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Need advice for a tour of eastern Poland


Simon from LDN    
16 Oct 2012  #1
Hello

Next week, I'm going to fly to Warsaw, to go and see four old Nazi camps, Belzec, Majdanek (Lublin), Sobibor and Treblinka (not necessarily in that order).

What I did when I took a similar trip in June (seeing four Nazi camps in Northern Germany):

1st day: travel to hotel nearest to the camp
2nd day: spend all day visiting the camp
3rd day: travel to the nearest hotel to the next camp
4th day: spend all day visiting that camp
etc., ect.

I did all that on trains, buses and the occasional taxi. But all the camps in Germany are fairly close to a city.

But 3 of the 4 camps I'm going to visit in Poland, seem to be in the middle of nowhere (Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka), and I'm informed that I'm not going to be able to get trains or buses between these places. It's got to be done in a car.

Would it be advisable to hire a car. I've driven for 10+ years in London, and am a pretty confidant, safe driver. But what worries me is getting lost, as I can't read or speak Polish at all. And I don't suppose I can get a Sat Nav in English for Poland. But spending a small fortune on taxis doesn't appeal either.

Any advice anyone could give me, would be gratefully received.

Cheers.
Avalon 4 | 1,068    
16 Oct 2012  #2
Sat Nav is ok. Put in the name of destination and guidance instructions are spoken in English, at least my Tom Tom has that function.
Kowalski 7 | 621    
16 Oct 2012  #3
You can get very close to Treblinka by train from Warsaw Central train station. Take train to MALKINIA which is some 4 km away from the museum. The trip takes usually less then 2 hrs.

For train schedule to Malkinia see:

rozklad-pkp.pl/bin/query.exe/en?

For accommodation see museum site:

treblinka.bho.pl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=219&Itemid=146

Warsaw to Lublin (Majdanek) by train takes over 2 hrs. It is fairly easy to get to Majdanek museum from Lublin and no problem with finding accommodation in Lublin itself

majdanek.eu/index.php?lng=1

From Lublin to Sobibor you can get by taking a bus from Lublin to Wlodawa (1.5 hr) - Wlodawa is some 10 km from Sobibor and has severala hotels to choose from

belzec.eu/articles.php?acid=101&mref=42

Lublin to Zamosc by train 2hrs and from Zamosc to Tomaszow Lubelski by bus - schedule:

bigbus.pl/zamosc_tomaszow.php

From Tomaszow Lubelski to Belzec 10 km - could be a bus going there or take a taxi

web.pkswschod.pl/rozkladjazdy.php?id_strony=135&id_grupy=4&id_dzialu=4&lang=pl
Harry    
16 Oct 2012  #4
Would it be advisable to hire a car.

Yes, hire a car. While you could in theory manage a trip to those places (I've been to all of them at least a couple of times) with public transport and taxis (and a bit of walking), it would be a complete and utter pain in the arse even if you did speak Polish.

There's no problem at all with getting a satnav in English (the best program to go for is called Automapa). I'd be amazed if car hire companies don't have them available to rent out but you could also just buy one for about £60 (might well be cheaper than renting it from the car hire company).

BTW: if I was planning a trip to see them and had minimal time, I'd do it as follows: Warsaw to Treblinka (90 minute drive), 2.5 to 3 hours at Treblinka (assuming you want to see both camps, there's a 2km walk between the two, do not believe your sat nav if it tells you you can drive between the two), Treblinka to Wlodawa (3 hours), overnight in Wlodawa. Wlodawa to Sobibor (20 minutes) (note: Sobibor death camp is not in Sobibor village, it is actually close to a tiny village named Zlobek Maly, take the road to there from Wlodawa and keep going for about 4 km), hour at Sobibor, Sobibor to Belzec (2 hours), hour and a half to two hours at Belzec (the new museum is worth taking time over), Belzec to Lublin (two hours), overnight in Lublin. Lublin hotel to Majdanek (15 minutes), two hours at Majdanek, Majdanek to Warsaw (2.5 hours).

But, you need to understand that driving on Polish roads, especially the roads you'll need to use for that trip, is a lot more tiring than driving on motorways or even British A roads. Those are basically B roads almost all the way. So you might want to add an extra night and stay in Zamosc (which is a stunning little city anyway). If you let me know how much time you have, I can recommend where to overnight and what things on the way to stop and look at, for example: if you've read Ordinary Men, you're going to want to detour to Jozefow; you'll be going right through Izbica, which is the site of the camp Karski mistook for Belzec; Lublin is where Aktion Reinhard was planned and directed from, the HQ building is still there, so is Globocnik's house (now lived in by the son of the man who was thrown out to make way for Globocnik) and so is the former SS brothel.

