I wanted to write to let you know about the trip and how appreciative we are of all of your assistance in your advice and guidance. When our family decided that this was something that we wanted to do we had the option of joining a more formalized “tour” or developing an itinerary on our own. You made the process of customizing our own itinerary and tour very simple and allowed us the luxury of working several different iterations of the trip to see what would work for us logistically. And while each city we visited – (Vilnius, Lithuania; Lvov, Ukraine; Budapest, Hungary; and Prague, Czech Republic) essentially was an independent stop you made the trip seem seamless. One thing that I realized when we got back – we were always greeted at an airport and never had to wait for a guide or for arranged transportation.
This was a special trip which included my wife and myself and my two brothers and their wives. For us, part of the trip being special is that we went as a family unit, however, all of the background arrangements and special efforts by you and your partners in these countries also made it special. In Lithuania, our guide, Yulich was something special and he made you feel part of the history of what occurred in Lithuania both the beautiful and the horrific parts. Perhaps it was just us but we had a feeling that he did it with all of his clients – he made you feel special and went out of his way to make sure that we were satisfied in what we wanted to accomplish in Lithuania. In addition to the history we wanted to visit the village where my father was born and raised. He made the effort in his research to learn about the village, its history and what has become of the people there. While in the village we went to see the mayor the village who welcomed us with open arms and Yulich was able to find out what ever he could to what happened to the Jews in the village and what they were doing to memorialize what had occurred. Through the mayor we were able to find an 85 year old woman in another village. He went out of his way to find the woman and arranged for us to visit with her and her family. While we expected that this portion of the trip to be emotional – we can not describe how emotional it was to hear how our father’s neighbors had lived when he lived there. There is so much to say about our trip to Lithuania – I will end by saying that your selection of Yulich made this portion of the trip one we will talk about forever.
We ventured from Lithuania to L’viv (Lvov) Ukraine. My mother had grown up in a village and had relatives about 150 kilometers from Lvov. When we had first made our arrangements we thought that the day and a half that we had planned would be sufficient as we expected to visit the village and a monument that had been erected. While we had hopes of finding the family who had saved my mother we did not have high hopes. However your persistence and the persistence of your tour operator in Lvov – Irina – exceeded our expectations, as she went on a mission to find the family – and she did. We can not put in words the emotions that ran through all of us the afternoon that we spent with them. They welcomed us with open arms – and we laughed and cried together. The guide/translator – Diana was compassionate and caring to both our family and the family that we visited. We had provided them some documents in English which she took upon herself to translate into Ukrainian, after we were there and sent to the family. We left the Ukraine with an extreme feeling of satisfaction that we had found this family and to know that we will continue our communications with them.
I could go on and on about how special the trip was. Both the guides in Budapest and Prague were excellent. We had the opportunity to go to synagogue in Budapest. What an experience. When we visited the Holocaust memorial in Budapest – it held special meaning to all of us. The Jewish quarter in Prague was very interesting and while we visited many cemeteries or what were cemeteries on our trip – the cemetery in Prague dating back hundreds of years and still intact was most impressive.
The accommodations were exactly as we expected. The hotel in Prague, Hotel Liberty was a wonderful European boutique hotel and very well situated.
I have often heard people say that they have described ordinary events as the “The experience of a lifetime”. I can say however that you have truly worked to have made our journey – our families experience of a lifetime.
The Lejfer Family
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Day 1. Arrival at Zurich Airport. After clearing cu... more