Very happy with my guide Zen. Very dedicated, thorough, flexible and kind.
The city tour guide in Warsaw was excellent. Very nice, and well versed and knowledgeable. Not that I asked hard questions, but he always had the answer when I did.
Very happy. Found relatives on 2 different branches of my tree. One PO had helped me contact before, so we had made plans to meet. The other we found after 2 days of playing detective and pounding the pavement. It was amazing. Really unbelievable that we really did find them like that. Couldn’t be happier.
Overall happy and satisfied with the tour and my experience. I would gladly and happily recommend.
Both Pawel and Lucek were excellent guides and, through informal conversations, gave me insights to contemporary issues in Poland. Pawel was tireless in driving and keeping up a conversation about sights, issues, and history. Lucek gave me valuable cultural information on meeting people, including my relatives. Both were open to answering questions.
I was pleased with the research I was able to do, especially since the priest in my great-grandparents’ village (Dobra) seemed recalcitrant about offering help. Lucek patiently followed up with a lead the priest gave us and we found a young archivist who had put the parish records in order and who worked well with us.
I highly recommend this tour and will advertise it by word-of-mouth.
I never thought I could fall in love with a country like I did. I do love Poland. The genealogy was very thorough and so much fun to find birth certificates of my grandfather’s family. I will never forget all of the kindnesses we experienced along with the out of the way little things that I requested (such as finding great yarn that was grown and spun in Poland). Great trip, great guides, all were very helpful and knowledgeable that my mind is still reeling with all of the information and fond memories that I will hold close to my heart always. I have and will tell family and friends about using PolishOrigins. Just loved all of it. A big hug and thanks to all of you.
We had so much fun standing where my grandparents may have been. I got some valuable information and a great time too. It’s a memory forever and when we come back to Poland we would love to contact you, everyone was so helpful and friendly.
You answered all of my questions promptly and I asked a lot. I felt prepared and and you were extremely friendly and curtious.
This trip was so far beyond my expectations that I couldn’t believe it.
Pawel did an excellent job. There were a few medical problems on the trip and he took care of it nicely. His knowledge of Polish history was very good. It was easy to get along with him.
I was very satisfied. I never thought I would meet family but I did. there is even family here in the states that I didn’t know about.
This was one of the best tours I took. Everyone got along on the bus which helped a lot. Both the the tour guide and the driver did an outstanding job.
Pawel was the best guide that I have experienced over the years of many tours. He was kind, patient, knowledgeable, and had a wonderful sense of humor. If I am ever able to return to Poland, I would definitely go with Polish Origins and request Pawel’s services.
I am most satisfied with the research done by Lujcan before the trip and the research we were able to do in the villages. His knowledge and abilities could not be exceeded. The best part of my visit was that he found for me, a cousin that I did not know I had. I plan to use his research and translation services as I go further in my quest for family information. He, too, is a most valuable person in your company. I would definitely request his services if I return to Poland!
This was the most fantastic trip I have ever taken. It truly was the Grand Adventure that I was calling it while I was preparing to go!!!
Read more on Marti’s blog
Kasia is not only quite knowledgeable about the areas we visited – Krakow, Zakopane and the Bieszczady, but also she is very enthusiastic. Her love for Poland is catching! She took into consideration all of my requests. In fact she builds on information one shares with her and makes it even better. I loved her tours in Krakow of the castle, the church, the salt mines, the underground city, and just walking around and exploring with her. She always made sure we were settled in at our hotel before leaving us for the night. The traditional restaurants she chose in Zakopane were fantastic, especially the one with the country band playing! I thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Bieszczady – seeing the small things – little shops, little museums, kind people. From the beginning Kasia was a super guide. In the end, she became a friend. Thank you so much, Kasia.
Smolnikowe Klimaty – very nice country-style bed and breakfast inn. Room was large and wood paneled. Loved interacting with the other guests, with Kasia’s help. Hosts were friendly, animals were nice, especially the indoor cat. Breakfast was super fresh and delicious. It was like living in a Polish village one or two hundred years ago.
Hotel Aries – great modern hotel, done in Zakopane style. Nice rooms. So close to Krupowki St.! A swimming pool to wash away the aches from walking. Fantastic breakfast in a beautiful atmosphere!
Hotel Stary – mere words fail to express a stay at the Hotel Stary. It was like being in a fairytale and I was queen(the good queen, of course). The location – in the old town. I didn’t have to go anywhere else. I love Krakow’s stary rynek. The hotel staff was friendly, helpful and fulfilled any request immediately. The lobby was full of brick, glass, metal and comfortable leather sofas. A computer was available for guests to use. Breakfast was very nice and in a room that was for guests of the hotel only. The hotel had an unbelievably super pool with brick walls, salt room, steam rooms, sauna and long hours. Heaven. Our rooms were incredible! When I first walked into my suite of rooms, I thought, “What have I done to deserve this?” Ancient log ceilings. Huge bed in a huge room. A livingroom with red leather chairs. A tv in each room. Super contemporary bathroom with heated floors. Everything done in a faux-stone decor. Aga, I wonder if you told them that I was the president’s wife or something when you made the reservation? From now on, I can only stay at this hotel when I go to Krakow again. I felt like I was living in Krakow at a time when kings and queens lived there.
Kasia is and excellent driver both in the city and the country. The car was comfortable with lots of room for our luggage. Kasia would appoint a time for the next day. She was always on time. She always made sure we were secure before she left us.
I enjoyed working with Aga preparing for the tour. There would be much to do in just a few days’ time. Preparing was about how to make a time-intense trip seem leisurely. Aga took into considerations my ideas and combined them with the “mini tour”. I am so grateful to Aga for arranging a meetings with my friends, Martin and Kasia. It was so good to see them again.
Extensive research done with amazing results.
Hotels were all very good and in great locations.
We loved Zbigniew. He is very knowledgeable and resourceful and has great tenacity.
We also appreciated Marek’s assistance in Warsaw. He responded and adjusted well to our group’s interests.
We love you Zbigniew and miss you. We had a great time. It was a trip of a lifetime for us. We’ll meet in Minsk next!
See also post Marie on FB.
We could not have asked for a better guide than Zenon. He worked very hard to help us find the information that we were seeking, translated conversations with people we had met and helped me with my Polish when needed. I am still working on two words that he taught me…I think I ALMOST have it right ! (I will know it by the time I return to Poland). He was very respectful to everyone we met and I believe that was why they were so willing to help us.
My first goal was to walk through my grandfather’s village to see where they lived, went to church, shopped and were buried. I still can’t believe I was there!
My second goal was to find out why I grew up surrounded by such a beautiful family. I realized while traveling Poland that my grandfather had grown up in just such a family and passed it down to his children. All of the people we had contact with were good and kind and caring. I felt like I was at home in the midst of strangers. We were invited into the home of a family that we were not even sure were relatives and had coffee and cake in their dining room – if nothing else had happened on the trip – that would have been enough!
My third goal was to find my great-grandparents marriage certificate. Although we worked very hard to find it, I will just have to keep looking. We are going to have the Archdiocese Archives staff do some research for us as we have “hit a wall”. Despite that, I was very satisfied with the records that we did find. As I told Zenon, anyone who does genealogy knows that information isn’t always where you think it is. I have been searching my family history for 25-30 years and only within the last 3 years have I found my grandfather’s village. The best news is, however, that Zenon found another village that I had been looking for for years!! It answered a big mystery on many of my records. We did find records on other family members and now I will have to piece all of the families together.
We stayed at the Hotel Stara Gorzelnia in Lichen Stary which was about 20 minutes from my family’s village. It was a beautiful hotel situated on a lake with large rooms, comfortable beds, a nice bathroom, friendly staff and good food. It was also within walking distance of the largest cathedral in Poland.
Good job, Anna!
Having Zenon doing all of the driving took a lot of pressure off of us. We were originally going to try to do this tour ourselves. I’m very happy we didn’t!
Our tour was perfect. On the next trip, I would try to bring more family information with me…and improve my Polish.
We will definitely be returning to search for the other side of the family. The Polish Origins tour is done very professionally and we would certainly recommended it to anyone interested in a genealogy tour.
You have two great assets to your company in Pawel and Adrian. They went above and beyond which should have been expected of them. As you are aware of some of the situations that arose, they handled them with professionalism and compassion. I honestly cannot say enough good things about those two gentlemen.
I will say Lucjan was wonderful. He was a great interpreter and a big help in locating Jack’s family.
All of the accommodations were wonderful. The food was exceptional.
I feel that the communication was good. Any questions/concerns were answered.
On the way to Poland, I was not sure of what to expect. Yes, I searched the internet for all the places we were to see but in the back of my mind I wasn’t sure what I would find. Knowing Poland was invaded during WWII and later by the Soviets and I was not sure how much of those circumstances would be evident today. What a surprise I had when we left Krakow and went into the countryside. Poland is an amazing country. The beauty of the land and the friendliness of the people left a lasting impression on me. Every church was more beautiful than the last. The scenery was picturesque. The tour with the different sights was outstanding. It gave me a better understanding into the Polish culture. I had a wonderful time. I made a lot of memories, had some great experiences and met new friends. Since I have returned I have told people they need to experience Poland. I also said that if they were to go to contact your group. You did an awesome job in planning our first trip to Poland. This was an awesome experience.
Most aspects of our tour were coordinated by Anna at PolishOrigins. They did a great job pulling it all together. This was a totally custom tour designed to see cities and locations where Greg’s father Eugene was born and lived before 1939. Secondarily, we wanted to find out as much as we could about Eugene’s military service in WW2 and also to identify any living relatives.We also wanted to see the Kamedulski monastery and see if we could understand the connection between our surname and the monastery.
We flew out of JFK on Thursday September 1, arriving in Warsaw on Friday afternoon due to a flight delay in New York. We checked into the Polonia Palace hotel — one of the few pre-WW2 buildings in Warsaw. We walked around central Warsaw for a bit and then met Greg’s cousin Julita. We walked around a bit more with her and then had a delicious dinner. Saturday we toured Warsaw with a guide, who took us to try various Polish foods, showed us Old Town, and explained a lot of the history of Warsaw and how it was destroyed during WW2 and then rebuilt. Later Saturday we visited the Jewish museum with Julita and went through the Holocaust exhibit. We also went to the Polish Military Museum in Warsaw but we were too late to go in. We did meet the curator as he was leaving for the night and he invited us to come back Sunday morning.
As I managed to leave both pairs of good jeans in the dryer, we visited some local shops to see if I could find a pair of adequate jeans. TKMaxx (yes, TK) had nothing. But next door to TKMaxx was the London-based Marks and Spencer. They did have jeans, in my size *and* in my length. Not being quite up on the currency, I had no idea what 179 zlotys was going to translate to, but they allowed us to pay with dollars — and the answer is something on the order of $32. I should have bought more!
The next morning, Sunday, Greg went to Mass. Wearing shorts to Mass is frowned upon by Polish nuns. Please make a note of that! We met our guide/translator/driver, Mat, and returned to the Military Museum. The curator met with us for about an hour and we talked about the meaning of Eugene’s medals and the history of the Panzer Division that Eugene had been part of. We left with notes about books and another group to contact.
