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Poland Trip Report

We were in Poland from 9/9 thru 9/28. I posted already with our experience and thoughts in regards to mask wearing and other COVID prevention measures as well as the availability of COVID tests for return. I usually plan quite extensively for trips. This one I planned in about 3 weeks with tremendous help from acraven, Carlos and CW Social, and probably others I'm forgetting. I will just provide the a brief outline of the itinerary and details where interesting or helpful. In short, we had a wonderful time and found the Polish people to be quite friendly and kind.

We flew into Krakow. I decided to get zloty at an ATM in town to avoid any bank fees. We took the train to the main train station which was easy EXCEPT, I thought I had purchased tickets from the machine with a CC and it turned out that my "ticket" was in fact a receipt that the transaction was declined. This was discovered, of course, by the train employee who then tried to help me with the onboard machine. Turned out I needed a CC with a PIN associated with it. None of our 4 cards has an associated PIN. The employee stood by the machine with me for a while as I tried card after card. When she left, a man came over and handed me 40 zloty (that's $10!) He told me it was no big deal and we should enjoy our time in Krakow. I told him I didn't know if the train personnel was even coming back to collect from me, he said then use it for some fun on him! So. . .either get cash at the airport or make sure to have a CC with a PIN (for the whole rest of the trip, the only time we needed a PIN was for city buses in Krakow and the train to the Warsaw airport. We used cash for those)

Also, in regard to money, we had no issues with any quick attempts at charging us in USD, we were always offered a choice. At the popular donut place in old town, the employee may have tried to cheat me or just made a mistake. It struck me as suspicious. I gave her 20 zloty and I got change for 10. When I pointed this out, she fixed the error.

We stayed 4 nights at the Hotel Wielopole. The location was fabulous about .7 miles from the train station and just on the edge of the old town. It was very clean, the staff was nice, the room was quite small and the beds a bit too soft. There is an ATM next door that did not charge fees on my credit union ATM card.
Restaurants:
Miod Malina, nice wine, nicely prepared and presented food, a little pricier than others
Hamsa, Jewish Quarter, LOVED this place, wonderful, well priced food, friendly wait staff
Morskie Oko, great outdoor location, good wine list, food was pretty good, helpful waiter
Polskie Smaki, crazy cheap, HORRIBLE wine, get beer, some of the food wasn't to our taste, but we had plenty we liked.

My husband took a mini bus to Auschwitz. It seemed like the tour experience was a bit different from what RS and acraven described. My impression was that it may have been due to COVID. He would have liked to do some photography, but it was too difficult with the group. When he was at Auschwitz, I went to the folk/ethnographic museum in the Jewish quarter. It was just what I was looking for and it's free on Sunday (and sparsely visited) I went back to Hamsa for a small lunch and walked around the two Jewish cemeteries. Other activities in Krakow were the Castle Complex, RS walking tours of Old Town and the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz) and MANY churches. Favorite churches were the Franciscan Church with Art Nouveau painting, St. Peter and Paul, with statues of all the apostles, and St. Mary's Basilica, but we go into every church we see. We spent considerable time at Schindler's factory, partly due to trying to avoid unmasked people in tight quarters, a few with deep coughs. UGG. We got a little turned around after getting off the bus on the way to the factory. An older gentleman saw me struggling with my navigation and tried to help. When we couldn't communicate other than "Schindler" he walked us a few blocks to get us on track.

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8582 posts

Thanks jules m. Can you elaborate on the Auschwitz tour experience being different than expected? Too rushed?

