Warsaw, Poland Vistula River - Krakow, Poland Gdansk, Poland

Poland Founder’s Tour 2020

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Travel to the Poland with Greg. We will see the highlights of this beautiful and historic country.

First we will visit Gdansk, previously known as Danzig. Gdansk, on the Baltic coast, has always found itself in the cross hairs of European politics and has had a turbulent past. A visit to this city is a must to learn about the Solidarity Movement that freed Poland from Soviet rule and how Poland has been the political fulcrum in European politics. Gdansk was one of the strongholds of the Hanseatic League and even today, there are several testaments to these cultural roots. A short drive away is the stunning Malbork Castle estate, which we will also visit.

Next we will visit Warsaw, which  has always been an active center of the Jewish community, as well as an important center of the arts, culture and politics in Europe. Warsaw is a phoenix that has risen out of the ashes of immense carnage to emerge as a vibrant, contemporary and edgy European capital. Its eclectic architectural style reflects the different influences throughout the ages. In Old Town Warsaw, tall church steeples, colorful houses, and narrow cobble-stoned lanes give way to the newer part of the city and a larger more contemporary skyline. Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings have been exquisitely restored to their former glory in the post World War II era, while more recent construction reflects Warsaw’s cosmopolitan vibe.

We will end in the beautiful untouched medieval city of Krakow.  It is a miracle that it survived unscathed during World War II, and in fact, some locals believe that Krakow has been divinely blessed with an aura of peace. Medieval buildings surround the cavernous market hall and the central square, where street musicians serenade you in the evenings with folksongs. We will try our hands at whipping up a Pierogi from scratch with a hands-on cooking sessions, as well as, visit the memorials at Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Departure Date: October 13 - October 22, 2020

Download a PDF version of the itinerary here.

Please note that this trip is more physically demanding than many tours. There is a considerable amount of walking and standing involved throughout the program. You must be able to climb and descend stairs easily without assistance and walk over uneven and cobble-stoned areas. Often, we will visit multiple museums a day, with one to two hours or more in each museum where we will be standing and walking through the collections. Unfortunately, if you use a wheelchair, we will not be able to accommodate you on this tour due to the limited access of ramps and elevators in museums, hotels and other sights. If you use a cane or other assistance for walking or are not able to walk long distances, our Founder's Tours may not be the best fit for you. We kindly ask that you consider your physical abilities with regards to the itinerary for this program, as the itinerary cannot be amended to accommodate any physical limitations.

Day 1
Arrival into Gdansk | Gdansk Gdansk, Poland

Upon arrival in Gdansk, you will be met by your driver for your transfer to your hotel in the center of the city and in the heart of the historic district.

Gdansk, or Danzig, as it was formerly called, is a city of charm and elegance, even though it is most known for its industrial shipyards and the popular movement by Lech Walesa that marked the end of Communism in Poland. While Gdansk was mostly German before WWII, the Poles expelled all remaining Germans at the end of the war and left the city to become truly Polish. Gdansk was an important city of the Hanseatic League for centuries.

Evening

Tonight, our group will stroll to one of our favorite spots for a welcome dinner at one the best restaurants in the Gdansk city center.

Exeter Services: Arrival Transfers

Hotel: Radisson Hotel & Suites

Meals Included: Welcome Dinner

Day 2
Gdansk | Gdansk Solidarity Museum Gdansk

This morning we will meet our guide for an introduction to Gdansk. We will begin with a visit to the European Solidarity Center. The permanent exhibition is dedicated to the Solidarity Movement and the opposition, which led to the overthrow of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. It’s like a walking timeline of contemporary historyinGdanskandreallyallofEurope. It’safascinatinglookintothisturbulenttimeleadinguptothefallof the Berlin Wall. Your guide will also take you to one of their favorite restaurants for lunch.

