September 22 (Thursday)

The hotel had breakfast packs ready for us but couldn't provide any tea or coffee. Left for the airport at 5:45am and arrived at 6:15 pm.

Check in went smooth and had rolls and coffee at the airport cafe.

LO 5222 (Tyrolean Airways) - de Havilland Dash 8-400 (Altenrheim)
Vienna - Warsaw

Scheduled Departure: 8:40 am
Arrival and departure on time. The flight was smooth and generous leg space for it's size.

Vienna was a pleasure. I can not get over how beautiful the city is and most importantly how wonderful the people. Everyone is so willing to help, irrespective of how old they are or what they are doing. It started from when we first stepped out of the airport and on to the shuttle bus. Some of the people worth remembering and mentioning are:

1. The young girl on the shuttle bus who took us under her wing from the beginning and keeping us posted on how far we have to go before our stop.

2. The gentleman from Bangladesh in the hotel restaurant, who gave us pointers on taking city tours and ideas on sight seeing. It was fun talking to him in Bengali if nothing else.

3. The person at the front desk, who searched the Internet to find the address of the Medical School so he could give us directions.

4. The 2 men and one lady who helped us find the Medical School and the University.

5. The fellow diner at the Mozart Café who took it upon herself to explain to me what a Pike-Perch was, when the waiter was unable to. She also assured me that there were no bones when I showed some reluctance to try it.

There are many more who helped us and gave us information always with a smile on their face.

Vienna is a dessert lovers delight and although I am not much of a dessert person, I could easily become one in Vienna.

I missed proper planning for this trip, realizing too late that we could have stayed 2 more days in Vienna. There will be a next time, there has to be, there is so much this city and it's surrounding has to offer.

Back in Warsaw on time, met up with the Andraes and Hodorowskis and waited for Adrienne, wondering if she had decided to stay back after all. She finally arrived and we all breathed a sigh of relief not having to explain to Dennis why Adrienne didn't come with us.

It is only too obvious that we are back in Poland. No one smiles, makes eye contact or offers to help. The highlight of the Poland part of the trip was definitely the visit to the Farm, the warmth and reception we got was something to always remember.

As for site seeing, the Salt Mines were "It" for me. I am not at all fond of underground spaces with no windows but I could have definitely stayed for hours longer.

The LOT flight out of Warsaw left 30 mins late. It had to wait for a connecting flight from Krakow.

The flight went smooth and uneventful, that was nice. There was more food served than most airlines, the seats however, were just as cramped as the flight going over. The customs and immigration went smooth as did the bus ride home. We had a driver with a real quirky sense of humor which was entertaining.

The Endeavor did not smell nearly as bad as we expected for the 3 pears left in it for 16 days.

All in all a very nice trip.

September 21 (Wednesday)

Breakfast at Hotel

Picked up at the hotel for the Romantic Danube Valley Tour. It took about 45mins to get out of the city area and into the valley.

The scenery was beautiful and bus very comfortable. The bus took us to Spitz for the one hour up river trip to Melks. There were a few old Forts and historical sites along the banks including one in which King Richard The Lion Heart was held for ransom.

After disembarking at Melks, we went in to have lunch at Melker Stiftsrestaurant
Food B
Service B+

Tour of the Abbey with a local guide.

It is 2 hectares of built up area that sits on 5000 hectares property. This is a working Abbey and only a fraction was open for tours. Just about everything was worth seeing. The library is very well stocked and anyone can use it with permission.

Couple of the Highlights were the all wood clock and the treasure box with 7 locks and one key.

As always, there wasn't enough time to spend on all the details. After the Abbey tour we came to the city center.

We had dinner at the Mozart Café, and in true Austrian fashion the Lady two booths down explained to me what the fish was that I was asking about. I am extremely impressed with the helpful nature of the people. We don't even have to ask, people stop and say "may I help you".

Food C
Service B+

September 20 (Tuesday)

Slept in this morning, and had a late breakfast at the hotel.

Took the U3 to the Spanish Riding School to see the Lipizzaner Stallions exercise. The horses were gorgeous but the tickets were overpriced considering the lack of viewing areas and the fact that the horses did not do anything but walk around.

We left after about an hour and had coffee and pastry at the café on site. Sudip had his favorite, apple strudel.