Take train to MALKINIA which is some 4 km away from the museum. The trip takes usually less then 2 hrs.

Yes, but the bridge over the Bug by Malkinia has been closed since at least 2008, so there's a need to detour about 60km and that taxi fare (even without the waiting time charge) will cost more than hiring a car for the day.
db1874 7 | 227    
16 Oct 2012  #5
overnight in Wlodawa

there's an interesting Russian war cemetery in Wlodawa worth a look at if you're passing, can't find anything about it online, I came across it by accident. It's here alongside some old fortiments.

maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=wlodawa,+poland&ie=UTF8&ll=51.565603,23.562906&spn=0.001951,0.003449&hnear=W%C5%82odawa,+Poland&gl=uk&t=h&z=18
Harry    
16 Oct 2012  #6
Russian war cemeter

Interesting. I wonder why they decided to put it on that side of the river rather than in the USSR. I'll have to check it out next time I'm in Wlodawa (which won't be until next spring). Thanks for the tip.
sofijufka 2 | 191    
16 Oct 2012  #7
There is beautiful old cemetery in Rzeszów - a few years older than warsaw's Powązki
Wulkan - | 3,280    
16 Oct 2012  #8
And I don't suppose I can get a Sat Nav in English for Poland

Why not?
Harry    
16 Oct 2012  #9
Here's one for £60 (the program and voice can be switched to English) sklepkierowcy.pl
OP Simon from LDN    
18 Oct 2012  #10
Harry, thanks for all the advice, and to Kowalski as well
And sorry for the delay in responding.
I've a month off work, so I will be in no rush whatsoever, I was thinking of hiring a car for 8 days, allocating 2 days for each camp, as I do tend to spend a lot of time at these camps. I was at Auschwitz camps for 5 days straight back in January.

"If you let me know how much time you have, I can recommend where to overnight and what things on the way to stop and look at," - Harry

That would be brilliant, if you wouldn't mind.
I arrive at Modlin around 9pm. Would I be best off staying somewhere and then driving to Treblinka the next day?
I forgot to mention, I don't even have a return flight booked yet. So I can arrange to drop a hire car off in Krakow as well I suppose.
Harry    
18 Oct 2012  #11
I arrive at Modlin around 9pm. Would I be best off staying somewhere and then driving to Treblinka the next day?

Yes, very much so. There's a fairly decent hotel in Modlin a couple of km from the airport called the Royal hotel (looks OK but I've never actually stayed there), from memory they do a free shuttle bus from the airport. stay poland.com usually offer far cheaper car hire than the major companies and you can specify delivery at Modlin airport for a small fee.

For accommodation near Treblinka I can't help you, never stayed anywhere near there.
For accommodation near Sobibor, I'd suggest staying in Wlodawa (about 20 minute drive from Sobibor) and can give a big thumbs up to Czar Polesia for what might be the best value hotel room in Poland (I think we paid £15 per room and that included breakfast!). There really are not many options near Sobibor at that time of year, but I do know of a rather nice log cabin that might be available to rent (but costs triple what the Czar Polesia does).

For Belzec you could stay in Tomaszow Lubelski (10 minutes from the camp) but I would very strongly suggest driving the extra 20 minutes and staying in Zamosc (at either the Accor Zamosc or the Senator). Zamosc is one of my three favourite places in Poland and stunningly beautiful.

For Majdanek there are a few decent options in Lublin. My personal favourite is the Waksman residence (on ul. Grodzka) in the old town. If you want more of a traditional four-star hotel experience, the Grand Hotel Lublinianka is your baby. If you want a more fashionable boutique type of place, try the Vanilla.
OP Simon from LDN    
18 Oct 2012  #12
Thanks again Harry.
I've booked a room at the Royal Hotel, £68 !!!
I've booked a car for 8 days with staypoland, 85pln per day, 50pln preperation fee, + 19pln per day for Sat Nav, 500pln deposit.
I've booked two nights at the Hotel Krasnodębski in Węgrów for Treblinka, £47 for two nights, and I've book two nights at the Czar Polesia for Sobibor.

I'll wing it after that. Head for Zamosc (interested in seeing it too), but I take a print out of your posts to remind he where to stay.

