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Best of Poland in 10 days inaugural tour is here

I just happened upon this bit of news. Only 1 departure in 2020 on Sept. 8. The proceeds to go to charities in Poland that will benefit voter rights. I read that Cameron Hewitt will be one of the tour guides.

Posted by
2259 posts

Good for Cameron Hewitt, he's been singing the praises of Poland for some time now, looks like a great opportunity to introduce Americans to this wonderful country!

Posted by
2097 posts

Just looked at the itinerary. Except for Torun we did everything on the list. This will be a fabulous tour.

Posted by
1237 posts

I also just looked at the itinerary. I can not believe they are not going to Auschwitz. We just came back from a tour of Eastern Europe that included Poland with a different tour company and Auschwitz was the most memorable stop on our tour (not most pleasant, but made the biggest impression). It just says you can go there after the tour is over.

Posted by
2259 posts

@Bob, I think it's good they have one tour that includes a visit to Auschwitz and one that does not include, it gives people the option, it's a very personal choice + there may be children on the tour, so it seems wrong to impose, in the end if one wants to visit, it's very easy to after the Best of Poland (they end in Krakow) they even leave instructions at the end of the itinerary description, I think they played it smart making the tour more accessible.

Posted by
210 posts

Soooo.....no tour discounts (like $50 per previous tour) can be applied to the price? Am I understanding this correctly?

Posted by
1969 posts

That's just too funny. I had thought I might take a Rick Steves Poland tour, if one came available. I saw a flight deal I couldn't pass up and booked my own DIY tour this fall, instead. Leaving … yep, on Sept 8th.

I should cross paths with them when they arrive in Warsaw (my first city) where I'll spend 8 nights - only 1 night less than the full tour. I do wish I could tag along for a few activities in Warsaw. I would love to spend a day or two with Cameron Hewitt as the guide!

Posted by
6663 posts

Poland is so fabulous, anyone who goes on this is in for a treat.

Too funny CwSocial! Wonder if you will run into them.

Posted by
1965 posts

CwSocial,
This tour calls to me, too! My RS St. Petersburg tour begins 9/07. I’m almost tempted to switch my tour once again and go to Poland.

John, yes, that’s what I read, no discounts on the tour price. It was the same with the Andalucia tour debut last Sept. The tour proceeds are going to charity. But when the full roster of departures rolls out for the following year, discounts will apply at that time.

I agree with others about Auschwitz, it’s such a personal choice whether to go. I was in Munich for Christmas markets in December and chose not to go to Dachau. I think RS made the right decision. The Eastern Europe tour includes it. You can always opt out, of course.

Posted by
2632 posts

This looks like a great tour. I already bought my ticket to Poland this fall, though. I'll be in Gdansk Sept 3 through 9 and Warsaw Sept 9 through 15. Maybe I'll run into the group? I ran into a RS group last year at the WWI museum in Kobarid, Slovenia.

Posted by
1965 posts

Dave,
You might run into the tour as well as CwSocial who will be there at the same time! I’m really considering switching my tour booking to this one. It will be a unique back door experience and will be extra fun and educational with more than one guide! Sure, there may be bugs but who better to experience them with than Europe experts!
I’m sure you will have a great trip, it is so nice that you will spend additional days over there.

Posted by
6740 posts

IfAuschwitz isn’t included will they allow time and options for those who want to visit? I can’t imagine not going there to pay respects to those who perished.

Posted by
2632 posts

Suki--

I think the RS people intentionally placed Krakow at the end of the tour so people can extend their visit to Krakow and do Auschwitz on their own. From the itinerary description:

This tour does not include Auschwitz-Birkenau. If you want to visit
the memorial site and museum, we recommend extending your trip one
night and booking a daytrip in advance with one of the companies
recommended in the Rick Steves guidebook.

Posted by
2259 posts

@CWsocial back for more of Poland this year? Excellent!

Are you spending all 8 days in Warsaw, or will you after explore another part of Poland? Perhaps a visit to the Masurian Lake District (north of Warsaw) is in order? ;-)

Posted by
1965 posts

Jane,
I’m working on it, just waiting for them to email or call me!

Posted by
1965 posts

@Dave and CWSocial - we're all going to be in Warsaw together in September! I sent you each a PM about the possibility of meeting up!