Now it was time to locate the Medical School that my father went to. So we then took U3 back to Westbanhof and switched to U6 that took us to the General Hospital per the directions given by the front desk at the hotel.

The hospital was very modern and more like a small city with great train access. At the hospital we realized that this was too new to be what we were a looking for. As we stood there with the map in our hand, a woman doctor came over and volunteered to help and gave us great leads. This is so typical of Vienna, everyone is so willingly helpful.

We took U6 back to the University area and found the Medical School. Then had lunch at the Café that has typically been a favorite of the students for a long time, a great possibility that my father may have had his meals there as well.

The meal was very good but the desserts were amazing. Again the free WiFi was a bonus.
Food- A
Service. A

We then took many pictures of the Medical School and hoped it had not changed so much that my father would not recognize it. I hope he does and I am looking forward to his reaction when we show him the pictures.

From the University area we took the Circular sightseeing tram and eventually got down in front of the Parliament House. This is in Greek style with a statue of Athena in the front.

We walked around and took in some more sights, it was chilly and started to rain so we took U3 back to Westbanhof and the hotel.

After a short rest we went to the Bar & Grill across the street for dinner. It had a family style diner and we shared the table with another couple, who inspite of a language barrier showed the typical friendly nature of all in Vienna.

Food. B
Service. B+

September 19 (Monday)

Breakfast at hotel - no toast, limited hot food choice.

Historical City Tour with Schönbrunn Palace. Got picked up from the hotel at 8:55am, arrived at the depot at 9:45am. Being a Monday morning, the roads were crowded and the pickups difficult.

The population of Vienna is 1.2 million and it has 23 districts.

Left for the tour at 10:00 am, the guide was very good and gave commentary in both German and English without missing a beat.

She showed us many sites, including, State Opera House, Museum of fine arts, Academy of diplomatic studies, Engineering University, Natural history museum, Parliament, City Hall, the Stock Exchange (designed in Greek style). We passed two Identical buildings, one is a RR station and the other Museum of Arts from where music is broadcasted to 150 countries every New Years Day at 11:00 am..

The tour ended at the Opera House and we went in to have lunch at the Mozart Cafe.
Service A
Food A
Pleasantly surprised to get free WiFi for customers.

After lunch we walked around found St. Stephens Cathedral, which had magnificent architecture. Even though we didn't go in, the out side was fantastic. We got cornered by a group of young men and women selling Mozart concert tickets. Of course there is a clown in every group and one young man was trying to convince us that he was Sharoukh Khan (a Bollywood idol).

We then bought a 72 hour metro pass and used it to stop by the Spanish Riding School to get the details of the training schedule. We hope to see this training tomorrow.

Dinner at the hotel:
Food B+
Service C+


September 18 (Sunday)

Breakfast at the hotel, and said our "Goodbyes" to the Group. We are going in all different directions today. Mary Lou, Dale, Bob, and Cathy back to Chicago, Dan and Trish to Frankfürt, Joe and Nancy to Berlin, and us to Vienna.

Left for the airport at 8:00 am to fly to Vienna
LO 5221 (Tyrolean Airways) - de Havilland Dash 8-400 (Kärenena)

Scheduled Departure: 10:40 am
Arrival: 12:05 pm

Arrival and departure on time. The flight was smooth and generous leg space for it's size. Coffee and snacks served on the flight.

As soon as we got out of the Vienna airport, the helpful and friendly nature of the people won us over. We Took the shuttle to Westbanhof, at all the previous stops we were cautioned by helpful people that it was not our stop.

The Hotel (Fleming's) was about a 40 min ride and the bus stop was at the same location as the metro station. The hotel itself was about 1500' walking distance from the bus stop.

It was a nice a easy walk and we checked into the hotel, the front desk was very helpful and friendly and apologized for our room not being ready for our early arrival.

There was free wireless available every place in the hotel, the only catch was that the password was valid for 10 hours of actual usage and separate password needed for each device and log in needed after a period (never figured out the duration)of inactivity from the iPad. My Android phone remained logged in during the period.

We left our luggage at the front desk and went in to have lunch at the restaurant.

A waiter, originally from Bangladesh greeted us and waited on our table. I have to say it was a very neat and enjoyable experience sitting by the sidewalk in Vienna drinking cappuccino and speaking to a complete stranger in my native language.