We will then spend some time in the city center on foot. Our guide will take us along Gdansk’s Royal Route. Step inside St. Mary’s Church, founded in 1343, and one of the largest churches in Europe and is best known for its extraordinary Gothic sculpture. At the picturesque Motlawa Riverbank see the massive, 15th century Old Crane, which is now a museum containing a wooden elevator and granaries used at the port during its heyday.

After time for lunch in the city, we will meet our driver to head to the fantastic new WWII Museum. September 1, 1939 was the date that WWII began, and it started right here with shots fired over Westerplatte. This massive museum is divided into three areas – past, present and future. Our guide is with us throughout this exhibition, but the museum also offers very in-depth audio-guides if you prefer. There are over 2,000 exhibits from the road to war to effects of the war post-1945.

Note: Some touring is on foot. Please be prepared to be outside and walking over cobblestones.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver (4 hours); Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Radisson Hotel & Suites

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3
Gdansk - Malbork | Gdansk - Malbork Malbork Castle, Poland

This morning we will meet for a journey outside of Gdansk to Malbork Castle.

First begun by the Order of the Teutonic Knights in the late 14th century, Malbork Castle was once the capital of one of the most powerful states on the southern Baltic coast. Malbork Castle is a classic example of a medieval fortress and is the world’s largest brick castle and certainly the most impressive in Europe. The Teutonic Knights were an order of German crusaders and their rich history dates to the 12th century.

Our visit today will take us inside the castle walls, where we will visit a variety of rooms that have been restored to their former grandeur. The castle is also home to temporary exhibitions. One of the most striking features of Malbork is its existence. The castle has been under continuous reconstruction for nearly 230 years!

After time to explore the castle, we will enjoy a gourmet lunch at the on-site Gothic Café. This cellar restaurant is under the direction of chef Bogdan Galazka, who combines New World techniques with traditional cuisine of Central Europe. He even has inspiration for some of his dishes from what was once served to the Teutonic Knights in residence.

Exeter Extraordinary Experience

After lunch, Chef Bogdan will treat us to a one-of-a-kind dessert experience!

This afternoon we will head back to Gdansk and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. It’s a great spot to pick up amber souvenirs or just to sit and have a drink overlooking the water!

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6 Hours)

Hotel: Radisson Hotel & Suites

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4
Gdansk - Warsaw | Gdansk - Warsaw Warsaw, Poland

This morning we will bid farewell to Gdansk and board our high-speed train to Warsaw, just 2.5 hours away. Drivers and transfer assistants in both destinations will be on hand to help us with luggage on boarding and disembarking and, of course, first class train tickets are included.

Often overlooked, Warsaw is a phoenix that has risen out of the ashes of immense carnage to emerge as a vibrant, contemporary and edgy European capital. Its eclectic architectural style reflects the different influences throughout the ages. In Old Town Warsaw, tall church steeples, colorful houses, and narrow cobble-stoned lanes give way to the newer part of the city and a larger more contemporary skyline. Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings have been exquisitely restored to their former glory in the post-World War II era, while more recent construction reflects Warsaw’s cosmopolitan vibe.

Exeter Extraordinary Experience

We will have a bit of free time today before meeting the hotel’s own resident historian for a private tour of the hotel’scarefullycuratedartcollection. Itshowcasesworksfromover100Polishartistsandisauniquesnapshot of contemporary Polish art. As we tour, we will also see some of the amazing local craftmanship that went into the loving restoration of this historic landmark. We will also be able to step into the hotel’s Memory Rooms. The hotel has four of these rooms, each with a different theme reflecting a different facet of the hotel’s history. Afterward, we’ll meet in the bar for drinks and canapes before enjoying an evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Raffles Europejski

Meals Included: Breakfast, Canapes

Day 5
Warsaw | Warsaw

This morning we will meet our expert Warsaw guide for an exploration of the city center on foot. We will start with a stroll through Warsaw’s renowned Castle Square. In this square, we will see street artists, small cafes and shops among the rebuilt gothic mansions of Warsaw’s nobility. View Zygmunt Column, built to honor King Zygmunt III Wasa, who moved Poland’s capital from Krakow to Warsaw in the 17th-century.