Then, we were on our way to Brzesc Kujawski. This is the village where Greg’s dad was born — we had both his birth certificate and his social security application stating this village was his birthplace. This is a small village of about 2000 people east of Warsaw and north of Lodz, essentially part of the Vistula River valley. Most of the Kamedulski families in Poland — which number under 100 — are located in villages in this area. We visited the parish church where Eugene would have been baptized — tall, gothic. brick church just off the village square. They don’t see many tourists and the young boys riding bikes in the square were a bit shy but practicing basic English greetings with us. We went to the local cemetery looking for gravestones. In Poland, they only leave the graves in the local cemetery as long as they are cared for — so it’s the most recent graves, maybe the past 30 years, that are there. We split up to walk through — and in an amazing bit of luck, I found a gravestone for Jan Kamedulski in my first row of stones.
There is a pizza restaurant on the square. Greg says his dad never ever ate pizza and would not have approved. We had a lunch of 2 large pizzas and 2 drinks for the 3 of us. The converted cost was about $10. We stayed overnight in Wloclawek — a town not far from Brzesc where there was a nice hotel. Clearly off the tourist trail, this appears to be an old city home converted to a hotel and event space.
On Monday some of the magic began to happen.
About 2 years ago, I was friended on Facebook by Aleksander Kamedulski, who was quite sure we were related, but did not know exactly how. When we were coming to Poland, I let him know and he said he’d meet us in Warsaw. After I sent him our itinerary, Aleksander suggested we meet in his home town of Nieszawa (Neeshava) which is about 30 km from Brzesc. We set a time for about 4 pm on Monday. In the meantime, we went to a cathedral and a second records repository in Wloclawek (Wloclarek) to search old church records for other Kamedulski relatives, and found them to be written in Polish, Latin, and Russian. My Russian courses come in handy as I was able to figure out how to spell Kamedulski in Russian cursive! My high school Latin was also very helpful — making up for the fact that the Polish might as well have been Greek. We found nothing — confirming that the Kamedulski name is relatively rare. (In fact, there are 54 people with the Kamedulski surname in Poland, and maybe another 50-60 Kamedulska, the female version. In addition, there are two branches of the family in the US, perhaps totalling 35 living people.)
Then we went back to Brzesc. We went to town hall and looked through their records — this is where we found the original entry of Eugene’s birth. The town clerk was quite interested in our search and got on the phone. She called the oldest person she knew in town and asked about the Kamedulski family. Yes, she remembered the Kamedulski’s — they had lived in a group of houses a few kilometers outside of town. But — she also knew a woman about 60 years old whose maiden name was Kamedulska. The clerk gave us her address and we drove out to see if we could contact her. It turns out that Henryka Kamedulska is a cousin of Greg’s — descended from the brother of Greg’s grandfather.
Greg’s grandfather, Eugene’s father was Michel Kamedulski. Michel had two children, Eugene and Irena. His brother, Walenty, had ten children. Henryka is decended from Walenty. Her father was Jan, whose gravestone I’d found in the Brzesc cemetery. We met Henryka and she invited us in for coffee. On the spot. Strangers from the United States. We had a lovely chat, met her grandaughter Carolina, and took a picture of the group. And then it was on to Nieszawa.
We were greeted by an enthusiastic Aleksander, who introduced us to his mother, who is the Kamedulska descendant. He carries his mother’s surname. Aleksander is 22 and an aspiring opera singer. We drank coffee, ate some wonderful cakes, tried some homemade “sherry” and discussed the family history including the origin of the Kamedulski surname. Then we toured the little village, crossed the Vistula river on a ferry, much like the Glastonbury-Rocky Hill Connecticut river ferry, and went back to their house for more sherry and then traditional Polish soup. Aleksander sang for us — some opera pieces followed by Strangers In The Night. He has an amazing voice and is an up and coming talent. We finally left at 10 pm and headed back to our hotel in Wloclawek.
The next morning we visited Brzesc again, and pressed onward to a monastery in Bieniszew. The Camaldolce religious order is an Italian order of monks. Living a strict life of prayer, they established a hermitage/monastery in Bieniszew in in 1600s. Greg and Mat were able to enter through the gates into the complex — but women are only allowed on 12 specific days each year — so I sat outside and enjoyed the peaceful pine forest and sunshine. Greg and Mat toured the monastery with Brother John who was quite interested in Greg’s surname. The monastery is located in the middle of a large forest preserve — we drove in from the main road a few miles on a dirt track. There are many monasteries in this tradition around the world including several in the states. In Poland, the Camadolce translates to Kamedulski. Apparently the connection, according to the family story, is that before surnames were in common usage, so late 1600s, early 1700s a young man entered the order, giving them his wealth which was customary when entering, but after a period of time, left the order. In the village, he was known as “the Kamedulski,” the man that had been a Kamedulski monk. All the Kamedulskis are descended from this one person. We are all related!
From Bieniszew we went on to Lodz where Greg’s grandparents lived. What had been an old tired manufacturing town when Greg last visited in 1969 reeking of coal smoke, is now a vibrant business center. We stayed in a converted factory hotel next to a restaurant – shopping – entertainment complex that had also been part of the former textiles mill. Our hotel room was not just a room, but a small apartment with a bath plus powder room, storage closets, living room and kitchen as well as the expected bedroom. The hotel decor was industrial-modern and very attractive. The rooftop bar, spa and pool were just lovely, with the pool cantilevered out over the side of the building. Breathtaking! Wednesday we toured Lodz and visited a cathedral as well as the downtown, but it was much too large without centralized records to search for relatives. We didn’t have an address for where Michel and Jolanta had lived — so we had to be satisfied with simply touring the city.
Then, on to Krakow, via train. This was the purely tourist part of the trip. Krakow was not destroyed during WW2 and is a lovely old medieval town. We toured the city with a guide, trying traditional food in different restaurants and getting a good overview of the history and culture of Krakow. Greg played golf that afternoon at a resort outside of Krakow. I spent the afternoon wandering through Old Town and the markets to find Brad a birthday gift.
Overall, there were a lot of people that spoke English, especially in the larger towns. Many signs in the larger towns are in English and Polish. Everyone was very friendly and interested in our “pilgrimage.” Overall, the food was amazing. I’d expected it to be all kielbasa and cabbage — and that was not the case. The fruits and vegetables were excellent, but what really stood out was the extensive breakfast buffets. Generally — cheeses, cured meats, tomatoes, eggs, sausage, bacon, breads, pastries, pickles, herring, salmon, fruit, juice, coffee, tea, espresso machine, vodka, prosecco, — it just went on and on! This description applies to every hotel we stayed in … Polonia Palace in Warsaw, Hotel Alexander in Wloclowek, Andel’s by Vienna House in Lodz, and Queen Hotel in Krakow.
Friday we flew out of Krakow to Munich, and then on to NYC. We left the hotel at 7 am Poland time, and landed in NYC at 3 pm New York time — and got home about 8:00 pm due to slow baggage and worse traffic! (About 19 hours of travel.)
Overall, I think the tour was more than we expected and a great success. Greg was very happy to see the village of his father’s birth and to meet two sets of previously unknown cousins. The trip to the Kamedulski monastery followed a family meeting where we heard the oral history of our surname and so was an important part of the tour.
Mateusz was a wonderful guide, a delightful person to talk with and he had a wealth of interesting, historical information. We very much enjoyed our tour – the highlight of our 14-day trip.
Our goal was to see the towns that our ancestors came from and to learn about the area and history. This was all accomplished. Additionally, Mateusz added in the Górka Klasztorna – Monastery Complex just outside of one of the ancestral towns which was fantastic to see.
Mateusz was a very safe and skillful driver and the van was the right size for transporting our luggage to Warsaw the second day.
Zbigniew did an excellent job in locating my ancestor’s village and gravestones of Ziemniak cousins in the parish cemetery. Although we located the homes of several cousins, we were unable to find the house of my great- grandfather, perhaps because it does not exist today. We were unable to talk to the parish priest because he was out of town, and due to the short time available, could not wait for him to return. However, we left a message for him regarding records of older ancestors, and are presently waiting for a reply. The pre-tour work done by Zbigniew proved invaluable, as he found that my great-grandfather had moved to another parish after my grandfather had left Poland. As a result, we were able to obtain a copy of his death record by visiting the USC in Staszow. A similar search for my great-grandmother’s death record between 1931 and 1916 proved negative, but followup work by Zbigniew found that she was alive in 1912, based on the marriage record of her daughter. Thus, I have now bracketed the year of her death as being between 1913 and 1915. This range is consistent with our oral family history which recollects that the Ziemniak farmhouse was destroyed during World War I. As USC moves its records older than 100 years to an AP, additional followup work is needed. Without the assistance from Zbigniew, none of the above would have been possible.
We were lucky to have Zbigniew as our guide. He was energetic, kind, and very understanding of our lack of language skills. He was remarkable for his ability to approach total strangers, and get them to share information. He translated a letter for us, which was very helpful. Also, for him to be a skilled genealogist was a bonus.
We wished we had more time in Poland. In the short time we had, we met distant relatives, spent some time in the Gniezno Archives, and visited several villages and churches.
Both hotels were very good. We especially enjoyed Awo Hotel in Gniezno.
Zbigniew was a safe driver. His van had a lot of room.
Experience exceeded our expectations.
Zbigniew was very attentive and accommodating to our needs. This guide’s passion for genealogy is very evident. He has a good command of English, wide ranging knowledge and interests, making him agreeable company and a good travelling companion. He undertook valuable research both prior and during our visit, which vividly brought to life the places where my ancestors lived and did business, especially in Lwow and Rawa Ruska. Despite the fact I was able to do extensive internet research, prior to our trip, Zbigniew was able to uncover much additional information. His extensive written report has provided a valuable resource. He also has a particular skill for prising information out of supposedly closed archives and eliciting first hand recollections from local people. Here his communicative skills in Ukrainian very much came into play. It was very comforting to have such an experienced guide to conduct our passage across the Polish/Ukraine border, which was most memorable. We were glad to have Zbigniew as our driver because we certainly could not have negotiated the particularly challenging driving conditions in the Ukraine. All-in-all he made a major contribution to what turned out to be an experience of a life time.
Diana provided us with an interesting afternoon tour of some key places in Lwow, about which she is passionate and well informed. She has an engaging and outgoing personality, responding well to our many requests for further information, which she was able to address confidently in good English.
Pawel – A pleasant and entertaining driver/guide, easily provoked to a smile and a laugh and anxious to be helpful. He collected us promptly and delivered us to our destinations, having previously secured our entrance tickets. During our journeys he pointed out places of interest. After each visit he was always on hand to take us to our next destination.
All was well planned and Polish Origins was very responsive to our requests for amendments during the planning stage.
You have provided an excellent service and look forward to the follow-up information you can find. We shall certainly consider you for our further investigations.
Zenon instantly made us feel at ease, he was very helpful and polite. He was very considerate of our requests and happy to give us suggestions to offer us the best experience possible. Zenon was very flexible with the activities planned. We feel like he blended in well with us and is now one of the family!