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We liked Krakow and there is plenty to do. 4 days was ok, but five might have allowed for a more leisurely pace. Next, we took the train to Wroclaw. We had purchased 2nd class, it was crowded with un or partially masked people, and hot. After that trip, we decided to use 1st class, when available. Not only was it calmer but the windows were far bigger which was nice. In Wroclaw, we stayed at the Europeum, which was almost a mile from the train station (we had decided to avoid buses, and we like walking, anyway) and again, just outside of the old town. The people at the hotel were very nice, even sat us in their closed restaurant, provided juice to go with our picnic lunches, while they prioritized getting our room ready. Our room and bathroom was huge and the beds very comfortable. It is a business hotel, so some might find it a little characterless. However, staff were an excellent resource for planning.
Restaurants:
Bernards- on town square. Can't recommend this place enough. Great service and beautifully prepared and plated food, and good wine by the glass.
Wroclawska-also a great place, pub like with big assortment of beers, Polish food, and fantastic chocolate pierogi!
Pierogarnia Stary Mlyn--We noticed this chain is all over in the Polish towns we visited. It was good, we got a sampler plate.
Whiskey In a Jar-another chain, stopped for a cocktail on the town square, didn't eat, food looked good, massive quantities

We wished we had another day, it's a beautiful city with a lot to do. We looked at churches, the university area including the mathematical tower and went over to Cathedral Island which is the oldest part of the town. Nobody seems to mention it, but we went to the palace just down the street from the Europeum. We saw enough palace rooms to satisfy us and then spent a lot of time in their museum which provides just the perfect amount of Polish history for people new to Poland. I highly recommend the palace if just for the extensive and quite interesting history exhibit. Some of the smaller museums in town were closed, I think due to COVID.

EDITED TO ADD: We walked around the river and happened upon their market hall. I love a market! Also we went to the Ratusz museum. Not extensive, but inexpensive.

We took a day trip to Swidnica. CW Social provided excellent information on using the minibuses. We still had difficulty finding them. If you walk through the train station to the bus station and then facing the bus station, go left around the building to the back. They are private buses and you will find the buses diagonally across the street behind the bus station. They are by a little store that sells candy, newspapers, etc. I had asked in the bus station where to find the buses and once again and kind person led the way around the building. The Peace church was amazing and the Swidnica town square was picturesque. It was raining, so that was too bad, but still a great day. The cathedral was essentially closed to tourists due to renovation.

From Wroclaw, we took the train to Poznan. We had hoped to stay in Gniezno, but hotels were full. We ended up liking Poznan well enough. We stayed at Hotel Stare Miasto which does an excellent breakfast. This hotel was fairly strict with COVID rules. Thanks to acraven and Carlos we did not get permanently lost in the train station!
Restaurants:
Pyra Bar--potatoes many ways and soups. We liked it. Quick and cheap and tasty and 2 blocks from Hotel Stare Miastro
Brovaria--really enjoyed this place, craft beers, beer cocktails, nice assortment of wine and nice renditions of Polish food.
We did a lot of walking around Poznan and walked to their "Cathedral Island" area. We again visited lots of churches, we saw a synagogue on the map and made an effort to go visit. What we found was the building stripped of the name and ornamentation. The Nazis had removed everything and put in a pool. This really disturbed me, I'm not sure why, because they did much worse.

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We took a day trip from Poznan to Gniezno for the cathedral and history museum. We found out why we couldn't get a hotel. It was the Cathedral's patron saint of youth's day. (Forgive me if I said this wrong, I'm not Catholic) There were massive numbers of buses with teens accompanied probably by their parish priests as well as lots of other groups. They were unable to get everyone in the cathedral! I asked a priest (who turned out to be an Archbishop!) for a suggestion of a time during the day that we might find a block of time to visit the cathedral. He sent us over to the cathedral museum which we weren't going to visit, but it was suggested that we spend an hour in the museum and then get into the cathedral early afternoon. The museum was free that day and we ended up enjoying it and learned a lot about the cathedral as well as history of Gniezno and Poland. Unfortunately because of the crowds we ended up not having enough time to get to the history museum which is a distance from the cathedral. We did get to see kind of a cool procession of priests and higher--at least 100, and I think the crowd all sang the Polish national anthem.

