May 2014 Pilgrimage To Poland With Erika

By on February 8, 2014

ErikaIMG_5411forwebMany of you are familiar with the well-known polka band, “Pan Franek, Zosia and the Polka Towners,” which has been playing on the polka circuit with various family members since the mid-1970’s.  Family member, 21-year-old Erika Piotrowski, has been an integral part of the band since she was three years old, singing vocals and playing the violin.  She partially credits her great love of her Polish heritage and her lively enthusiasm in passing on the polka music tradition that originates from her mother’s and her paternal grandparents’ homeland of Poland to her own familiarity with the country of Poland.

In photo: L-R: Andrea Piotrowski (sister), ‘Pan’ Franek (dad), and Erika Piotrowski.

Through the years Erika has visited relatives in Poland several times, celebrating Christmas, weddings, ordinations, birthdays and just getting to know the land of her heritage well.  She has come to love Poland with its rich spiritual offerings and the mere beauty of its Eastern European landscape.  Because of her love for her ancestors’ homeland, she desires to share this treasure with as many people as possible.  Thus, she is organizing a pilgrimage tour of Poland to take place May 23-June 3, 2014.

Personally, Erika has developed a love of travel.  She has been to such places as Italy, Portugal, Spain, Guatemala, India and Mexico.  She enjoys learning the heritage of people from different parts of the world and seeing up close how they live.  She hosted a previous pilgrimage tour to Poland which was a great success with the travelers.  A couple of years ago, she went on a mission trip to the country of India where she worked with the Missionaries of Charity and stayed with the sisters of the Community of St. John.  She realized after seeing the rich and beautiful culture of India that she wanted to take others to experience the heritage, traditions and beauty of her own ancestral country of Poland.

What will be in store for the travelers on the 2014 pilgrimage to Poland?  First of all, Erika will be along as a personal and well-seasoned travel hostess.  She is very familiar with all the locations along the tour and can easily answer questions related to these places.  She speaks fluent Polish and will translate any necessary information for travelers, although most of the main tour stops have English-speaking personnel.

Departing from Chicago, Illinois, the first couple of days will be spent in Warsaw, Poland.  A tour of the city of Warsaw will begin the trip, including a walk through Market Square and a visit to New Town Market and a stop at the History Museum to view the movie, “Warsaw Remains.”

From Warsaw, the group will transfer to Niepokalanow Sanctuary, former home to St. Maximilian Kolbe, 21st century martyr of Auschwitz.  From there the group will move on to the city of Torun to spend the night.  Following Torun, the pilgrimage group will visit Lichen Stary, the second most famous sanctuary devoted to Mary in Poland, and then on to a tour of Wroclaw  to visit the site of the Battle of Raclawice, the gothic cathedral of St. John the Baptist and a short trip to Swidnica, the Church of Peace, the largest timber-framed religious building in Europe.

Continuing on from there, the group will visit the most important religious site in Poland, the home to the famous black Madonna, Jasna Gora Monastery.  New there is a huge fiberglass figure of Pope John Paul II that overlooks the city of Czestochowa.

Following the time in Czestochowa, a visit will be made to Auschwitz, the most famous former Nazi concentration camp.  On to Wadowice from there.  Wadowice is the birthplace of Blessed Pope John Paul II.  The group will retrace steps of his childhood in this village.  Moving on to Zakopane from there, they will visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Krzeptowki.    Here Pope John Paul II gave thanksgiving for his life after his assassination attempt in 1981.

Erica is so anxious to share a raft trip down the Dunajec River in Szczawnica with her fellow travelers.  It is one of the most beautiful scenic places in Poland.  The next day the travelers will move on to visit the oldest salt mine in Europe in Wieliczka.  They will experience tunnels, salt lakes, chambers and other unique discoveries of the underground world there.  From there, a visit to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, where Sister Faustina Kowalska was given the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Final day includes a visit to the Wawel Castle in Krakow,  that was the seat of Polish kings, where time will be spent in the Main Market Square, the gothic Church of St. Mary’s and leisure time to just mill around.

This pilgrimage tour promises to be one you will never forget.  It will be enlightening, spiritual, historical, fun and very personal.  The cost for this twelve-day tour is $3,850 per person, including round trip air from Chicago, based on double occupancy.  If you would like more information, or would like to book your tour, please contact Erika Piotrowski at 231-720-8378, or e-mail her at erikapeuro@hotmail.com. (See ad in Post Eagle)