This is the near-final plan for the trip of 2005, combining information dated 13 December 2004 and 15 April 2005.

The Plan
During the September 2005 Brest-Belarus Group Trip to Poland and Belarus, a group of between 29 and 40 people from the United States, Canada and Israel will travel to Eastern Europe as follows:

Place
Arrival
Departure
Duration
Activities
Krakow, Poland
20 September 2005
 
2 nights
 
Brest, Belarus    
5 nights
Visits to shtetls in a 100 km radius
Minsk, Belarus  
29 September 2005
   

(Apparently 33 people ended up making at least part of this trip.)
  • As of March 2, 2005 we have over three hundred (300) people who have made an inquiry about the trip and over one hundred and thirty (130) people who have indicated a definite interest in joining the group.
  • Twenty-nine (29) people have made the initial deposit.
  • This leaves only 11 spaces left to fill.
  • We can not accept more than 40 people, because that is all that the luxury coach will comfortably sit.

    The final cost of the land portion of the trip will depend upon how many people will be on the trip. The best estimate at this time is that the cost will be about US $1,850 per participant. This to include:


  • The best possible hotels in each city for a total of nine (9) nights.
  • Including all taxes and gratuities.
  • Daily breakfast supplied by the hotels each morning.
  • Three (3) box lunches on the bus trips
  • To Auschwitz
  • From Krakow to Brest
  • From Brest to Minsk
  • No dinners. However if you desire a three course dinner every night except Saturday, September 24, 2005 in one of the better, more expensive hotels or restaurants in each city to include an appetizer, main course of meat or fish, desert and one glass of house wine, beer, soda or bottled water - no hard spirits, you should add US $250 to the above cost. This cost also includes gratuities and group transportation to the restaurant. This would bring the total to US $2,100.
  • If you do not want to participate in the dinners, you can find restaurants that will be much less expensive. You can most likely eat for about US $10 per meal.
  • Kosher food will be available for breakfast and dinner upon request.
  • We need information as to who will want kosher food when you sign up for the trip.
  • Transfer from the Krakow airport to the hotel upon your arrival.
  • Transfer from the hotel to the Minsk airport upon your departure.
  • Transportation from Krakow to Brest.
  • The type of transportation will depend upon the number of participants.
  • Transportation from Brest to Minsk.
  • The type of transportation will depend upon the number of participants.
  • Private vehicle, driver and translator, for one (1) day individual trips to your ancestral Shtetl or Shtetls. This to include a round trip mileage of no more than 200 kilometer (124 miles) and to be for a duration of no more than eight (8) hours. If the individual Shtetl or Shtetls will require more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) of driving or more than eight (8) hours, this will be accommodated, but at an additional cost. Any participant may keep the vehicle and driver for a maximum of twelve (12) hours.
  • If anyone wants a second day of travel to Shtetls outside of Brest or Minsk, this can be accommodated, but at an additional cost.
  • It is possible to stay overnight in some other Shtetl like Kobryn, Pruzhany, Grodno or Pinsk at no additional hotel cost for the participant, but the hotel accommodations are not always up to Western standards. This would be an individual participant's choice. The participant would have to pay for the driver's and translator's hotel and meal costs, plus the cost of the vehicle for a second day.
Air Transportation
Air Transportation is not included. Air transportation from your home to Krakow, Poland and from Minsk, Belarus to your home is the responsibility of the individual participants. The group is making arrangements only for the ground portion of the trip.

Here is a sampling of the lowest fares we have found:


From the U.S.
US$820.62 round trip, New York to Krakow and returning Minsk to New York. LOT - Polish Airlines, senior citizen rate and economy class. LOT toll-free reservations telephone number in the United States:1 800 223-0593. LOT Polish Airlines. Transportation to and from the New York City area --JFK or Newark or LaGuardia airports-- is not included. Transfers between these airports are not included.

This flight is not available on Monday, September 19, 2005 so if you desire to use this routing, you must fly on Sunday, September 18, 2005. This will require you to have one extra night in a hotel in either Warsaw or Krakow at your own expense.

This is a special fare that is available today and can be cancelled at any time prior to the departure date. If booked today and cancelled before departure there will be a US $105 cancellation fee charge by the airlines.


From Israel
US$1,177.94 round trip - Tel Aviv to Krakow and return Minsk to Tel Aviv on Austrian Airlines, economy class. Austrian Airlines reservations telephone in Israel: (+972-3) 511 511 1. Austrian Airlines Transportation to and from Ben Gurion Airport is not included.

