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Two Older Polish American Sisters to visit Poland 1st Time


Mary Gelewski 3 | 8    
19 Feb 2018  #1
My grandfather, a Gorzielewski, was born in 1886 in a small village called Mosciska, near Plock, Poland. His wife was a Nyckowska. I don't know where she was born. From what I understand, they both came to America separately and married in New York in 1911. My father, one of 12 children, always wanted to go to Poland, but he never made it. We want to make the trip in his memory and we want to go to the place where my grandfather was born. If we find out where our grandmother was born, depending on how far away it is, we'd like to go there too. Before discovering my grandfather's birthplace, we were planning to go to Warsaw, Krakow and definitely Auchwitz. Then we thought we'd go to additional places like Prague and Budapest. We plan to come in April or May. Is this the best time weather wise? We can be flexible.

What is a reasonable amount of time to devote to Poland? Aside from Mosciska for our family, I have also read great things about Gdansk, Wroclaw and Poznan. Knowing this will be our only trip to Poland, what places would be on the top of your list that we should see?

Also, is it feasible to think we can do this on our own? Without a tour group, or without a travel package from an agent? My sister looked at one deal through GoRealEurope online and two weeks was costing over $6000 not including airfare. That seems way too expensive to me. My sister and I are healthy and in our mid 60s. We like to walk a lot and we're good with technology, GPS.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

I haven't told my sister yet, but I'm thinking Copenhagen would be a good place to visit on this trip, but I know we may have to narrow our itinerary down. I'm hoping we can spend at least three weeks on this trip.
O WELL 1 | 158    :-(
19 Feb 2018  #2
Depends for how long you going to go for and what kind of hotels/food will you prefer.In april 2 return tickets to eu can be almost 550$ each.Rest depends on you.You can live free via couch surfing etc,or stay in hostels or rent hotels.I think 3000$ each will be enough if you go in budget with return fare for about a a month to 45 days.

Sorry just read you said 2 weeks,then you can travel to Poland ,copenhagen,budapest,prague etc veru comfortably.
delphiandomine 86 | 16,396    
19 Feb 2018  #3
Knowing this will be our only trip to Poland, what places would be on the top of your list that we should see?

I'd go with Warsaw, Kraków and Gdańsk. Those three will give you the best possible tourist experience - Wrocław and Poznań are nice, but they aren't must-see. The only problem is logistics, but - I can suggest something.

Fly into Copenhagen - there are plenty of flights there from the US, and it will be a great starting point. However, unless you have a personal reason for visiting (such as always wanting to see it) - it's not that great, and doesn't contain anything particularly impressive. I'd actually rather suggest visiting Berlin - the history there is much more 'now', and it's a great place to start such a trip.

From Berlin, you can take the Berlin-Gdynia-Express train, which runs straight to Gdańsk. You can then visit the WW2 Museum and the European Solidarity Centre, both of which are must-sees. The Gdańsk Old Town is loved by a huge amount of tourists as well.

From Gdańsk, I'd suggest going to Warsaw, and using it as a base to visit Mosciska. You can also see many important things in Warsaw, such as the Warsaw Uprising museum and the Museum of the Polish Jews. It's then very easy to go to Kraków to see the attractions there.

Then everything is easy - I would suggest the Kraków-Budapest night train (with a private sleeping compartment). You can then go from Budapest to Vienna, Vienna to Prague and then Prague via Dresden back to Berlin for the flight home.

I'd suggest something like this -

Berlin (3 nights) - the city is so full of history that it deserves 3 days.
Gdańsk (2 nights)
Warsaw (3 nights, including trip to Mosciska)
Kraków (2 nights - third night is on the train)
Budapest (2 nights)
Vienna (2 nights) (you could also stay in Bratislava and make a daytrip to Vienna, which is popular)
Prague (2 nights)
Dresden (2 nights)
Berlin (1 night)

All of these cities are well connected by train, and apart from the Kraków-Budapest leg and the Berlin-Gdańsk one, all of the connections are around 2-3 hours.

I can suggest a great agency (run by an American, but based in Poland) that would reserve all the tickets for you, and then send them by courier to the US so that you don't have to worry about anything.

Also, is it feasible to think we can do this on our own?

Absolutely. I'm more than willing to help you put everything together - and for certain you can do it for far less than $6000 for two weeks.
kaprys 1 | 1,355    
19 Feb 2018  #4
Do you know what Mościska your grandfather was born in? There are quite a few in Poland. Five of them in the same voivodship as Płock.