After lunch we walked around and figured out what we were going to do the next day, including buying bottled water.

We had an early dinner at the hotel, accompanied by Austrian red wine and retired early. I was given two different red wines and frankly didn't like either, one was barely drinkable.

Food. C
Service. A-
Facilities B+

September 17 (Saturday)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Large spread tastefully laid out.
Left at 8:30 am by bus, went with our guide to Westerplatte, the port on the Baltic where WWII started for Poland. The fighting lasted two weeks, one of the Polish soldiers (one person only!) wanted to surrender before that but the others didn't. There is a memorial for the people who died there. Yolunta told us that the ships lower their flags when they sail past that location today.

I did get a glimpse of The Baltic from this location and would have loved to spend sometime watching all the ships sail past.

We then proceeded on to Malbork to visit the castle. There were 3 parts to it. All the parts were worth visiting. One part has been preserved without any renovation. Excellent examples of technology for heating, acoustic etc. Interestingly the Teutonic Knights, adapted technology from other parts of the world that was suitable to them.

Yolunta is from Malbork, which made her the perfect guide for us. I very much enjoyed her personality and knowledge. She went with us to the train station to make sure we were on the right platform for the Warsaw bound train.

Got on the scheduled 12:27 pm train without any incidents. Saw 12 more windmills and Lake Dzierzgoń, soon after we got up on the train.

Lunch while passing by a Fish Farm.

Stations/landmarks not noticed before.
Iława Głowna - long stop
Fish Farm
Muntowo - rolling stop.
Slowed down and finally stopped but not at a station - very long stop.
Announcement in Polish, not understood. Two fast trains whizzed by. Finally restarted, only to slow down again.
Śweircze - 4:50 pm
Warszawa Płudy
Warszawa Wachodnia - long stop, bathrooms were cleaned and garbage collected.

Arrived in Warsaw at on time at 6:10 pm. Warsaw is the only underground station. Josef met us at the train station and took us to the Polonia Palace Hotel.

Checked in at Polonia Palace Hotel to be reunited with our luggage. We freshened up and had the buffet dinner at the hotel, thanks Bob for scouting this out. The dinner was wonderful with many appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. The first glass of wine was included, with a choice of white or red. I had the red, which was a blended Cabernet and Merlot from Chile. It was very smooth and went well with my dinner.

Adrienne and Cathy joined us as we were finishing. They had a great time with Yolunta and her family. They also went to the the farm with them. Yolunta's husband Edmund drove them in a Toyota Land Cruiser, which got a kick out of Cathy.

Food A
Service A+
Restaurant employees accommodative, helpful and friendly.

Polonia Palace Hotel
Facilities A
Service A-
WiFi Only in lobby, bar, and restaurant.

September 16 (Friday)

Breakfast at the hotel, wished bon voyage to Dolores and Julie who were leaving for Chicago today

Left for the train stain at 8:00 am for the 8:45 express, intercity train to Gdansk.

The train left on time from Platform # 1.

Got served coffee etc and a cookie at around 9:45

The train is comfortable, slowed down at many stations but did reach speeds of 70+ mph often. The seats had a picture of shoes, with the writing "Inwestycje Wiaża Sie Z Ryzykiem", never did figure out what that meant until today (10/23). It means Investing Involves Risk - Thanks Adrienne.

Wachodnia - short stop
Warszawa Toruńska
Ciechanów - long stop
Long stop, possibly for maintenance.
Miscellaneous stops
Diziałdowo - stop
Announced stop at ?
Zabrowo - minimal stop
Prabuty - minimal stop
Passed Lake Dzierzgoń
Malbork* - long stop
Crossed the Wisła river on long bridge, old covered auto/pedestrian bridge to the west.
Rozyny - whizzed past
Gdańsk Orunia
Gdańsk GŁowna - our stop.

Reached 77 mph top speed.

Lunch around 1:00 pm. in the dinning car - self service.

Coffee service to the compartments (paid)

Arrived Gdansk at 3:55 p.m.
Yolunda met us at the station. I was looking forward to seeing the Baltic and was disappointed to find out it was not included in the plans. Somehow I had assumed that going to Gdansk would mean seeing the Baltic.

Checked in to the Bonum Hotel and then went to tour of Old Town and the medieval area by the canal. St. Nicholas Cathedral was the most awe inspiring. The walls were Gothic and the decoration Baroque.

