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Germany and Poland Itinerary - Would appreciate feedback

Germany and Poland Itinerary - Would appreciate feedback

Apr 13th, 2014, 05:37 PM
  #1  
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Germany and Poland Itinerary - Would appreciate feedback

DH and I are planning a trip to Germany and Poland. All destinations are new to us, except that I have been to Berlin. We like history, museums, art, cathedrals, gardens, parks, good food, walking, and biking. We prefer train travel as much as possible. I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Thank you!

Kim

Thursday, May 8, 2014
• Arrive in Berlin, Germany (TXL) at 8:25 a.m.
• Visit Museum of the Wall at Checkpoint Charlie

Friday, May 9, 2014
• Visit German History Museum
• Attend Berlin Philharmonic at 8 p.m. (have tickets)

Saturday, May 10, 2014
• Private Berlin tour with Jeremy Minsberg (reserved)

Sunday, May 11, 2014
• Visit Potsdam
• Visit Topography of Terror

Monday, May 12, 2014
• Train from Berlin, Germany, to Dresden, Germany, arriving at 12:52 p.m. (have tickets)
• Visit Frauenkirche/Church of Our Lady

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
• Visit Old Masters Gallery
• Self-Guided walk from Rick Steves’ Germany guidebook

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
• Train from Dresden, Germany, to Krakow, Poland, arriving at 6:47 p.m. (have tickets)

Thursday, May 15, 2014
• Visit Schindler’s Factory Museum
• Visit Wawel Cathedral
• Visit Wawel Castle

Friday, May 16, 2014
• Day trip to Auschwitz

Saturday, May 17, 2014
• Visit Wieliczka Salt Mine
• Spend time in Main Market Square

Sunday, May 18, 2014
• Train from Krakow, Poland, to Warsaw, Poland, arriving at 1:36 p.m. (have tickets)
• Attend Chopin piano concert in Lazienki Park

Monday, May 19, 2014
• Visit Royal Castle
• Visit Warsaw Uprising Museum


Tuesday, May 20, 2014
• Visit National Museum
• Self-Guided walk from Rick Steves’ Eastern Europe guidebook
• Spend time in Old Town Market Square

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
• Flight home departs at 6:05 a.m.
KL467 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 06:02 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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Should be an interesting trip!

You might want to consider shifting at least one day from Warsaw to either Berlin or Krakow. Since Berlin is easier to get to than Krakow, I'd probably add that time to Krakow, but it depends on your interests. I'm glad I saw Warsaw, but I must admit that I found it much less interesting than other European capitals, and much less interesting than either Berlin or Krakow, and I would NOT skim on charming, fascinating Krakow to see Warsaw. YMMV.

While in Krakow, do not miss the Lady with an Ermine -- she is magnificent!

While in Berlin, give serious thought to visiting the Pergamon Museum, and don't miss stunning Nefertiti in the Egyptian Museum.

FWIW, my experience is that the Rick Steves's guidebooks are extremely thin on art. You say that is an interest of yours, so you might want to consult some other guide books before you travel. I'm partial to the Rough Guide and Fodor's, and I generally consult the Lonely Planet and Eyewitness Insight Guides as well. Almost any of them may give more substantial coverage to the substantial art and architecture options in these cities - at least IME!

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 06:06 PM
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So you just posted this? We've enjoyed trips to Krakow, Berlin, Dresden. Sounds good. Berlin does have those great museums. Surely near the Wall you will want to pause at the Jewish Memorial which is a row of granite pillars. You have some advanced plans with a guide.

Dresden is a nicely reconstructed city where you can meander around. Definitely include the Green Vault at Grunes Gewolbe along with Zwinger Palace grounds.

As for Krakow there is indeed Wawel Castle with cathedral and also the Market Square with Cloth Hall to wander around in. Across the river is the former old Jewish section (Kazimierz) which you might visit including Artistic Cafe in the hotel (where Schindler and also Spielberg relaxed) and now a Schindler's Museum which I haven't seen...only stood at the entrance before it was developed. I'll be interested in your evaluation.

Definitely Auschwitz for a day. This is a somber place for reflection upon the horrors of persecution, Nazis killings, war.
Ozarksbill is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 06:36 PM
  #4  
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Yes, I just posted this. Thank you both so much for taking the time to give us such great information. I, too, am least interested in Warsaw and am very excited about Krakow. We left some room in our itinerary hoping that we would get great recommendations from this forum. DH is not as excited about the Schindler Museum as I am, but I believe that he will change his mind. I look forward to, but also dread the day that we go to Auschwitz. We are definitely adding the Pergamon Museum and the Green Vault. Tomorrow evening I will look at the other places that you both mentioned. Thanks again!
KL467 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 06:43 PM
  #5  
kja
 
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> but also dread the day that we go to Auschwitz

A visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau can, obviously, be a very painful day, but it can also be very moving and IMO, it is well worth every moment. I think you were wise to leave the evening of that day open so you can choose what works best for you after what I'm sure will be a powerful and emotional day.

