I started planning a Poland trip in fall 2019 and I nearly had a DIY trip all mapped out when my mother called me from the Rick Steves yearly conference in January 2020 asking me if I wanted to sign-up for the inaugural RS Best of Poland tour to take place in September 2020 (a special fundraising version of the tour before it rolled out to the public in 2021). I quickly considered and since the itinerary was very close to what I had already outlined, I said let’s do it! As we are all aware, that tour never happened, and then the RS Best of Poland tour got rolled out to the public for the 2022 season, so two years later we were finally able to make our Poland adventure a reality in mid-September 2022. Leading up to our vacation, there were only a handful of RS Best of Poland Tour reports posted on the forum, so I made it a goal of mine to post a review (now a very belated review, sorry) with as many notes, tidbits, tips and details as possible to help inform the next wave of folks wanting to take this wonderful tour. I apologize in advance as this report will be VERY long and detailed, so stick around if you are interested.
Many people asked me ahead of the tour and while on tour, why Poland? I’m not sure I ever had a satisfactory answer. About 3/4 of our tour group had some sort of family history tie to Poland, but not us. There is just something about the central/eastern European countries and culture that I find fascinating (a previous 2018 solo trip to Prague, Budapest & Vienna greatly shaped my vision of wanting to explore more of this area), and for someone completely obsessed with architecture and history, you really can’t get any better. Our 18-day vacation adventure in Poland did not disappoint!
2022 was not only our “revenge travel” make-up year, but it also held big birthday milestones for myself (40) and my mother (65). In June 2022, we went on a RS My Way Alpine tour with extra days pre/post tour in Salzburg and Chamonix. My mother had previously been on the RS Best of Portugal tour with my sister in 2019, but these two 2022 trips were my first experience on a RS tour, both non-guided and guided. I use RS guidebooks and audio tours as the basis for all my travel adventures, so I was excited to finally be participating in an actual RS tour. I am a very experienced traveler with a love of trip planning (my main hobby), and my mother just loves to tag along. Although many may still find my style of travel to be too “busy”, believe me I have greatly scaled down in recent years and have enjoyed spending more days in each city to spread out the activities. My mother survived both trips this year, so I think I did okay 😉
Our Grand Poland adventure included 2 nights pre-tour in Gdansk, the 9-night RS Tour, 2 nights additional post-tour in Krakow, and then traveling to Wroclaw to spend 3 more nights to round out our trip. This year we discovered Premium Economy flights and I don’t think I can ever go back to regular economy. The extra seat width, leg space and comfort is well worth the upcharge. This year I waited longer than normal to final book flights and hotels (due to covid what-ifs) and was able to book Lufthansa premium Economy RT from LAX to Frankfort ~$1,300 in May, with short hops to/from Gdansk and Wroclaw to book end our trip. No flight issues or major delays; I now consider the run/speed walk to make connections as “normal”. We each traveled with a carry-on size bag that we checked, and a backpack and purse that we carried on the plane with us. We were expecting much warmer weather than what we ended up experiencing, so our wardrobe was a bit thin and several days we were very chilly and damp. So, lesson learned is to pack more layers for bundling up.
Now onto the tour review.