We visited Krakow over Easter. Knowing we were going, we consulted the Rick Steves' guide book for the region. In the book, we found a recommendation and contact information for Andrew Durman. I can't tell you how glad we are that we emailed him and arranged a day with him as our guide. We headed to The Wieliczka Salt Mine first, and then Auschwitz and Birkenau afterward. He is friendly, intelligent, genuine, and hospitable. All along the way, he pointed out places and things and shared his knowledge with us. I was hesitant to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau... my heart just breaks and I become angry and frustrated thinking about the atrocities. But, I knew I may never have an opportunity to experience this history. Andrew understood my feelings on this and her understood why we wanted our children to see this firsthand. He taught us the history with insight from survivors, the experiences of his own family, and how World War II affected the Poles. His passion for Poland and its rich history is inspiring. His interest in our Polish heritage and knowledge about the regions where our grandparents and great-grandparents lived was exciting. Our day with Andrew was meaningful and unforgettable for our family. We highly recommend Andrew Durman! Thanks Rick Steves, for leading us to Andrew!
I second that!!!! We used Andrew this past fall. The time we were with him in Birkenau was wonderful, he took us there 1st. When we arrived at Auschwitz the crowds were gone so we were able to tour without fighting for a place to view. I think we paid him around $120 for both of us. We also hired him to take us from Kraków to Wroclaw. The train takes way too long as it stops very frequently. For a wonderful break he took us to a castle on the way...off the beaten path. When we bought our ticket he arranged for the curator to give us the tour - it was wonderful. He made what could have been a grueling travel day into a wonderful ride. FYI - he has both a van and a Mercedes so he can comfortably accommodate couples or families/small groups. You will not be disappointed!
Do you have his email address? I was planning to contact him but I can't find my guide book for Eastern Europe...I fear that I left it at home.
Here is Andrew's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We used Andrew last May and were extremely pleased with his service. He communicates very well and promptly, was EARLY to our hotel and made our day in the country so memorable. He even did some family research for us trying to locate possible cousins and it turned into a magical day where we were invited into homes for breakfast, etc. He is a 12 on a 1-10 scale.
Hi all, after reading about your experience with Andrew, would he drive from Kraków to Warsaw? Any idea if this would be very costly or should we take a train/plane? We are going to Poland next may 2016. We then go to Berlin and I'm still not sure whether we should be taking plane/train? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Cheers
I find Polish trains a pleasure to ride. Even on the remotest stations they're punctually on time. And train rides give me always the feeling I'm part of the country, travelling together on the same train.
A train ride from Krakow to Warsaw takes some 2,5 to 3 hours, and - according to their website http://rozklad-pkp.pl/en - doesn't have to cost more than 49 Zl, which is less than USD 15.
As to the question to take plane or train from Warsaw to Berlin, I just checked at the website of the German railways - http://www.bahn.de/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml - and see it takes some 5,5 hours at civilised hours (Warsaw: 09.55; Berlin 15.25). When bought in advance (at the same website; paying by credit card, printing at home) at the most ridiculous price of EUR 29, which at the moment is some USD 32. Pleasant ride, nice landscape, chance to walk around and buy a coffee, no time lost with getting to and from airports, no security checks, no luggage belts.
I should have added the schedules at bahn.de at the moment only run to 12 December. The changes after that that will be minimal. Advance buying can be done some two months before departure.
"I find Polish trains a pleasure to ride." How true!
My observations on Polish trains may be dated if newer and faster trains are now operational in Poland. But in 2001, 03, and '05 I found the trains to be punctual, obviously not as fast, and comfortable. Having transferred at Szczecin for Gdansk, I felt the ride was taking forever going through that former Pomerania. One's imagination is not always a good guide. I didn't have the same feeling two years later when transfering at Poznan en route to Torun...on that famous stretch. Maybe the geography had something to do with your subjective feeling?
Travel times are indeed very subjective. I just checked the ride from Lublin to Zamosc which was on the Polish variety of what in the UK is so nicely called a »milk train«. Stopping at every village (and maybe one or two stops without a village in sight). Two stations with a longer stop for the train to make a reverse. And still it was only 2 hours for some 120 kms. We took the train back to the Netherlands from Poznan. Some 10 hours, with a 1-hour change at Berlin Ostbahnhof (which I used to have a look for one of those nice German regional crime novels). It felt a lot less.
Now, that is a real train ride...Poznan to the Netherlands, 10 plus hours, even with an hour break at Ostbahnhof, which has gone through some refurbishing since 2009. I was there last June.
»A tour?« You get on the train, enjoy and relax for a few hours, get off, walk around, get a new train, enjoy and relax for a few hours, and you're home. I've got them longer in my youth.
At the Poznan station, which won't get any architectural award, I had a nice conversation with some Polish passengers. The general opinion was that the station in Gdansk is the most beautiful. But I've seen other gems on the route, carefully restored buildings from a bygone era.
Exactly...they are "carefully restored buildings from a bygone era." A fitting description of the Gdansk main station. You can imagine how it looked like in 1945 as Danzig Hbf. Taking the long ride also allows you to fall asleep for an hour or so without worrying about missing your stop. Both rides I did Gdansk to Berlin with the transfers and the direct Krakow to Berlin Zoo were long day rides, ca 10 hrs. but you traveled through some historical landscape.
It has been exactly ten years since I was at the Poznan train station. I would be surprised if additional refurbishing and expansion of the station has not taken place, went to the station cafe where it was advertised that it served the German coffee Jacob, which was a pleasant surprise since I had not seen such advertisement by a cafe outside of Germany.
En route from Berlin Zoo to Torun in 2005, (yes, another long ride), we had to transfer at Poznan main station. The woman I was with saw the Poznan station for the first time in 1999, still showing the evidence of the Soviet/Cold War days. But, in 2005, what was not there in 1999, was the large Kentucky Fried Chicken store. One can draw one's own conclusions to that.
My wife Carolyn and I met Andrew in Krakow and toured with him for the day to Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains. What an enjoyable time we had. He is very friendly and informative. Our route took us through the villages and included a stop at a wood carver's shop. In Zakopane, Andrew's recommendation of a hunters stew for lunch at a village inn was wonderful especially since it was winter (February). Zakopane had horse drawn sleighs, street theater, art/craft booths, etc. We would look up Andrew again and highly recommend him. email@example.com