Let us know if we can help with further details and do report back!
kja is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 07:02 PM
  #6  
Amy
 
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I actually enjoyed Warsaw much more than I expected. Of course, it's been quite some time now, but you might want to read my trip report here: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-july-2006.cfm

Definitely, definitely Auschwitz is someplace you should visit, and just as definitely it's good not to have anything else scheduled that day. It's a lot to process.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 07:27 PM
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You have a workable plan and good advice from this Frum. Please do not confuse the Warsaw Uprising Muuseum, with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising...two years apart. There is much to see in Warsaw about the ghetto uprising, where the Nazi battalions were held off for 40+ days by starving ghetto fighters armed with handguns and nothing much else. This started on Passover seder night in April 1943. Survivors were few. We attended the 50th anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising in Warsaw in April 1993, after visiting Steven who sas "making" Schindler's List in and around Krakow.

The Warsaw uprising toward the end of the war was Polish, not Jewish. Jews had been cleared from the ghetto and transported mostly to Treblinka and Auschwitz before the ghetto uprising began...by the time of war's end, more than three-million Polish Jews had been murdered in a variety of gruesome ways.
Be sure to visit both Auschwitz I and closeby Birkenau death camp.
tower is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 07:30 PM
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Fogive too many typos...old eyes are tricked easily...and I've been carrying these peepers around for 85 years. Squint! Squint!
tower is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 07:40 PM
  #9  
kja
 
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That anniversary must have been something, tower - I'm so glad you were able to attend. I must admit that I was stunned by how FEW markers there were of either of these events were when I visited Warsaw in 1995. With some searching, I found a few memorials and an occasional plaque here or there .... But maybe I didn't have good guidance.

And BTW the "typos" are NOT because of your or your eyes -- there's an "autocorrect" feature that now makes ALL our messages precarious at best!
kja is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 08:13 PM
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I'm only addressing the Poland part since I have not yet visited Berlin - that's coming up this fall!

May 15
The Krakow Under the Occupation Museum (KUTO) (some call it the Schindler Factory Museum but it is not really about Schindler nor is it in the factory but in the administration building next to the factory). This is a fabulous museum and not to be missed. It must be seen in chronological order (from the bottom up). It's a slice of Krakow life - here's what I wrote in my trip report:

"This was an amazing museum and one of the top sights in Krakow. The museum re-creates the war years complete with a street of shops, train station waiting room, prison cells, swastikas, lots of touch screen with videos of Schindler survivors (in English & Polish), a narrow passageway with the ghetto wall. There is archival film footage. Sound effects complete the illusion that you are there – train whistles, marching armies, sirens, and barking dogs. The museum ends with a rubber walkway that makes you sway as you approach the exit; a reminder that life is not evenly fluid, there are uncertainties."

You'll need a minimum of 2 hours and that's with only watching a few of the survivor stories. It's worth it!

As you walk to the KUTO you'll pass Ghetto Heroes Square and the Pharmacy Under the Eagle. Take a few moments to look in the Pharmacy and to reflect on the square.

There's so much of Kasimierz that you're missing.

Wawel Castle tickets sell out very early. It's going to be tough to see both the castle and Krakow Under the Occupation Museum on the same day because of Wawel timing. This and the Salt Mine presented problems for me but the Salt Mine does stay open late.

Cathedral - not a great sight. Part of it is free but if you want to see the treasures (usual silver chalices, etc. and go up to the attic - not much of a view) you need to get a ticket in the building across the street. I thought there were many other Krakow sights that were more impressive.

You mentioned that you like cathedrals. How about churches that are not cathedrals? The Franciscan church, where Pope John Paul II prayed, has Art Nouveau stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross with people in modern attire. There's a brass plaque on the pew where the pope sat for prayer and mass (on the left, towards the back).

The Basilica (on the main square) has an amazing altar piece that opens at noon. Get a ticket just outside the entrance.

The Salt Mine will take about 5 hours round trip from Krakow. It's a wonderful experience.

You could do a few things after Auschwitz, if you are inclined. Look for evening concerts (there are usually fliers around town or ask at the TI).

I would probably swap Thursday and Saturday. I went to the KUTO Museum on a Saturday morning (first admission) and it was empty. You're likely to have school groups on Thursday. It won't matter for the Salt Mine since it's likely to be a zoo any time of the week.

Warsaw - You mention the Castle on one day and then spending time in the Old Square on another day. The Castle is in the Old Square. The Uprising Museum (another great museum) is not in that area. It's off by itself as it's in a disused power plant.