We have achieved a lot of our goals with this tour, although with our family spread throughout Poland there is still more work to be done. Zenon’s professionalism and easy-going nature (winning over the priest!) meant that we were able to search parish records and discover further generations of our family, which would not have been possible without him. The organisation of meeting living family members, some of whom had no knowledge that we existed, was also very well undertaken.
On the whole, there was no issues with the transport provided. Zenon met us at the train station and ably got us around to a number of different places, which would have been impossible to do with public transport. Zenon was a safe driver. The size of the car was a plus considering the amount of luggage we had. It was clean and comfortable. We appreciated the recordings of the car journeys through the villages of our family – a lovely keepsake to have!
I was happy with the level of information provided. Both Anna and Zenon responded to phone calls and emails about any concerns. I had probably anticipated a more set itinerary, but upon taking the tour I realise that this would not have been possible to do, due to the need to be flexible to other peoples’ schedules.
Zenon was extremely understanding of the fact that we had travelled from Australia and had a lot to achieve in a small amount of time. We especially appreciated that he was able to drive us to the next destination of our trip. This was an unforgettable experience!! We are looking forward to working more with your team.
I would totally recommend PolishOrigins to everyone. I was totally happy with our trip.
Kasia was wonderful. So enthusiastic, helpful and a total delight.
She knew here was around wonderfully without ever being in the area so I knew she did her homework.
It was truly a day I will never forget. Everyone I tell about my vacation gets me even more excited about the time I had. Thank you so much for doing your research ahead of time. It all meant so much to me.
Everything was wonderfully communicated.
No suggestions for improvement. I was very happy.
Your choice of guides for our trip was excellent. They were passionate about their subjects and very knowledgeable. Your choice of Zbigniew was particularly good. Being around someone for most of the day for 15 days could be trying or a nightmare, but Zbigniew made our trip particularly enjoyable.
This trip was probably the most pleasurable trip we’ve evertaken. Zbigniew worked hard for long hours every day to find as much information as he could about Mary’s heritage and where her ancestors lived. He and Mary found many new names for her family tree, and where he could. Zbigniew took us to the places where her ancestors lived. We visited the churches where her ancestors attended church and where they were baptized, married and buried. He also located distant living relatives with whom we visited. He also located a manor where Mary’s great grandfather served as security and her great grandmother served as a maid. They were able to walk the grounds of this manor to see where her ancestors worked.
During the days, Zbigniew was very courteous, helped us with any language difficulties and also tried to help us improve what little Polish we knew. When were located from one place to another he helped us deal with our heavy bags. When he and Mary were working on Mary’s genealogy I would wander around the area with my binoculars looking for birds. Zbigniew helped me get a SIM card for my phone so that we could communicate when separated.
Zbigniew gave us loads of information about Polish history and heritage, and also showed us several historically significant sites. The local guides Adam and Lukasz overwhelmed us with local historical information and amazing city sights in Poznan and Gdansk. I hope we can retain a fraction of what we heard. We are going to read the Norman Davies books about Poland.
I enjoyed my time with Jakub. He speaks English very well and is an excellent tutor on Polish birds. Sebastian did not speak much English, but Zbigniew went a long and translated. Sebastian showed us the great cormorant colony and gave us information about maintaining the colony, yet preserving the forest.
In Bialowieza, Arek lead Zbigniew and I to several areas to successfully see many target birds. With help of the guides I was able to see 54 birds new to me and 104 total species. Zbigniew said he didn’t know Poland had so many birds.
All the guides were excellent, but Zbigniew became more a friend, than just a guide.
Thanks for arranging our first wonderful trip to Poland.
Dale and Mary
My sister and I could not have been any happier with our guide, Zbigniew! We think he is an incredible young man, and he made our family search better than we ever imagined it could have been! Actually, it was sad for us to leave him! Thank you for employing such a wonderful guide and person! Your company is lucky to have him!
Z knocked himself out every day to ensure that we found information concerning our family. We couldn’t have had a better person helping us! I don’t think I ever expected to reach any goals. Finding distant family was a wonderful added experience. The research will go on, and Z gave us hints on where to search further. With the assistance of Zbgniew, my expectations prior to the tour far exceeded what I had hoped to accomplish. My research will continue and I hope to return one day in the future.
I was very pleased with Zbigniew, Adam and Pawel! All were knowledgable and truly love the job that they are doing.
Zbigniew is without a doubt the best!! Adam was passionate about his city and a kind and gentle soul.
Pawel had great energy and was also passionate about his job.
The hotels were great! Each one, a different experience. Accommodations could not have been better.
The tour was well thought out, and definitely customized to fit our family search. My sister and I were well informed.
Thank you for one of the best experiences of my life!! I will try and promote and suggest PolishOrigins to anyone looking for ancestral roots in Poland!
I just wanted to send this note to you to say how much Shannon and I enjoyed our trip to Poland and the time we spent with you, Zenon. Before our trip began, we both had guarded optimism whether you would be able to find much information about my Grandmother and her family. Once you began scouring all of the record books I knew if the records were there, you would find them. We were totally impressed how you were able to get the priest at St. Bartholomew’s to change his demeanor. One minute he didn’t want to help us at all and then the next minute, after your subtle persistence, he became very receptive and helpful. Plus, we were so impressed with your perseverance. Stopping at those different houses, asking them if they could possibly be related to my Grandmother. That was amazing!
Shannon and I are so grateful for the knowledge you shared, your patience and your great sense of humor. For us, this trip was filled with emotion. From teary eyes to uncontrollable laughter. We both fully agree, that we wouldn’t have been able to do this trip without you!
Magdalena, thank you, too, for all of the time and effort you gave in organizing our itinerary and answering the countless questions that I emailed you!!
Hopefully we’ll meet again.
I just wanted to say how pleased we were with our tour. To begin with, I was coordinating our tour group of 3 coming from three different countries. We were to start our tour in Wroclaw but meet the day before in Warsaw. None of us speak Polish and we were meeting at a relative’s house who didn’t speak English. Anna was fantastic and went above and beyond to help us sort out our logistical and communication troubles for our Pre tour day. In the planning of the tour I found the communication to be great, and I’m sure I was possibly one of the most difficult clients because I kept getting bits and pieces of family history given to me that I would pass on for possible inclusion. But at no time did I feel my “strange questions” were a bother or asking too much.
Our guide Mateusz was there waiting for us at the airport when we arrived in Wroclaw. Throughout the three-day tour he was very knowledgeable about each town we visited and over the time we not only learned more about our family we learnt a lot about Poland history too. On day one of our tour we explored Wroclaw (which was beautiful, despite the off and on rain) before heading to my grandmother’s home town of Nysa.
Day two we visited the Lambsdorf POW camp, Klodozko and Stara Lomnica all places were my family had been at one point or another. In Stara Lomnica, based only on the photo of a front step and house number we were able to track down the house of my deceased Great Aunt. Mateusz had stopped a few times to speak to local people to try and locate it. By the time we found the house, word and spread in the small town and my Great Aunt’s best friends and neighbors came to greet us. We were welcomed into their home where we spent some time talking (through Mateusz) and were thrilled to find that the neighbors had kept our relatives photos and papers after she had died as they had no one to pass them onto. It was amazing to find these family ‘treasures’ that they passed onto us to keep, and we were able to hear from them stories about what had happened to our Great aunt and Great Grandmother through the years. It was an amazing day.
Day three we visited Poznan and the archives where we hit gold again and found the original birth register for my Great Grandmother, after years of searching from Australia had gotten me nowhere, I really didn’t expect to be able to find anything. This record confirmed that she was born in a nearby town that we were set to visit. After visiting Szamotuly, and seeing the church where the family would have attended we headed on another journey to find an old family manor. With nothing more than a surname and a location of “outside Poznan” Mateusz managed to track it down and we were able to find the manor and walk through parts of it. (It’s converted into flats now)
We packed so much into our three days, it is hard to believe it all happened in such a short space of time. Our guide Mateusz was always on the job. Whilst we were taking our time in our own world looking amazingly at something, he was researching and planning the entire time. We had little information to start with but due to his determined effort we managed to find so much.
I would most happily recommend PolishOrigins to anyone looking to find out more about their Polish ancestry. It was a wonderful experience and as soon as I was on the train leaving Poland, I wanted to be going back there.
I would happily tour with PolishOrigins again. In fact, it is on my ‘to do’ list for the next few years.
Thank you, you made our dreams come true.
I travel a lot but this was my favorite holiday ever. This was partly due to how much i wanted to visit the homeland of my ancestors. Bit the experience wouldn’t have been half as great as it was without Zen and Magdalena’s assistance. Even if all they did was to set up the hotels, drive me around, and interpret, it would have been worth the fees i was charged. But the real value comes from how much more productive I was with their help. By the end of the first full day i had traced my paternal line of ancestors back to the early 1700’s. Zen knew how to schedule research trips and sightseeing in such a way as to pack as much into each day as I could handle. That same first day, I met a first cousin living in Poland of whom no one in my family had ever heard…a cousin that had a picture of my great grandfather hanging in her house….incredible.
I am very happy with the research…we learned more than I could imagined would be possible. It is impossible for me to ever reach all of my goals because there is always more to learn. But I definitely learned more than I thought would be possible in one trip.
I can only say to keep doing what you’re doing and be prepared to see many many more times if you’re willing!!! 🙂
One of the best things about our trip to Poland was it far exceeded all of our expectations thanks to Zen Znamirowski. We spent two days trying to reconnect with family and did we ever. When I left CoMo I knew I was going to meet two cousins. Instead we met 27 cousins including my grandmother’s first cousin on her father’s side.
Zen and PolishOrigins have an incredible research organization and website. Success to me was to go to my great-grandfather’s hometown of Dlugokaty and go to mass at St. Leonardo’s in the Grzebsk parish. We were able to do that and found the birth records of my great-great grandfather, great-grandfather, his four siblings and the marriage record of his parents. Success, this will not be the last time I visit Poland especially now that I have FB cousins in Poland and we can stay connect.
Zen was wonderful, patient, understanding. We enjoyed him as well as all of the family members we met. He was incredible working with the people, the Polish people are so welcoming. It helped me realize where I got my hospitality background. Loved it!
I tell everyone I know about PolishOrigins
Thank you for giving me a memory that will last forever.
Read more on Karen’s blog.
I was sure that this trip would complete our research. It didn’t. It added a new twist to it….an indication that perhaps my Mother was born in Poland under another name and birth date. Now I have to do more research to see if that is accurate or not. I’m not complaining. I’m thankful for that “find”. It may be the “secret” we’ve always heard about. Yes, I am more than satisfied with the research.
Danuta is an absolutely wonderful person and a treasure to PolishOrigins Tours. I often forgot she wasn’t our relative as she was as interested in our research as we were! We found a great deal of information and could not have done that without her. You are fortunate to have her on staff.
Danuta is a great driver and we enjoyed her company.
The hotel you booked for us was a very pleasant surprise. Located in a small town far from Warsaw, I wondered what it might be like. It was clean, comfortable and the food was great. I recommend that you use this hotel again.
I was more than pleased with all you did for us before and during the trip. It was a great experience and I would highly recommend your company and Danuta to others.
There is nothing I would improve. I am grateful to PolishOrigins Tours and Danuta for a wonderful, successful trip to Poland–a real dream-come-true for me!