Just to make the day interesting, I accidentally left my camera case (containing a full memory card from Krakow) in a locker at the cathedral museum. I realized it was missing, when we were about to board the train to return to Poznan. So I sent my husband with the ticket back to Poznan while I ran back across town to the cathedral. I was worried, because I was sure my husband didn't know the name of the hotel and wouldn't know how to get to it. (I'm the trip planner) Then I worried more when I remembered the warning that the train station can be an abyss. Fortunately, I was the one whose train went to the dreaded Platform 4b.

From Poznan, we took the train to Torun. For both Poznan and Torun, the train stations were not all that convenient to our inns. It was about 1.2 miles from the Poznan train station to Hotel Stare Miasto and about the same from the Torun Glowny to our Hotel (Hotel Petite Fleur). For Torun we realized we could stay on the train for one more stop and use the Miasto station. Visitors to Torun may want to check the location of their inn and see which train station might be better, although the Miasto station seems to get fewer trains. Hotel Petite Fleur is in the old town, reasonably priced and it is wonderful. Staff is excellent and breakfasts, are beyond amazing. There is a French chef who prepares the hot portion of the meal specifically for each guest with about six different choices.
Restaurants for Torun:
Hotel Spichrz Restaurant, traditional Polish,rustic surrounding
Manekin, very inexpensive, staff a little unorganized, my order was a little messed up, but it still tasted great
Chleb i Wino, well priced, elegantly presented food. Good wine choices

We did the walking tour of Torun and then wandered around a lot more. We visited a few of the museums and obviously, a lot of churches. ;) One church that is very worth seeing, is, Church of the Virgin Mary. There is extensive information about their Parish priest during WWII, and how he eventually ended up in a concentration camp, and continued to minister to people. He died just months before people were liberated from the camps. So sad. If I understand correctly, there is a movement to get him "beatified" which might be the first step to sainthood, I think. We encountered discussion of this in Gdansk.

Our stay in Torun was made a bit complicated by some movie being filmed. The first day it was very startling to come around a corner and see Nazi flags hanging everywhere. It was interesting to see the scenes being set up and then watch the filming. It did make it harder to get around town and into some of the museums. I was able to find out a bit about the movie. Torun was being used as a setting for Frankfurt.

EDITED TO ADD: The hotel does not have an elevator. There is a tight spiral staircase.

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2483 posts

Thank you for this informative report, I am bookmarking it. You did a wonderful job planning this trip in 3 weeks, impressive!

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3949 posts

Wow what an incredible adventure you guys have had! From meeting the Archbishop of Gniezno (probably one of the holiest men in Poland) to being on the set of a WWII film in Torun. I eagerly await the next parts of your report :)

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Side note on trains. We found many in Poland speak English, especially in hotels and restaurants. Not so much train stations. I think this is because the age of people in the ticket booths is generally 50+ so they tend to have not picked up English as a young person. The train employees were always nice, it was just hard to communicate. Sometimes, I started the transaction on my phone and would take a screen shot, that way the employee had a general idea what I wanted. Other times I would write down departure city with an arrow to destination, then write approximate time (military) and then "klasa 1" and 60+ (which gets a 30% discount) When we'd run into someone particularly helpful, and we were communicating well, I'd buy additional tickets further on in the trip. We did a day trip from Torun to Bydgoszcz, I had purchased that ticket a few days earlier and hadn't planned to, so when she asked if I wanted any more tickets, I said yes, and tried to write the name and couldn't get past the "d" and she chuckled and nodded. Then she asked if I needed the return and we were trying to decide on time, I said, 15:00, and she said, "no! Beautiful!" So we all decided that 17:30 was the best time, and boy was she right! I wished we'd stayed over night in Bydgoszcz. It's incredibly beautiful and there is much to do. There is a walking tour of the city and of the old town and you can get it from the city tourism office. Its history is fascinating, and it's on the confluence of two rivers (one is the Vistula which goes thru Warsaw). St. Vincent dePaul and Saints Nicolas and Martin are stunning and very unique in their interior design. There is some on Bydgoszcz in the "In Your Pocket" guide. I also got information by googling it. Do not miss this city!

