Optional excursions are a great way to customize your tour by giving you the opportunity to have an off-the-beaten-path experience. Staffers Anne M. and Olivia C. recently returned from their Historic Germany: From Berlin to Bavaria tour, where they said their optional excursion to Görlitz was a “must-do.” See what they loved about this quaint German town.
About an hour and a half drive outside of Dresden are the sister cities of Görlitz, Germany and Zgorzelec, Poland, separated from each other by a small stretch of the Neisse River. The two had existed as one town (called Görlitz) for hundreds of years, but were divided after the German-Polish boundaries were redrawn in 1945.
While there is no border crossing stop, you will still need to carry your passport in case someone stops you to check. (Sadly, we did not encounter any Polish customs agents for us to sweet talk into stamping our passports.)
Our excursion started by crossing the bridge on foot to the Polish side and having lunch at the what must be Poland’s most adorable restaurant. The building was so old and charming, decorated with black-and-white family photos and other knick-knacks, which lent it a very homey feel. The table arrangements, ambience, food and service all came together to make this lunch one of the most memorable experiences on tour.
After lunch, our local guide walked us through both towns and shared their rich history, most of which reaches far beyond World War II. Much of Görlitz was left untouched by the war, so we had the opportunity to visit private homes in buildings almost five hundred years old. You wouldn’t believe how well-maintained and huge they are!
Another special surprise Görlitz held for us was the Flüsterbogen, or “Whispering Arch.” You can hear so clearly what another whispers into the frame of the stone archway—our whole group had so much fun with this!
After our tour of the town we enjoyed free time with our fellow travelers in true Görlitz style: shopping for ceramics, playing ball with local kids and eating gelato in the shade under a fountain on the square.
This day trip added so much to our tour experience. We would recommend it for any of our travelers interested in cultural, political or religious history; amazing architecture; strolling the streets of quaint small towns; or just enjoying a good meal.
For those who would rather live there full-time, the cost of living in Gorlitz is extremely low—we couldn’t believe how cheap their rent was! So our parting advice is this: buy up your summer home quickly, before the rest of the world finds out!
Have you ever added an optional excursion to your tour? Which one was your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!