Keep up the good work!
Zbigniew our guide for the first 10 days was absolutely phenomenal. I can’t give him high enough praise. The way he interacted with us, his personality and his demeanor fit us perfectly. His passion and knowledge of genealogical records in Poland amazed me. I had the opportunity numerous times to see him work, and as my wife commented “his eyes lit up when the books were opened.”
When he is speaking with people, he has a gift to be able to get them to help with whatever we were inquiring about, and he is obviously explaining the situation so well that they are jumping to try to help.
When we needed a translator, for our conversations between my Polish cousins that did not speak English he was invaluable. He is definitely a valuable asset to your company, and I would highly recommend him to anyone who would be taking a tour with you.
Pawel was guide for Sandomierz, Tarnow and parts of our Kraków tour. He impressed me the minute I met him at my cousin’s home in Pysznica. We were very impressed with his knowledge of Sandomierz and of the tour he gave us. He also took us on our tour of Tarnow, and again he had an expert knowledge of the city. When we went to Czestochowa, Pawel made it a great trip, on our way back he took us on a tour of some old castles, which we absolutely loved.
Overall our entire experience with Pawel was a positive one, and I would highly recommend him to anyone who is looking for a guide. He has a very friendly demeanor about him and is very easy to get along with.
The guide we had in Torun, Pawel was also very knowledgeable. I wish I could go into detail of our tour, but we were overwhelmed by all the information that he shared with us. That is not a bad thing as that is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to know as much as possible about the city and its history and he knew it very well. He also took us to a few places that we did not know about. Overall our experience with Paul was a very positive one and I would definitely recommend him to anyone touring Poland.
I really don’t have any suggestions or remarks on how to improve my tour. It was exactly the experience that I was looking for!
Thank you to all of you for everything that you did for us to make our trip an amazing and unforgettable experience. We are already discussing coming back to Poland and going to Slovakia and Germany to locate my wife’s family. When we need a guiding service we know where to go, PolishOrigins.
“I just got back two weeks ago from a three-week custom tour of Poland with Polishorigins! Zenon and company are EXCELLENT!
I’d been to Poland before and never seen as much and experienced as much as I did with PO.
Their guides know about hidden places most people don’t know about or miss. It was an amazing experience.
If you’re looking for genealogy help, they are definitely the way to go. If you want to find existing family, like I did, they were like bloodhounds.
When I go back, PO will be part of my tour!”
Read more on Mike’s blog.
Zbigniew was terrific. He was able to communicate very well with local officials and parish priests. We also visited two homes and were welcomed. He has a positive attitude and has excellent computer skills. Also, he’s quite a historian; he offers insights into Poland’s past.
I exceeded my goal with my father’s side of the family. My mother’s parents were from different towns; we did not have time to visit them all.
I should have stayed for an extra day.
Zbigniew will do further research for me; I look forward to learning more about Galacia
Zenon was outstanding. He was knowledgeable about what we needed to do to find out about our family. He walked us through how to look up information in the Archives in Suwalki and even let us help! The pictures and information he got for us were outstanding. He was extremely patient and even found a few extra places for us to visit based on things we were interested in (i.e. a great Castle on the way to Vilnius). While I am sure the other guides from PolishOrigins are good, we were thrilled to be able to have Zenon!!!
We got more information than we ever thought we would. We actually found family members and got to see the area of the old family farm. We will definitely be staying in contact with our Polish Family!!
Communications with PolishOrigins was excellent. Both Aga and Anna did an outstanding job explaining things for us, sending information and offering to help in any way. They went out of their way to make sure we had all the information we needed and would resend information if I needed it. I would recommend PolishOrigins to anyone wanting to research their family in Poland.
PolishOrigins provided us a chance to see the Poland our ancestors were from. Zenon helped us understand why family members probably left Poland to come to America. Meeting actual family members and spending time with them was wonderful. We left with memories we will have forever and information that we can share with the rest of our family in America.
We can’t thank you enough for making this a trip of a life time!!! The disk Zenon gave us at the end of the tour was very special. Thank you!!!
The only thing I would have changed was to make it longer!!! I wish we had scheduled more than 5 days.
It was an outstanding trip from start to finish. I understand why so many people continue to come back to PolishOrigins. We are very very satisfied with our research and we definitely met and exceeded our goals. We left with great information and memories that will last a life time.
We were extremely pleased with Zbigniew. He was excellent in dealing with workers in the civil office and churches. He did an excellent job with translating the conversation with relatives.
The itinerary was very informative and you always answered our emails and made any adjustments we needed for our tour.
The Hotel Columbus was excellent. The staff were helpful and friendly. The rooms were clean and comfortable. Breakfast was outstanding.The Stryol Inn was comfortable and clean and they also had a good breakfast.
We did achieve our goals. We even exceeded the amount of records for our family history.
Excellent trip !
Read more on Peggy’s blog.
Monica, our guide in Warsaw was wonderful and very knowledgeable. Kasia, our guide for the balance of our tour was exceptional. With her we visited many interesting historical sites, many sites that relate to my Polish ancestors, and met a number of very friendly people. I would gladly recommend both guides to anyone.
Very much satisfied with the research.
We were very pleased with everything associated with the tour including the cost. We enjoyed every moment. It was clear that Zenon and the whole PolishOrigins team enjoyed what they were doing and provided us service beyond our expectations. From Zenon staying late on our final tour day to allow us to find and have dinner with living relatives to Pawel giving us a long day to show us more than the usual tour of Czestochowa, these “extras” have given us unforgettable memories of our trip to Poland.
Zenon was great. He was not only good at researching records (I would often find him spending his evenings doing on-line research) but did a wonderful job of showing us things that we never would have seen without him. His diligence in finding our living relatives in Poland based on a 24 year old address was amazing and truly this was the highlight of our trip.Additionally, Pawel was excellent on our tour to Czestochowa. Again, he showed us so much more than just the usual sights.
On the Litwinski side, I really had tempered my expectations of finding much prior to the trip. So, finding my great grandparents marriage record at the church in Poryte was a wonderful feeling. Finding living relatives descended from my grandfather’s siblings was a distant thought but I knew that chances of finding anyone would be slim, especially due to the war. On the Polakowski side, I would have liked to find the marriage record of my great grandparents but again, finding the living relatives and having dinner with them was truly a rewarding experience.
I cannot say enough kind words about Zbigniew. He did everything possible to make the trip a most memorable one. He was very thoughtful and considerate and it was a pleasure to be around him.
I am extremely satisfied with the research so far achieved.
You were very good about answering any questions I had before the tour.
The hotel in Zakopane was a good choice. The service was excellent and the food was very good.
It is good to see that Poland is embracing small business start up companies. I hope that your company continues to grow and does well. It was a pleasure doing business with you. I could not have asked for a better 75th birthday present from my boys than this tour with your company.
Read more on Diane’s blog.
Zenon was beyond words the GREAT. His knowledge and expertise in Polish genealogy was something to behold. His diligence in searching was unrelenting. We met relations on our journey and he was able to relate to them where everyone fit as to our family tree. At the end of the journey, I felt he knew our lineage better than I did.
Zenon’s preparation was beyond belief. His ability to “switch” between our two families, to keep names straight, lineages right, and the understanding of our family tree was in itself a great task and he did it without any hesitation.
All the hotels were of the highest quality and all had excellent service. Each had it’s own little charm and you were quite comfortable with the surroundings.
Our personal tour was in itself a testimonial to the excellence of PolishOrigins and all those involved especially Magdalena, who set the agenda and kept the lines of communication open at all times.
Our goals were more than achieved; they were exceeded beyond anything we dreamed of. Thru Zenon’s efforts and contacting residents in the villages, we met and spent time, glorious time, with our newly discovered relatives. I have since received e-mails from them upon our return to the States and will write often, sharing more stories and family pictures. they are in our lives forever.
As well as this custom tour of ours went, I would/could not change a thing.
Read more on Adam’s blog.
PolishOrigins was very well organized, providing us with updated itineraries when changes were made, as well as making good suggestions for us when we weren’t sure about things we could do in the area. PolishOrigins constantly checked in with us to see how we were doing before we left for our trip to ensure we would arrive on time. Additionally, all the necessary information on meeting our tour guides and keeping to a timetable was very well handled. PolishOrigins did an impressive job coordinating such a long trip with many people, and I am deeply appreciative of all the time and effort put into planning what ended up being a very memorable trip.
The guide in Gdansk, Łukasz Darski, was one of the best tour guides we’ve had the pleasure of being with. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the city, and was able to weave a continuing narrative of the complexities of Polish history during the three days we were with him. Additionally, Łukasz was very personable and told us fascinating stories of his own personal experiences growing up in Gdansk. Łukasz was energetic, accommodating, and very experienced as a guide, and any group that visits Gdansk will be lucky to have him.
In Krakow, our guide Pawel, was wonderful. He knew the city ‘s history very well, and took us inside several beautiful churches. He also provided a great narrative to the city’s history in the underground museum we visited. Pawel was a very kind and thoughtful tour guide, and like Łukasz, any group that visits the city and gets guided by Pawel will be a very lucky group indeed.
I would have booked a longer trip with the same number of tour sites had I realized how much there was to see and do.
Our general guide for the trip, Zenon, was excellent. Zenon always made sure that we had tickets for museums or exhibits, and he served as a great translator and navigator during our trip. He was very patient with our group of people, and constantly went above and beyond his responsibility to us as our general guide. For instance, he found a printing shop late one night in Nowy Targ for my father to print off various genealogical photos for my family. Zenon also socialized with us frequently and we feel that he is in many ways a part of our family.
All of my genealogical goals for the trip were achieved, and much more, far beyond my expectations. We were able to trace my family genealogy as far back as the church records would allow, and because of Zenon’s ability to communicate and bargain with record keepers, he was able to access many records that I did not think would have been possible to access. Furthermore, I was able to interview one of my ancestors, which was a remarkable experience.
Generally, the hotels were excellent. They were conveniently located closed to major squares or downtown areas, and were very clean and professional. The food was generally quite good, and the accommodations comfortable. I especially enjoyed the spa facilities at the Grand Stamary in Zakopane. The hotel in Krakow was very nice, and had an excellent breakfast buffet. It was also a great location, as it was easy to walk to the square, and there were also good restaurants in the area.
An outstanding trip from beginning to end. I thought that Agnes did a fantastic job preparing all the details in our itinerary, and Zenon was just fantastic during our trip. He was deeply dedicated to ensuring that we were having a great time, and really went above and beyond to make a wonderful trip to Poland for us. I was especially touched by Zenon’s kindness, patience, and good sense of humour. He did a great job of working with us and constantly translating to make our visit with our Polish relatives a memorable and happy experience. I really can’t thank him enough for everything that he did, and I look forward to returning to Poland and visiting with his help again.
I was very happy with the genealogy searches because you found direct relatives in my mother’s village and I was able to meet some of my relatives in my father’s village.
I am more than satisfied.
I believe we gathered more information then I thought possible. The opportunity to walk the villages, attend the churches my ancestors lived at was amazing. The talent of Zbigniew to track down the information which allowed us to achieve these moments was fantastic.
