Travel to Ulanów, 2003
Getting to Ulanów is very simple. Assuming one flies directly to
Poland, there are airports at Warsaw and (at least from London)
Krakow. In 1999 I drove to Ulanów from Krakow, a journey of about
3 hours each way, on not very good roads. I do not recommend it.
The long drive there, with the emotional impact of being in Ulanów and
the long drive back, makes for quite a day.
I suggest stopping at Lublin first, which is much closer (probably less than 2 hours). Lublin is a fascinating city in its own right and is very important to Polish Jewish history. It is well worth visiting, and a good base. It is thriving city, with new hotels. The restoration of something suitably called the Grand Hotel has its own web site (it is always worth staying in the best hotel in town in former communist countries). Lublin itself is 165 km from Warsaw, an easy car journey.
It is essential to have a car. Hiring cars within Poland are very expensive. For example, the car I hired in August from Berlin (Hertz will allow you to take Fords into Poland, but not more expensive vehicles) cost 2/3 of what the Polish rate would have been. However, Berlin, the closest major German airport to Poland, is in itself a couple of days' car journey to Ulanów.
So arrangements clearly depend on how long people have available.
When visiting Ulanów itself, it would help immeasurably to meet Father Lizak, if he is still there (Koscielma Str. 29, 37-410 Ulanów; phone number: +48-15-8763024). Father Lizak is responsible for restoring the cemetery (to whom we owe immense thanks). It is also helpful to meet Mr. Tumik, the local historian [he wrote a book on Ulanów, which includes a large chapter on the Jews of Ulanów]. However, they both only speak Polish, so you must go with an interpreter. I arranged this through someone in the Jewish Genealogical Society in London who knew someone who knew someone in Krakow, a young student who was interested in Jewish history, and who rang Father Lizak ahead of time to make the arrangements. Orbis, a reputable travel service, can probably arrange for an interpreter in Lublin or Krakow, who can travel with you. The cemetery is not marked by signs or on a map; I couldn't find it at first in August, so eventually I wrote the Polish words for 'Jewish cemetery' and showed it to a man in a cafe.
It is all in fact easier than it sounds; of course it SEEMS difficult if one is from another country and is trying to imagine it. I tend to make my own arrangements when traveling.
Rewritten here with the kind permission of David Wurtzel
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