Posted by
1969 posts

Hi Carlos, yes, back to Poland! I saved some złoty from my last trip - I knew I'd go back! The past 2 visits to Poland were part of multi-country trips; this will be 21 nights in Warsaw, Poznań, Toruń and Gdansk. I'm scouring trip reports (mamy with your suggestions, thank you!) and now the Rick Steves itinerary to get ideas.

I'm thinking 6 days in Warsaw (and finding more than enough to fill those) and allocating 2 days for day trips …. considering Łódź and Płock. And now I'm off to read about the Masurian Lake District, thanks for the suggestion!

Posted by
1969 posts

Valerie, you're right, we'll be there at the same time! I see you're also going to the Baltics. I'll be there in May with my first RS tour; we can compare notes! Yes, I'm definitely up for a meetup!

Dave, after nearly crossing paths in Erfurt, I hope we can say hello in Warsaw!

Posted by
1969 posts

My RS St. Petersburg tour begins 9/07. I’m almost tempted to switch my tour once again and go to Poland.

Judy, I'm not going to be much help with your decision - because I'm doing both this year! I'm going on the St Petersburg tour in May. Originally, I was going to start in Warsaw, travel north to Gdansk and up to the Baltics, and then connect with the St Petersburg tour. But the more I researched, the longer the trips got ….you know how these things happen!!! Pretty soon, it was obvious it was two trips. So I was very excited when I found a great airfare (on SAS) for the fall and decided I could still do both this year!

There's still space on the St Petersburg tour in May :-)

Posted by
1965 posts

CwSocial,
Which May dates? There are 3 tours in May. I have a diy trip to Italy in late April.

Posted by
1969 posts

I'm booked on the tour May 18-26. It says "filling fast" so there's at least 1 space left!

That could be tricky getting your Russian VISA though, if you'll be traveling for very long in April. You'll need your passport for Italy!

Posted by
4640 posts

CWSocial, I'm glad to see you're going to Poznań. We lived there for two years and loved it.

Posted by
1969 posts

Jane, what a wonderful experience to live there! I wanted to plan a separate trip to Poland so that I could include more time in the big cities, and add time for Poznań and Toruń. I'll drop you a message...I'd love to hear your insider's view!

Posted by
2632 posts

CWSocial -- yes, would be good to say Hi. We can touch base again as we pull our itineraries together. And if you find something cool that's not in the travel guides, let me know... I'll do the same.

Valerie -- As you probably know 😊, I responded to your message.

Posted by
2259 posts

@CWsocial If you visit Poznan, make sure to also visit nearby Gniezno and Biskupin:

Gniezno is the historical cradle of Poland itself, the first capital of Poland, even before Krakow. Biskupin is a 3,000 year old Bronze Age fortified settlement, aka the "Polish Pompeii".

I've traveled a bit in this part of Poland too, so I would be happy to help, when you circle back with itinerary/questions ;-)

Posted by
1969 posts

if you find something cool that's not in the travel guides, let me know... I'll do the same.

Dave - I absolutely will! I "owe you" one for clueing me in to Oktoberfest in Erfurt last fall.

So far, the one firm item on my Warsaw schedule is the Chopin Concert in Royal Łazienki Park at Noon and 4pm on Sunday, Sept 13th. Rick Steves does mention that in his Kraków, Warsaw & Gdańsk Snapshot.

Posted by
1965 posts

I heard from the tour department that the tour was introduced at the Reunion weekend and people signed up in person.

Oh well, I’m going to follow CwSocial and Dave on your independent travels in Poland and maybe go on the tour in 2021 when it’s officially introduced with different departure dates. But, wait, I had decided to do the Best of Germany then, or, was it Scotland? I need more coffee, I’m not fully awake. I have too many places on my wish list!

Posted by
1969 posts

Hi JudyB, I think it was Germany in the spring and Scotland in the fall. Or maybe the other way around :-)

Maybe we'll see you in Poland!

Posted by
8384 posts

Judy B, I think you should consider back to back Germany and Poland ALTHOUGH there is some merit in doing totally different areas for back to backs, so maybe Scotland and Poland would be a nice combo, lolol!!