Do you want to devote two weeks for Poland only or two weeks for Europe? You mentioned seven places in Poland, some quite far from one another. You need to have some time to travel between places and rest. You also mentioned three other European capitals - that's quite a lot.
OP Mary Gelewski 3 | 8    
20 Feb 2018  #5
No, Kaprys, I just assumed there was one Mosciska, not five!! And when I look on a map of Poland, I found one Mosciska. How can there be five? We are talking about the entire trip being more like three weeks including Poland and the other countries we decide on.
Ironside 47 | 9,038    
20 Feb 2018  #6
use google maps.
kaprys 1 | 1,355    
20 Feb 2018  #7
en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo%C5%9Bciska

Here's an English list of places called Mosciska on Wikipedia. The Polish one seems even longer.
Płock is in Masovian Voivodeship. That makes me assume, your Mosciska should be there too. But that still leaves you with six ( I must have counted wrong the first time...)

Between 1975 and 1998 there was a different administrative division in Poland and only two of these places were in the former Płock Voivodeship: Mosciska, Sierpc County and Mosciska, Gostynin county. So I guess they're closest to Płock. But that's just me googling, not confirmed information.

According to moikrewni.pl both Gorzelewski and Nyckowski surnames seem to be most common in Płock area but you still need more detailed information.

Or just visit Płock. The villages will probably look totally different than over 100 years ago.
As for the trip, I'd definitely spend about four-five days around Kraków ( including one for Auschwitz and one for Wieliczka).
The late April-May should be fine. It should (but who knows;) be pretty warm but not hot.
There's another recent thread about a trip to Poland with some ideas here in the forum. It may give you some more advice.
Dirk diggler 7 | 3,404    
20 Feb 2018  #8
What is a reasonable amount of time to devote to Poland?

Probably a week or two. Krakow is the best place to visit for a first time visitor. Warsaw is the capital but in terms of architecture and sightseeing there's way more in Krakow. Wroclaw is nice too - that's where I'm from.

Weather is decent in April-May. There's a lot to do in just about any season. Even during the winter months the ryneks are pretty lively. June/July/August has more tourists and is warmer but May is a good time to go. April may still be a little cold but comfortable to walk around outdoors.
O WELL 1 | 158    :-(
21 Feb 2018  #9
There is an free local guide app "Showaround" for IOS & Android.You can contact the locals who will give you a city tour.Some do it free and tons of them in Warsaw and Krakow.Just as courtsey buy them lunch/dinner.Its the cheapest and best way to get around in a new city.

Free Guides are better as they are looking for ratings and will do there best then the ones who overcharge mostly there.
OP Mary Gelewski 3 | 8    
21 Feb 2018  #10
delphiandomine, thanks so much for all your suggestions. I have to take some time to think about them. I'm not sure I want to move around every two days, so we may want to narrow down our itinerary. Kaprys posted that we may want to stay in Krakow for 4-5 days.

Meanwhile, we recently found out that several generations of our family spent a lot of time in Wroclaw. So that's still something to consider. Ultimately I guess, just the fact that we'll be anywhere in Poland may serve our purpose. Sorting through all of our options is going to take some time.

We are definitely interested in getting the contact information for the agent you mentioned.

Today, we may have narrowed down when we want to start the trip. It would most likely be somewhere between May 4th and May 7th and returning in about three weeks. We are flexible because we're both retired. Whatever flight days are least expensive.

We are searching VRBO for places to stay for two reasons. One is to have more opportunities to interact with people socially. Another reason is to keep costs down. We're not interested in a hostel because we don't want to share a room with other people and we want our own bathroom. And we definitely don't want to sleep on someone's couch or just stay in the bedroom of someone's home. Are there any hotels that are competitive in price with VRBO rentals?

Thank you for your offer to help put this together. We so appreciate your time and input!!

----------------------

Owell, thank your for that great information. We will definitely look into that app.
O WELL 1 | 158    :-(
21 Feb 2018  #11
Hotels in Polish towns are way better compared to VRBO,esp with room service ,cleanliness,breakfast etc.
OP Mary Gelewski 3 | 8    
10 Mar 2018  #12
Merged:

Prague to Gdansk or Sopot - coming to Poland for the first time



My sister and I have finally gotten our flights. I posted another thread a few weeks ago. We're the two polish sisters in our mid-60s coming to Poland for the first time. We are starting in Czeck. In addition to Poland, we will also travel into Hungary, and possibly Austria.

We fly into Prague on the morning of May 9th, and we come home from Prague on June 1st, 2018. 22 days!
Here are the places we're thinking about:

Possibly Dresden
Possibly Lubin
Definitely Gdansk, Wroklaw and Krakow
Possibly Warsaw
Definitely Budapest (and small town, Edeleny)
Possibly Vienna and then
Definitely return to Prague to fly home.