This is a special fare that is available today and can be cancelled at any time prior to the departure date. If booked today and cancelled before departure there will be a US $100 cancellation fee charge by the airline.


From the United Kingdom
£198 round trip - London (Heathrow) to Krakow and return Minsk to London on LOT - Polish Airlines, economy class. The toll free reservations telephone number in The United Kingdom is 870 414-0088. LOT Polish Airlines. Transportation to and from Heathrow Airport is not included.

This is a special fare that is available today and is non-refundable.


From Canada

C$1508.25 or about US $1,256 round trip - Toronto to Krakow and return Minsk to Toronto on Lufthansa Airlines and LOT - Polish Airlines Minsk to Warsaw, economy class. The toll-free reservations telephone number in Canada is 1 800 645-3880. Lufthansa web site.

Transportation to and from Toronto Airport is not included.

This is a special fare that is available today and can be cancelled at any time prior to the departure date. If booked today and cancelled before departure there will be a Canadian Dollars 150 cancellation fee charge by the airlines.



Non-Included Expenses in Europe
  • Passport and visa fees (Franklin Swartz in Minsk will help each participant in obtaining their tourist visa for Belarus).
  • If any participant wants to travel back into Poland to visit their ancestral Shtetls (i.e., Terespol, Konstantynow Nad Bugiem) they will need a business visa for multiple entries into Belarus.
  • Meals other than indicated above.
  • Laundry.
  • Minibar at hotel.
  • Personal purchases and any VAT that would apply to those purchases.
  • Personal telephone, fax, internet and telex charges.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption/medical insurance fee (Insurance is Recommended).
Payments
The initial deposit payment is to be made by check in U.S. Dollars. Do not send any payment until you receive an invoice from the Brest, Belarus Trip Group. Additional payments for the cost of the trip and/or any upgrades should be made via a U.S. Dollar check.

You must pay an immediate US $1,000.00 trip deposit for each participant to secure your space on the trip. This trip deposit cannot be refunded, because we are now past the February 10, 2005 deadline.

The entire balance must be paid before May 10, 2005. This should be paid with a U.S. Dollar check. This is non-refundable.