From Torun, we took the train to Gdansk. Another stunning town. The RS walking tour does a good job providing an initial overview. One thing he doesn't do is cover much along the river or the islands. That whole area is so pretty, especially at the "Golden Hour" or at night. Hotels are a little more expensive, we stayed at the Celestin for 3 nights (4 would have been nice) which was well located. About a half a mile from most anything including the train station, but it a little further away from the Solidarity Center/Square. We stayed in an "attic" room, which has some fun views, AC when other rooms do not. You do have to walk the last flight of stairs, the elevator only goes up to the 4th floor, the attic rooms are floor 5. From Gdansk we took a day trip to Malbork which we enjoyed. About 4-5 hours does it, the audio tour is pretty good. In Gdansk we went to the Solidarity Center and the WWII museum. The WWII museum is heavily centered on Poland, and as Cameron Hewitt has said, it leans pretty Nationalistic. It is a little hard to navigate the rooms at some points. A person that reads most everything and wants to see most exhibits would need at least 6 hours. I was a little disappointed in their staff. There was a line to buy tickets to get in, 4 employees behind the counter, one selling tickets. A second opens up, but then the first one closes when there's quite a line. Then staff starts shooing people out of the museum a good 40 minutes before close. I was reading some material at the end, literally steps from the turnstyle, it was 5 minutes to close and the guard pretty much forced me out. Just wished they had made as much of an effort to get people in as they do to get them out!
Restaurants:
Pierogarnia Mandu- by the train station, always have a wait, they make all the pierogi to order! Recommended!
Lao Thai- on the river, really fresh, delicious
Kresowa-cute place, just off the "Royal Way", food is excellent, prices are good, mix of Polish and Ukraine food. We had a really sweet, hardworking waitress who had moved from Ukraine. We had a sample of horseradish liquor. Very potent, interesting and must be an acquired taste!

EDITED TO ADD: Celestin attic rooms are cheaper, too.

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3878 posts

What a fantastic trip report! I'm loving reading it and, like Judy, have bookmarked it for further reading.

Speaking of priests, Father Jerzy Popieluszko made his final public appearance in Bydgoszcz in 1984 before being beaten to death later the same night by two security agents who dumped his body into a reservoir on the Vistula River. Father Jerzy ran afoul of the government due to delivering a weekly Mass for the Fatherland at his Warsaw church that featured anti-Communist themes and drew crowds that spilled into the streets surrounding the church. The government blamed rogue agents for the priest's death.

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4795 posts

I can't wait to use your trip report when I finally get my do-over on my 2020 Poland itinerary. Adding Bydgoszcz to the itinerary. Thank you!

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2483 posts

Jules,
The word is “beatified” for the priest in WWII who ministered to his parishioners during the Nazi horrors. You mentioned you think he is on the path to becoming a saint, I’m not Catholic but think beatification is part of the process. Torun sounds like a very interesting town.
I’m glad you had such a lovely visit. I liked your reference to the “dreaded Platform 4b”, funny!

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27328 posts

I see jules had the same reaction I did to many places: could use more time. I think it's partly because we don't grow up reading about Polish cities in the same way we do about Venice, Rome or even Siena, so we have less basis for estimating time required.

And I, too, ran into a significant ticket line at the WW II museum in Gdansk, though it happened on only one of my three visits. I can tell you exactly how long it takes to read everything in English in that museum and watch all the subtitled videos: 20 hours.

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5888 posts

Thanks, Judy. After all the churches we've visited in Europe, you'd think I'd be more educated in Catholicism! Also, after rereading some of this, I feel like I need to do some editing because I sound illiterate, but I'm just trying to type this while it's fresh in my mind, and I'm also packing, cooking for another 3 week trip, leaving in a few days.

