PANDEMIC TRAVEL Gwen planned our first trip to Budapest, Vienna and Prague to perfection. We had experiences beyond anything I imagined (private tours of palaces, libraries, etc) with incredible guides. We had a food tour in Vienna that we could never have done on our own and a lovely boat trip at sunset down the Danube in Budapest. And in route to each city, we stopped at a vineyard for a private tasting and even had lunch in a Michelin star restaurant in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t have to think of anything, Gwen had it all planned. She picked amazing restaurants and every one of them knew of my dietary requirements before I got there. She picked amazing hotels and got us really good suites and the hotels gave us extra stuff with a note that said your travel designer planned x for you – which was a wonderful surprise. She knows the area so well and after speaking with her, she knew what we would and would not like. She even communicated with her colleague that planned different trips for us and Ala told her our likes as well so she really knew what to plan for us. When you get someone like Gwen, you immediately understand why having someone plan out your trip takes it to a level you could never achieve. Covid was not really an issue where we went but we did have to get a test to come home and the hotel sent someone to our room for an instant result test so it was easy. The Axus app that comes with the trip is constantly updated so it’s your bible on the trip and when our flight got canceled and rebooked later the same day, I emailed Gwen and the app was instantly updated and she changed our pickup, etc. without me having to do anything. We really loved all three cities and I know it’s because of how Gwen planned it for us.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I worked with Gwen and her team to travel with my sister, mom and her best friend to the Christmas Markets in December 2021. Our original plan had us going to Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna for 9 nights in early December 2021. Gwen put a great plan together for us and we were excited to take this trip.
As we approached the time to depart (about a week before we were to leave) we began to get notices from Gwen (and we saw on the news) that one by one each city was cancelling the Christmas markets and eventually Austria (where two of three cities were planned) closed down entirely. Gwen’s team was on top of it each step of the way. They offered us alternatives and reassured us that there were still options for where we could travel. Gwen was emailing us day and night leading up to our trip and we talked on the phone when needed. They went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable and happy with our decision. Our group decided that we really wanted to take the trip so we were flexible about where we would go.
Eventually, we settled on an itinerary of Warsaw, Krakow, and Budapest. Because of all the moving parts we didn’t even have the full itinerary until the day or two before we departed. The absolute best thing we asked Gwen to add for us was VIP arrival and departure service in our European cities. When we got to Warsaw we were whisked off to a private lounge, the staff took our passports and COVID arrival info and handled all the details for us. As we relaxed in the lounge, they took care of our arrival into the country. No lines, no frustrations with procedures, and no stress. We loved it! Before we knew it, we were being taken to our private transfer and off to the hotel. We even got a call during our ride to the hotel from the in-country planner who checked to make sure all was well. It was worth every penny. In fact, we loved it so much, we asked Gwen to add the VIP departure service to our flight leaving Budapest at the end of the trip. Once again, we hung out in a private lounge as everybody took care of our paperwork. We were escorted through private security and then to a private transfer right to the door of the plane where we were the first to board. Fantastic!
Our three city choices were great. Some highlights:
*the gingerbread cookie baking class in Warsaw was wonderful.
*In Krakow our tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau was so moving and impactful. Our guide was incredible and we were so fortunate to have him explain the history of this terrible place to us. We found out that our guide’s father was a survivor of Auschwitz and it was humbling to have him share with us. Guides really do make or break tours.
*A private ornament making session with a renowned hand-painted ornament business. They were even so sweet as to bake us an apple cake and our guide along with the owner sang us traditional Polish Christmas carols as we decorated our ornaments and the snow fell outside. Quite the experience!
*A fantastic meal at the beautiful castle restaurant in Egar with Hungarian wines paired to our various courses – the best meal of the trip!
*A private boat on the Danube to see the lights of night time Budapest.
I appreciated Gwen’s team being willing to make changes for us as we moved through the itinerary. Because we didn’t have a lot of time to process the itinerary before we left, there were some small things we wanted to change as we went along. Gwen’s in-country team handled them with no problem.
Even though this was not the trip we had originally planned, we ended up with a trip that we all enjoyed and were glad to be able to take our girl trip. I would highly recommend using Gwen and her team. They were complete professionals and there is no way this trip would have happened without them. It was such a relief to know the logistics were handled and we had someone on call should anything change or become difficult. I will definitely use Gwen again!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Touring the Frankfurt area from the 14th through the 19th of September, 2021.
While planning a trip to Kenya we found that we would need to change planes in Frankfurt. Sensing an opportunity we decided to turn our connection into a 5 night layover and contacted Gwen to help us make the most of our stay. It turned out to be a good decision. While we might have stumbled across some of the elements that made it into itinerary, dealing with all the details while trying to ensure that we were not taking undue risks due to COVID would have been a significant challenge.