Tentative Itinerary

Day
Location
Time
Activity
1
Krakow, Poland
Tuesday
Upon arrival You will be met and transferred to the Sheraton Krakow Hotel or similar hotel. You will then check into your hotel room.
4:00PM or later This is not part of the group tour, but if you are joining the group for dinner at 6:30, it is suggested that you get to Krakow's Szeroka Street in the Kazimierz neighborhood early.
6:30 PM Dinner with the Group. The Group Dinner will most likely be at one of the Jewish style restaurants, located on Krakow's Szeroka Street in the Kazimierz neighborhood. If we can finalize these arrangements we will also be entertained by a Klezmer band.
2
Krakow, Poland
Wednesday
6:45 AM Group breakfast
7:30 AM The Group will board a luxury coach for a 65 kilometers - 40 miles drive to Auschwitz 1. The luxury coach will be equipped with a restroom. There will be no smoking in the coach.
8:30 AM An English-speaking private guide(s) will meet us and escort us through Auschwitz 1. We will also view a 15 minute movie.
11:30 AM The group departs Auschwitz 1 for a 15 minute drive to the Jewish Cultural and Educational Center in Oswiecim.
11:45 AM We arrive at the Center and take a short restroom break. Then we meet in the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue (that is next to the Center) for a short prayer service.
12:00 PM We will bring box lunches and cold beverages from Krakow for lunch. The Center will provide a lunch room and hot water, coffee and tea.
12:30 PM We will be given a guided tour of the Center's permanent exhibit of pre-war Jewish life in Oswiecim.
1:00 PM We will participate in a question and answer session, led by a member of the Center's staff, to discuss what we have seen during the morning (Auschwitz 1) and what we are about to see in the afternoon (Birkenau).
1:45 PM The coach will depart the Center for the short drive to Birkenau.
2:00 PM Arrive at Birkenau. An English speaking private guide(s) will meet us and escort us through Birkenau.
5:00 PM The coach will depart Birkenau for the one hour 15 minute drive back to Krakow. If time permits we will drive past the building that housed Oscar Shindler's factory and see it as it stands today.
6:30 PM The Group will arrive back at the hotel in Krakow.
8:00 PM Dinner with the Group. The Group Dinner will most likely be at the Sheraton Krakow Hotel.
3
Krakow, Poland to Brest, Belarus
Thursday
7:00 AM Group breakfast included in package.
8:00 AM The Group will have an English speaking guided walking tour including some of the following sights: the Kazimierz District where a large part of the Jewish population began to migrate in the 11th century, the grave of Remuh in the old cemetery, the Jewish Ghetto, the Main Market Square and a walk by the Wawel Castle. Noon -
12:00 PM The Group will board a luxury vehicle for the approximately 11 hour trip (8 hours driving, 1 hour dinner stop, 2 hours clearing the border control points) (450 kilometers - 280 miles) to Brest, Belarus. This will be a very long day. The luxury coach will be equipped with a rest room. There will be no smoking in the coach.
1:00 PM On route we will have a box lunch and cold beverages. We will not stop while we are eating lunch.
5:00 PM We will stop for dinner in Lublin, Poland.
5:15 PM Depending upon how long it takes to drive from Krakow to Lublin, and with time permitting we will ask the coach driver to stop at the Majdanek Concentration and Death Camp that was situated about four (4) kilometers from the city center of Lublin. It is estimated that over 500,000 inmates from 28 countries were imprisoned there. About 360,000 - mostly Jews, Soviet POW's and Pols died from starvation, disease and exhausting labor at Majdanek. Approximately 145,000 people died in the seven gas chambers, which began operating in 1942.
6:00 PM Dinner with the Group. The Group Dinner will be at the Hotel Europa - Lublin. This will be a fast dinner, because we want to have some time to visit some of the old Jewish historical sights in and around Lublin.
10:00 PM We do not know how long it will take to pass through the Belarusian border control procedures; it is estimated to be about 2 hours. We will attempt to have someone from the Belarusian Ministry of Sports and Tourism to facilitate crossing on the Belarusian side of the border.
11:30 PM or later You will check into your hotel room at the Intourist Hotel or similar hotel.
4
Brest, Belarus
Friday
8:00 AM Group breakfast included in package.
9:00 AM The Group will go to the Brest Archives. We are attempting to get Ms. Alla Kupriianovna Golubovich, Archive Director, National Historical Archives of Belarus (NIAB), to meet us in Brest and to help escort us through the Brest Archives.
  A researcher in these Brest Archives has located a 1937 document (Fond 370, Opus 1, Delo 17) with information about 2,838 Jewish taxpayers. The information contained in this document has been data entered into a Microsoft Excel file and added to the Yahoo! Group Site. Each record contains a Surname, Given Name, Occupation, Street Address and amount of tax paid. We are working with the researcher to see if we can find additional documents that might be of interest to us. There is no guarantee that there are any records for any of your ancestral Surname(s) that will be found in this Archive.
12:00 PM Lunch -- not included