The city is very nice and Sudip, who had seen it before it was reconstructed was highly impressed of how it was totally re-built but still retains the look of an old city.

The tour ended at the oldest restaurant in Gdansk, POD Lososiem, where we had dinner.
Food C
Service D

The restaurant was quite stuck up, made a fuss about keeping our jackets. The waiters weren't that helpful either. I had the Onion Soup, it was good but not much to "write home about".

Bonum Hotel:
Facilities B+
Service B
WiFi Lobby & First Floor only.

The man on duty at the front counter is unhelpful, unfriendly, and rude. He was more than offset by the friendly and helpful lady who came in for the night shift.

September 15 (Thursday)

Breakfast at the hotel, not as good as yesterday but still good.
Left for Wieliczka Salt Mine (UNESCO World Heritage site) at 8:35 am
Excellent tour by Katerina our tour guide. The tour was amazing and definitely worth all the stairs, 800 in total to a depth of 125m.

The lighting and ventilation was very well done and maintained. Our guide told us that people with asthma find it easier to breath in there. Just about everything is salt including chandeliers stairway, walkway.

We saw 22 of the 200 chambers. These are the only chambers for tourists. The oldest ones we saw are from the 17th. century. The oldest one is from the 15th. century and is being renovated to hopefully open for Eurocup 2012.

Many of the chambers are also being renovated. There are some chambers that are specifically for Geologist, they were the proper PPE, carry CO detectors and are accompanied by mining foreman. These usually take around 5 hours and have to be booked in advance.

The way up is on a 4 chamber elevator and runs along the original mine shaft. It holds 36 people, 9 in each chamber and is called the "man cage". It travel at 4m/sec and reaches the top in one minute. The whole process was very organized and a great experience even though we were packed tight. There is a person from the tour operators that accompany each elevator.

Lunch stop at Siedlisko, a wayside stop 40 km north of Krakow on International Rd # 7. The name of the town is Miechòw.
Food B+
Service B+

Left my purple jacket behind, Julie picked it up for me. Thanks Julie.

Pit stop at McDonalds in Radom, 60 miles SE of Warsaw.

Got in too late due to an accident, so went to directly to the restaurant for our farewell group dinner at Oberża Pod Czerwonym Wierprzem (under the red hog), done in a communist style basically insulting the communist regime. The painting on the wall depicts the communist leaders of the world at dinner in non flattering poses.

Food C-
Service D

Gregortz has changed a lot, he has been making extra efforts including finding out and providing me with the location of today's lunch stop.

He made arrangements with the Polonia Hotel next door, to hold our main luggage during our overnight Gdansk trip. Thank you Grzegorz. .

Checked in at Metropol Hotel after dinner # 616
Facilities C
Services B
WiFi Paid

September 14 (Wednesday)

Breakfast at hotel. One of the largest spreads yet. The coffee was very good as well.

Left the hotel at 10:00 am for a guided tour of Krakow. This time our tour guide was Grzegorz himself.

Started out with the Main Market Square, a short walking distance from the hotel, supposedly at 4 hectares it is the largest Market Square in Europe.

The St. Mary's Basilica has an interesting history and one of the highest Churches. It has a replica of the Black Madonna as well as The Passion of Christ.

Visited The Basilica of St Francis (Bazylika Sw. Franceszka), the Dominican Church was at the other end

Went on to Wawel Hill renaissance Royal Castle and Cathedral, some people went up to the Bell Tower and the rest of us stayed in the Cathedral.

At the tour end, went into lunch at Pod Wawelem.
Food B+
service B+

After lunch, it started raining and the group split up with some going to visit the Old Jewish Quarter - Kazimierz.

We came back to the hotel to get our jackets, buy an umbrella and had tea and Zywiec in the bar.

Went out shopping bought a TShirt for Sanjit and amber jewelry for myself.

Met Grzegorz in front of St. Mary's Basilica, and then proceeded walking to the restaurant seeing many other sites on the way.

Dinner at Mikołaj Wierzynek's House with live folk music and Polish folk dance.
Food B+
Service B
Entertainment A

Gregortz appears to be more friendly and has become more like the type of guides we are used to.

