18187
Poland
Independent Warsaw and Krakow: Capitals Past and Present
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.
Rating (5)
Program No. 18187RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
1,649
Flights start at
850
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9 days
8 nights
11 meals
7 B 2 L 2 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Welcome Dinner, Introduction to Program
Warsaw
D
Polonia Palace Hotel

Activity note: Check-in available from 2:00 p.m.

Dinner: Enjoy a 3-course set menu Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all included meals.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Polish Christmas - Tradition, Family, & Religion
Warsaw
B,L
Polonia Palace Hotel

Breakfast: Hotel dining room. On this program, breakfasts will offer a typical European style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold-cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: Attend a lecture: "History of Poland in its European Context." Then take a drive to the convent of the Bernardine sisters in Lowicz. The nuns will present us with Christmas wafers that they have baked, embossed with religious images varying from the nativity scene with Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus, to the Star of Bethlehem. Sharing the Christmas wafer before the start of the meal is practiced by people of Polish ancestry all around the world. It is a flavorless tradition that is so sweet!

Lunch: Home hosted lunch in Lowicz at the unusual home of Kasia and Wojtek Gronecki.

Afternoon: Enjoy another lecture: "Polish Christmas - the Unique Synthesis of Tradition, Family, and Religion." Then we will decorate the Christmas tree with our hosts, and discover the beauty of Polish Christmas carols during a memorable concert. Caroling represents an integral part of the Polish Christmas celebration. Many of these songs, universally beloved for their tender melodies, date back to before the 15th century, and are still treasured by Poles today. Perhaps it is this very musical simplicity that has made it possible for them to capture the Polish spirit, and to endure for so many generations. Polish Christmas carols such as "Koledy" never get old, much like the story of Christmas. Depart from here with a present from Kasia and Wotjek; a Christmas Angel, which symbolizes the joyous birth of Christ. Return to Warsaw.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Christmas Fair
Warsaw
B
Polonia Palace Hotel

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: This morning take an expert-led excursion by bus and on foot in Warsaw, including the Royal Route, Lazienki Park with the Chopin Monument, and the Ghetto Monument. The remainder of the day is free.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: At leisure. Spend the afternoon exploring the variety of Christmas stalls in the Old Town Market Square, or visiting Warsaw's museums.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Transfer to Krakow
Krakow
B
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Activity note: Please note that during the train transfer, your luggage will be transferred via van directly to the hotel. You will only need to carry your hand luggage on the train. Also note that you will walk from the hotel to the train station, which is about .3 miles.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Transfer via train to Krakow, which retains the largest concentration of historical monuments and cultural treasures in Poland. Upon arrival in Krakow, enjoy an expert-led walking excursion of the old town including the Market Square and St. Mary's Church.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Settle into the hotel. Then attend an orientation meeting at the hotel.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Christmas with a Pinch of Magic and Humor
Krakow
B
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Discussion and lecture: "Polish Christmas with a Pinch of Magic and Humor - Elements from Polish Folklore." Afterward, enjoy a Christmas decoration workshop! Get creative and have fun creating personal and near-to-the-heart pieces. Also enjoy some snacks.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: The afternoon is free to explore Krakow on your own. You may wish to explore Kazimierz – the ancient heart of Jewish Krakow. For almost 700 years, Krakow was home to a large Jewish community. In the past, Kazimierz was a distinct town with its own Market Square and Town Hall, as well as thriving culture, which blossomed in the 16th century. That period witnessed the foundation of Poland's oldest Judaic shrine, the Old Synagogue - now presenting an exhibition of the history of the Jewish community of Krakow. Following the tragedy of the WW II, Kazimierz was deserted. It found its way to the silver screen thanks to Steven Spielberg, who came here to shoot Schindler's List, and is enjoying a far-reaching renaissance today.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Polish Christmas Flavors
Krakow
B,L
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Try your skills during an enjoyable cooking class led by a professional culinary art chef. Learn how to make traditional Christmas dumplings. A great deal of pleasure is guaranteed!

Lunch: A light lunch is part of the cooking lesson.

Afternoon: The afternoon is free to explore on your own. You may wish to visit the Mehoffer House Museum, Matejko House Museum, and Royal Castle and Cathedral. Visit the National Museum, perhaps to see the exhibition "The Situation Has Changed," presenting some of the most important artistic trends of the 20th century through a selection of exhibits from the museum's collection. Or, let yourself become acquainted with Jan Matejko, the master of Polish history painting. Evoking a home-like atmosphere, the authentic furnishings and decoration of Matejko's house are a definite strength of the museum. Another delightful exhibition is organized in the former house of Josef Mehoffer, one of the leading artists of Polish modernism. Wawel Castle and Cathedral was the political and cultural center of Poland until the early 17th century. Besides other medieval treasures, you may admire magnificent woven painting-like pictures, some of them designed by Michael van Coxcie, “the Flemish Raphael."

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Krakow Nativity Scenes
Krakow
B,D
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: A nativity scene is known everywhere in the world as a humble stable; but not in Krakow. Here, they glitter with dozens of colors and often take the shape of local historic architecture resembling a fairy tale castle, with soaring towers, graceful arcades, arched doorways, and stained glass windows. Krakow nativity scenes have gained global recognition, created for the "Contest For the Most Beautiful Krakow Nativity Scene." First organized in 1937, it is now held annually on the Main Market Square on the first Thursday of December. These unique pieces of art can be viewed and admired for almost three months at the Celestat Museum, a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow. We will enjoy the skill and imagination of Krakow's nativity scene-makers, and have a private meeting with one of them.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Take the afternoon for free time, perhaps to explore various sites related to the prominent Poles who lived or worked in Krakow. There are many people for whom the remembrance of Karol Wojtyla is a life goal. True papal enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Archdiocesan Museum located in the former home of Pope John Paul II. The Collegium Maius was one of Europe's first universities and boasts astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus among its alumni. Here you can see Polish film director Andrzej Wajda's Oscar and poet Wislawa Szymborska's Nobel Prize. There is a room dedicated to Copernicus' stay at the University with facsimiles of the Italian doctorate he earned, his enrollment records, and also the piano that once belonged to Chopin.

Dinner: Celebrate your last night in Poland with a Farewell Dinner in the ancient Benedictine Abbey, the oldest monastery in Poland and perched on a rocky bank of the Vistula River in Tyniec, nearby Krakow. Taste the Benedictine food prepared according to the monastery's centuries-old recipes. A private organ concert of carols will certainly be a highlight!

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Departures
Krakow
B

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Departures to the Krakow airport (KRK). This concludes our program. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures.






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