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first trp to poland - guided or on our own

first trp to poland - guided or on our own

Jan 11th, 2006, 12:11 PM
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first trp to poland - guided or on our own

I already posted this on the genral info board and I realized that I might have better luck here on teh Poland board. My husband and I are planning a trip to Poland in the fall, it will be his first time back since arriving in this country in 1963. We plan to spend about 10 days, more if necessary, but were wondering. Is it best to hook up with an organized tour to see the most of the country and spend a few days on our own at the end (around his birthplace - northeast Poland), or do you recommend travelling on our own....he still speaks fluent Polish, so the language will not be an issue.

We heard there is a fair amount of crime that targets tourists travelling alone....any truth to that?

paulalou is offline  
Jan 11th, 2006, 03:51 PM
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How's your Polish? I'd venture to say that in NE Poland you'd hear little English. So if that' the locus of much of your time, I'd guess YOU would get more from a tour, unless hubby's good at conveying unfiltered, realtime, translations.
tomboy is offline  
Jan 11th, 2006, 04:09 PM
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His polish would not be a problem. as he is quite fluent still...but we would be spending relatively little time in the northeast. We figure if we are going all the way there, we may as well see a bit of the country/history as well. So - perhaps 10 days with only the last 2 in the northeast area.
What makes more sense? Rental car? Train? Guided tour? What would be your suggestion? We thought we might look at the itinerary a guided tour offers and then do it on our own...
paulalou is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 01:58 AM
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Travel by automobile, during daylight hours is a safe way to travel. Poland has two kinds of drivers; too fast and too slow. Parking in major cities is always a problem. Try the Polish government sources in New York or Chicago for tour information. Today Ryanair is serving most of Poland with low fares. Again, use the internet. Try Polski Express!
GSteed is offline  
Jan 17th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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Thanks for the info - we will definitely look into your suggestions.
paulalou is offline  
Jan 20th, 2006, 05:38 PM
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Hi Paulalou,

I visited Poland by myself (single woman NOT fluent in Polish at all) for two and a half weeks last October. I joined a guided tour with Orbis - they have a number of itineraries - and spent time by myself in Warsaw. I was also concerned with thefts and this formula served me well.
laotzu_1 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 06:25 AM
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I think that is what we are going to do - hook up with a tour for the first 7-8 days and see the country and then spend a few on our own, based out of Warsaw. Then we can easily travel to Lomza and do a few other things as well.

When we plan a return trip, with out adult children, we will have a better feel for what we can and cannot do.
paulalou is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 07:56 AM
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I think you should go on your own. We speak no Polish and have visited Poland on our own twice with a rental car and had absolutely no problems whatsoever. We would have no hesitations whatsoever about doing it again. That said, we don't want to be constrained by what the tour group wants to do and much prefer to plan our own days and itinerary. Maybe you don't feel this way. I don't know. If you feel at all comfortable and self-reliant, I see no reason why you couldn't do it on your own. By the way, if it will help, we are not adventuresome young backpackers; we're in our late fifties and must be somewhat close to your ages I'm guessing.
julies is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 09:46 AM
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yup- we are in our fifties as well and have travelled rather extensively. We are getting more positive feedback on going it on our own and I think that is the route we will go. I like to spend the amount of time I want to in each place which may be shorter or longer than a tour allows. My gut feeling is as long as we use our heads, as we would when travelling anywhere, we will be fine!
paulalou is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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I speak OK Polish - learned from my parents and have visited Poland several times as my extended family lives there. the last time I visited was in 2002 with my husband - his first time. In addition to visiting family and sampling the vodka, we did a self-guided tour of Poland - do some research, bring a guidebook, and you should have no difiiculties, especially if someone in your group speaks Polish. We flew into and out of Dresden Germany and picked up our car rental here - cost savings in both airfare and car rental was substantial. We chose this route as most of my relatives live in the south western part of Poland. I concur with the other comments - be aware of your surroundings, especially where you park your car as car theft is high in Poland - drive during daylight hours as lumination on streets is non existant at times. Regarding the high crime issue - you will find this true of any large city. Have a great time
CatharineB is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 12:38 PM
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Paula: Do not hesitate to drive Poland...I have done it several times in the 80's and 90's..good roads, well-signed, no danger in daytime driving..people very friendly..especially with you speaking Polish..beautiful country. Crime statistics do not come close to any place in USA ....Enjoy!

Stu T.
tower is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 04:32 PM
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Paulalou: NorthEast ... Lakes area ... with many parts still best accessible by a car - Bialystok, Olsztyn or Mikolajki can be accessed easly by train or bus (since they are larger cities), but if you really want to see the area car is the way to go...
See Puszcza Bialowieska and its Zubry (Looks like American Buffalo), Puszcza Knyszynska next to Bialystok, and small towns like Suprasl and Czarna Bialostocka where air supose to be the cleanest. Mikolajki between Elk and Olsztyn is a nice little town to stopover. then cities like Augustow, Elk, Gizycko, Ketrzyn and their hidden treasures from ww II (ie. Wilczy Szaniec)...

If you really want to go where no tour will take you ;-) then I recommand getting lost by car east of Goldap.
try to get a good map of Goldap and west of Goldap there are few ruins of Prussian Palaces in this area right at the border with Russia - I've got lost in this area a bit found a some wierd cement road - which later was told it was special kind for tanks ... got to some really poor town - and where road ended (on some forest there was this really nice but in ruin a Prusian palace) I was told by locals that there is a border with Russia right beyond that small forest... Anyway it was a nice discovery... but good area map helped alot... Also visit try fisiting central north area - Gdansk, Sopot Malbork, Gniew, Frombork, Torun
, Golub Dobrzyn. Drive to Piaski (beyond Krynica Morska) from Gdansk is nice.

10 days may not be enough ;-)

btw if you rent car in Warsaw ( and that maybe best) then rent on your last day in Warsaw if you thinking on spending some time there - since it is way too much effort to drive and park in Warsaw...

In most cases you be picking your car at airport (when renting ask for warsaw and Poland maps) Airport is kind of in weird location - where path to it or from is missing few signs ...
Leaving I found kind of easy driving to it - bit more difficult - so allow some extra time ... gas stations are all over the place - you will need AAA international permit (cost I think $15) in addition to you license - many of gas stations / better restaurants / shops etc will except your credit cards ... also most if not all ATMs work with non Polish Debit cards (you pin needs to be 4 digits)... many offer English German or French in addition to standard Polish...

Your husband will not belive how much have changed since 1963 as well as how much have not

Enjoy your trip - and let me know if you have any questions.
PeterB is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 07:31 AM
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Thanks so much for taking the time to give your thoughtful replies. We appreciate the input - I am sure I will be back with further questions. We are really looking forward to this trip, long overdue as it is, and want to be sure we make the best of it!!
paulalou is offline  

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