We were very pleased with time and information we gathered with Eva on our tour of Krakow. The experience and knowledge we gathered with Zbigniew was truly outstanding. We could not have asked for a more professional and knowledgeable guide. He worked diligently at his craft and left no opportunity unexplored. Zbigniew was very enjoyable to be with and we feel he is a true friend to Janice and me. Thank you, thank you for a wonderful experience..
The hotel we stayed at was also a great experience. We could not have found a more enjoyable place to stay.
Wonderful, wonderful experience!!!
I highly recommend Zen Znamirowski and his crew at PolishOrigins. Very competent.
He was with me in 2014 on my personal discovery. Connected me with family and made the trip very successful and rewarding.
From Polish Genealogy Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/50089808265/ which we recommend beside our Forum http://forum.polishorigins.com 🙂
We are concluding our two tours of legendary life-time experiences. This arrangement and the guides exceeded all expectations. Pawel is a gifted guide who shared with us an outstanding itinerary. His depth of historical knowledge kept us fascinated in all corners of Galicia. He is clever and makes adaptations in response to our interests. His cultural insights add a completely new dimension to the travels. His radiant personality and sense of humor keeps our spirits at the highest level. I know that all of us on the trip felt the same way. Any traveler who may interface with Pawel would have a very special experience. His historical, cultural, and geographic knowledge are impressive beyond comprehension. He radiates pride in Poland…rightly so.
Tourism in Poland in general seems to meet the very highest of standards – it may be similar to a Disney World of Medieval Europe from the standards of accommodation of visitors, but the authenticity of real remnants remains and enhances the living legends.
Zbyszek’s search for authentication, documents, and living relatives is untiring. He is an extremely conscientious reseacher with ultimate patience. Additionally he is efficient, as his knowledge and experience permits access to pertinent information. He adapts well to changing situations. He manages well as some priests are annoyed with us and yell and scream at us, while others welcome us and offer masses for the ancestors of Carolyn’s lineage. Commonly the belligerent priests call us back in one or two days to invite us to come and look at records. The reason is that Zbyszek’s calming personality permits them to recover and enjoy our presence.
It is insightful that dinners and lunches are not included on this part of the trip, as the new found relatives want to feed us continuously. We met many cousins and relatives – beyond expectations and even attended weddings and enjoyed a warm welcome by newly founds cousins….even with more warmth than expected…consistent with Polish tradition.
Carolyn has engaged nearly two dozen second cousins and found links which include great-great grandparents in the early 1800’s. A huge percent of the population of Milovka and Novy Zmigrod shares a family name with Carolyn. Again, much information came about by adaptions and leads which were uncovered by Zbyszek.
Even though it was not my own blood relatives being searched, I remained fascinated and touched by the experience.
Preparation was great, though Carolyn enjoyed participation in some of the exploratory process.
After our return to Seattle I will be taking a course in Polish history at the University of Washington.
Thanks so much for offering this kind of comprehensive regional and heritage experience. The experience of a lifetime will enriches during the coming decades and will be passed on as a legacy to our children and grandchildren as well as living relatives.
The tour was wonderful! It was an experience I will cherish always. Your planning was brilliant; transpired from a gift of extraordinary intelligence..I applaud you Aga, Zenon and Pawel! (Pawel’s mother should be proud of him).
This is picture sent to us by Lisa standing in front of the Lviv Opera Theatre where her grandfather had been performing before he emigrated to the USA at the beginning of 20th century. Lisa wrote:
Thank you PolishOrigins for awakening from a dream to a reality!
We wanted to learn and see as much as possible in the limited timeframe we had, and we felt that was successfully accomplished. Everything was very comfortable at all of the hotels. Service was good and staff very helpful.
Pawel was excellent. His passion for his country and knowledge that he shares gave us a whole different perspective of Poland. We very much enjoyed traveling with and learning from him.
The van was perfect. We were comfortable and had plenty of room, even when our baggage was loaded in.
This tour was above any expectation we could have had….we have come to love Poland and it’s people, not just because of finding family. Also because of the passion and attention to detail that all of you put into making this tour package so wonderful. We cannot praise you enough for all that you do to make the Galicia Tour such an enjoyable experience.
Pawel was fabulous! He knows so much about so many things! I was so impressed by his knowledge. He has such a pleasant personality that it was truly enjoyable to spend our time with him. I especially appreciated that he listened to what interested us, then tried to accommodate our interests during the tour. He took us to so many wooden churches, which I loved! He remembered that I had read the Sienkiewicz trilogy and made a connection to what I’d ready while we were rafting down the river. I was so glad he did that! His music collection in the van was really fun. I felt that he was watching out for us and taking very good care of us which was important to me since I was traveling alone. I very much appreciated all of his help.
The other guides we had were all very good. I especially liked the woman at the open-air museum on day 1 (Sanok Skansen Mrs. Maria) and the guide at Lancut castle. The display of church art that was included in that tour was one of my favorite places!
The van was a great size for our small group. We had plenty of room for all of our things and to spread out. Pawel is a great driver and amazing at parking that big vehicle on crowded city streets! I didn’t think any restaurant was bad. The soups were amazing everywhere we went! I loved the zurek and mushroom soups! My favorite restaurant was the one in Zakopane with the live music. It was a fun atmosphere and the pierogi were delicious! I would have enjoyed pierogi on other nights too!
I would have enjoyed having other dishes that I think are traditional like bigos, borscht, golabki. It would have been fun if the dinners were like “”a tour”” of Polish specialties, so that we learned things about Polish cooking. The whole tour is like a school curriculum where we’re learning so much with everything we do. Exploring the food traditions could be another part!
I was very well informed! Aga is truly AMAZING! She responded so quickly to all my questions. I was so impressed by her.
When I realized how small the group would be, I was a little concerned that it would be awkward to have such a small group, especially being the one traveling alone. But I never felt that it was awkward being a group of 4. It felt perfect! I felt so fortunate to be part of such a small group. Of course, it really wasn’t a “group” tour at all, it was a private tour and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope it is still worthwhile to PolishOrigins and to the guide to have such a small group as it was the opportunity of a lifetime from my perspective as a traveler!
I was surprised that Zenon and Magda traveled so far to meet us. That was such a personal touch to the tour.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The tour exceeded my expectations. It was so well planned and our guide was so fabulous that I couldn’t have asked for more!
Aga was wonderful in arranging the trip for us. I was so happy to see her the day we arrived because I not only had no luggage but my husband had to fly out of Canada on a different flight due to his passport needing a quick update prior to leaving. Aga was awesome. She responded to our e mails in a timely fashion. She informed us all the time on how our trip was being planned and considered everything. She was available throughout our trip for advise and in need of help. When I met her on my first day alone in Krakow she was incredible. She took me banking and shopping. She even handled an emergency call from our daughter in the middle of the night. She was amazing.
Paul was our guide in Krakow. We appreciated his passion for Poland. He was extremely knowledgeable and provided a wonderful tour of Krakow. We were happily exhausted!! Paul even managed to get the security in Wawel Castle to allow me to take a picture of my ancestor, Adam Sapieha plaque. That was awesome. Paul was a great guide.
Zbyszek, our guide from Krakow to Ukraine and back to Warsaw. We had an amazing trip with Zbyszek. He did some prior research on my family before we arrived. Our travels took us to the Ukraine. Zbyszek’s driving was super. We had many great laughs with him while negotiating the terrible roads in Ukraine. He is very knowledgeable and the tour is all about us and our heritage. We want to give him the nickname Mr. Z because we could never pronounce his name correctly no matter how many times we tryed. We were glad that he ate sausage on the trip just like we do!!! Zbyszek is highly recommended by us. He is a wonderful genealogy guide!!! One of the many highlights was visiting my ancestors church in Tartakow! That was stunning!!! Thanks Zbyszek for taking us there. He was caution and responsible. His poor car had to go through lots of pot holes in the Ukraine.
In Warsaw we had Elzbieta, she was very accommodating to us. Her passion for Warsaw was well received by us. One of our highlights was viewing the Sapieha Palace, which was part of my heritage. The unexpected interview with one of Poland’s ex political leaders (Lech Walesa) was memorable. Thanks, Elzbieta for waiting for us while we took pictures of that event!
I do wish we would have spent more time speaking with people from the villages that my ancestors were from. I guess that is what we will have to do the next time we go on the genealogy tour. Although my goals were not totally achieved, I did get further ahead in my research. We have much work ahead to complete my research. New questions popped up on our journey which we hope to have answered in the future as we continue with the research. We had an amazing journey! My personal regret is that we didn’t plan more time in my ancestors villages in the Ukraine.
PolishOrigins did a remarkable job handling our personal tour. We are very happy that we booked with them. Aga was amazing in planning it. All the tour guides were great. Zbyszek was exceptionally good! Our tour was terrific! It was the first of its kind for us. We hope to do it again!
Sincerely, Sharon Sapieha-Latimer and Tim Latimer
Lucjan was wonderful! He is part of our family now. Lucjan made the experience very memorable by his knowledge, kindness and enthusiasm – his attention to detail and taking into consideration our short amount of time in Poland. I think we got all that we could out of the trip (due to time constraints) and were well satisfied with both Lucjan and Aga and their professionalism and friendliness. They made us feel at home.
Lucjan is an excellent driver. Preparation was excellent. My biggest trouble was trying to figure out how to use the web site for translation. That was all due to my lack of technological ability….but everyone was great at helping and I finally figured it out – with much patience on your part. 🙂
I would stay longer to do more research.
It was a wonderful trip and I am recommending PolishOrigins to all I know who are interested in research in Poland. And a BIG THANKS to the translators – that was a big part of the whole experience.
It was great…. .keep up the good work.
Thank you so much,
All met our expectations. Staying at the Jana in Tarnow enhanced our experience, great art and history. Kasia, was very customer focused and tried to answer our questions and helped us meet our objectives. You did an excellent job, there were no unpleasant surprises. You delivered exactly what you promised. I appreciated the telephone call after we arrived in Poland.
Your preparation and Kasia’s efforts during our tour allowed us to have a wonderful experience. Your suggestion that we include Krynica, was truly appreciated. As we indicated we are completing a book on Polish emigration and our objective was to build on previous visits and to expand our knowledge of Galicia and southern Poland. Kasia made decisions on the spot and obtained access to churches and museums that enhanced our knowledge. She was flexible, enthusiastic and customer focused. We accomplished our objectives and would be comfortable recommending your organization to visitors and those interested in genealogy. It is also our hope that we can continue discussion with you in the event we have additional questions. Finally, we would like to thank you for delivering your services as promised. Both Karen and I send out thanks and best wishes for continued success.
“Hi, my husband and I traveled with PolishOrigins last October.
The itinerary was set up to explore my heritage in a small village in southeastern Poland and then meet up with a small group of people to tour Poland. They arranged for the researcher, transportation, tour guide, hotels, etc.
I was VERY pleased with their professionalism, helpfulness and the outcome of the genealogical portion of my trip.
My researcher and I still keep in contact. He is a wonderful researcher and a person that has a fine character and a good heart. His name is Lucjan Cichocki.
I highly recommend PolishOrigins.”
