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Forums » Poland » Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

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Bagbabe53

Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by Bagbabe53 »

I am researching my family's genealogy in Poland (may also have some ancestry in Kaunus, Lithuania)  and have also found some info on my husband's Polish Jewish side (we did the heritage leg of the trip for his Italian side last year and it was great) in Warsaw. I also know where my maternal grandmother's village is in extreme SE Poland near the Ukrainian border. Have also received my DNA results.

Re: us, healthy, active, and retired in our early 60s. Have traveled extensively in western Europe and lived there for several years many years ago in the military. Spent nearly a month in Italy last October. Neither of us speak Polish, but are willing to put in some time with Rosetta Stone and carry some translation apps on our phones. We enjoy the usual cultural and historical stuff (cathedrals, museums, picturesque countryside), seeing a soccer game, drives in scenic countryside, and special activities, like a cooking class, fishing excursions, an afternoon hike, etc. We generally do a mix of independent and programmed stuff. We like to travel the shoulder seasons in Europe, and found October was great in Italy. Am considering May or May into June for this trip. Has anyone here traveled to Poland in the late spring?

I am thinking this trip will run two to three weeks, and using public transportation when not on a tour.  You may ask, why a tour? I have heard that while the Poles are great, that the language can be difficult, and there are few English speakers around. At this point I am considering landing in Warsaw and staying there a couple of days (we can use Marriott points to save money and take a local tour of the old Jewish ghetto there as well as other historic sites). We could then do some programmed travel with a company, and then use a guide/driver who can help us navigate the ancestral towns, churches, and archives (or vice versa). I have located a couple of companies on the web that do both tours and custom stuff for family heritage. Has anyone here worked with Polish Origins or Ancestral Attic? The former has an eight-day tour of Galicia (the area where my maternal side and paternal grandma lived) that sounds good, and a roster of driver/guides who take people like us to ancestral villages and act as translators and facilitators.                                                                          

I have heard Krakow is spectacular, and I may want to spend an extra day or two there after the tour. The tour I'm looking at ends in Krakow. Would also like to see Czestohowa (the black madonna) and Wadowice, the home of St. John Paul II, maybe using Krakow as a base. If we head back East (I know there's a high speed train between Warsaw and Krakow) to see my maternal grandmother's village with a guide, perhaps we could go on by rail to Kaunus after the guide drops us in a nearby larger town like Premysl. 

I know this may sound all over the place, but I am in the earliest stages of planning. Any suggestions, other things to consider or comments are welcome!

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Gregory1976

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by Gregory1976 »

Hi,
travelling to Poland in May and June is a good idea, the same is with September. The temperatures are not so high, days are long enough and also still not so many tourists in the most visited places.
One of my friends works with a company who take care of foreign tourits coming to Poland and some other countries in Eastern Europe, just they are specialists in the inbound tourism to Poland.  Find them under name GFP Travel, I have heard they have also good opinions at Trip advisor.|
I mean they may help you.

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Pauline Frommer

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by Pauline Frommer »

We went back to my grandparent's small town, a place called Lomsa (near Bialystock) that went back and forth between the Poles and the Russians. We ended up doing the trip independently and finding a lovely woman through social media (a friend of a friend) who helped us translate when we were in Lomsa (she was an English teacher who lived in Bialystok). She was able to go into the town hall and find some helpful documents for us there, especially about which graveyard they were in. We think we found my grandparent's gravestone in the older Jewish graveyard there, though it was difficult to know definitely because hte Nazis had purposefully destroyed most of the tombstones so they were in rubble. 

We LOVED Krakow and found that we could get enough English-language tours in Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk without any problem by simply booking them on a day to day basis. That was more affordable than the ancestral tours we considered, so we ended up doing the trip that way.. We got around on trains, also without an issue (though bring food! Most Polish trains, we learned the hard way, don't have a dining car).

All in all an extremely moving trip, and Poland is surprisingly beautiful in many places.

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Bagbabe53

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by Bagbabe53 »

Thanks Pauline! I will keep your info in mind, as this moves forward over the next 18 months or so.

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Bagbabe53

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by Bagbabe53 »

In Response to Re: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages:[QUOTE]

Hi,
travelling to Poland in May and June is a good idea, the same is with September. The temperatures are not so high, days are long enough and also still not so many tourists in the most visited places.
One of my friends works with a company who take care of foreign tourits coming to Poland and some other countries in Eastern Europe, just they are specialists in the inbound tourism to Poland.  Find them under name GFP Travel, I have heard they have also good opinions at Trip advisor.|
I mean they may help you.


Posted by Gregory1976[/QUOTE]

Thank you Gregory! I will keep this in mind and look up GFP Travel.

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warlord

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by warlord »

Just make sure if you make the train ride from Poland to Lithuania and you transit through Belarus that you know the visa entries for transit (even if you don't get off the train).

  Many people have complained about not being informed about needing a transit visa when the train entered Belarus and being pulled off and having to pay a large "bribe" for entry.  

  Not sure if that is still a big issue or not, but you should take a look to see if you would be affected (your train route from Poland you are considering, your nationality and if you still are requried to have a non deboarding transit visa).

Here's the details of the types of visa and they should have something with the transit visa through Belarus on here:

http://mfa.gov.by/en/visa/

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Bagbabe53

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by Bagbabe53 »

Thanks so much Warlord! Will give this my attention as we get into the transportation planning! This is so important.

 

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warlord

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by warlord »

Yeah I re-looked at it and it seems you still need to get the transit visa if transitioning through Belarus in advance.  It will depend on where you would be leaving from in Poland to Kaunas and visa versa as there may be train links between the two that avoid Russia and Belarus.  Bus routes though should avoid both and that may be a better option.  It will just depend on the city in Poland you would be leaving from to Kaunas, but once you figure out your options then you can either plan ahead if you find your trip will indeed transit through Belarus...

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mquartz

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by mquartz »

I'm writing this from Krakow in Poland (highly recommended to visit regardless of ancestry). I suggest to keep your transportation options open to flights, trains, and buses - pick whatever suits best for a given portion of your trip.

I just flew with LOT from Warsaw to Krakow for about the equivalent of USD 70, and have a train ticket back to Warsaw for about USD 27. A local train ticket to a place maybe 20 minutes from here cost me all of 3 Zlotys, about 75 cents.

So if a trip risks becoming a hassle because of border problems, avoid them and fly or train around the problem, and if somebody gives you a last-minute hint about ancestry etc., follow the hunch, no need to plan everything out in advance, things don't cost the earth here and all the ticket vending machines I have seen so far have an English option. For trains look at http://mt.rozklad-pkp.pl/en

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Bagbabe53

RE: Need Advice for Trip to Poland (and possibly Lithuania)- Early Planning Stages

by Bagbabe53 »

Thanks so much mquartz! Great advice!

 

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