Thursday, June 27th
If you fly with the tour, we depart from O’Hare Airport on a LOT Airlines Boeing Dreamliner. You may choose any other flight. Just be sure to join the tour in Warsaw on Friday morning, June 28th. If you take LOT, you’ll enjoy dinner over the Atlantic. All meals/refreshments onboard, including wine and beer (should you want them), are covered in your tour price. Other alcohol is also available at reasonable prices. We nap/sleep or watch a movie or two on your onboard private computer, then have breakfast over Europe. The Dreamliner has lots of electronic “toys” and services, so you may not want to nap. We land at Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland’s dauntless capital city, on Friday morning.
Friday, June 28th
The tour arrives in Warsaw about 10am and we immediately tour the magnificent, restored Royal Castle. Meanwhile, our bags are taken to our hotel – the Sofitel Victoria, one of Warsaw’s best. (For those who have been to Warsaw, we can offer an alternate itinerary if you like. However, you may want to see the Castle again, because there is so much to see and sometimes they open new rooms.) After a light lunch, we tour Warsaw’s Old Town, and New Town Square. We view a film about the tragic history of Warsaw during World War Two. You will have some shopping time and a chance to change for our evening events. We attend a private concert of Chopin piano music in one of Warsaw’s many palaces. Our welcoming dinner is at one of Warsaw’s fine restaurants. Then, we overnight at our hotel.
Saturday, June 29th
We enjoy a breakfast buffet at our hotel, with a large choice of Polish, continental, and American dishes. We drive to Wilanow, known as the Polish Versailles, to tour the summer residence of King Jan III Sobieski. (For those who have seen Wilanow, we can suggest an alternate itinerary, such as the unusual Warsaw Uprising Museum.) We have lunch at another of the city’s excellent restaurants. After the light lunch, we visit Warsaw’s newest attraction, the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews – a remarkable experience. Alternatives are available if you have already seen the Polin Museum. We have dinner at another of Warsaw’s exquisite restaurants. Since it is Saturday night, a walk through Old Town is a great idea to see how Poles enjoy the weekend. Then back to our hotel.
Sunday, June 30th
We attend Mass (if you like) at Holy Cross Church where Chopin’s heart is buried or another of Warsaw’s historic churches if you have already seen the Holy Cross Church. Then back to our hotel for breakfast. Next we visit the National Museum of Art to view some of Poland’s most treasured paintings. Then we leave Warsaw, driving northeast into the countryside. We lunch at a charming country inn, then continue our drive east to the town of Bialowieza and check into the rustic Zubrowka Hotel. We enjoy dinner at the wonderful Carska (Czar’s) Restaurant. After dinner, Lucyna offers a quick review of Polish history over a snifter of French cognac (if you like), so you can better understand what you are seeing.
Monday, July 1st
After breakfast at our hotel, we tour the world famous Bialowieza National Park, which includes one of last primeval forests in Europe and is included in the UNESCO list of World Natural Heritage Sites. A walk through this silent, haunting woodland is refreshing and memorable. We see the zubry – Poland’s buffalos and other exotic animals native only to Poland. We enjoy a picnic lunch near the forest, then drive to the village of Hajnowka to visit the Orthodox Church there to learn about Poland’s surprising religious diversity. Dinner at our hotel includes an introduction to Zubrowka, the delicious vodka created in this region.
Tuesday, July 2nd
Following breakfast at the hotel, we drive northwest through Poland’s beautiful and unspoiled glacial lake region. We stop to see the historic synagogue at Tykocin. Lunch is at a charming, wooden country inn. Then we drive to the renowned city of Bialystok to see the Branicki Palace. We drive on to the resort town of Gizycko, where we check-in to the Hotel St. Bruno. Dinner is at the hotel, and we recommend an evening walk around this peaceful, pleasant area.
Wednesday, July 3rd
Breakfast is at the hotel, then we continue driving through the “Land of a Thousand Lakes.” We stop at Sw. Lipka – a gorgeous Baroque church surprisingly situated in the middle of Poland’s least populated region. Lunch is at a homey, country restaurant in the small town of Sw. Lipka. We drive further west to the Tri-City of Gdansk/Sopot/Gdynia. Dinner is at one of Gdansk’s finest restaurants. Our hotel is the perfectly located Hanza Gdansk.