Love, love, love Lucjan. We want to adopt him! LOL. He is a wonderful guide and an equally nice send pleasant human being. Lucjan’s driving is commendable. He is very conscious and safe.
Pawel was very knowledgeable about every stop on the tour. He is a very good tour guide.Great transportation! Couldn’t have been better- including the day that we used public transportation. All excellent!
Zenon is an amazing person! The trip went way beyond my expectations. It was both an honor and a privilege to have this experience with Zenon. Zenon drove us around and it was wonderful. We had some great conversations as we travelled! We were well informed. Everything was expressed clearly.
Because I had specific goals written out, we were able to accomplish very specific tasks. Because of Zenon’s knowledge of the types of records and how to find them, we made some amazing discoveries.
I am so thankful to have been able to take this trip to Poland. Thank you!
Read more on Adrianne’s Blog: PolishOrigins Adventure
This was an absolutely an amazing trip. My expectation was that maybe we would get some clues as to possible family members in Poland, but never did I expect to find actual family in the space of an hour or so. I believe Aga’s research on finding the historian within the village is what made meeting our family meetings happen. Aga told us the village priest was not available but she didn’t stop there, she found the historian and the historian was very happy to help us.
Aga was my contact person and she made me feel at ease right away. I never planned a trip like this before so I really needed guidance and I had a lot of questions.
She answered all my questions, gave us her opinion and gave us options and prepared a wonderful trip for us. I know this fantastic trip all began with her. She has a great eye for detail and she kept us informed any time there had to be a change in our itinerary. I began to trust her more and more as the trip was being prepared. I only know English so her ability to write in English was very important in our communications. Her email messages were always very clear and well written. She is the best.
Paweł was wonderful. Because we were so fortunate to meet family, on a few occasions he had to translate when there was a group of people all talking at once! He stayed so calm and didn’t seem overwhelmed at all. I asked him if he was ok and he just said, “yes.”He really made the trip happen for us. We could not have been able to have the wonderful experience we did if it were not for him. He has a great way with people.
This trip has provided me with a lifetime of memories. I loved working with Aga and Paweł. I am thankful for PolishOrigins. They provide a great service to those of us who would like to connect with their heritage.
Susanne’s blog: What we discovered about the Dudziks in Poland.
During our day and some prep work Zbigniew performed before our arrival, I was able to locate several generations more than I knew of. There is more research to do but I am extremely please with what has been uncovered thus far.
Zbigniew was outstanding. He was quite a detective and adept at reading script from old birth and marriage records. He was also excellent at cutting through the red tape at city and county offices on our search for records. I think his psychology degree helped to break down the barriers government workers normally build. He went over and above my expectations looking for more clues.
It was quite a remarkable and certainly unforgettable 12 hour day going back in time in this little village in the middle of nowhere…. read more: http://forum.polishorigins.com /viewtopic.php?p=16677#16677 .
Lucjan was amazing. He was on time, personable, fun and tenacious finding and talking to people to find out as much as he could for my search. It was of the best experiences of my life.
He was very attentive to anything I wanted to see and made sure I got to the bus station on time but I never felt rushed. Lucjan was a comfortable careful driver.
Couldn’t have had a better guide. Couldn’t have had a better experience. Really!
Preparation for the tour: Very satisfied and actually surprised by all the attention. Thanks for arranging the return bus.
One of the best and moving experiences of my life. So much fun!
Magda Smolka – she was wonderful and we were so sad when she drove away. She helped us so much that words cannot adequately say how we feel. A true treasure.
Zenon – a gentlemen who is amazing at finding relatives and gravestones everywhere. He made us feel comfortable and I appreciated how well he worked with all the cousins. Also a great driver!
I will recommend your services to everyone, what a wonderful group of people you are!
I will send you my journal soon.
Carol’s journal published: Wanderlust: Polska 2014.
Zenon was the perfect guide and traveling companion. He made us feel very comfortable and his knowledge of the areas we visited was very good. He was very responsible (a very good driver too!) and he worked hard to ensure we enjoyed our tour to the fullest. My mother mentioned to me several times that he felt like another son to her – a very high compliment!
Transportation: So convenient! Zenon is a knowledgeable and safe driver. It was very nice to have our own personal driver, which allowed us to stop when and where we wanted. His car was comfortable and had enough room for all of our luggage.
Zenon and Aga prepared us very well for our tour – everything was clear and well thought out.
I achieved my goals and even exceeded them. I had done almost all of my research at home in advance of the tour, so my focus while in Poland was to locate and meet living relatives. Zenon helped us accomplish this in each of the 4 villages we visited – I didn’t expect to have such good success but we did.
Thank you very much for one of the most memorable experiences of our lifetimes!
Read and watch Brian’s blog: 3 Men and a Mom: Finding our Polish Family.
I stumbled across the tour searching about my family. The thought of hiring a guide didn’t occur to me until I found the site.
Our guide went above and beyond what I expected. He was fantastic and I would recommend Lucjan to everyone. He was knowledgeable, very informative, and so patient and kind with my two small children. I arranged the tour last minute (a week before travel) and my guide had everything set up and researched in such a short time. He was just amazing!
The research exceeded my expectations. I’m impressed with the entire country of Poland in general. The research was so easy to accomplish with Lucjan. I would never have gotten any of that information without him. I was at first a little apprehensive with spending money on a guide, but after my experience, I would tell anyone that wants to go to Poland to learn more about their family, that they need to go through PolishOrigins. I am extremely happy and impressed with the service and my trip! The trip was just amazing, definitely an experience of a lifetime!
Zenon helped us find our Polish roots and connect with family members in Poland. We now correspond with family we did not even know we had, and it has been an incredible experience. Zenon’s assistance in finding our family, guiding us to the village of my husband’s grandfather, and providing English-Polish interpretation were all outstanding. He far exceeded all our expectations in every way in finding family and making connections in Poland. My husband and I offer the highest possible reference for Zenon. Thank you!
First, I wanted to send an immediate “Thank You” tonight. Although I did not have any expectations, you would have far exceeded any expectations I might have had. What I learned about my family in the past few days is absolutely incredible and I cannot wait to get home and share all of it with my family! As I said before, I have no reservations in highly recommending you and your services in the future. Please feel free to use me as a reference. In addition, the preparation work that Aga did was wonderful. She was responsive and provided wonderful recommendations.
The last few days have been very emotional, and fortunately, I was able to keep it together. However, as we got into Ricardas’ car and drove into Lithuania, there was definitely a tear in my eye. There was something about leaving Poland and so many great experiences behind that really hit me. Although it is your job, know that I was greatly touched by your hard work and perseverance in finding all that information and so many relatives. Each day your effort gave the impression that you were searching for your own family and I am grateful.
Read and watch Mike’s blog: My Genealogical Quest.
We had the most amazing time in Europe, but particularly in Poland. I have to admit that I was not prepared for all the emotions and feelings that I experienced in Poland. I was so overwhelmed that I can’t even put it into words. It is easy to read a book about history or watch a film or google the internet to find information, but when you are standing where that history took place and it is actually family members lives explained, then it is very confronting. It also makes you realize that those historical events have given us the lives that we have today and we are grateful for that.
It was for me a very overwhelming experience and I really cannot find the words to accurately describe my time there. There were just so many emotions at the one time and still now, I would need a 1000 word essay to explain the mixture of thoughts and feelings. I really hope that I can come back one day soon.
What a journey this has been much, more then what I ever expected. During this journey Zenon has taught me so much about the history of Poland not only during the time of my ancestors but during communist times. He searched birth and death records for hours to figure out what happen to my grandfather’s sisters’ 10 children, uncovering they had all died at a young age. He obtained marriage records of Kruk’s and Murwaski thus expanding my tree. And he found relatives who were still alive which I was able to meet. This was truly a unique, emotional, humbling journey for me, made possible by Zenon expertise in genealogy. Zenon, “dziękuję!!” “Do zobaczenia w przyszłym roku.”
Read and watch Janina’s blog: My new name is Janina Kruk.
Overall, I think you did an outstanding job. There is an old expression we use in the USA and that is: If the Queen is happy, there is peace in the kingdom. Believe me, there was peace in the kingdom and she was happy. (…) I have been to Canada, Mexico, Argentina, France and Italy and my trip to Poland has been the best, thanks to you and your staff. Hats off to all of you.
Magda was a real delight. Everything to her was “super.” She was a great interpreter and facilitator when visiting with a family of distant relatives in Byrnica. She also went out of her way to make us feel comfortable at all times. (…) Mateusz was wonderful. He was like a walking history book. He new all of the sights to see and the history behind them. He was extremely knowledgeable in all areas.
My sister Barbara & I loved our tour. While we hope to return to Poland in 3 or 4 years, this was truly a once in a lifetime trip.
It was really worthwhile to have you start researching records prior to our arrival. There some names and addresses to work with. We were blessed with very kind people in the records offices where our grandparents and their ancestors lived. MAGDA worked her charm and even one cranky lady went out of her way to help us. We were further blessed by having so many records that were still in good condition. We obtained additional names and some more recent addresses.
We met many cousins from both our grandfather’s family and our grandmother’s family. We were greeted warmly and welcomed as if known all our lives by these good people. Our guide MAGDA was patient and kind to all, most especially to the older folks. Every place we went she would draw a little family tree to show the family connection. We even added an extra day, returning to Kolbuszowa area, to visit more family members. A family reunion is being planned at SKANSEN during our next trip.
We cannot say enough good things about MAGDA. She advised us, early on, that you don’t always find family members. She had a wonderful was with people on the records office. She went out of her way to be kind to both new friends and family members. She was flexible when we wanted to head back and visit more relatives. We almost feel like she is one of our cousins.
Our other guides, JAMES and RENATA, were really good.
JAMES was very accommodating when we chose to make a few changes to original plans. He helped us find a pharmacy and hair salon. He suggested some less strenuous, but beautiful alternatives. Krakow, having hot chocolate, on a museum terrace that overlooked the Old Town Square. We heard & saw the bugler. It was a beautiful view and will stay in our memories forever. JAMES answered our many questions. We met a cousin on the Jewish Old Town. JAMES stayed with us until he was sure her English was good enough for us to communicate with her. We enjoyed the location and food at the hotel in the Jewish Old Town. The food was very good & there were other English speaking guests. JAMES was thoughtful, informative & fun.
The salt mine was fantastic. We did have shaky legs during this.
The mountains were beautiful. Castles & gardens were impressive. Museums were informative.
I would say we liked everything we did. Slowing the pace with a coffee by a lake or hot chocolate on a roof terrace only made it more beautiful.
Barbara and I have been talking about this trip for years. My husband said, “If not now when?” Bless him for that push. Thank you (Aga) and Zenon for making this such a wonderful trip. We truly hope we will be able to do it again in 3 or 4 years.
Wow, we did it! My two sisters and I (all seniors) traveled to Poland after contacting PolishOrigins and combining the Galicia Tour with two extra days for genealogy research. It was the best thing we ever did together!
