12-Days: Prague & Poland, plus Vienna

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

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

DAY 2: ARRIVE WARSAW

Upon arrival in Warsaw we are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative and transfer to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (D)

DAY 3: WARSAW: VISIT OF THE TOWN

We start with a walking tour of Warsaw, the capital of Poland, including the Old Town with Zamkowy Square and its King Sigismund’s Column, the first non-ecclesiastic statue, and the Royal Castle, originally a Gothic castle dating back to the 15th century. It was here that 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 celebrate Mass with a local parish. After lunch on our own, we enjoy a panoramic tour of the city including the Ghetto Memorial and the famous Royal Route. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 4: WARSAW / CZESTOCHOWA / AUSCHWITZ / KRAKOW

Czestochowa is a city which has been for the last 600 years the principal centre of Catholic religion in Poland and is a shrine for pilgrims. We visit the Jasna Gora Monastery which has religious, historic and artistic value. Our guide is a local Pauline monk or sister. 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.

After lunch on our own, we attend the unveiling of the Icon of the Black Madonna. We continue to Krakow via Oswiecim, the Nazi Concentration Camp of Auschwitz where we visit the cell of the martyred St. Maximiliam Kolbe. We arrive in Krakow for the evening, and dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 5: KRAKOW: VISIT OF THE CITY & EXCURSION TO WIELICZKA

We begin today with Mass at St. Stanislaw “on the Rock “, Poland’s second most important pilgrimage site. We continue with the tour of Krakow starting with a visit to the Gothic Royal Castle and Cathedral remodeled in the beginning of the 16th century according to the new Renaissance style. After the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1596, the importance of the town declined but Polish Kings were still crowned and buried here.
Later we visit the Old Town, where we see the ancient Market Square and Cloth Hall, built before 1349, and later altered in the 16th century. Inside the Hall are many shopping stalls. We will also visit the courtyards of the Collegium’s Mauis. Later we visit St. Mary’s Church, where we will view the wooden altar by Wit Stwosz.

After lunch on our own, (and some free time at the Market) 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 Kings Chapel, plus other galleries and workings made of salt. Wieliczka salt mine is listed by UNESCO as an object of World Cultural Heritage. Tonight, we enjoy dinner at a traditional restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 6: KRAKOW / WADOWICE / VIENNA

This morning we travel to Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. His museum is in his family house. We celebrate Mass at the parish church. Later, we depart for Vienna. Crossing the border, we travel the Austrian countryside en route to Vienna. Upon arrival in the Royal City, our motor coach will take us along the Ringstrasse, a circular boulevard that circumnavigates the city. This road was the pride of Emperor Franz Josef. We pass by the Votifkirche (Votive Church), Parliament, and the Opera House, among other famous buildings. Dinner awaits us at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 7: VIENNA: VISIT OF THE CITY

We begin this morning with a special visit to Schonbrunn Palace, the most celebrated baroque estate of the Austrian Empire. The gardens and elaborately decorated rooms rival Versailles. Then we visit the State Opera House as well as the Spanish Riding School. After our walking tour we have Mass at the impressive Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral. After Mass we have a tour of this landmark cathedral including the roof. This afternoon is free for shopping or just strolling around this magnificent city. We enjoy dinner at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 8: VIENNA / MELK ABBEY / PRAGUE

After breakfast we depart Vienna for Prague, stopping first at Melk, situated at the river Danube and starting point of the Wachau, the famous Danube Valley. We begin with Mass, followed by a visit of Melk Abbey, one of the most imposing Baroque architectural masterpieces north of the Alps and a focal point in the formative years of Austria’s history. After lunch on our own, we continue to Prague for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 9: PRAGUE: VISIT OF THE CITY

We start our day with a visit at St. Vitus Cathedral. We see the Royal Castle and the Mala Strana (Little Quarter). Nearby is the Church of St. Nicholas, one of the city’s finest. We celebrate Mass at the Church of Our Lady Victorious, where we will view the beloved statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague.

After lunch on our own, we cross the famous Charles Bridge, lined on both sides by religious statues, leading us out of the Little Quarter into the Old Town. This neighborhood includes the Renaissance Town Hall with its animated astronomical clock and the Our Lady Before Tyn Church founded in 1385. Dinner will be served at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 10: PRAGUE: VISIT OF THE CITY

We begin today with Mass at the Starhov Monastery. After Mass we visit “The Loreto Shrine”, 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. We visit the arcade with its various chapels dedicated to the Blessed Mother, the Holy Family, St. Francis, St. Anthony and others. The balance of the day is at leisure. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant with a Folklore show. (B, D)

DAY 11: PRAGUE: LEISURE

Today is at leisure for shopping and browsing on the streets of Prague. Dinner tonight will be served at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 12: RETURN TO USA

We transfer to the Prague airport for our return flight to the 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.