Carlos, I was embarrassed, because I called the archbishop, "Father". I didn't see the sash and I was just trying to be respectful. He was very nice. I could tell during the procession that he was a person of higher honor.

Dave, thanks for the additional info. I had also read that Bydgoszsz was also the scene of an attempted coup by the German minority in '39 and then when the Nazis got there they massacred many of the Polish residents. The priest's picture was all over Poland, and I had assumed he was alive and a "higher up" in the church, like an Archbishop, but realized in Gdansk, that he had died (at the hands of the Germans) and there was a movement to get him to sainthood. In my opinion, I think he's a saint already, amazing history!

Ann, exactly. I really am a history buff, but I knew little about Poland's. It's hard to take in a lot of new information, when I don't have a "hook" to hang it on, if that makes sense. My husband is a WWII buff and he was frustrated with the lack of time in the museum. We both really enjoyed the information about Polish resistance, especially the detail about a nurse who helped to smuggle Jewish babies out.

Also, I'm maxing out on characters, which makes it hard to edit, but the Solidarity Center was Fabulous! We learned so much. We were there 4 hours and could have been there longer. It also has an excellent audio tour, included.

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2616 posts

Your report really makes me want to visit Poland again--I spent 8 days there in 2015, split between Krakow and Warsaw with a day in Gdansk, and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. As a WWII history buff since my early teens it had long been on my radar, but as you say, we don't really hear much about their fascinating history as compared to Italy, France, etc. A re-visit will include some smaller cities, I found their train system very easy to use.

I was absolutely enchanted by Krakow, and my favorite thing was hearing the haunting hejnal every hour from St Mary's. Glad you enjoyed the ethnographic museum, I always seek them out as I love all things hand-made and the display of pisanki (or pysanky, depending on the language) eggs was especially incredible to see, filling an entire room.

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From Gdansk we took the train to Warsaw, and that was not without incident, probably the biggest snafu of the trip. When we got to our 1st class compartment, there were 2 seats left, so we sat. Later I noticed that a couple was in the window seats which were supposed to be ours. I asked about their tickets and another passenger intervened and noted that our tickets were for the following day! (The mistake occurred because when I purchased the tickets days earlier on the fly because of the helpful ticket agent, I got the date from the subject heading of an email to my BnB. I had forgotten that I added a day to the Warsaw stay, but the subject heading of the thread didn't change!) I didn't know what to do and the train was leaving so we sat. With in a few minutes the man who said our tickets were wrong left the compartment for quite some time, and I figured he was "turning us" in as stow aways! When he came back, using google translate on his phone, he said the conductor was many cars away. I then asked if we should just stay on the train until we were kicked off, and he replied, yes (we were using our phones to communicate) That train trip could be a comedy movie. The older gal at the window kept saying, "train man comes, go to toilet". After a few stops, new passengers came on to claim our seats. Still not knowing what to do, my husband stood in the area between cars with others that didn't have seats. I stood in the little aisle outside the compartments. Several people, including the google translate man, tried to give me their seats and offered me candy. I'm sure I looked pathetic. An hour before Warsaw, I see the conductor through the car window asking my husband for his ticket, so he throws me under the bus and tells him, my wife makes the reservations, and I had the ticket and was in the next car. So the conductor comes in and asks for the ticket, scans it and moves on??? So I'm not sure if he knew or if the computer missed it. So then the man in my "husband's" seat, gets off the train and my husband and I go back into the compartment and sit down. Then the older gentleman gets out of flask of some red vodka and pours it into little cups for all of us. It tastes like cough medicine but enjoyable anyway. Then my "google translate" friend shows me a message that says essentially that we could turn in the tickets we had purchased as unused, and as he grabs his items and gets off the train, I realize that he is likely a priest.

I share this not to show how dumb and careless I was, but just another indicator of how very nice the people in Poland are.