Today we will step inside the Royal Castle, which boasts one of the most magnificent art collections of the city, including famous views of Warsaw by Bellotto, the nephew and student of the famous Venetian painter Canaletto. Bellotto was the court painter of King Stanislaw August and his paintings of Warsaw were used for rebuilding the city after its near complete destruction in World War II.

After lunch in the center, we will join our driver for a more comprehensive overview of the city, culminating with a visit to POLIN–the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. This is a massive timeline of Jewish life in the region, stretching back 1000 years. Unlike many museums, this exhibit doesn’t focus on the Holocaust. Rather, it focuses on the development of Jewish life and community. It is widely recognized to be one of the top Jewish museums in Europe.

Tonight we will indulge in dinner at one of our favorite spots in the city.

Note: Some touring is on foot. Please be prepared to be outside and walking over cobblestones.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver (4 Hours); Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Raffles Europejski

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Warsaw | Warsaw Warsaw Uprising Monument

This morning we will meet our guide and driver again to continue our exploration of Warsaw. Today we will visit the fascinating Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. A specially appointed museum guide will take us through the extensive museum. The exhibition displays all aspects of the battle as well as everyday life in Warsaw against the background of the German Nazi occupation. More than 500 exhibit items, plus about 1,000 photographs, films and sound recordings, depict the days leading up to the outbreak of the uprising, its day-by-day development, the forced evacuation of the fighters from Warsaw, and their ordeal after their heroic fight was over. At the end we will see a short film – City in Ruins – which will allow you to contrast your vision of Warsaw’s Old Town from yesterday with what was left after WWII.

We will then head out of Old Town and across the Vistula River to the district known as Praga. This is unique in that most of the region was not destroyed during WWII. What was once a bit gritty and rundown is now revitalizing to one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the city. We will see one of Warsaw’s more unique spots – the Neon Museum. This quirky spot features over 200 working neon sights from Warsaw’s past – most dating from the 1950s to the 1970s. It’s an interesting look back at advertising history during the era of communist rule, when Poland had an official policy to light the streets (with neon) to be more like its western neighbors. The former factory that now hosts this museum is also a spot with one of our favorite trendy restaurants and we’ll enjoy lunch here.

Exeter Extraordinary Experience

To end our time in Praga, we will stop at what was once the factory of Koneser Vodka that has now been revitalized and reopened as the Polish Vodka Museum. This gorgeous space is a huge complex that is now bars, apartments a hotel and more. Today our visit will be a privately guided experience in the Vodka Museum, complete with a tasting of Poland’s best vodkas.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Raffles Europejski

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7
Warsaw - Krakow | Warsaw - Krakow Krakow Poland Exeter

This morning we depart bustling Warsaw and board our high-speed train to Krakow, just 2.5 hours away. Drivers and transfer assistants in both destinations will be on hand to help us with luggage on boarding and disembarking and, of course, first class train tickets are included.

The untouched medieval splendor of Krakow is a miracle for having survived unscathed during World War II, and in fact, some locals believe that Krakow has been divinely blessed with an aura of peace. Medieval buildings surround the cavernous market hall and the central square, where street musicians serenade you in the evenings with folksongs.

After time to settle in, we will meet our guide this afternoon for an introduction to Krakow. The Gothic houses of the 13th-century burgesses still remain, although they were rebuilt and given Renaissance or neoclassical facades. We will will see the medieval Sukiennice, rebuilt in the 1550’s, is one of the most distinctive sights in the country – a vast cloth hall, topped by a sixteenth-century attic dripping with gargoyles. Its commercial traditions are perpetuated by a covered market, which bustles with tourists and street sellers at almost every time of the year.

Step inside St. Mary’s Basilica. This imposing gothic church is in the heart of Krakow’s Old Town and has a unique history of its own with a bugler in the tower playing every hour on hour. Inside, the massive wooden altarpiece is a marvel of 15th century Germany craftsmanship. We will also stroll towards the beautiful Florian Gate, built around 1300 on one of the streets laid out according to the town plan of 1257.

