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Independent Warsaw and Krakow: Capitals Past and Present

Program No. 18187RJ
Experience the wonders of Poland as you stroll cobbled paths and enjoy the country’s rich social and cultural history, discovering a trove of museums, monuments and cafes at every turn.

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DATES & starting prices
Apr 17 - Apr 25, 2024
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Jun 12 - Jun 20, 2024
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Sep 11 - Sep 19, 2024
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Oct 2 - Oct 10, 2024
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DATES & starting prices
Apr 17 - Apr 25, 2024
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Filling Fast!
Jun 12 - Jun 20, 2024
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Sep 11 - Sep 19, 2024
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Filling Fast!
Oct 2 - Oct 10, 2024
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At a Glance

Reduced to rubble during World War II, the city of Warsaw is once again a proud capital following a painstaking restoration and reconstruction made possible by the hard work of the Polish public. Discover this inspiring urban success story firsthand, then move from political capital to cultural capital as you continue the journey amid the impressive art collections and cozy restaurants of Krakow, where a maze of cobblestone alleyways contains the largest concentration of historical monuments and cultural treasures in Poland.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2 miles and 2 hours per day with periods of standing. Getting on and off the subway/motorcoach. Terrain includes cobblestones and uneven ground. Some stairs to negotiate.
Independent City Discoveries
Independent City Discoveries
Learn with a Group Leader and enjoy educational programming while also getting substantial independent time to explore on your own. Most Independent City Discoveries include lectures, self-guided excursions and passes for public transit and museums.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy a concert featuring the works of great composer and Polish native son, Frédéric Chopin.
  • With an expert in Krakow, discover the Market Square, where the surroundings have remained unchanged for almost 700 years.
  • Hear a lecture on Jewish Renaissance in Poland, then set off to experience Krakow’s Jewish Kazimierz district and its modern-day renaissance.

General Notes

Give us a call to combine this learning adventure with select dates of "Budapest and Prague: Capital Cities and Jewels of Central Europe" (#21707) for even more learning in Europe!
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
A Traveller's History of Poland
by John Radzilowski
A wide-ranging, accessible and effectively condensed brief history of Poland through the 1990s. With a useful chronology and historical gazetteer, this book marches confidently through the centuries.
Poland Map
by Michelin Travel Publications
A self-folding, full-color map of Poland at a scale of 1:700,000, updated annually.
The Painted Bird
by Jerzy Kosinski
This acclaimed novel is based on the author's own experiences in World War II Poland. The often disturbing account of a young Jewish boy's journey through rural Poland as he tries to evade everyone from SS officers to anti-Semitic Polish peasants will leave an indelible impression.
The Zookeeper's Wife
by Diane Ackerman
A marvelous storyteller, Ackerman recalls madcap, bohemian Warsaw before WWII, the devastation of the city by Nazi bombs in 1939, the horrors of the holocaust and heroic efforts in the resistance in this moving tale of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, directors of Warsaw Zoo.
Lonely Planet Polish Phrasebook
by Lonely Planet
This handy pocket phrasebook includes pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary.
Chopin in Paris, The Life and Times of the Romantic Composer
by Tad Szulc
A biography of the famed composer Fryderyk Chopin.
Kingdom of Auschwitz
by Otto Friedrich
Otto Friedrich's slim book is an intensely personal account of the infamous Auschwitz death camp. He covers the entire history of Auschwitz in short chapters punctuated with eyewitness accounts and testimonies.
by James Michener
In his epic style, Michener presents the sweep of Polish history from the earliest days to 1983 in this massively researched novel.
Poland, The First Thousand Years
by Patrice M. Dabrowski
A fluidly written, reliable history of the Polish state from the late medieval period to the 20th century, including the nation’s complicated and controversial relationships with oppressors like the Prussian Empire the Soviet Union.
The Spies of Warsaw
by Alan Furst
Alan Furst sets his richly atmospheric tale of espionage and love squarely amidst the leafy boulevards, grand squares, stately mansions and elegant cafes of the glittering 1937 capital. With a map on the inside covers, this isn't just a gripping WW II-era thriller, it's a guide to Warsaw of today.
Kaleidoscope of Poland, A Cultural Encyclopedia
by Oscar E. Swan
This encyclopedia of all things Polish features close to 900 entries and 600 images covering Polish customs, folklore, history, significant individuals, language, geography and more. An informative reference and handy supplement to the traditional guidebook.
The Essential Guide to Being Polish
by Anna Spysz, Lech Walesa (Foreword)
"I invite you on this journey into the depths of the Polish soul," writes Lech Walesa in this nuanced guide to Polish history and culture. Co-author Anna Spysz is the former editor of the Krakow Post. One in a new series of cultural handbooks by New European Books.
Heart of Europe, The Past in Poland's Present
by Norman Davies
A history of Poland in reverse chronology from the Solidarity Movement to early civilization, condensed from the author's definitive three-volume history.
The Romani Gypsies
by Yaron Matras
Matras delves into the history of the Romani, an ancient and misunderstood European culture that has survived through modern times.
Eyewitness Guide Poland
by Eyewitness Guides
An informative, visual guide to the history, culture and attractions of Poland.
The Magic Lantern, The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague
by Timothy Garton Ash
With a chapter each on Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague, this eyewitness account by an astute journalist and historian shows these vibrant cities during a time of great change.
Culture Smart! Poland
by Greg Allen
A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture with a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice.
To Begin Where I Am, The Selected Prose of Czeslaw Milosz
by Czeslaw Milosz, Madeline G. Levine (Editor), Bogdana Carpenter (Editor)
Culled from a lifetime's worth of publications, these essays by the Lithuanian-born Polish poet and Nobel laureate Milosz address the Polish experience at home and abroad in the 20th century.
Polish Writers on Writing
by Adam (EDT Zagajewski (Editor)
Featuring 20th-century writers, including Nobel Prize winners Czeslaw Milosz and Wislawa Szymborska, this collection captures the brilliance and originality of a literary culture considered one of the most important and influential of our time.
Krakow Map
A folded city map of Krakow with an inset map of the city center at 1:10,000, along with a metropolitan area and regional map.

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.