I've told the car hire folks I'll drop the car back in Lublin, but where exactly I don't know yet.
Thanks so much for your helpful advice, very much appreciated.
Harry    
18 Oct 2012  #13
Glad to hear I was of help. £68 sounds a bit steep for the Royal Hotel; I just checked their website and a single room is 245zl, less than £50.
OP Simon from LDN    
18 Oct 2012  #14
I booked it thru Expedia, who clearly add a fee. Oh well.

You mentioned

"if you've read Ordinary Men, you're going to want to detour to Jozefow; you'll be going right through Izbica, which is the site of the camp Karski mistook for Belzec; Lublin is where Aktion Reinhard was planned and directed from, the HQ building is still there, so is Globocnik's house (now lived in by the son of the man who was thrown out to make way for Globocnik) and so is the former SS brothel."

You could perhaps post links to google maps, pin-pointing Izbica and where the AR HQ, Globocnik's house and the brothels are could you please?
Harry    
19 Oct 2012  #15
You could perhaps post links to google maps, pin-pointing Izbica and where the AR HQ, Globocnik's house and the brothels are could you please?

I can do much better than that! I have about five mini-guides and the same number of publications from the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, all in pdf format or scanned as such. I'd be happy to email you copies of all of them. Either post your email address here (remember to replace the @ sign with the word -AT-) or register here and then send me a private message with your email address.

I expect you have already done a lot of reading about this subject but I'll just recommend three books (the first two are pretty much required reading, get them no matter what):

- The Holocaust Sites of Europe: An Historical Guide by Martin Winston. This is the definitive guidebook, absolutely essential reading (although if you go to some of the more obscure places, you do get the feeling that the author is slightly less than entirely accurate with some details).

- Holocaust Journey by Martin Gilbert. Excellent. Now slightly dated (published in 1999 and based on a trip taken in 1996) but if you ignore the restaurant reviews etc, it is a stormingly good book.

- Concentration Camps: A Traveler's Guide to World War II Sites by Marc Terrance. You have to give the guy credit for going to all these place and doing it all on public transport while not speaking the language. Sadly while the attention to some detail is superb, it is somewhat let down by second-rate historical knowledge and very sloppy writing (and non-existent proofreading). It's unintentionally hysterically funny in places.

Here's some info on Wlodawa: ounsdale.staffs.sch.uk/auschwitz/WlodawaToSobibor/Index.htm

BTW, the museum in what used to be the main synagogue in Wlodawa is well worth a visit. From memory it is closed on Monday but free on Tuesday (although it's only a couple of buttons to get in anyway) muzeumwlodawa.pl
OP Simon from LDN    
24 Oct 2012  #16
Thanks Harry

My email is lynchie3000ATyahoo.co.uk

Apologies for the delay in responding, and for this short message. I only just read your posts, and am typing on my iPod (annoying).
JoshZ    
4 Feb 2015  #17
Hey Harry,

I'm pretty much in the same situation as Simon above from a few years back. Planning a trip (in reverse, from Lublin, to Warsaw with a car) and this page has be very helpful!

If you still have them, do you mind emailing me those mini guides about Izbica and the Lublin locales, etc.?

If so, cheers in advance!

My email is the_nameless_one42 AT yahoo
Therainbow    
13 Nov 2017  #18
"I have about five mini-guides and the same number of publications from the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, all in pdf format or scanned as such. I'd be happy to email you copies of all of them. Either post your email address here (remember to replace the @ sign with the word -AT-) or register here and then send me a private message with your email address." I'm going in March. I would love any info rmation emailed to me...even private guides!

Omeged@ hotmail
Thanks, Hollee
Harry    
14 Nov 2017  #19
I'm going in March. I would love any info rmation emailed to me

Let me see what I can dig out of my files. Where exactly are you planning to go, and when (if it's early March you'll be a fair bit more limited than late March)?
Checheche    
19 Jan 2018  #20
Hello. Any recommendations for a
for a guide ? Going from Warsaw to Lviv and Tarnopol. I would like to visit Krakow, Belzec and perhaps other camps time permitting.
jon357 65 | 13,567    
19 Jan 2018  #21
Go via Lublin. It's a natural place to stop off on that route. It's a very pleasant place, a nice old town, some interesting local foods like Forszmak, there's a nice Old Town and castle, and if you want to you can visit the camp at Majdanek, in the suburbs of the city. Zamosc (a UNESCO world heritage site - google it for pics) is worth a stopover too. There's also Kazimierz Dolny, though that's really worth half a day only. Near Lublin.

Krakow is very touristy nowadays, however Lublin isn't, due to location.


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