Enjoy! I love Krakow.
adrienne is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 09:33 PM
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I'm in Berlin now (woke up early, still have two days). Yesterday I checked out Checkpoint Charlie and part of the Topography of Terror. I was going to see the Museum of the Wall at Checkpoint Charlie but skipped it (might go back). Topography of Terror is mostly photographs and text (in English) but it is a lot of info and I saw so much yesterday that I gave up halfway through and may go back and see the rest - it is not far from my hotel.

Understand that a lot of stuff you see in Berlin is outside - big pictures and text, almost like parts of an outdoor museum, all over town. One reason I skipped the Checkpoint Charlie museum was that there is a ton of pictures and text OUTSIDE without even going into the museum, and I felt I got the gist of everything from the pictures and text the outside. How much more could I learn inside?

Topography of Terror and Checkpoint Charlie are very close together - I'd do them on the same day, probably arrival day.

You should also visit the Berlin Wall Memorial, which is right outside the Nordbanhof S-Bahn station (the station itself has a dozen big pictures and text inside - more museum stuff about how the wall complicated subway travel in Berlin, fascinating) - an excellent exhibit not to be missed. The Wall went through a church and a cemetery across the street from the station, greatly complicating things for parishioners of the church for decades (it was eventually torn down by the communists). And here is one of the very few places in town where you can still see a significant part of the wall.

I took a "Third Reich Sites" walking tour yesterday - I already knew most of the history but it was still fascinating. We were taken to the site (now a parking lot) of Hitler's bunker where he ended it all at the end of the war - probably hard to find on my own, because it's barely marked. I'd recommend the tour, but it was about four hours. You do hit many of the top sites like the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe on the tour as well.
Andrew is online now  
Apr 13th, 2014, 09:40 PM
  #12  
kja
 
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I visited the Checkpoint Charlie Museum in 1995, so much could have changed. What I enjoyed most about it were the displays (including 3-D displays) of the many ways in which people had tried to cross the border. Fascinating!
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Apr 13th, 2014, 10:37 PM
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It's raining here this morning so I may wind up going to the CC museum anyway - but I already got the gist of how people tried to escape from the numerous outdoor photos and text. At the Berlin Wall Memorial, there are pictures of most of the escapees who died trying to flee East Berlin while the Wall was up.
Andrew is online now  
Apr 14th, 2014, 05:09 AM
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Hello Kim!
I just posted my report on Krakow. We loved it!
carolw is offline  
Apr 14th, 2014, 08:22 AM
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Oh my! So much great information that my husband and I will be pouring over this evening. Amy and Carolw, thank you for the trip reports. Tower, I will double check the uprising museums to make sure we have the correct one that DH really wants to go to. I do plan to go to Birkenau, but accidentally left it off this list. Adrienne, I will check out Kasimierz. I'm glad we have some wiggle room in our itinerary. I chose Checkpoint Charlie for day 1 because I know we will be exhausted from the long trip from the U.S. Plus, I am fascinated with that type of history. DH is a World War II history buff. Our private guide will show us around Berlin. I have seen some sights (including part of the wall and Hitler's bunker) in Berlin in 2009 on a four-hour walking tour, but DH has never been there.
Thank you!
Kim
KL467 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2014, 08:42 AM
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The Uprising Museum is also known as the Rising Museum if the source is British. I'm not sure there is more than 1 Uprising museum. This is the web site. Don't miss the WWII era cafe on the mezzanine level. It's a bit tucked away and easy to miss.

https://modigliani.shutterfly.com/poland2011/284

http://www.1944.pl/en/
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Apr 14th, 2014, 11:25 AM
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http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...in-journal.cfm

For some Berlin ideas though you seem to have schooled yourself very well - Berlin is simply one of the most fascinating cities on the planet right now!
PalenQ is online now  
Apr 24th, 2014, 07:20 AM
  #18  
 
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Great little restaurant in Krakow, Tutto Bene on Dietla Street. Hope they are still there, it was a terrific little place run by an energetic young woman. We were in Krakow in 2010, fell in love, awesome country and wonderful people. Shindler's, the castle, the Salt Mine and of course Auschwitz well worth the visit. Have a super trip!
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May 18th, 2014, 02:07 PM
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DH is a World War II history buff>

Then check out the Soviet War Memorial in Treptow Park - keeping in mind the Red Army was the first into Berlin to 'liberate' it - for years covered with weeds after the DDR's collapse now shines again.
PalenQ is online now  
May 18th, 2014, 02:20 PM
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I will be visiting Krakow and Warsaw this June for the first time visiting some of the same things you intend to visit.

In Berlin--with which I am very familiar--I would not miss the Pergammon Museum. Otherwise you have a very good itinerary.
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