September 13 (Tuesday)

Breakfast at hotel had one of the largest spreads and with excellent coffee. We were all ready and waiting for the guide at the scheduled 7:45 am. Bob had all luggage loaded up.

Left the hotel at 8:05 am for the Black Madonna monastery in Czestochowa.
Sister Teresa was our guide, her enthusiasm and knowledge was very enjoyable. There was too much too see and digest specially for me. I need to learn more about it.

In general a very impressive and enjoyable place. The history of Poland is entwined in religion and wars and is very obvious in all the places we have visited, specially so here.

One unfortunate incident, where a woman tried to pick Joe's pocket and ran away when Joe turned around.

Left for Auschwitz around 10:30 am and reached around 12:30 pm. We have both read and seen much about it, and were not convinced that seeing it in person does anything more or shows respect for the unfortunate who were tortured and perished in these camps. We stayed out at both camps while the others went in. It was a beautiful day, warm and dry with a nice breeze. Unfortunately even now such atrocities and more are still going on around the world.

Lunch at Paragon Fishkalny, a self service fast-food place across from Auschwitz.

Óswieçim is the Polish name for Auschwitz and Brzezinka Polish name for Birkenau, it is also known as Auschwitz II. Both Auschwitz and Birkenau are German names.

Left Birkenau at 3:00 pm for Wadowice.

On the way crossed the Sola (a tributary of Wisla) river. Passed the chemical factory next to which was another camp where only English speaking prisoners were held. The factory is for gasoline and rubber.

The scenery changed to rolling and winding roads.

Arrived at Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II. Visited the Church where he was baptized and attended. The Church is right next to his house, which is under renovation.

The Church was Baroque style but subdued and welcoming.

We had to all get cream cakes, that were made famous by John Paul IIs reference to it during his speech in 1991.

Part of the drive was through winding country roads and then Hwy #7, which Gregortz warned us was the busiest and the most dangerous road in Poland.

Checked into Polski Pod Bialym Orlem Hotel (The Polish Hotel Under The White Eagle) which has an interesting history. It is a privately owned hotel, one of the oldest in Krakow opened in 1815 as "The White Eagle Tavern" in an old historical complex of buildings.

Across the street is the Gallery of Ancient Art (Galeria Sztuki Starożytnej), which was displaying Egyptian Artifacts/arts. On the other side was a McDonalds that Julie was happy to see and patronized and supported the American Polish economy.

Dinner at Farina, a Mediterranean restaurant and one of the very few that serve lobster.
Food B+
Service B

Polska Pod Bialym Orlem Hotel.
Facilities B
Service B+,
WiFi Fickle

September 12 (Monday)

Breakfast at the hotel, the menu had the least items of all the hotels we have stayed at so far.

Left the hotel (WiFi was much improved in the morning) after breakfast for a 3 hour hour guided city tour of Poznan. The guide Malgorzata (Margaret) met us at the hotel and rode with us. She was very bubbly and enthusiastic, maybe a bit too talkative but fun to listen to nonetheless.

Poznan has 600,000 people and 90 Churches. It is the first capital of old Poland and is famous for kings, goats, and potatoes.

We made 3 stops in the town Center, old town island (surrounded by three rivers) and old town center.

The old town center was one of the nicest we have seen. Too bad we couldn't spend too much time in there or have lunch.

A pair of goats heralded by trumpets arrive at 12:00 pm every day on the parapet above the clock in the St. Stanislaus Cathedral. The town square had bronze statues of Greek Gods, noticed Apollo and Neptune.

St. Martin's bread is from here. We bought chocolates and sweet rolls from here.

I had a new 2 z coin and when I asked our guide Grzegorz what it was, he just about snatched it from me and gave me a standard one saying he collects those. I thought that was rather rude of him and he should have asked me if he could have it and I would have gladly given it to him. Other guides in the same situation typically have encouraged tourists to hold on to it as souvenirs.

Left Poznan for Czestochowa at around 12:30 pm, taking the Motorway this time passed 2 toll booth on the way.

Passed Two toll booths prior to lunch stop.

Lunch was at McDonalds on the roadside. We had been told that beef in Poland was rather tough and pork was the meat of choice and that's what McDonalds used, so I was somewhat looking forward to a pork quarter pounder with cheese. Unfortunately this particular ones claim to fame was 100% beef burgers. I settled for the chicken wings and parfait. The chicken wings were very good and the parfait tasted the same as in the US.