About a 20 minute ride from Gdansk, there is a fancy and historical hotel we're considering as something to splurge on. It's tripadvisor/Hotel_Review-g274735-d275085-Reviews-Sofitel_Grand_Sopot-Sopot_Pomerania_Province_Northern_Poland.html

I'm thinking we should go to Gdansk first, because I was told it gets very busy there even in May. We check out of our (AirBnB) place in Prague on Friday, May 11th. I was hoping to fly from Prague but when I go to Ryanair, it says they don't fly to Gdansk. Then when I check CheapoAir, it says Ryanair does fly to Gdansk, but it's sold out. This is confusing.

Do you think it makes sense to go to Gdansk/Sopot first from Prague, especially if we want to stay at the Sofitel Grand Hotel? Or is there a better way to do this? And what are your thoughts on the rest of our itinerary? We have 22 days to explore, but we do want time to relax. We don't want to be moving every 2-3 days. Other than this Grand Hotel, we're thinking we can book the rest of our places as we go, a few days ahead, using Tripadvisor and AirBnB.

If we do go to Gdansk/Sopot first, what is best way to get there from Prague? WE DO NOT PLAN TO RENT A CAR.

Thanks for your advice on this.
Atch 15 | 2,440    
12 Mar 2018  #13
We don't want to be moving every 2-3 days.

Then you won't be able to fit in all the places on your list. You have nine locations listed in four different countries. Divide 22 by 9.......and factor in the travelling time between locations which can be several hours by train.

I'm thinking we should go to Gdańsk first,

As you're arriving in Prague, I would suggest that it makes more sense to start in the south of Poland and work your way north, skipping Warsaw, as it's not one of your 'must sees' and then on your way back from Gdańsk you can decide whether you have time and inclination to do Warsaw.

If we do go to Gdansk/Sopot first, what is best way to get there from Prague?

Flying will be quickest. There are other options apart from Ryan Air. Apparently there's no direct train. This link might be helpful:

tripadvisor/ShowTopic-g274723-i959-k10702021-Train_from_Prague_to_Gdansk_then_from_Gdansk_to_Wroclaw-Poland.html

The train from Prague to Kraków takes 8 hours, to Wrocław about half that. I would leave Budapest for your return journey. It's a hell of a distance by train though to Budapest, even from Kraków it takes 12 hours on the fastest train as far as I know.
cinek 2 | 334    
12 Mar 2018  #14
Possibly Lubin

What for? Better go to Malbork on your way to or from Gdańsk.

Cinek
Dirk diggler 7 | 3,404    
12 Mar 2018  #15
My sister looked at one deal through GoRealEurope online and two weeks was costing over $6000 not including airfare.

No way! FTS!

You can book a week in Wroclaw with a stay at the skytower for 1700 a week - airfare included.

Get your airfare through lot and just find some hotels on your own. Krakow is probably the best place to see for a first timer. Tricities (Gdansk), Zakopane and Wroclaw are worth visiting too.

You can also get to Prague Budapest Vienna etc easily, cheaply, and quickly from just about any major city in PL.

It depends how long you're going too...
Chemikiem 5 | 1,130    
12 Mar 2018  #16
I was hoping to fly from Prague

You can fly with LOT, the Polish airline, to Gdańsk, but the flights weren't that cheap when I looked at them. If you're not too worried about price though it might be a more preferable option than a very long train journey if you're sure you want to start your trip from there.

lot.com/gb/en
jon357 65 | 13,406    
12 Mar 2018  #17
You can fly with LOT, the Polish airline, to Gdańsk, but the flights weren't that cheap when I looked at them

It's possible (they'd need to book on something like Momondo.com that searches for flights from multiple airlines and combines them) to fly Czech Airlines (usualy cheap) from Prague to Warsaw, and then Warsaw to Gdansk on LOT (sometimes for under £30 if you book well in advance).

If they don't mind changing planes in Warsaw Okecie (one of the easiest, smallest scale and most comfortable airports I know for transfers) they could do it inexpensively and comfortably. Certainly cheaper and a lot quicker than going by train from Prague to Gdansk, a 12 hour journey involving at least one change.

It could be a good idea if they look on momondo.com (this is the one I usually use - there are other similar ones like kiwi.com and Alternative Airlines - and it's often worth checking several) for that route on those days, just to get an idea of prices.
Ziutek 9 | 159    
13 Mar 2018  #18
You could travel from Prague to Wrocław by PolskiBus or train and then by Ryanair to Gdańsk. You could then fly to Kraków and back to Prague all with Ryanair.
jon357 65 | 13,406    
16 Mar 2018  #19
Thes are all from 11th May.

The first, for £89 is Prague to Gdansk. It's quite a long layover in Krakow (enough time to go out of the airport for a walk and lunch somewhere). There are other options, with different timings and prices.

The second for £57 has an earlier arrival time but longer layover.

