Ziggy in Poland

We had the most incredible two days in Poland in 2005, thanks to the best guide ever, Ziggy Pelczyk (e-mail zpelczyk@wp.pl), and the ITN reader who wrote and told me about him, Elizabeth Moore.

We went there for two days over the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend. We left home on Wednesday and arrived in Warsaw midday on Thursday. It was a great time of year to travel, as the holiday season was just starting and most of the European cities were decorated and had Christmas markets in the town squares — very festive. The weather was a chance encounter, but we were lucky because it snowed and was beautiful.

Ziggy spoke impeccable English and had a very nice, very comfortable, 4-door Peugeot. He was outgoing and bright and incredibly FUN! He knew American history, not to mention world history.

He met us at the airport and drove us to our hotel, Le Royal Meridien Bristol. Centrally located only two blocks from Old Town, it’s next to a beautiful old church and Warsaw University.

I had gotten the best rate on the Le Meridien website (www. starwoodhotels.com or phone 800/543-4300), and when I checked in they gave us a price even lower than that. A great buffet breakfast is included in the price of €116 (near $149) per night for two. The hotel has a beautiful dining room plus a spa, a pool and a gym facility.

The other hotel that I would have stayed at was Le Regina. It’s also near Old Town, newer and a little more expensive.

As for payment, Ziggy will decide with you what is a fair price. I think most guides charge about $40 per hour for two. For instance, if we had used a guide to take us through Kraków and to Auschwitz, it would have cost about 900 zlotych (about $300).

Ziggy did it all. After showing us Warsaw, because he liked us so much he drove the three-plus hours to Kraków and picked us up at the airport again (we had gone to Germany for the day on business and then flown to Kraków), then he drove and walked us through Kraków and Auschwitz and back to Warsaw. (I think it would have been best to take the train, as if it’s snowing the roads are not well lit and it’s a long drive.)

When you e-mail Ziggy, be sure to write, “Referred by Bee and Jack through ITN.”

Danville, CA