Went past Łódź, the longest street car route is here - 60 km. The people take street cars into the fields to work. Previously it was the second largest city in Poland, now displaced from that position by Krakow.

Checked into the Mercure Patria Hotel at around 6:45pm. The rooms are small and at 27c with heat blasting in, that cannot be controlled. Repeated complaints to the front desk and to Grzegorz got the answer of "open the windows" and a rude dismissal.

Dinner at the hotel:
Food: C-
Service: B

Mercure Patria Hotel:
Facilities D
Service D-
WiFi Poor.

September 11 (Sunday)

Breakfast at hotel with omlettes made to order for the first time.

Left for Bydgoszcz at 9:10 am. Took the bypass around it. A bit of trivia - during the 16th century Bydgoszcz had the biggest mint in Europe.

Arrived at Krosztowo at 11:15, Andraszczyk (Andrae) family was from here. No known names were found in the cemetary. There was a mass with many in attendance. There is statue of a waitress advertising a bar/restaurant near by. A huge German Shepherd was next door.

No known names.

Next stop at Niezychowo, no known names found.

The passenger door of the bus would not remain shut, and was eventually held in place with a bungee cord.

Crossed a river where people were boating and/or fishing. Taking the country roads all the way to Poznan. Passed through some nice towns/villages.

Lunch stop at Chodcziek, NESTOR, a self service wayside restaurant with excellent facilities.
Food B+
Service Self Service.

Checked Novotel Central around 4:00 pm at Poznan. The hotel is across the street from an Old Brewery renovated into a shopping plaza, called Story Brower, meaning Old Brewery. Our room was changed 3 times due to a bad smell from the bathroom.

Sudip and Bob had a Zywtec in the hotel bar.

Dinner at Piano Bar, located at the shopping mall across the street.

Novotel Hotel
Facilities C
Service C
WiFi Fickle

September 10 (Saturday)

For breakfast we had to go downstairs and walk through some winding tunnels, dimly lit and with statues that reminded me of Haunted House during Halloween. The restaurant was two or three buildings away from the hotel and on the other side of the street, quite an adventure before coffee.

Unfortunately, the breakfast itself was not very good.

Left the hotel at 9:00 am. Visited the Main Cathedral in the town square.

On the way to Torun, Stopped at Badkowo, St. Matthew's Church where Dan's etc. grandfather was baptized, who emigrated to the US in 1907. There was a funeral going on, with the same family name so could very well be a relative.

Next stop the cemetery where no known names were found, some familiar names though.

Waited for the funeral procession to go past.
Next stop Slupy Mate village, Felix and John (the two brothers) were born here.

Bush break for some on the way.

Next town Siniarzewo, John Debinski & Teresa Climczak (Felix's parents) were married in 1868. Stopped at the St. Jacob's Church where they were married.

Next a brief stop at Dobre and then on to Sedzin. Stopped in front of a Church to walk around. Adrienne's grandmother (father's mother) may have been baptized at the Church.

Bathroom break at a gas station at the entrance to the highway.

Lunch break at Chata Garalska, Ciechocinek; mushroom soup in a bread bowl.

Food - A
Service - A

Drove to Toruń, guided tour of Old Town including Copernicus house etc. The guide's name was Johann, a typical entertaining guide and I enjoyed it very much. His favorite line to any of Trish's questions was "2 rooms later".

The frog story was very neat. As a group we agreed that Bob had a family resemblance with Copernicus, and he good naturedly put up with our teasing from then on.

Checked in at Hotel Filmar at 6:30 pm.
Dinner at the hotel
Food - A-
Service - B-

September 9 (Friday)

Breakfast at the hotel Left for Wloclawek at 9:30 am. On the way picked up flowers and vodka. The Wisla (Viswa) flows all the way. In about an hour entered the countryside. The family farm in Cwiersk is around 30-40 miles out.

Bathroom break at Plonsk.

The family visit in Cwiersk was wonderful. They were very warm and welcoming. The 92 year old grandmother who keeps to herself, made a special effort to come out, greet us all warmly, and sit down to have lunch with us Young Marzena did a great and tireless job of acting as the translator; considering the size of the group that was a mammoth task.