Posted by
1965 posts

CwSocial and Pam,
Y’all are too funny, haha! But, wait, I’ve been dying to go to St. Petersburg. Oh dear, my head will explode. How do I fit in my St. Petersburg tour? As it stands now, I’m on the waitlist for Poland and confirmed for St. Petersburg in September. If I get the call for Poland, I will plan to do St. Petersburg next May. Scotland, back on the list but near the top! Germany & Switzerland, too.

Thanks, you’ve made my day!

Posted by
2871 posts

This is great news! We were told last year while attending a RS class that the plans were in the works for "The Best of Poland 2021." Our wish has come true. I can envision adding another couple weeks to see more of Poland. Congrats to all who will be taking the inaugural tour! We are already committed to our self guided tour to Sicily in 2020. We will look forward to trip reports!
Thanks again for posting.

Posted by
8384 posts

Judy, I'm envisioning a large magnetic wall sized calendar showing 2020+2021 in your living room or den. You've got all the RS programs you want to take on different magnets and every day you move them around!

Posted by
1965 posts

Pam,
You are so funny! You know me too well. A magnetic map would be cool too. I wish RS would stop introducing new interesting itineraries just when I think I have my list arranged just so. What can I say? It is a first world problem.

Posted by
5 posts

My mother and I are one of the lucky ones booked on this “dress rehearsal” tour 9/8/20-9/17/20. My mother was attending the RS tour drive weekend conference and saw the ad for the tour, so I jumped on booking it online first thing Saturday morning before the conference started. It was wait listed by mid morning. This will be my first RS tour and my mother’s second.

Thanks to the RS book and this forum, I already had a 15-day DIY Poland itinerary mapped out that I wanted to book at some point this year, So the opportunity to switch to this much anticipated tour was perfect, and was actually very similar in terms of sights and cities visited, albeit shorter. I think the value for the group tour will be the passionate tour guides like Cameron Hewitt who will really bring to life the culture and political history of the Country. Being that the tour starts on a Tuesday and ends on a Thursday allows us to spend a couple extra days pre/post tour in Gdansk and Kraków to visit sights like Auschwitz not covered on the tour, and still allows us to travel weekend to weekend for a total 15-day trip that I was originally planning for.

My only regret will be missing out on visiting Wroclaw this trip, which I just don’t think I can make work due to travel distances and the format of the tour itinerary. A reason to return to Poland again in the future.

Posted by
2259 posts

My only regret will be missing out on visiting Wroclaw this trip, which I just don’t think I can make work due to travel distances and the format of the tour itinerary.

I understand your pain, Wroclaw is my favourite city in Poland! There is a PKP Intercity high-speed train that goes from Krakow to Wroclaw in around 3.5 hrs, in case you are looking for transport options :)

Posted by
1965 posts

galliegirlie,
How exciting for you to be on this very first tour! I heard about it Friday evening but it didn't occur to me to sign up right away as I'm already confirmed for the St. Petersburg Tallinn & Helsinki tour. I didn't know you can sign up for more than one tour - same dates.
Oh well, I know it will be an absolutely experience especially since you already had plans to travel there.
Btw, what is in Wroclaw that you want to see? I haven't of it before now.

Posted by
2259 posts

Hi Judy, Wroclaw is Poland's 4th largest city (behind the big 3 everyone knows), it's a smaller university city and definitely less hustle and bustle than Warsaw. It's the largest city in the historical region of Silesia, but feels very livable yet is vibrant and energetic.

At various times, Wroclaw has been part of the Kingdom of Poland, Bohemia, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, and finally back to Poland after WWII. The architectural eye candy around the old center reflects this unique history, as it incorporates a little of every country that has ruled the city - from Polish Gothic to Austrian Baroque and German Modernist.

Day trips from Wroclaw into surrounding Silesia are a variety, perhaps my favourite thing about the city. The Silesian region is a fascinating area to travel around, full of time-warped old castles, 19th century spa towns, Prussian fortresses, giant wooden Protestant churches, and rumours of hidden Nazi gold. In and around Wroclaw there are 3 UNESCO Heritage Sites. I try to get to Wroclaw every few years and I always discover something new and interesting to experience ;-)

PS - Fellow forum contributor CWsocial recently returned from a trip to Wroclaw, here is their excellent trip report: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/trip-report-wroclaw-and-swidnica

Posted by
1965 posts

Thanks, Carlos, it all sounds so very interesting. I have also bookmarked CwSocial's trip report. Thanks for including the link.

