From September 11 to September 19, 2010
Patrice and Gudrun de LAMINNE
Transportation: The bus was big enough and comfortable for the 30 or so passengers with plenty of room to spare.
The driver was extremely careful when driving especially in some very narrow roads and streets which are very common in this part of Poland. He never took any risk. In addition, he was very friendly with everyone. As a Pole, he spoke an excellent German and could answer any question the passengers wanted to ask on the directions and roads we were about to take. The availability of fresh coffee when we stopped for a break was very welcome.
Hotels: When travelling to various places not directly connected with tourism but much more with historical buildings, the quality of hotels can slightly vary. One can imagine it is not easy to find rooms for 30 people, most of the time for one night only. Taking into account the individual price which was paid by the group, the average quality was excellent.
Food: Breakfast was usually abundant and excellent, totally in line with the German breakfast style. One criticism must be addressed to the hotel in Rössel where only instant coffee was served. Also, the service in this hotel did not check on a regular basis if there was still coffee or milk available and we had to ask for it. This took time before milk or coffee could be served.
The evening dinners were generally excellent and allowed us to taste some typical Polish food. For future study trips I would recommend to avoid fish as the main course since a lot of people do not like it. If fish must be served, an alternate should be available as well
The Historian: The extended knowledge of Mrs. Jackiewicz-Garniec on each individual place we visited was impressive. Even with my limited skills in German, I could easily follow the history of this part of former Prussia.
Translation: The quality of instant translation matched perfectly the high level of information that the Historian Mrs. Garniec gave us. As a frequent user of a foreign language, I could imagine the research and work that Mrs. Demko had to do to acquire the very specific technical vocabulary that Mrs. Garniec used, first in the Polish language and then in the German language. I don’t think my fellow companions realized the huge efforts which were behind Mrs. Demko’s instant translations.
Global organization: My wife and I are frequent travelers on our own in different parts of the world and even for a couple, it is not always easy to organize the different stages of our trips. I can imagine what a nightmare it must be to organize a trip with so many stopovers, with booking of hotels, making sure that the distance envisaged for each single day must take into account the travel time, the necessary time devoted to the visits of Burgs, the breaks, while ensuring we did not reach our destination too late. What Mrs. Kern has done is really fantastic: everything was perfectly organized without a single mishap. At the same time, she sometimes had to refuse the request for a detour to a place of interest from one of our co-travelers. Her refusal was perfectly understandable since the mechanism she had planned had to be so precise that any last minute change would have put the whole day visit in jeopardy. Mrs. Kern has a real diplomatic talent to iron out any difficulty that some people have raised from time to time.
Suggestions: As earlier said, we are not used to traveling in group or by bus. So we were a little surprised by the number of pauses that were made every 2 hours. Upon our request to Mrs. Kern, we learnt that the bus driver must obey to very strict rules of resting time. A number of information on the driving time, the pauses and the speed is recorded and could be requested by the police and if the rules are not respected, it could lead to heavy fines to be paid by the bus driver himself.
So I think it would be advisable to give a written description of the legal requirements for the driver to the participants when they make their booking. It would avoid a number of questions and misunderstandings: people would know what to expect.
Conclusion: My wife and I keep an excellent impression over the whole trip and its organization. My wife was very interested by the wealth of information that Mrs. Garniec provided. She has been reading on Prussia for many years and thanks to Mrs. Garniec, she could have a ‘live’ vision of the places she had read about. Our only wish is to take part to the next ‘Studienreise’ on Nikolaus Kopernicus footsteps across Poland next September.