Day 1: USA - Krakow
Depart for Krakow.
Day 2: Krakow
Take a stroll along the cobbled streets of the most vivacious city in Poland to enjoy Market Square, with its famous Cloth Hall and St. Mary's Basilica. Next, we'll head toward Wawel Hill & the cathedral where most of the Polish kings are buried.
Day 3: Czestochowa, Jasna Gora Monastery, & Auschwitz
Today, we visit the Polish monastery in Jasna Gora, an architectural marvel & central to understanding Polish history. Next to Rome, Fatima, & Lourdes, the Jasna Gora is one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage spots. In the afternoon, we visit Auschwitz, a grim reminder of the genocide of World War II.
Day 4: Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrydowska, Wielczka Salt Mines, & Zalipie
A trip to Wadowice, hometown of Pope John Paul II, gives us a chance to visit his childhood home. Then, on to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a sanctuary built in 1600 to provide pilgrims with a substitute Jerusalem, which had been lost to the Muslim Turks. In the afternoon, we travel to the Wielczka salt mines, a fascinating marvel of engineering. In this subterranean universe, comprised of 300 km of galleries hewn in rock and salt deposits, the Nazis tried to establish an aircraft factory. We also have a chance to visit the village of Zalipie, with colorful painted cottages covered in animal, floral & geometric patterns.
Day 5: Lodz
Last century, Lodz was the meeting place of four cultures: Polish, Jewish, German and Russian. The city experienced its heyday in the times of the industrial revolution. It then witnessed the Jewish martyrdom during WWII, when the Lodz Ghetto was created. Our guided tour will take us down Piotrkowska street to Poznanski's palace, Israel Poznanski's residence, the Silbersteins' textile factory, Kronsztadt's palace, Arnold Stiller's residence, the area of the former Lodz Ghetto and the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe.
Day 6: Torun & Malbork
Today, we travel north toward Gdansk, with a stop at Torun. Taste the local gingerbread or visit the house of its most famous resident, Nicolas Copernicus. Continue north for a very short stop in the Ilawa Lake District to see a miracle of 19th-century German engineering - the Ostroda-Elblag canal. Afterward, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the Teutonic knights' Malbork castle.
Day 7: Gdansk
Today, we visit the marvelous old town of Gdansk, stopping at the shipyards where the solidarity movement came into being in 1980. In the past, Gdansk was the richest Polish city; at present, its old town is a favorite tourist destination in Poland. We also visit Westerplatte, the place where the Second World War started.
Day 8: Warsaw
Our sightseeing will include the very best of Warsaw: the cozy old town painstakingly rebuilt from scratch after WW II, the area of the historic Jewish Ghetto, the busy downtown, & the elegant royal route with the palace on the water in the Lazienki gardens. The next stop is the observation deck of the huge socialist Palace of Culture, & one of the newest historical museums in Poland, the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising.
Day 9: Warsaw - USA
Transfer to the airport, & board return flight home.