The third one for £34 is just from Prague to Krakow. There are several possibilities to fly on to Gdansk etc directly and cheaply all through that week.







patrycjait - | 2    :-(
22 Mar 2018  #20
for cheap accommodation you can check noclegowo.pl/en because here it's really cheap and good :)
jon357 65 | 13,406    
22 Mar 2018  #21
Booking is much better.
OP Mary Gelewski 3 | 8    
22 Mar 2018  #22
Patrycjait, that site is difficult for me because it's not in English. It's asking me a question I can't answer because I can't understand it. Otherwise it looks great. And Jon, I do use Booking, TripAdvisor and AirBnb. Also just discovered Hipmunk.

Also, Jon, we've decided to head to Vienna after Prague, since it's not so far. After having been on the long flight overseas, we don't want to deal with airports, the layover between flights and a long trip overall 3 days after arrival. Then we'll head to Budapest, then to our cities in Poland. So may fly back to Prague from Gdansk. But thanks for checking those earlier flights to Gdansk. I'd seen them too.
jon357 65 | 13,406    
22 Mar 2018  #23
That sounds a lovely itinerary.
jon357 65 | 13,406    
22 Mar 2018  #24
Also just discovered Hipmunk.

I'll have a look at this one; thanks for the tip. I find gotogate is ok, as is Kiwi. It's best to be be careful, especially with ones based in Russia. I've usually been lucky; the only ones I've had problems with were budgetair (who sorted it out in the end after I found their real (not helpline) phone number and Expedia (who I will never use again).

Sometimes I think that flight bookings take up too much of my time (due to work matters) although it's sometimes fun to find interesting routes to where you're going. In April, I've actually got 10 flights booked already and may need to make a couple more work journeys. It would be easier if I grew wings ;-)

At least there's airmiles...
OP Mary Gelewski 3 | 8    
14 Apr 2018  #25
I need help figuring out getting currency at best exchange rates or whether it's better to use a certain credit card most of the time - and which one offers best rates as well. Since we're traveling to Czeck, Austria, Hungary and Poland, I think there is either limited or no use of the Euro.

I also need help on using a cell phone for use in Europe. I have a very old T-Mobile phone that is UNLOCKED and takes a SIM card. Would that likely work? Anyone know whether getting a SIM in Prague will be usable in all those other places? Or would I have to get SIM cards in each country?
Chemikiem 5 | 1,130    
15 Apr 2018  #26
currency at best exchange rates

I think if I was in your position I would just use ATM's with a debit card and pay for goods with one too. Yes, there will be a charge for withdrawing cash and a transaction fee and you should check rates with your bank first, but the alternative is to carry about large sums of cash to change into multiple different currencies. Credit cards I think incur higher charges. If you do decide to exchange cash, then for Poland and Czech Republic, it is definitely cheaper to exchange in the country. Use a bank in the Czech Republic, and Kantors, which can be found everywhere, in Poland. Not sure about Hungary, I changed my money before I went.

You could also check out using pre-paid travel cards. You just load them with money before you go and use them like a debit card, although I think that there will be a charge for using an ATM. They may also incur other charges so check everything first.
OP Mary Gelewski 3 | 8    
18 Apr 2018  #27
I researched debit cards for use at ATMs in Europe and found Schwab has great card that doesn't charge any foreign processing fees, plus they have a promo now, open account and get $100. Technically it is a brokerage account with a checking account/debit card.

schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/refer-prospect.html
Chemikiem 5 | 1,130    
18 Apr 2018  #28
Don't really know much about brokerage accounts, but if it gives you fee free transactions abroad it sounds like a good deal. Enjoy your holiday!
Dirk diggler 7 | 3,404    
19 Apr 2018  #29
It's basically the same thing as e trade. Charles Schwab is etrade main competitor. You can think of it as a bank account that you can use to purchase various securities i.e. stocks bonds etc but also allows you to withdraw from your cash balance that you haven't spent on buying securities.

@Mary Gelewski
I have chase personal and business. I used pnc bank of America wells Fargo and by far chase is my favorite. I never get charged any foreign fees when travelling in Europe I just have to call my banker and let him know ill be out of the country. Whenever I paid w my debit card (I dont use credit cards whatsoever) it always give.me an option to pay in zloty or usd - I take my time and see which exchange is better then chose as or usd. Almost always the zs come out better for whatever reason even sometimes better than the current market rate. Atm fees are also waived/refunded end of the month. I think the only requirement is to keep average balance of 1k usd to have the free checking free atm etc. Also all my checks deposited into the atm or at a branch clear within 24 hours which is awesome too. Also the few times i had an unauthorized purchase ive had the money refunded no questions asked. Normally I hate big banks but I really like chase and will stay with them unless they really screw something up. Although for credit cards their rates are high and the points/rewards are garbage.



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