Thursday, July 4th
After breakfast at the hotel, we tour the seaport city of Gdansk with its unique late Renaissance and Baroque architecture and interesting history. Gdansk was a member of the historic Hanseatic League – an important economic alliance between several European cities during the Middle Ages – so it has a very prosperous past. Lunch is at one of Gdansk’s charming restaurants, followed by some free time for shopping, strolling or resting. Later in the day, we visit the new Museum of the Second World War. We celebrate the 4th of July with a special dinner at another of the famous restaurants of Gdansk. Then back to the Hanza Hotel.
Friday, July 5th
Breakfast is at the hotel, then we visit the new European Solidarity Center – Gdansk is the home of the Solidarity Movement that freed Poland and eventually nearly all of Central and Eastern Europe of communism. And then free time for shopping or plans of your own. Lunch is on your own. In the early evening, we drive to the second Tri-City of Sopot, which is a renowned sea resort and home to the longest pier in Europe. We enjoy dinner with beautiful views of the Baltic Sea, then back to the Hanza Hotel.
Saturday, July 6th
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Malbork Castle, the former seat of the Order of Teutonic Knights. We tour this huge, imposing, very interesting fortress, then have lunch in the castle. We drive into the heart of the Kaszubian Region of Poland to visit an outdoor Ethnographic Park with an authentic, historic Kaszubian village. We drive to town of Zukowo for a classic Kaszubian meal with folk songs and dances and an opportunity to purchase Kaszubian folk crafts. Then back to the hotel.
Sunday, July 7th
We attend Mass at St. Brygida Church (if you like) – which became famous worldwide as the Solidarity church. Then breakfast at the hotel and we drive to Torun, home town of Nicholas Copernicus, the great Polish astronomer. Torun is also home of Polish gingerbread, which you can munch on as we make a short tour of this lovely, historic town. Torun’s Old Town is on the UNESCO list of world treasures. Several Polish cities made the list. You will have time for shopping and/or lunch on your own and there are many cute spots. Then we drive to Gniezno, the first capital of Poland, with its Gothic Cathedral with bronze doors that date back to the 12th century – one of the best examples of Romanesque art in Europe. We continue on to Poznan, one of the major cities in Poland, a business center that is the capital of Greater Poland. We check into the Sheraton Hotel. Our dinner includes local treats, then back to the hotel for the night.
Monday, July 8th
After breakfast at the hotel, we tour Poznan, including its Renaissance Town Hall and bustling town square. We’ll watch the Poznan goats butt heads at the strike of noon – an old tradition. We see an example of how Poland is updating without losing its heritage – a modern shopping mall in an historic brewery. Then, free time for shopping/resting/private touring followed by lunch on your own. You have been very good travelers, so you deserve a night off. There are many restaurants to choose from for dinner on your own. You may want to dine in the open air on the square. It is not expensive and quite good. And people watching is fun. We overnight at the Sheraton.
Tuesday, July 9th
Breakfast is at the hotel before we drive toward Warsaw. On the way, we stop at Lichen, called the “Czestochowa of the North” because it has become a major place of pilgrimage. Its huge basilica was built as Poland’s thanks to the Blessed Virgin for freeing the country of communism. We stop at Zelazowa Wola, the birthplace of Frederick Chopin. We have lunch at a country inn and then drive to the center of Warsaw, to the elegant Polonia Palace Hotel where a farewell dinner awaits us with a last taste of Polish folklore. Do get a good night’s sleep before your return flight.
Wednesday, July 10th
Today is one of the longest days of your life, because of your trans-Atlantic flight. After breakfast at our hotel, we drive to the Chopin Airport. There will be an opportunity to do some shopping at the duty-free shops and it is recommended. As before, all food and drinks onboard your flight (including wine and beer) are included in your ticket price. When you arrive in Chicago, it will be 10 hours later, but it will still be Wednesday afternoon.