Posted by
940 posts

After some tense waiting hubby and I along with some friends from our first RS tour are confirmed on the Poland tour so now the research begins!
- How early to arrive, or go elsewhere first and just arrive in Gdansk the day before the tour begins?
- Extra things we'd like to experience or places to eat in each location along the tour, stay longer in Krakow to have more experiences or possibly visit and honor those who suffered and/or perished at Auschwitz...
- and where to travel to afterward. We'll probably try to stay in Europe for at least two or more weeks after the tour ends so there are lots of possibilities.
I'm glad I have several months to prepare!

btw, when I first saw mention of the tour it was on RS' fb page where he wrote that he was going to co-lead the Poland tour along with several of his tour guides. That was what interested me in the tour in the first place because I followed and saw all the extra things the Best of Europe tour got to do when he was along on that. That paragraph has since been removed from the page as far as I can find so I don't know if that means he is or isn't going to co-lead.

Judy B, it ain't over 'til it's over. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Posted by
1965 posts

Nance,
I will be joining you on this tour! Just called the RS office in response to their email that there were 2 places left on the waitlist. I called and there was one place left so I signed up. They had to transfer my booking from the St. Petersburg Tallinn Helsinki Tour. Yippee! I can’t wait.

This is the third year I’ve put off going on the St. Petersburg tour. Maybe next year?
This is so exciting. Yes, I will be going into planning mode for the next few months.
I will likely go to Auschwitz post-tour. Lots of fun ahead planning.

Posted by
4640 posts

Judy B: Hooray! You must report back as soon as the tour is over.

Posted by
2259 posts

@Nance - I've traveled around Poland a good number of times these past few years, always discovering something new and exciting about the country, I'm so happy more and more people are themselves now discovering Poland and her charms. Here would be my answers to your queries:

1 - I'd probably arrive in Gdansk 2-3 days before the tour begins, to acclimate your jet lag if nothing else, the tour looks pretty demanding. You could consider a relaxing day trip up to Sopot, a turn-of-the century seaside resort town, a favourite of the German Kaiser. Farther north is Gdynia, the heart of Polish maritime traditions, with a number of maritime/naval museums, even further north is Słowiński National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site, which comprises of a unique desert of sand dunes on the Pomeranian coast. Or just stay in Gdansk and explore the city, I think the tour only really has one full day there, which is frankly lacking.

2 - If staying longer in Krakow, also consider these fantastic sights -

For Castle Ruins - Trail of the Eagles' Nest Castles

For Mountain Hiking - Polish Tatra Mountains (Zakopane)

For Fine Art - National Museum in Krakow

For Opulent Palaces - Schloss Pleß at Pszczyna (the Versailles of Silesia)

3 - Take the high speed train from Krakow to Wroclaw (my favourite city in Poland), then on to Dresden in Germany etc.

Posted by
1965 posts

Carlos,
These are great ideas, thank you! I usually arrive 2-3 days early before a tour. I’m trying to think about how many days post-tour, maybe 4 days.

I’m very excited about this tour!

Posted by
5 posts

Judy B and Nance, we should start a running list on this thread of the list of confirmed attendees on our Poland Trip. With my mother and I, its up to 5 already out of 24 that have found this thread. Pretty high percentage. It’s a good opportunity to possibly coordinate some post tour excursions as well.

I’m planning to have us fly out on Saturday from California and arriving Sunday late afternoon into Gdansk. I travel well and don’t suffer from jet lag, so we will have all Monday and Tuesday before the tour to further explore the Gdansk area. However most of the sites/museums are closed on Monday, and even popular walking tours and food tours I’ve looked up aren’t available on Mondays, so I’m thinking about taking the train to Oliwa to see the Cathedral and then maybe just walk around Gdansk. From everything I’ve read and seen so far, the other tri-cities or Westerplatte don’t really interest me. So then that leaves Tuesday to fully explore all the Old Town sites, churches and Towers before the tour start.

