Calif. Operator Has Found Its Niche

Reed Travel Features

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Affordable Poland, based here, aims to differentiate itself from other Poland specialists by including highlights not offered by other operators.

That is how the newcomer found its niche in a market dominated by companies such as Orbis and American Travel Abroad, said Andre Sobczyk, president of Affordable Poland.

Although the company has been in business since 1985 as a retailer, Sobczyk started offering FIT programs in 1995.

The majority of the company's business, about 80%, is derived from FITs.

But group business is growing steadily, he said, adding that this year the company is offering 21 scheduled departures of four itineraries.

Two new itineraries are The Scenic Poland and Cracow -- The Royal City.

Highlights of the seven-night The Scenic Poland program, which visits Warsaw, Boguslawice, Krakow and Zak-

opane, include taking in a Chopin piano recital and visiting a stud farm as well as enjoying a meal at a popular artists' cafe in Krakow.

The plan is priced from $789 per person, double, land only.

"We spiced up this itinerary with popular excursions that used to be optional," he said.

The three-night Royal City itinerary, priced from $529 per person, double, is a shorter version of The Scenic Poland for people with less time to spend in Poland, he said.

The company also customizes group and individual itineraries.

For example, if a group or individual was interested in putting together a program that focused on fine art and museums, the following itinerary might be suggested:

The nine-night program would begin in Warsaw.

Clients could spend two days exploring city and take a guided tour through Old Town and along the Royal Route before heading to the Wilanow Palace Museum.

From Warsaw, travelers take a train to Krakow, where they spend four days visiting the Czartoryski Museum, the Historical Museum of Krakow at the Krzysztofory Palace, the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Paintings and other sites.

About a 30-minute drive from Krakow in Wieliczka is another museum that clients shouldn't miss, in one of the oldest European salt mines.

Groups are taken down into the mine, which dates to the 1700s, to explore the chambers filled with crystalline shapes and salt gnomes carved in the 1960s by the mine workers.

This program, including transfers, accommodations and sightseeing, is priced from about $545 per person, double, depending on the season, accommodations chosen and other extras.

Affordable Poland can be reached at (408) 894-1880; fax (408) 894-1879 or E-mail affordix.netcom.com.

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