12-Days: Austria, Czech Republic & Poland

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DAY 1: DEPART

We depart the USA en route to Warsaw, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: WARSAW

Upon arrival in Warsaw, we are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative, who will accompany us throughout our tour. Transfer to our hotel for dinner and the evening.

DAY 3: WARSAW: EXCURSION TO NIEPOKALANOW

We begin at St. Kostka Church, where martyred Solidarity priest Fr. Popieluszko worked and is buried. We then begin our sightseeing tour of Warsaw, the capital of Poland, including the Old Town with Zamkowy Square with its King Sigismund’s Column, the first non-ecclesiastic statue and the Royal Castle, originally a Gothic castle dating to the 15th century. It was here where the Third of May Constitution was promulgated in 1791. The Market Square has many restaurants, galleries and gift shops. In the New Town is the house where Maria Sklodowska-Curie was born. We see as well the Monument of the Warsaw Uprising and the Ghetto Memorial.

This afternoon we drive to the village of Niepokalanow, home to the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a Franciscan monastery founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, at present one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Poland. Here we will celebrate Mass. We return to Warsaw for the evening. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 4: WARSAW / CZESTOCHOWA / KRAKOW

We depart Warsaw for Czestochowa. It is a city, which has been for the last 600 years the principal centre of Catholic religion in Poland and shrine for pilgrims. We visit the Jasna Gora Monastery, which has religious, historic and artistic value. Our guide is a local Pauline priest. The oldest building is the Gothic Chapel of Our Lady in which

hangs the famous Black Madonna icon on a magnificent silver-and-ebony altar. We celebrate Mass at the Shrine, and then tour the Treasury. After some time at leisure in Czestochowa, we travel to Krakow. We arrive in Krakow for the evening. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 5: KRAKOW: EXCURSION TO LAGIEWNIKI & AUSCHWITZ

We begin with morning Mass and a visit to the Convent of Sisters of Mercy in Lagiewniki, where Blessed Sr. Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, lived and died. We continue with a visit to the Nazi Concentration Camp of Auschwitz where we visit the cell of the martyred St. Maximilian Kolbe. Upon return to Krakow, we begin our city tour starting with a visit to the Gothic Royal Castle and Cathedral remodeled in the beginning of the 16th century according to the new Renaissance taste. After the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1596, the importance of the town declined, but Polish Kings were still crowned and buried here. We drive to the Old Town area, including a visit to St. Mary’s Church, famous for its wooden altar by Wit Stwosz. We see the ancient Market Square and Cloth Hall built before 1349, then altered in the 16th century. Inside the Hall are many shopping stalls. Time permitting, we take a short break for coffee on our own at the famous coffee shop, Jama Michalika. This place lives on in the many stories about its history and biographies of its most famous patrons – the artists. The artists have decorated the walls of the coffee shop with paintings, drawings, and caricatures, as well as its stained-glass windows. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 6: KRAKOW: WADOWICE, KALWARIA ZEBRZYDOWSKA & WIELICZKA

We begin our day at Wadowice, the birthplace of Karol Wojtla, who became Pope John Paul II. A museum is in his family house. We then continue to a place that was a popular pilgrimage place for the Pope when he was a young man: Zalwaria Zebrzydowska, where in the beginning of the 17th century the Palatine of Cracow founded a Franciscan monastery. The church has very rich Baroque decorations. We will visit the Bernardine Monastery. On the slope of the hill and in the valley is an architectural ‘Way of the Cross’ comprising 42 Mannerist and Baroque chapels and some small Calvary churches. Mass will be celebrated this morning.

This afternoon we drive to Wieliczka to see the oldest salt mine in Europe, a world-class tourist attraction. It is a unique place where many generations of Polish miners have created an underground world of underground salt lakes with a rich interior of decorated chapels including the famous Blessed Kinga Chapel, plus other galleries and workings made of salt. Wieliczka salt mine is listed by UNESCO as an object of World Cultural Heritage. We drive back to Krakow for the evening. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 7: KRAKOW / VELHRAD / PRAGUE

After Mass, we depart Krakow this morning in route to Prague. In Velhrad we stop at the Shrine in memory of St. Cyril and Methodius who brought Christianity to the Czech lands. We arrive in Prague in time for dinner at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 8: PRAGUE

This morning we begin in the Mala Strana (“Little Quarter”), the area of Prague least affected by modernization. We begin with Mass, then a visit to the Church of Our Lady Victorious where we view the famous statue for the Infant of Prague. Nearby is the Church of St. Nicholas, one of the city’s finest. The famous Charles Bridge, lined on both sides by religious statues, leads us out of the Little Quarter into the Old Town.

Our afternoon visit to the Old Town includes “The Loreto”, an important place of pilgrimage since 1626. The heart of this complex is a copy of a house believed to be the Virgin Mary’s house that was miraculously transported from Nazareth to Loreto, Italy in 1278. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure for shopping. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 9: PRAGUE / SALZBURG

We make our way south to the city of Salzburg, known as the ‘heart of the heart of Europe’ and famed as the birthplace of Mozart. The city is set on the banks of the Salzach River with the mountains as a backdrop. We take some time to visit the town on our own, and after Mass we check-in to our hotel and enjoy our dinner. (B, D)

DAY 10: SALZBURG / MARIAZELL / VIENNA

Our morning visit of Salzburg includes the Mozart Gerburtshaus, where Wolfgang Amadeus was born on January 27, 1756. We also see the Salzburg Cathedral and the sites associated with the famous film musical, “Sound of Music”.

In the afternoon we begin our drive across the Austrian countryside to Mariazell, Austria’s Marian Shrine. We arrive in Vienna for the evening and dinner at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 11: VIENNA: CITY SIGHTSEEING

After breakfast, we depart for our sightseeing tour, offering an overall impression of the most significant historical sights of Vienna. Our local guide will show us the Ringstrasse with its magnificent buildings, such as the State Opera House, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural History, the City Hall, the Hofburg, the Parliament, the University, the impressive Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral as well as the Votive Church.

After Mass, the afternoon is at our leisure for shopping in some of Vienna’s fine stores. Tonight we gather at a local restaurant for a final farewell dinner together. (B, D)

DAY 12: RETURN USA

We transfer early this morning to the airport for our return to USA. (B)

NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.