After Lunch We are planning an official dedication of the Menachem Begin Memorial (which we hope will be funded by the Brest, Belarus Research SIG and Briskers around the world). We hope to have representatives of the Brest Jewish Community, Israel, the United States, Belarusian National Government and the local Brest government join us for this dedication ceremony. There is no guarantee that this will take place.
3:00 PM - We will have another official dedication. This time to commemorate the area where at one time there was a Jewish Cemetery. We hope to erect a monument to identify this spot (which we hope will be funded by the Brest, Belarus Research SIG and Briskers around the world). This cemetery was destroyed in 1941/1942 by the Nazi forces. We hope to have representatives of the Brest Jewish Community, Israel, the United States, Belarusian National Government and the local Brest government join us for this dedication ceremony. There is no guarantee that this will take place.
5:30 PM Optional Friday night religious services at the Chabad-Lubavitch Brest Synagogue, followed by a possible Oneg Shabbat.
8:00 PM or later Dinner with the group, to be arranged.
5
Brest, Belarus
Saturday
8:00 AM Group breakfast included in package.
10:00 AM Optional: Saturday morning religious services at the Chabad-Lubavitch Brest Synagogue. Open day - no activities scheduled in observance of the Sabbath. This day is open to do whatever you want to do. However, it has been requested to add a tour of the Brest Fortress for this afternoon. also the tour director will help you with any individual walking tour arrangements that you require.
12:00 PM Lunch -- not included
1:00 PM An English speaking guided city tour, which will include the Brest Fortress (the first stronghold of the Soviet Army during World War II), a visit to the archaeological museum Berestye - that shows a Slavic settlement of ancient Brest with relics of log street pavements, wooden houses and service buildings
8:00 PM Dinner is not included.
6
Brest, Belarus and Brest Region
Sunday
7:00 AM Group breakfast included in package.
8:00 AM Immediately following breakfast participants will depart for independent Shtetl visits (to ancestral Shtetl of your choice within a 100 kilometer distance from Brest) with private guide and driver. If more than one participant wants to go to the same Shtetl(s) they will go together. A list of the Shtetl's that will be visited has been posted to the Yahoo! Group Site.
12:00 PM Lunch -- not included
8:00 PM or later Dinner with the group, to be arranged.
7
Brest, Belarus
Monday
8:00 AM Group breakfast included in package.
9:00 AM The Group will go to the Brest Archives, if they so desire.
12:00 PM Lunch -- not included
1:00 PM An English speaking guided city tour, which will include the Brest Fortress (the first stronghold of the Soviet Army during World War II), a visit to the archaeological museum Berestye - that shows a Slavic settlement of ancient Brest with relics of log street pavements, wooden houses and service buildings
8:00 PM or later Dinner with the group, to be arranged.
8
Brest, Belarus to Minsk, Belarus
Tuesday
7:00 AM Group breakfast included in package.
8:00 AM The Group will board a luxury coach for the approximately 5 hour drive (326 kilometers - 203 miles) to Minsk, Belarus. Along the way, we will stop at Bronnaya Gora. The luxury coach will be equipped with a rest room. There will be no smoking in the coach.
10:30 AM We will stop at Bronnaya Gora (near Baranovichi -- 205 kilometers or 128 miles, about a 2 hour 30 minute drive) for a memorial service. This is the site where 12,260 Jewish people from the Brest Ghetto were brutally murdered on October 15, 1942.
12:30 PM We will depart Bronnaya Gora for the balance of the ride to Minsk (144 kilometers - 90 miles and about a 1 hour 47 minutes drive).
On Route We will stop and have a box lunch and cold beverages.
3:30 PM or later You will check into your hotel room at the Hotel Minsk or similar hotel. We are advised that this is the best hotel in Minsk. There is complimentary use of the Fitness Club.
7:00 PM or later Dinner with the Group. The Group Dinner will most likely be at the Hotel Minsk.
9
Minsk, Belarus
Wednesday
7:00 AM Group breakfast included in package.
8:00 AM The Group will go to the Minsk Archives. We are attempting to get Ms. Alla Kupriianovna Golubovich, Archive Director, National Historical Archives of Belarus (NIAB), to escort us through her Archives.
12:00 PM Lunch--not included.
1:00 PM An English speaking guided city tour, including some of the following sights: historic part of the city - Troitskoye Predmestye (Trinity Suburb), restored buildings of the 19th century, Arts Museum housing icons, wood-carving, paintings of local artists of 18-20th century, contemporary works. Also the quarters where Jewish people used to live, the former GHETTO area, a place of mass execution of Jews during World War II, the Yama Memorial (a moving monument commemorating in both Russian and Yiddish the Jews of Minsk killed in World War II), the Synagogue, The Museum of the Great Patriotic War. For those people who want to do some shopping an English speaking guide will take a group to the Minsk Art Market or a visit to the GUM Department Store.
8:00 PM or later Dinner with the Group. This Group Dinner, the night before our departure, will most likely be at the Hotel Minsk.
10
Minsk, Belarus
Thursday
7:00 AM Group breakfast included in package.
12:00 PM Lunch--not included.
Flight Time Transfer from hotel to airport for departures.

