2013 Nov 30
Jan Lewan-Dowski Did It Again!!!!
Jan Lewandowski did it again! … Did What, you ask?
He has once again proven himself as the best tour host and organizer of tours to Poland.
By Carol Matuszkiewicz
In typical Jan Lewan style, the party began from the first day and continued for nine straight days. The group arrived in Gdansk, Poland on May 15, and as usual Jan had a huge surprise in store for his guests.
Who else but Jan could make arrangements for his group to be welcomed to Poland by the former President, Nobel Prize Winner, and Solidarity Leader “Lech Walesa!”
According to a member of the tour, “I couldn’t believe it…Jan was telling us all day that he had a big surprise for us in the evening when we arrived. The next thing we knew, Jan took us all to Lech Walesa Presidential Library, where Jan had arranged for our group to have a private meeting with President Lech Walsea, who welcomed us all to Poland. He made us feel very welcomed and was happy to take the time for each of us to take pictures with him. He even took a picture together with us on his own IPAD and posted the picture to his Presidential Office website viewed by thousands of people nationwide. It was the most remarkable opportunity I’ve ever had in my life. I still can’t believe it!!!”
The tour began at the Baltic Sea, then on to Warsaw, followed by breathtaking scenery in the mountains of Zakopane, and finally to Krakow. While in Gdansk the group was introduced to the Kaszuby Region with the tri-cities of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Sopot. We were off to a beautiful Amber factory for our first souvenir shopping of the trip. We also had a beautiful meeting there with Jan's family, who are also extremely musically talented . We were treated to a beautiful Chopin music concert performed by Jan’s nephew Rafal on the piano, Rafal's daughter Zosia who performed on her grandfather's violin, and Rafal's 8 year old son who played piano with him. They received a standing ovation. Meeting this wonderful family along with the Polish wine and paczki made us all feel very welcome. Later that evening, the Kaszuby Folk Ensemble performed for us during dinner in a local restaurant . It was the perfect introduction to this beautiful fishing region of Poland. A highlight of our stay happened the next day as we boarded a Pirate Ship and sailed around the Baltic Sea. While on board the ship, we had dinner and nonstop entertainment by Jan Lewan and the ship musicians.
Next, we headed to Warsaw and spent the day singing, toasting, and laughing on the bus. We really loved playing Bingo and sang throughout our travels. It really made the time fly. While in route to Warsaw, we stopped and toured the Malbork Castle, the stronghold of the Teutonic Knights in the 15th century. We also enjoyed the casinos at night. The next morning, our tour guide Wlodek, (the best in the business), took us on a tour of Warsaw beginning with the Chopin park, the Warsaw Ghetto, and finalizing the day in the old city where we enjoyed dinner at a gourmet restaurant.
The next day we were all spiritually recharged as we ventured to Czestochowa, Jasna Gora. Father Simon greeted Jan and the entire group with open arms. Our group was brought to the front of the alter where Father Simon celebrated mass in front of the Holy Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland. During the mass, Jan was singing "Serdeczna Matko" and "Czarna Madonna" along with all the people who were visiting the Shrine. There wasn't a dry eye in the church. Jan received a medal of Our Lady of Czestochowa from father Simon who stated how happy he was to once again see Jan with tour groups visiting the shrine. Afterwards we visited the birthplace of Pope John Paul II and then finalized the day by our arrival in Zakopane.
Zakopane was another tremendous highlight of our trip, the rafting trip down the beautiful Dunajec River. Our group will never ever forget the breathtaking panoramic views of the mountains and the rush of excitement as we sailed down the river on wooden rafts. It was truly breathtaking and inspiring. Everyone had a fantastic time. The excitement continued in the evening where we had a kielbasa roast dinner in a Goralska Hata with great entertainment by the Gorale.
In Krakow we had the honor of meeting the private secretary to Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Cardinal of Krakow in which, he blessed us for a safe journey home. What an honor!
We spent two days in Krakow where we shopped at the sukenica.
We took an excursion to Auschwitz, a very emotional place. As Jan knew how this would effect us with this historical place, he made sure to uplift us by concluded our tour with a farewell dinner with another Folk Group which lasted for several hours. No one wanted to end the night. They were laughing, singing, dancing and recounting all of the excitement we had on our the tour. We were yelling 2 more weeks!!!
I couldn’t help but to think back at the documentary movie that was made of Jan’s life. Particularly, where one of his musicians had made the comment, that life on the road with Jan was just “One Big Party!” All I can say from my own experience is that “The Party Continues” and I can see now how fortunate his musicians must have been to travel with him to all of these beautiful places.
There are three factors which make Jan’s tours so successful. In addition to Jan’s charm and personable approach to showing you his native country, Mary Gorecki of P.A.T. Tours along with the Great Agency in Poland spend countless hours organizing and preparing all of the travel details and tour itineraries. They are the best in the business and as a result, the tours are flawless. Combine all of this preparation with Wlodek Grefkowicz, the best tour guide in Poland. All of our tour members received great knowledge of every destination visited and came home with a great understanding of the history of Poland and the tragedy of World War II. The third factor which makes Jan’s tours rise above all others is his video man. Every tour highlight is recorded by professional videographer “John Koterba” of Lightning Videos and the tour members become the stars. Everyone is now anxiously awaiting our complimentary 4 hour tour DVD to watch and relive our tour of a lifetime thanks to John.
Join Jan for his upcoming tour “The Great Capitals of Central Europe”
September 17th – 28th, 2013.
For reservations call PAT Tours at 1-800-388-0988. It will certainly be “One Big Party!!! The Party Continues & We Hope to See You there!
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