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We very much missed our cathedralquest for the past two years. Two years ago we had a Baltic sea cruise planned, and Kathleen had a health problem, and we had to cancel a week before the trip. Last year we had a family member who had an extended illness, and we didn’t travel so we could help with her care. This year we were all in good health, so we planned a trip to Poland.  

Why Poland? As some of you know, I love to build paper models of cathedrals and other historic buildings that we have already visited or will visit in the future. The Baltic sea cruise was to include time in Gdansk, and I had a beautiful model of the waterfront which I had made as well as Malbork Castle, which is near by.

 I found that the two papermodel publishers in Poland had a wide offering of cathedrals and other models.  That was very much a deciding factor in our decision.  In all I had 31 papermodel kits of places that we would visit.  I only had six completed before the Cathedralquest began.

The next question was how are we going to travel around Poland. Since it has been two years since our last trip and we are both two years older – I will be 80 next birthday, driving ourselves, as we have on eight of our eleven past adventures, in a country where we did not know the language did not seem to make sense to us.

The next option, was to go on a tour. While the first two that we engaged to Italy and Spain did not meet our expectations, the third tour to Sicily in 2014 with Colette was outstanding in every way. So we decided to investigate Colette’s tours of Poland. They offered an exciting trip which visited very interesting cities and all but one had models so we booked a Colette tour for 11 days. We needed to add a few more days, before the tour,  somewhere to take a break in our flight. We decided on Amsterdam.

 

So we flew to Amsterdam and spent four interesting days exploring wonderful sites, which I will describe in detail on the daily report. 

Then we flew to Warsaw to begin our Colette tour, arriving a day early to explore a little on our own and the rest for the tour.

The next day we met Marta, our tour manager, and the 40 other tourist. We were immediately impressed with Marta. She was born in Poland but moved to the US about 30 years ago. She has been employed by Colette for over 20 years. She had a delightful Polish accent, along with a vast knowledge of Polish history which she was constantly sharing with us. She showed great concern for each of the tourists, and took into consideration any special needs or problems. She made every aspect of the tour interesting, informative, fun, exciting, and well organized.

Everything about the Colette tour was almost perfect – who is perfect? The coach was very comfortable and our driver, Andrew, a very skilled and careful driver. Almost all of our hotels were top-quality in locations near the historic area all of our meals were delicious. Our local tour guides had excellent knowledge of the city and its history (the law for travel companies is that local guides provide the different city tours). We did, however, do a lot of walking and each day – sometimes 6 or 9 miles or more. Our old legs behaved very well.

Our tour began in Warsaw, then to Kraków with a stop at Czestochow to visit Jasna Gora monastery. After several days in Kraków, the next stop was Wroclaw, with a three hour stop at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was a moving experience. 

We had a great time in Wroclaw-  I had made the model of the cathedral.  After two days we moved on to Torun- a delightful smaller city with a surprise stop at Poznan.  Our last city was Gdansk with its wonderful waterfront and great buildings. From Gdansk, on our way back to Warsaw, we spent several hours at the Teutonic Knights Castle at the Malbork.  Back in Warsaw we had our farewell dinner and left the next morning.

We retraced our steps and spent the night at an airport hotel in Amsterdam to break up the trip. We flew home with a flight transfer in Dublin on Tuesday. Poland has had a very interesting and often tragic history, almost from the very beginning. Someone was always conquering it – the Tartars,  the Swedes, the Prussians, the Russians, Austrians, the Germans, the Soviets and a lot of other folks. At one time in history, because Poland had no natural boundaries, its neighbors encroached and conquered until there was no Poland left. At the end of World War II, Poland became communist under the dictatorship of the Soviet Union. It was not until 1988 that Poland was freed from communism.

During World War II many of the cities like Warsaw and Gdansk were almost completely destroyed. Polish cities which sustain tremendous destruction have now been almost totally restored. Each city was a wonderful experience to visit. A lot of history have been written about Poland so I will limit my historic remarks; however, I would recommend two wonderful books which will help you understand Poland’s complicated history. The first is the classic novel, Poland, by James Michener. Secondly Poland – A History by  Adam Zamoyski. We were extremely pleased with everything about the Colette tour and especially about our great tour manager, Marta.

As I have for the past adventures, what follows is a day-to-day description of the day’s activity along with history and photos of places that we visited. There are 16 days and I will put them on as this siteI finish writing each day, so please come back often so you can read about this outstanding tour of a very interesting country.

Next Day

Day 1 - Amsterdam

Day 2 - Amsterdam

Day 3 - Amsterdam

Day 4 - Amsterdam

Day 5 - Warsaw

Day 6 - Warsaw

Day 7 - Warsaw

Day 8 - Czestochowa and Kracow

Day 9 - Krakow

Day 10 - Auschwitz and Wroclaw

Day 11- Coming soon