More about Lublin

Jim Lubitz recommended we stop in in this Polish city. Jim is doing some research about this city and will advise us as to what we should attempt to see.Lublin was a very large Jewish Center (37,830 or about 31% of the population) before the Nazi invasion in September 1939. There were more than a hundred Synagogues in the city and Lublin was one of the most important centers of Jewish culture and scholarship in Europe. Lublin once served as one the most important centers of Jewish life, commerce, culture and scholarship in Europe. It had the world's largest Talmudic school, Yeshybot. Lublin was also well known for its fairs and market days. Little remains today of its past Jewish splendor. Today Jewish Lublin has perished and disappeared. Since the end of the war, the city has grown to three times its former size, but as of 1998, there were only a few elderly Jews living there. According to Michelin, Lublin is about 275 km (about a 5 hour drive) from Krakow and about 173 km (about a 3 hour drive) from Brest.

Optional Visit to Krakow Kazimierz Neighborhood
Eve Jochnowitz, an instructor at New York University and a writer and lecturer on food, has written - The Broadway of Jewish Kracow was Roman Vishniac's name for Szeroka Street, the maly rynek, or small center, of the Kazimierz neighborhood, which for five centuries was Kracow's Jewish section. Before the war, Szeroka Street was the site of three synagogues, two cemeteries, and a mikve or ritual bath; it was the cultural and ceremonial center of Jewish life in Kracow. Szeroka Street today is the site of three Jewish restaurants, two Jewish coffee shops, a Jewish museum and one functioning synagogue. It is no longer a ceremonial center, but in a way the culinary has been rendered ceremonial. All three restaurants produce food primarily for the tourist market and interestingly, all claim to offer their guests much more than food. Food functions as the medium of cultural transmission, real and imagined, for tourists, many of whom are Jewish, who visit Szeroka Street to taste Poland's Jewish past. In effect, Kracow's politicians and entrepreneurs have produced Szeroka Street as a Jewish theme park in a country where few Jews survive.

Research in Minsk Archive
On or before May 1, 2005 please submit the Surname(s) of your ancestors who were born, died, married or emigrated from Brest-Litovsk or some close Shtetl for some research in the Minsk Archives. For the Brest Jewish Community we know that there are birth, death and marriage documents for certain specific years between 1895 and 1914 (but not every year). However we do not know if there are records for Shtetls outside of the Brest Jewish Community area. We are having this checked and will have additional information after we submit the list of requests to the researcher. Each person who participates in this trip can submit one Surname to be researched for Free. If any participants want to have additional Surnames researched, these will be accommodated at an additional cost of US $65 per Surname. There is no guarantee that there are any records for your ancestral Surname(s) that will be found in this Archive. An archivist will hand over to each participant official copies of any birth, marriage and/or death documents that are found for the Surname(s) that you requested.


Shtetl Visits
Follows is a tentative list of shtetls we might visit. Others may be added on request.
  • Antopol, Belarus
    75 kilometers - 46 miles E of Brest
  • Bereza, Belarus
51 kilometers - 32 miles ENE of Brest
  • Bialystok, Poland
    121 kilometers - 75 miles NNW of Brest
  • Drogichin, (Drohitczn), Belarus
    99 kilometers - 62 miles E of Brest
  • Gorodets (Horodec or Horodetz), Belarus
    66 kilometers - 41 miles E of Brest
  • Grodno (Horodno), Belarus
    176 kilometers - 110 miles N of Brest Note: This is a special 2 day trip. Participants will leave Saturday morning and return Sunday night. There will be an additional cost depending upon how many participants want this special Shtetl visit.
  • Kamenets, Belarus
    34 kilometers - 21 miles NNE of Brest
  • Khomsk, Belarus
    108 kilometers - 67 miles ENE of Brest
  • Kobryn, Belarus
    46 kilometers - 28 miles ENE of Brest
  • Konstantynow Nad Bugiem, Poland
    44 kilometers - 27 miles WNW of Brest
  • Malech, Belarus
    80 kilometers - 50 miles ENE of Brest
  • Malorita, Belarus
    44 kilometers - 27 miles SE of Brest
  • Pinsk, Belarus
    165 kilometers - 102 miles E of Brest Note: This is a special 2 day trip. Participants will leave Saturday morning and return Sunday night. There will be an additional cost depending upon how many participants want this special Shtetl visit.
  • Porosovo (near Lyskovo), Belarus
    103 kilometers - 64 miles NNE of Brest
  • Pruzhana, Belarus
    72 kilometers - 45 miles NE of Brest
  • Selets (Syalyets), Belarus
    97 kilometers - 60 miles NE of Brest
  • Shereshevo, Belarus
    61 kilometers - 38 miles NE of Brest
  • Telechany, Belarus
    153 kilometers - 95 miles ENE of Brest
  • Terespol, Poland
    9 kilometers - 6 miles NW of Brest
  • Volya, Belarus
    42 kilometers - 26 miles NNE of Brest
  • Wysokie-Litovsk (Vysokoye), Belarus
    37 kilometers - 23 miles NW of Brest
  • Zhabinka, Belarus
    24 kilometers - 15 miles ENEof Brest

Page Last Updated: 14-Apr-2011