Zenon provided us with a wonderful view of Polish life both as it is now and how it was years ago. The final two days of the trip, we spent finding records, visiting relatives, churches, cemeteries and museums in the very area where our grandparents lived. The data and pictures we collected was immense. There is a reason why all the other testimonials hold Zenon in high regard. He was the perfect guide, interpreter, organizer and friend we could have asked for. His choices on this tour showed us magnificent scenery, castles, manor homes, a fun raft ride down a river, shopping and even a folk art festival. Zenon and his “little elves” at PolishOrigins (Aga and Marek) co-ordinated a trip that was a life altering event.
I highly recommend anyone anticipating a trip to Poland to get in touch with PolishOrigins to organize a week or longer trip. Tell them what your looking to do – and they will make magic!
Read and watch Gerre’s blog: The Three Sisters’ Trip.
My husband and I travelled with Zenon in June of 2013 and I have to say that it was fantastic!
Zenon personalizes the genealogy tour just for you and as Fran Link said, we had appointments made and were able to look and take pictures of many church records. We also were able to visit with relatives we had never met before and are in contact with. They were all very welcoming and gave us tours of the family burial sites.
I would highly recomment Zenon and Polish Origins!!
Zenon met us at Krakow airport loaded up our luggage in his auto and we were on our way to find my ancestors. He’d found a very nice upstairs small apartment to stay that was near the church where we were going to look for records.
The roads in Poland are fine, but someone who is familiar with S Poland is a necessity. We zipped around to the various churches and if the records were not what he (we) were looking for, we didn’t waste any time looking at the wrong place.
We visited 7 parishes and were able to look through the books of 3. Unless you are fluent in Polish, do not even attempt this. On Saturday and Sunday we walked an Open Air museum, a nature museum in the Carpathian Mts (very interesting to me) and a castle, also very interesting. Also visited an old Greek Catholic church (wooden) and best of all got to go to Mass at St Mary Magdalene Church in Samokleski
on Sunday where we were to find was the church that my grandparents, great grandparents and great-great grandparents were parishioners.
When we were finally able to make an appointment and visit a reluctant priest in Samokleski, Zenon was able to talk him into being an enthusiastic researcher. Once he found my grandparents birth records, he was able to trace birth records back to 1795.
We found the birth records on the last day of our stay so were unable to look for living relatives (we know of at least one family in the area with the Szeredy name.
Although we really had only 3 days to look at church records, Zenon was able to find where my grandparents lived.
He was an excellent guide, whom I would recommend highly.
Paul and Jaye Shereda
Read more about Szeredy family research and our visit in Jaslo area in the Forum here: Szeredy and Opalka – request for emigration hints.
Pawel and Zenon were excellent. All the other guides were very good, but the lady at Sanok Skansen was special as was Mateusz at Bialowieza National Park. Both Pawel and Zenon were very knowledgeable about the history of the area we were at and Poland in general. Pawel was a walking encyclopedia.
Zenon was able to find all that I had hoped to learn about my ancestors. We also went to the Samokleski church cemetery and found several gravestones with my surname on them. We met a distant relative which was very nice.
We really appreciate your going out of your way to have music in two of the dinners. On both tours it was nice to see how Poland has recovered after the war and communism.
All in all it was a spectacular trip. But, clearly the reason for that is Zenon Znamirowski. He is so accomplished at what he does. He is extremely professional and has a wonderful knowledge of the area and historic facts. The data he gives to you at the end of The Forefather’s Tour is very well organized. I enjoyed his sense of humor and found him to be a very comfortable person with which to travel. So much so that it feels as if he becomes part of your family! And he always has his guests interests at heart. It seems his greatest joy is seeing the joy and smiles on YOUR face. If anyone is contemplating Your Forefather’s Tour you will not be disappointed. I don’t think you will find a better person as your guide. Zenon without doubt exceeded my expectations. Thanks to him this has truly been a trip of a lifetime!
Michelle Piech Hickok
This is an excerpt from Michelle’s blog: Trip of a Lifetime.
Although I had been doing genealogy research on the internet, at seminars and conferences for several years my family tree was somewhat sparse. I had visited all the churches, cemeteries and searched any civil records in New Jersey that were pertinent. Like most other folks who begin their ancestry search sadly after there is no opportunity to interview family members, I felt that perhaps I had as much information as I would ever find.
Last year in October, my sister and I had an opportunity to visit Poland and we jumped at the chance. I had learned about Zenon and the ForefathersTraces Tours from a link on the Polish Museum of America website. I contacted him, and happily reserved 5 days for genealogy at the end of our 10 day tour.
We had had an amazing introduction to Poland during our initial tour, but had not touched at all on the Galician area, the home of our ancestors. When we met Zenon in Krakow, he had already reserved rooms for us, done some background research using the limited information I had emailed and greeted us with warm enthusiasm and cautious optimism for what we were hoping to discover during our time with him.
To say that he is an incredible treasure is a huge understatement. We found church and civil records which added generations to our family tree. His skill in driving on the winding, and sometimes dirt roads made us realize that we would not ever want to drive in Poland. Neither my sister nor myself speak a word of Polish and no one in the small villages that we visited spoke any English. With a smile, Zenon repeated everything twice, once in Polish and again to translate for us. By stopping and talking to folks in their yards and on the streets, he incredibly found living relatives. To discover, meet and spend time with second cousins that were unknown to us, was an emotional and loving gift that is beyond explanation.
My only regret is that I wish we could have stayed longer. There is so much I would like to learn and share with our new family members. Since we have been able to correspond, I know they feel the same way. I can only hope for another opportunity to return and get better acquainted with our past and present family history – all with the help of Zenon, of course!
“I have travelled with Zenon and Polish Origins twice.
He was a wonderful guide, translator and researcher. He was able to set appointments ahead of our arrival for 2 parishes as well as civil records offices
He found family on both sides of my tree.
I would love to go back and travel with him again.
He has become a trusted friend who is always willing to help.”
Now about the gentlemen I dealt with in Poland, Mr. Michal Marciniak and Mr. Zenon Znamirowski are two of the best researchers/tour guide/translators that anyone could ever ask for. I met Michal Marciniak when I was searching in 2008 for family in Poland, He is the person who found them all. When Michal was not available for our tour he suggested Zenon Znamirowski and all turned out okay.
They are both young men age 38, married and with children. They are loyal to their wives and I am glad for that.I know about Zenon and his eating habits. He eats A LOT. I don’t know how he can put it all away and still stay slim. I was amazed at how much he could eat at one sitting.
Michal, I do not know much about his habits, but we were treated with respect. They are two great guys. Zenon took Steve under his wing and helped him on the gravel walks and roads also the cobblestone walks.
From Jo’s blog My Big Fat Polish Trip
Looking to find family member puzzle pieces in your genealogical tree–Zenon Znamirowski is THE researcher.
Armed with cameras, laptop, people-person mannerisms, and a “can do” attitude, he achieves success.
His “your family is my family” approach leads to fulfillment of the goal.
Preliminary ground work with Zenon was established months before my actual visit.
I arrived in Poland (June 5, 2011) hoping to uncover a piece or two of my genealogical past. I came with only a 40-year old address, the names of my grandparents, and no ability to speak Polish. I departed Poland (June 11, 2011) with an unbelievable ancestral tree dating to 1810. In addition, I met two living second cousins.
Zenon takes pride in the success that he achieves for his guests. He is caring and considerate. Although Zenon made suggestions, I had the final say in making all decisions.
In the field of Polish ancestral research, both Zenon and his services are superlative. Without hesitation, I recommend Zenon and his services.
Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania
Back home I am now able to reflect on my research trip and know that I would never have been able to find out all that I did, without the help and experience of Zenon. He was worth every dollar (or zloty) I paid to him. His knowledge of history is fantastic and helped me to understand a lot more, especially the plights of the Polish people during WWII and the Communist regime. His language skills of English, Polish and Russian was brilliant and certainly helped us out when researching parish registers, wills, probates and land records. His past experience in dealing with Priests, Registry and Archive staff proved to be invaluable when approaching these people. My sister and I, together with other family members in Poland, enjoyed his company and found him to be a warm, gentle and patient man who really enjoys helping other people find their family roots.
Zenon was hired by me to help me with my research, but I feel that in the short four days we spent together, we have forged a lasting friendship as well.
See Andrew’s blog (lots of pictures!): Galician attractions where tourists do not go.
The summer of 2009 my son and I traveled to Poland for the first time and visited my family ancestral towns on the last two days of our trip. We enjoyed the trip but found it difficult navigating the small towns since I do not speak the language. We searched cemeteries, local archive and town churches with no results because I was unprepared. I then realized a guide was a necessity on my next trip. The following year in June 2010 I again traveled to Poland, now with all three of my sons on a seven day guided tour and a second week devoted to genealogy research of my family. This time I found a professional company PolishOrigins who placed me with Zenon Znamirowski over the Internet. Zenon helped me plan and understand what had to be done to prepare for my trip. We communicated on a regular basis answering all my questions and exchanging information and plans. Prior to my arrival Zenon reviewed my families historical information so he could arrange a itinerary that could be highly productive. Each day Zenon drove us two hours east of Warsaw where we visited my family’s towns, cemeteries and local archives. It was special for me to attend mass with my sons on (Father’s Day) June 19th in the church my grandfather was baptized in 1891 and his future wife in 1867. Zenon provided us this opportunity.
At the end of our trip Zenon was able to find four of my grandfathers from documents found in the local archives going back to 1775 all living in the same general area, the eastern area of Ostrow Mazowiecka County. We never were able to find any relatives but that’s not from Zenon not trying; we stopped people on the streets, people visiting in the cemeteries and called people from the telephone books. Zenon was a professional, knowledgeable, educated and understanding guide. I would recommend his company’s services to anyone traveling to Poland to look for their past relatives. The journey to my ancestral towns was a trip of a lifetime gift to my sons and we want to thank Zenon for a job well done.
I am continuing to have Zenon translate documents and research for me. He will continue to be a friend of the Bogucki family.
Frank, Stephen, Christopher and Jeremy Bogucki
A scan from Winter 2010 issue of Rodziny, the Journal of Polish Genealogical Society of America, with permission of the editor and the author:
Poland was wonderful. The trip was much more than I expected – and it’s due to Zenon as a guide. He is superb. It was fascinating to me to find that the family names continue in the same towns, although my direct ancestors have been gone for over 100 years. I have more research to do – and I would love to be able to return to Poland after it’s done. (I’d also like more Bigos).
Read more on Leonore’s Tour Blog!
A scan from Winter 2010 issue of Rodziny, the Journal of Polish Genealogical Society of America, with permission of the editor and the author:
If anyone reading this blog is considering a Forefathers Traces Tour with Zenon, you will not regret it. This trip was so exciting and rewarding for me and I could not have had a better guide during this wondrous journey to my ancestral home. This was a trip of a lifetime and the gift of family was more than I could have hoped for from this trip. Thank you Zenon!
Read more on Shellie’s Tour Blog!
If you want to travel to Poland to seek your roots and visit the towns of your ancestors, I highly recommend Zenon Znamirowski from PolishOrigins as your personal tour guide. I have just returned from a highly productive and enjoyable two-week stay in Poland with Zenon as my driver/translator/genealogist.
You do not ever want to drive in Poland. I do not care whether you know Polish and can drive in the big city and/or the countryside in the US, but Poland is different. Save yourself from having a migraine or an accident and hire this driver/translator. It’s worth every penny, and you get to go where and when you want to go.