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27328 posts

What a great train story! I find fellow travelers very helpful when I've gotten into a pickle.

I almost bought a ticket for the wrong month in France. I wondered why I had been sent away from the ticket window to a separate ticket office. Fortunately, the ticket agent repeated the name of the month and that woke me up.

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Our train to Warsaw terminated at Warsaw Central. It was an easy approximately mile walk (straight shot, no cobblestones) to Chopin Boutique B and B. We enjoyed this well priced BnB (about 95 USD) with wonderful organic, fresh breakfasts. The location to Old Town was excellent. The room and bed were fine. I encountered a first for a mid priced accommodation, a magnifying mirror in the bathroom! I'm not sure if the room had AC, but there were fans and we were comfortable. We didn't see the staff much, because I think the main office was on a different wing and it was rare for someone to be in the lobby when we came in. The other thing they might consider working on was that there were very few outlets in the room. We made do, except there was a nice coffee maker and tea kettle in the room, but the only place to plug it in that we found was to balance it on the bathroom sink. I think they could move a wall unit, and plug in an extension cord for the beverage makers and the problem would be solved.

We spent most of our time walking around the area. We did the RS walking tour and also did a lot of walking along the river. We visited pretty much all the churches within walking distances and went to the Royal castle. Visitors that enjoy churches should know that the RS guidebook makes what I consider some significant errors in their description of the churches on the Royal Way. He completely misses a church on the walk, but then its description shows up under St. Anne's. St. Anne's does have a lot of faux finishes and illusions of domes and columns. However, it is the Church of the Nuns of the Visitation that had the bow of the ship. I think its St. Anne's that has the apse behind the altar that was only minimally damaged in WWII, not sure which church had Chopin as an organist because I didn't see the reference in either. RS and/or Cameron Hewitt probably have a malady shared by many that churches at a certain point all just blur together.

We enjoyed the tour of the Royal Castle, the audio tour is excellent and the details go beyond just castle architecture and furnishing. We spent some down time in the garden. We wanted to go to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, but was a bit of a walk, and Warsaw was seeming fairly crowded. We only had budgeted 2 1/2 days for Warsaw mostly because we ran out of days but also because we knew we'd like the other Polish cities better. We did really like the RS and other guidebooks point out some of the buildings related to the Nazi occupation and Communist time period. Make sure to go into Hotel Bristol (act like you have a room there) It was interesting to walk the river from the Castle up to Jerusalem avenue, past some neat parks and the Coperinicus museum. Praga where the Russians "hung out" while the Germans battled Warsaw and then destroyed the city, was visible.

Restaurants:
Thai Me Up, fresh healthy food, nice wine,recommend
Bibenda, trendy, almost vegetarian, EXCELLENT wine by the glass, 12zl!, delicious food combinations, not at all Polish as RS described, recommend
Zapiecek, we were getting a little "pierogi'd" out, but this place offers lots of different combinations that included sausages, other meats, potato pancakes. It's a chain, too, but fairly good.

Random food thoughts:
We tried many kind of vodkas. In a drink, we couldn't taste them, on their own, to us, they ranged from ok to cough medicine. I tried Mead, didn't love. Tried Hard Cider, and still don't care for it. (Except for Stella Artois cider, which doesn't make sense). At about $1 a scoop, we ate too much gelato. Loved the donuts. Can't beat the A. Blikle fillings, especially the caramel. Preferred the Dobra Paczkarnia dough which was melt in your mouth. It wasn't my mother's recipe, I really do dislike Potato pancakes. They make me gag. Not sure why, because I like most foods. Unfortunately, a couple restaurants had what looked like interesting stews, etc. that were served on potato pancakes.