Note: Some touring is on foot. Please be prepared to be outside and walking over cobblestones.

Exeter Services: Stations Transfers with Assistance; Guide (3-4 Hours)

Hotel: Unicus Palace

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 8
Krakow | Krakow Auschwitz, Poland

This morning we will have an early start with our guide and driver to head outside the city to the memorial at Auschwitz–Birkenau. Auschwitz-Birkenau is located approximately 90 minutes outside of Krakow, near the industrial town of Oswiecim. Today it’s made of a series of barracks – each with its own displays – from luggage collected from prisoners, to seized prosthetics and more.

After we tour Auschwitz, we will drive to nearby Birkenau, where the majority of captives lived and died. A few barracks remain, as well as the railroad track that brought the prisoners to the selection process. We will see the monument to the dead, inscribed in ten languages, located between the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria.

Exeter Extraordinary Experience

Our entire Auschwitz experience is led by a special guide of the camp who happens to be the son of a survivor. After this visit, he will join us for lunch and discussion of his experiences here and those of his father.

Afterwards, we will head back to the city. For those who need and want some downtime, touring will end after lunch. For those with an interest in Krakow’s Jewish heritage, our guide will take anyone interested to the former Krakow Jewish district, Kazimierz, to visit its most important Jewish heritage sights and to see the lively revitalization of the former ghetto. We will stop in the Old Synagogue, dating back from the 16th Century. We may also have a quick visit to the Remuh Synagogue and cemetery. The small Renaissance-style synagogue was built in the 16th Century and is one of the two that are still in use. Just behind the Remuh Synagogue, we will visit one of the most important Jewish cemeteries in Europe, which, although badly damaged during the Second World War, still holds some old tombstones.

This whole area was immortalized by Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List and has many shops and kosher restaurants with live traditional Jewish music.

Exeter Extraordinary Experience

Early this evening we will experience a lighter side of Krakow. We will walk to a local spot for a lesson in that quintessential Polish dish – pierogi! Try your hand at crafting your own then enjoy a casual dinner of the best pierogi in town!

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6 Hours); Auschwitz Guide (3 Hours)

Hotel: Unicus Palace

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9
Krakow | Krakow Wawel Cathedral - Krakow, Poland

This morning we will meet our driver and guide to head across the river to pay a visit to one our favorite historical museums. The actual factory of Oskar Schindler has been opened as a branch of the Krakow History Museum. It’s now a moving timeline of the history of Krakow from 1939 through 1945. You will see the changes in the city brought on by the Nazi occupation.

Afterwards, we will head back to Old Town and bid farewell to our driver. Our destination is Wawel Hill to visit the Renaissance Royal Castle and Cathedral. Converted from a Gothic style in the early 1500’s by a Florentine architect, the tiered courtyard of the castle is reminiscent of an opulent Italian palazzo. Inside the castle, view the State Rooms, which feature the splendid assembly of Flanders tapestries, scattered throughout the first and second floors. There is also an amazing ceiling with woodcarvings of 30 human heads, which is worth a look.

Those who wish may also step inside Wawel Cathedral. The cathedral, as in few cathedrals of the world, speaks the history of Poland. Adorned with a mass of side chapels, endowed by subsequent Polish monarchs and aristocratic families too, the present brick and sandstone basilica is essentially Gothic, dating from the year 1306.

Our final afternoon will be free for last minute independent sightseeing or perhaps some shopping. Tonight, we will gather for a farewell dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

Note: Some touring today is on foot through mostly pedestrian areas. Please wear appropriate footwear.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver (3 Hours); Guide (5 Hours)

Hotel: Unicus Palace

Meals Included: Breakfast, Farewell Dinner

Day 10
Departure | Krakow Vistula River - Krakow, Poland

You will meet you driver this morning to transfer to the airport to meet your departing flight.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfers

Meals Included: Breakfast

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