We had a grand lunch complete with champagne and home made vodka. The food and drinks specially the drinks seem to have never ending refills The Urbaniak farm was quite big and the house spacious. We said our goodbyes after 2-3 hours and were escorted to the cemetery where Dan (and others)great grandmother was buried. Julie and I stayed back in the bus while the others went to visit.

A funeral procession went past the van, singing hymns. The casket was protruding out from the Mini Van's tail gate.

Afternoon transfer to Wloclawk, checked in at hotel Mlyn. This was an interesting hotel converted from a salt mill, all the rooms were suites and were large. Some of them even had 2 bathrooms.

Dinner at hotel - grilled pork, 2 kinds of sausages (smoked and white), trout. Salads and fruit juices.
Food - B+
Service D-

We each had coupons for a free Screwdriver and four of us took advantage if it.

We also took the opportunity to discuss the cold and apparent uninterested behavior of our guide Grzegorz and how starkly different this was than most guides we have had individual experiences with.

I do hope he loosens up and is a bit more interested in answering our questions than he has been so far.

Hotel Mlyn
Facility. B+
Service. B
WiFi. Free and in all rooms.

September 8 (Thursday)

September 8 (Thursday):

7:15 am buffet breakfast at Hotel - left hotel at 8:50am
Guide - Marla

W???? Park.
Statue of Marszalek Josef Pilsudski - created Polish Legion 1997
Belvedere Palace - 2010 Presidential Palace
Botanical Park - Chopin statue

Guided tour of Warsaw city by bus.
Palace of science and culture built by Stalin with Russian bricks and labor but paid for by the Polish. This structure dominates the surroundings and looks out of place.

Old Town with the Royal Castle, The Royal Route and "Lazienki" - the Royal Park.
Former Jewish ghetto, the Monument to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
Lunch at Zapiecek, a Pierogi specialty.
Ordered Pierogi with cabbage and forest mushroom.

Food - C
Service - C

Weather was drizzly so not much walking was possible.

Dinner at - Folk Gospoda
Food - B-
Service B.

Chopin concert by Monika Rosca, not being a fan of classical music, I was not too keen on attending this. I was pleasantly surprised that I not only liked it but more importantly didn't fall asleep.

September 7 (Wednesday)

On the flight:
Breakfast - hot ham and cheese with 2 cups of coffee, juices. A rather small sandwich.
Scheduled arrival at Warsaw 2:15 PM
Actual - 1:05 PM

Yousef, our driver for the duration met us at the airport, Grzegorz our guide was held up coming from his home town of Krakow and met us at the hotel.

Yolanta and Edmund also came to receive us at the airport, that was neat. Her grandmother is the oldest of the four sister.

Checked into Novotel and with the rest of the group had Okocim, a Polish beer.

Guide - Grzegorz (Gregory), went over the itinerary. Welcome dinner was at 6:00 pm at the hotel, and was great. Drinks were included.

Yolanta and Edmund came over after dinner to the hotel, a little later joined by their daughter Ka Sha, her husband, and two daughters.

We retired early, the family discussion was still going strong.

September 6 (Tuesday)

Left home at 3:00 to reach Coach USA bus terminal at 3:45pm, met up with the 5 others. We were all wearing our red t-shirts designed by Cathy. All except hubby of course.

Dan posed with the name tags that Cathy had made matching the t-shirts.

Milwaukee - ORD by 4:10 pm bus. (The driver is cranky with everyone)

I forgot to take the three pears out from the car, hopefully they won't rot too bad.

Arrived ORD at 5:45 pm and met up with the rest of the group, all in the red t shirts of course. There is a total of 13 of us going on this trip.

Check in went smooth.
Julie had to check in her hand luggage, they didn't charge her for the extra check in. In fact they went back to get her luggage so she could take her Nook out, that was a pleasant surprise for all of us.

Hot dog for dinner at the airport.
Security check went fine, I had to go through the body scan equipment Sudip got a pat down after the body scan.

Chicago (ORD) - Warsaw (WAW) - LO 0004 (Boeing 767-300)
Scheduled Departure 9:50 PM
Boarded at 9:15 PM, seats 12G and 12F, flight pulled back from the gate 10 mins ahead of schedule and left on time

Dinner - Pierogi & ingredients for a ham sandwich with water. No seconds for drinks.
Relatively smooth flight with patches of light turbulence.
Location: Enroute