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We took the train from Warsaw Powisle which was just a couple minutes walk from the BnB to the airport. Ridiculously cheap. Like $1 for the two of us. Here's a little beef. It would seem that most Delta/KLM/AirFrance options that go to Paris or Amsterdam leave at about 6am. So the recommendation is to get to the airport 3 hours early (which is dumb, because the airline employees aren't even there until 2 hours early). So then travelers would leave to the airport about 4 hours in advance. So is a person supposed to leave a hotel at 2am? So you'd wake up at about 1am to get ready? That's a chunk of change for a couple hours of sleep. I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway because I'd worry that we'd miss the alarm. Not that big of a deal, but doesn't make sense. Plus, I don't think the train ran after about 11pm. So for us, we got to the airport at 11pm or so, and lounged/slept with a bunch of other people. And Warsaw, do you keep the airport at freezing to discourage those of us that camp out at the airport?

EDITED TO ADD: In regards to coming back and the U.S./COVID requirements. We did have negative antigen tests (see my previous post) We were sent a link from DELTA to fill out a health report for admission to U.S. It needed to be done prior to arriving at the gate. The online form didn't work for me or for my husband, so we worried about it. At the airport gate in Amsterdam, the KLM staff was distributing paper copies of the brief questionnaire, and I mean, BRIEF. We had to complete it prior to boarding which was just a "X" the box and sign. I don't recall anyone ever looking at it. Our negative COVID test was reviewed for about 10 seconds at the Warsaw check in. I don't recall anyone ever looking at it again. Don't take this as, don't bother with any of this, I'm just saying don't stress about it.

EDITED TO ADD: So, this was anything but brief or an outline of our vacation. What can I say, I'm verbose.

Another random thought. I feel bad about some of the venues we skipped. I feel like people should educate themselves on history and current affairs to be good citizens and well informed electors. I feel bad that I skipped Auschwitz (Stan, when I next see my husband, I will ask about Auschwitz) I just wasn't up for something that was going to depress me deeply. I also know that Warsaw Uprising and the POLAN museum are excellent and we opted out because it or transportation would probably be crowded and we really wanted to wander and dig a little deeper into churches and other places in the walking tours. We did go to the Uprising Monument which is superb and the Tomb of the Unknown, etc. When my close friend, a Jewish woman, heard I was going to Poland and not these important places, she was appalled. I told her I was already feeling disillusioned and overwhelmed with "stuff". I also told her I don't even get why people can be so horrible, and I'm not sure that any knowledge of history prevents reoccurrence. She then responded that A. it was my vacation and not hers and B. I'm probably not the type of person that "needs" to view these things. So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

EDITED TO ADD: Trains are almost ridiculously cheap, especially with the over 60 discount. Trains run often and are easy to use. In other countries, the difference in comfort between 1st and 2nd class was minimal. In Poland there was a fair amount of difference, plus with COVID 1st made sense to us. The high speed train costs quite a bit more especially when purchasing tickets at shorter notice. We could have taken a high speed train from Gdansk to Warsaw and would have reduced the time from 3.5 hours to 2.5 hours, the difference was enough that we just took the slower train. Also, I'm told the high speed trains are newer and more comfortable.

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447 posts

Thank you for sharing your great trip report! Poland is high on my list of places to visit as I have never been. Maybe in the summer of 2023!

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3878 posts

So, this was anything but brief or an outline of our vacation. What
can I say, I'm verbose.

I adore this trip report just as it is! Great details. Great information. Great reflections. Excellent job.

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2483 posts

That might be the best train story yet with a Good Samaritan! I think most people are nice and understand how easy it is to make mistakes when you are traveling in another country. So glad that worked out for you!

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3878 posts

the detail about a nurse who helped to smuggle Jewish babies out.

Another story along these lines is Irena Sendler, a social worker in Warsaw (who did a lot of medical-type things) who smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto.

A great read: Irena's Children by Tilar Mazzeo.

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106 posts

Thank you so much for this trip report!! My sisters and I are doing the RS Poland tour this coming May. We are going a few days early and staying a few days post tour to do some traveling on our own. Your report will be very useful when we start planning.