After the end of Tour in Kraków, I know that I for sure want to do the 6-hr study tour for Auschwitz, which basically becomes a full day event with travel to and from. And then another day I am thinking about doing the salt mines and then visiting some remainder sites in Kraków not covered by the tour (Ex. ryneck museum, tower climbs, additional churches)

Posted by
940 posts

Oh Judy, I am so happy and excited for you!!!!! I was telling Pam last night that I hoped you were able to end up on the tour and now you are. Yippee!!!!

Gallie - Nice to meet you here pre-tour. I've just started searching the forum for Poland trip reports and have bookmarked a couple to refer back to. I haven't delved into research enough to see that most places are closed on Monday so thank you for that info. I can confirm two additional attendees (Marlene and Tom) who we became friends with on our BOE tour. They are both very friendly, considerate, mix well with others, and are delightful travel companions.

So now we are up to 7/24 that we know of.

Judy and Gallie - maybe we can coordinate to visit Auschwitz together? Worth a thought. It appears that we would need to dedicate the complete day to just that so Gallie, I think you are correct in choosing the salt mine for an additional day.

Carlos - thank you very much for taking the time and making the effort to give me additional information/advice. People like you are a treasure to the forum. I had seen your advice of the Eagle's Nest Castles and am intrigued by them as well as a possible visit to Wroclaw.

Posted by
1965 posts

This is amazing news! 7/24 of us are connected to the forum with folks like Carlos who can give us good advice about the sights. I know this will be a tour of a lifetime!
I’ve been checking airfare pricing and the cost is not as high as I expected. A few hundred dollars more than for my flights for the St. Petersburg tour. Only one connection, too. Not so bad.
I have to change my Travel Guard policy once again! They are going to talk about the crazy lady who went from Germany to Russia and Poland!
So happy to connect with you all on the forum and I like the idea of coordinating an Auschwitz day trip and perhaps other sights.

I’m glad to know Mondays are days when things are not open in Gdansk.

Posted by
2259 posts

@Nance and @Judy B - I'm just happy to help and share some of my experiences with fellow travelers, for me planning and research is half the fun :)

Posted by
4640 posts

We loved Poland, but it has been decades since we've been there. Every time someone mentions a sight or activity on this thread, it brings back good memories. I'm enjoying this!

Posted by
5 posts

I'm just happy to help and share some of my experiences with fellow travelers, for me planning and research is half the fun :]

Carlos, I totally agree! Planning and researching travel itineraries is a huge hobby of mine. I plan trips that aren’t even booked yet, just to have them as options for future travel. I’m a bit of a travel nerd. ;)

Posted by
19160 posts

I spent 5 weeks in Poland in 2018 and still have many places I want to visit. Those interested in 20th-century history will appreciate the many modern museums and memorials that are totally English-accessible. If I had extra time, I'd spend it all in Poland rather than heading to another country.

Posted by
5 posts

Judy and Gallie - maybe we can coordinate to visit Auschwitz together? Worth a thought. It appears that we would need to dedicate the complete day to just that so Gallie, I think you are correct in choosing the salt mine for an additional day.

Totally an option we should discuss and coordinate together as we collect more tour members! The museum online booking system seems straight forward enough for individuals (looks like the 6hr study tour has 20 people max), but there may even be other options available If wanting to turn this into a private study tour with a small group. At minimum having a small group to maybe share a shuttle service to and from Auschwitz together could save both time time & money.

Posted by
8384 posts

Oh gosh, this is SO awesome for the 3 (or 7, lol) of you all! What fun to be on the inaugural tour and to work out some separate visits ahead of time. This is so excellent and one of the best examples of how this forum community works.

Posted by
1969 posts

Judy B, I think it's so cool that you're going on this first Poland tour! I will keep my eyes open for all of you when we cross paths in Warsaw for a few days!

At minimum having a small group to maybe share a shuttle service to and from Auschwitz together could save both time & money.

In the fall of 2018, my hotel helped me to book a group minibus tour to Auschwitz. It was 160zl (approx. $43 then, slightly less now.) The minibus picked us up at our hotel and took us to both sites, where the local guide gave the tour. You can do it cheaper on your own, but I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group.

Posted by
940 posts

Thanks for that info CW. The comfort and ease of transport after a tiring tour might be just the thing we need, especially as that will be a long day.