Zenon is fluent in English and Polish, making for easy conversation and streamlining access to the information I was seeking. He asks what you want to accomplish and how he can make that happen. He listens and offers suggestions in order that you get what you want from your trip. He has a master’s degree in Economics, and we had a great time discussing the ideas of Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, as we made a grand 2000+km circle around Poland.
(…)We were off to Opole to check the archives on the Philipsek side of the family. We were going through the Mechnica church records when Zenon noticed that town sponsors for the Philipsek baptisms came from Twardawa. (By the way, “Philipsek” is usually spelled “Phillipczyk” and is pronounced “Feel LEAP chick”). I had been unable in my research in the USA to verify the marriage of August Phillipczyk and Clara Bannert and the birth of their first two children, John and Anastasia, in Mechnica. Zenon got the microfilm for Twardawa and found August and Clara’s wedding date and the birth of some children, all of which may not be known at this time. Also listed were the names of August and Clara’s parents. (This is what happens when you have a driver/translator who is also genealogist!) (…).
To read and see more about Louis Forefathers Traces Tour through Poland entlitled Sitting Down in My GGGrandfather’s House click here (about 3 MB pdf file): http://polishorigins.com/ebooks /louie_welna.pdf or here for Blog: http://blog.polishorigins.com/2011 /01/20/1-sitting-down-in-my- gggrandfathers-house/ .
Louis D. Welna
+1-802-524-5342 or ojciec(at)comcast.net
My husband Jim and I traveled to Poland in late June 2004 on a quest to find records of my Polish ancestors. Quite by chance, I had corresponded with Zenon, who offered to help me in my search. He and his cousin Cezary met us in Krakow and we traveled together for three days, each day visiting a different ancestral village. (You can read my essay about my genealogical research and this trip here: Click here: The Gift of Family)
Even though this was my second trip to Poland, it seemed an unknowable place to me because I do not speak the language, and the idea of relying so much on people I did not know made me a little nervous. All my fears were dispelled as soon as we met Zenon and Cezary. They are both bright, personable, young men who brought the passion of their interests in Poland and genealogy to my search for ancestors. With their help, we negotiated unfamiliar roads, friendly (and unfriendly) priests, cemeteries filled with graves and flowers, and ancient record books written in Latin. Cezary’s skill in deciphering the old records is remarkable: he is both careful and thorough, and he found many traces of my ancestors.
Zenon organizational skills and his command of the English language are excellent. After I returned home, I asked Zenon to return to one of my ancestral villages and spend an afternoon with family members living there. The result of that visit was a wonderful amount of information from my family, none of whom speak English. Zenon took photographs, recorded stories, and developed an extensive family tree of this branch. I am thrilled with the results of his interviews!
I am continuing to have Zenon do research for me, and I can unconditionally recommend his services to you.
Nancy Maciolek Blake
As I entered my 50s, I became much more interested in family genealogy. Both my parents had died – with little or no information forthcoming from my father particularly about past generations and potential relations back in Poland.
Searching our Polish family routes was going to be a difficult task for my sister and me. Although our father’s parents had both emigrated from Poland in the early 20th century, we had almost nothing on which to base our search. My father’s last living sibling, Sophie, is 92 and had little additional information to share other than when her parents were born and when they died. We do not speak the language and had never been to Eastern Europe . All we had was a couple of letters written in Polish to our grandmother shortly before her death in 1956 and a single envelope with a return address on it. The name on the return address was Konstanty – our grandmother’s brother.
Luckily, in my internet search I was able to locate Zenon and his website, www.inpassa.com
After a number of e-mails back and forth with Zenon, I contracted with him to be our driver and interpreter for two days during an upcoming trip to Poland that my sister, her daughter and I would take. Prior to our arrival, Zenon also graciously inquired about and secured train tickets for us to travel from Oswiecim, to Budapest, Hungary at the end of our trip.
After two wonderful days staying in the old town section of Warsaw, Zenon collected us from our hotel on a Friday morning and our family search adventure began! It took nearly 3 hours to make the drive from Warsaw to Kulesze-Chobotki – the tiny village in the mother parish of Knyszyn located 101.6 KM NE of Warsaw, near the Polish city of Bialystok .
We drove into and around the village until we saw someone out in their yard. Zenon got out and began the conversation – “Do you know if any Leszcynskis still live in the area?” The farmer immediately pointed to a farm down the road.
We pulled into the driveway of the farm indicated and got out of Zenon’s car – my sister, my niece and myself, waiting for Zenon to announce us to the gentleman walking down the steps from his front door. No sooner had Zenon told him that we were his relatives from America , than our 2nd cousin, Stash, grandson of Konstanty opened his arms and his home to us. We spent the remainder of the day with our cousin, his lovely wife, and their three daughters. Later in the afternoon we were joined by Stash’s older sister, and by their father – our father Edwards’ first cousin – the 76 year old patriarch of the Polish branch of my paternal grandmother’s family. Zenon translated non-stop during our 8 hour visit. His command of English is excellent.
Zenon stayed with us at a local Inn that evening and we returned in the morning to spend more time with our new found cousins. They took us to the cemetery where generations of the Leszcynski line are buried. We also visited with younger sister, and her family at her home and had a tour of the local cultural center of which one of a sisters is the director.
After our visit with our relatives, Zenon drove us all the way to Krakow – a very long and arduous drive. The following morning, he took my sister back to Czestochowa , as it was her dream to make a pilgrimage to this most holy of Polish sites. All the while, Zenon was kind, bright, enthusiastic and accommodating. Following our return home, Zenon sent some wonderful photographs and, most exciting, some recordings of the conversations we had with our relatives!
We have continued to correspond and to relay on him to translate e-mails to our non-English speaking relatives. We were incredibly fortunate to have located INPASSA! on the internet. Zenon proved himself not only to be capable and reliable but also very generous of spirit. He provided services well beyond what we contracted for – including the extra day of driving so that my sister could visit Czestochowa .
I can enthusiastically recommend Zenon – as a wonderful young man, guide, interpreter and driver for your family roots trip to Poland. You won’t be disappointed.
My wife and I traveled to Poland in August 2006 for two weeks. The first week was an escorted tour of some of the major cities of Poland and the second week was devoted exclusively to genealogical research of my family.
Several months before the trip I contacted Tadeusz Wysocki of RootsPoland.com and asked if he could accompany us while I looked for my family roots. He responded that he had other commitments at that time but recommended that I contact Zenon of “INPASSA! Polish Origins” for assistance. Zenon graciously agreed to act as our guide and interpreter for the week and our plans were set up.
Zenon made all of the preliminary arrangements for our stay in Poland – he contacted hotels, he made car reservations, he called local parish priests to arrange time to search records, he even arranged a horse and carriage ride on a day when we had some free time! In short – he went above and beyond the normal expectations of a driver/guide/interpreter. Everything was arranged by the time we got to Poland and, after meeting us in our hotels lobby, we were off to look for my family.
Zenon’s command of the English language is excellent – an obvious big plus for someone who only knows a few words of Polish! He made our week looking for my ancestors not only productive but enjoyable as well. He took us to local churches, cemeteries, and historical societies. He took pictures and videos of the places that we visited and gave us copies at the end of the week. We had the pleasure of meeting his cousin Cezary who has “a passion for genealogy” and who translated some old Russian language birth, baptismal, marriage and death records that we found.
In short, everything was arranged for us prior to our arrival in Poland and everything was meticulously planned and thought out.
I can unequivocally recommend the services of Zenon to anyone who is thinking of traveling to Poland to “look for their roots”. He is professional, friendly, knowledgeable and above all, truly interested in helping people uncover their family history.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Zenon is that not only did my wife and I enjoy the time we spent with him, but we now also consider him a friend!
Sigmund Ancerewicz, M.D.
In September 2006,my brother and I fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Poland , our ancestors homeland. Our visit was made so much more memorable because of Zenon. He was very prompt in responding to my e-mails,and clearly answered all my questions. He picked us up at our hostel at the scheduled date, and time and spent the day with us , driving us to and from Wloclawek , where he made our visit more comfortable with his translation skills. He spoke and understood the English language extremely well , and was very patient with our feeble attempts at Polish(only laughing a few times). We felt as if we were visiting with a friend, and not just another client employing a service. He was very gracious , knowledgeable and went far beyond our expectations in assisting us. I find it hard to believe that anyone would be disappointed using Forefathers Traces Tour offer from PolishOrigins.com .
I know that my next visit to Poland will be scheduled when Zenon will be available to be with us. (Zenon’s comment – The next two visits already took place and is described in Blog! Click here to read and watch it: http://blog.polishorigins.com/category/james-tour/ )
Harpers Ferry , W.V.
A year ago, I had Zenon from PolishOrigins.com do some research for me as well a Virtual Tour at the recommendation of a friend from my local Genealogy Society and as most pleased. Following that, an opportunity arose for me to visit Poland this year (2008) with little time for preparation on my part so, of course, I contacted Zenon with the hope that he would be able to escort us and he was.
Zenon met us in Krakow in early July, 2008 and took us to the Tarnow/Radgoszcz area where my father’s maternal family was from (surname SPERBER). Because these ancestors were all Jewish, I knew their shtetls were all but obliterated during the war so I did not anticipate meeting any relatives but I mainly wanted to visit the ancestral towns. We also visited Kolbuszowa, Sokolow MLP, Trzebos and Rzeszow (surname BIER) with Zenon making arrangements for overnight stays at tourist farmhouses in convenient places at our request prior to our visit.
Zenon was extremely reliable, flexible and did a great job of choosing places that were very nice and comfortable and at affordable prices. His driving was wonderful and safe and he was knowledgeable about the places we visited and called ahead to make sure everything was in order while we were on the road. We spent one day in the Rzeszow Archives with the books that needed searching prearranged and ready for us when we arrived. No request was ignored.
He also did things for us that were above and beyond the call of duty, in fact, despite the fact that he lives a 40 minute train ride outside of Warsaw and our train to Germany was to leave from the somewhat confusing train station there at 7:25AM on a Saturday morning, he graciously insisted on coming back to Warsaw to assist us in carrying our luggage to the station (our very nice hotel, The Polonia Palace, was about 2 blocks away—a long two blocks with heavy bags!) and making sure our tickets were in order and that we were on the correct platform and space for our train. What a feeling of comfort and security that was since we speak NO Polish!
All in all, I can’t say enough about the wonderful time we had, how exceptional Zenon was in every way not only during the time we were with him, but in the pre-planning and post-trip follow up and I couldn’t recommend him more highly and I now consider him a very dear friend!
If anyone would like to contact me personally about Zenon and/or our trip, I will be glad to receive your email at mbwilson(at)jhu.edu.
Zenon’s command of English is very good and was invaluable in communicating with my Polish relatives. He was able to quickly zero in on the Apola’s of Ropica Gorna related on my mother’s side of family, even though they emigrated to the US prior to 1900. He did so with just a few names and references from letters I had from the 1930’s. Coming from a small village himself, made it easy for Zenon to relate to these country folk.
The experience was totally satisfying in large part because of Zenon. Thank you for all your skills!