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4795 posts

Reading your trip report is tonic for this wannabe traveler's soul. I can't wait to get back to Poland and will add time to my Warsaw itinerary for churches and walks along the river. I haven't had a good overdose on churches for several trips. I think my plan for Warsaw is up from 1 week to about 2 now!

Your mention of the train discount has added a silver lining to missing my 2020 trip; I will feel so smug when I redo with those cheaper tickets! Which of course I'm already more than spending on additional time planned in Warsaw.

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5888 posts

Many places give a senior discount. Sometimes it's 60+, sometimes its 65+. Just ask. It was amusing at the WWII museum. For women, the senior discount is 60+, for men the senior discount starts at 65+. So I got a discount and my husband did not. There is an audio tour at the WWII. It was extra, we didn't get it. However, there are signs and I found no need for the audio tour.

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8582 posts

jules m, yes its easy to get churched out. On our trip to Italy, my wife wanted to go in every church we saw, and take a photo of the names. She gave up when in Rome, we were at an intersection and there was a big church on all four corners.

But, did you visit the church on the main road in Warsaw where Chopin's heart is buried (just his Polish heart)?

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Stan, yes, the Church of the Holy Cross (in English). We did have to return 3 times to finally get in. Those darn Polish actually attend church! ;) The church has other interesting attributes as well. There is a chapel for the victims of Katyn (Russia massacred about 20,00 POW). There is a chapel for people with "hopeless causes" to pray. There is chapel dedicated to John Paul II. Well, I think every church did. Also, I think every town had a Janna Pawla II (??Sp) street. They love him and boy what a kick in the teeth to the Communist Government when he was made pope! Plus, he was very vocal and active. He had an interesting life. We saw where he lived (I think its called "Bishop's Palace") prior to being made pope and would stay when he visited Krakow. Apparently he would lean out the window in the evening and talk to people on the street. They'd talk religion, communist government, soccer, etc.

Incidentally, we try to be very careful and respectful to parishioners. There was another church on the same street as Church of the Holy Cross we were visiting. There were just a couple people in pews as we walked around admiring the church. All of a sudden, there was an announcement and I just caught the tail end of it, but it said, "Leave Now!" I was sure that couldn't be the church and must have been something outside. Nope, it was a church announcement.

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Thanks for the great report! As you say, there is simply never enough time for everything, so we have to make choices and yours sound wonderful! Poland and is probably 2-3 years away for me, but this will be helpful!

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5888 posts

Quick Update: I continue to marvel at the acts of kindness we've been the recipients of from the Polish people. Since I've been home I happened upon some information that was both interesting and annoying. I was trying to get some information for my daughter of one of the few ancestors of ours that were veterans. My great grandfather served during the Spanish American war. In my quick research, I discovered that he was born and baptized in Thorn, West Prussia, which is now, Torun. One of the many remarkable things about Torun is that there was minimal damage during WWII, so many of their churches and thus the records are still intact. I was sad that I didn't know this when I was there less than 2 months ago. The baptismal certificate translated to "Protestant church, New Town." I tried to track that down and finally I resorted to contacting the Torun History Museum and the Organization of Lutheran churches in Poland. Fortunately for me, there are not a lot of Lutheran churches in Poland. ;) Would you believe I received responses from both?! From the history museum, I got links to information about the church which is now an art museum, and both current and historic photos. The Lutheran church sent me links to information and photos to all the Torun Lutheran churches in existence in the mid 1800s. Both said they were confident that the church I was looking for is the one that is now an art museum in the New Town Square. I am touched that these folks took the time to get this information for me. At this point, I now know that my Great, great grandmother was also born and baptized in Thorn, my great, great grandfather was born in Pomerania, they married, lived in Thorn, and then emigrated in 1890/91 from Thorn with their 3 children, one of whom is my great grandfather. My dad had little information on these grandparents and was thrilled to read all the information.