our trip to Central Europe and we appreciate all he did to make it so. I wish him well!

Posted by
242 posts

His assistant for the past few years has been a man named Bart.

Posted by
4669 posts

We just returned from Krakow (departing 8/31/19), and from what I could tell, my email correspondence was with Andrew. He assigned us an associate driver, Lucas, who was great. When we made a destination change in transit, Lucas called Andrew from the car to confirm the arrangement. I never spoke directly with Andrew.

Posted by
112 posts

First, I am very sorry to hear this news. Second, we used Andrew’s services earlier this week to go to Auschwitz. We had a young man driver, Karol, who was wonderful. Everything went smoothly and he was charming. I assumed Andrew himself was busy with other customers. When I sent a thank-you email after our tour, Andrew replied. So, I would reach out to Andrew but know that you’re likely to get a different driver. I wish him well.

DD

Posted by
3 posts

*RECOMMENDATION FOR TOMASZ LASKOWSKI AND POZNAN TOURS *

If you are looking for a truly personalized tour guide to help you locate the site of an ancestor’s birthplace in Poland, get in touch immediately with Tomasz Laskowski and Poznan Tours! Tomasz is an experienced and skilled group tour guide, whose knowledge of Polish history, and major tourist sites across Poland is likely unsurpassed. He is clever, personable, well-organized and prepared, communicates promptly, and was unusually patient and flexible while adjusting our itinerary in order to meet our changing wishes. Tomasz’s command of written and spoken English is impeccable, and he has some fluency in German and Greek, in addition to his first language, Polish. His services are provided at a very reasonable rate.

But in addition, Tomasz has a special talent at researching and designing journeys to link individuals with their ancestral roots. My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Poland, with the primary goal of visiting the church in Kcynia where my great grandfather, Carl Gottlieb Ulrich, was baptized in 1839, and the cemetery where his parents and siblings were buried. Tomasz helped us realize that goal, but went way above and beyond what we expected, in order to locate the site of the now nonexistent village of Neudorf Muehle, near the Netze/Notec river. Prior to our arrival, Tomasz and his employee Jaroslaw conducted a search of church records, to confirm that my ancestors indeed came from this area. They also searched maps dating back to the 1800’s, and with a local horticulturalist who advises farmers on crop planning, located the remote site of the ruins of the of grain mill and community of Neudorf Muehle . It was with great excitement that we were able to walk to and photograph this site. Tomasz’s preparation for our tour was no small task, and his work far exceeded our expectations.

Part of the “icing on the cake” was that Tomasz and a local Farm Horticultural Advisor, made arrangements for us to visit with a local farmer and his two sons, who, over the last 30 years, have been able to develop a large farming operation, growing wheat, rye, barley and corn on 1000 acres. As a former farm girl and manager of my family’s farms in Nebraska, it was pure delight to be able to visit with this farm family about crops, yields, farming practices, and challenges associated with farming. We were honored that the family graciously invited us into their home for coffee where we chatted and laughed, and learned that farm family life in Poland is very similar to that of Midwestern farm families in the U.S.

We ended our exciting day, toasting Tomasz and his sweet wife, Anna, at a wonderful Poznan restaurant that specializes in serving authentic Polish dishes (e.g. perogi, duck blood soup, roast duck, wild boar cutlets in chantrelle mushroom sauce etc.). Topping everything off, Tomasz and Anna presented us with maps, photos of the Evangelical Lutheran church site, and links to church documents that Tomasz and Jaroslaw had prepared before our journey began.

Our only regret is that we didn’t spend more time with Tomasz and Anna to learn more about life under communist rule. We highly recommend Tomasz Laskowski and Poznan Tours, and are certain that future customers will be very pleased with his services.

Laura & Richard R., Nebraska

Posted by
242 posts

Laura and Richard received the kind of hospitality you can receive if you make an effort to get to the village of your ancestors. We had experiences like that too and so wish it for others!

BTW- My brother-in-law just returned from Krakow and had requested Andrew's help, but as I mentioned previously, Andrew is not in good health. A driver named Michael assisted them and my BIL was very pleased. I'm sure that anyone who Andrew recommends will be almost as good as him.

Also- even though many older Poles don't speak English, try to meet them. You will get a very different point of view and an intriguing history lesson from the older ones!

Posted by
24 posts

Two weeks ago we hired Czeslaw Chmielowska (tour guide Marta's husband), also recommended by Rick Steves, to drive us to Auschwitz. He was an excellent driver, good car, punctual, efficient, friendly, good English, and very conscientious about ushering us around at Auschwitz--where to go, find the bathrooms, and also told us about sights along the way. Highly recommended.

Posted by
10 posts

Hello all,
Yes, we too were in touch with Andrew earlier this year and learned from him that he would not be available for our second trip to Poland in June 2019. We then asked Andrew for a referral for our 2019 travel in Warsaw and Gdansk and he was kind enough to arrange for us to connect with Michael Kwiek of Destination Krakow email: office@destinationkrakow.com
Tel. 48 733 041 000. Mike was absolutely terrific. Andrew made a great recommendation for us. We met Mike, as previously arranged, at our Warsaw hotel and for the next 3 days he took us to all of the historical Warsaw Museums, the old town and wonderful city sites, some via walking some via his van. Then we all headed off to Gdansk via Mike's new, air conditioned, Mercedes van. We had a short visit in Torun enroute (enough to make us want to go back to see more next time). Mike was with us from morning to night as we toured the Polish countryside and the wonderful historic areas of Poland including Malbork castle. We loved the Gdansk solidarity history areas and many other historic WWII areas as well as the lovely beaches of the Baltic Sea. When my husband caught a cold/flu Mike took us to a local clinic, helped with the translation there and at the pharmacy. Mike is a terrific person, he is fun, knowledgeable, reliable and a great private driver guide. We highly recommend Mike and are very thankful for Andrew's recommendation. Andrew is in our prayers for a speedy recovery. Mike will surely be part of a future Poland adventure!