After listening carefully to our interests, Gwen and Lori put together an itinerary that suited us perfectly. They suggested we board a train at the Frankfurt airport and travel immediately to Baden-Baden. Our three night stay there was perfect. Baden-Baden made a terrific base of operations for our explorations. We started that first day with a guided walking tour that acquainted us with the charming city. We then took a full day tour of the Black Forest, which included strolls around lakes and hikes along waterfalls. It also included a private demonstration of a chef putting together a Black Forest cake and a visit to a cuckoo clock atelier. The next day we drove a rented car to Strasbourg. There our guide toured us through the Old Town of that delightful World Heritage Site, ending with a visit to the famed cathedral. We also enjoyed a relaxing private boat tour on the river that took us by the impressive buildings of the European Parliament.
At the end of the day we returned to Brenners Park, our hotel in Baden-Baden. Not only are the accommodations there exceedingly comfortable, and the location an easy walk to the heart of town with its fun dining options, but the staff is the best of any hotel we have visited. We would not hesitate to recommend Brenners Park to anyone staying in Baden-Baden.
The next day was dedicated to the town of Heidelberg, with a focus on Heidelberg Castle, which should be considered a must-see for anyone in the area. We then drove to our hotel in Frankfurt, which was within walking distance of the old part of town. Our last day gave us a chance to explore this largely underappreciated city.
This trip involved some complex logistics. This included arrangements for our COVID PCR tests at Brenners Park. Gwen and Lori had it all under control. With just one small exception, everything went according to plan. The exception was an anomaly which Gwen has already taken steps to insure won’t happen again. We would recommend the services of Gwen and Lori to anyone planning a trip in the area.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Gwen and her team did an excellent job of communicating the planning of my trip to Krakow and Amsterdam. Everything worked like clockwork, from the airport pickups to the multiple specialty guides. The trip to Auschwitz was difficult but very important. The guide’s father had been a captive at the camp and his perspective was excellent. Traveling is always difficult and much more during the time of Covid. Gwen was invaluable. Anyone considering a similar trip must use Gwen.
Gwen listened and helped me plan a very interesting itinerary for my 15 year old and me through various cities in Poland and Berlin. We were also challenged by the closings on Christmas. I was actively involved in what we wanted to see and do, but Gwen listened and organized very wonderful days, fitting in what we were looking to see and learn about. The guides in Poland were all wonderful, and the logistics throughout the trip, pick ups and transfers, all were perfect. All the drivers were great. Hotel recommendations were mostly spot on. Only hiccups were a couple of restaurant reservations that got a bit mixed up. All in all a great experience.
My husband and I recently traveled to Prague, Austria, and southern Germany for 24 days using the services of Gwen Kozlowski and Exeter International. I reached out to Gwen over a year before we planned to go after winning an auction for a short stay at a Munich hotel. We used that as a starting point. After extensive email interaction we got to know each other well enough to really nail the itinerary and come up with a wonderful experience.
Part of the excitement of any trip I take comes from reading and learning about the places I intend to visit. With a year of potential planning time I came up with quite a dream list. It included renown museums and historic sites, but also alpine trails we wanted to hike and restaurants we wanted to dine at. Gwen had her own list of special activities, led by guides with unique knowledge, to add to the mix. Some sounded very familiar – a Food Tour or Wine Tour. I admit to being reluctant to spend time on these since we have taken dozens of such tours. She assured me they were special, tailored to our particular interests, and encouraged me to give them a try. They turned out to be some of our most memorable activities. We really learned invaluable information that helped navigate restaurant menus and wine lists throughout our trip.
All of the private guides we used were outstanding. Without exception they were knowledgeable, friendly, punctual and flexible, answering all of our questions and providing local insight into the places we visited. I most likely would never have found them without working with Gwen. Her professional relationship with these guides, the transfer/driving companies, and local support people was the significant difference from any trip I planned on my own. The logistics were flawless and the management of our time, having full days but not overwhelming ones, very much was due to her assistance. I also appreciated Exeter’s ability to expedite access to several venues.
You asked to comment on any local support we had while traveling. Because of bad weather we at one point considered changing hotels and reworking the itinerary. The local Exeter representatives helped run the numbers and provide alternatives. In addition, my husband needed a quick trip to a local ear, nose, and throat doctor. Our guide helped negotiate everything and he was able to enjoy the following days. This medical visit would have been much more difficult on our own.
One more general thought – I have used several of your recommended specialists. Gwen was one of the easiest to work with. She gave me choices among hotels including a range of styles and price points. I consider us to be pretty independent when traveling. We have lived both in Europe and Asia. We often chose to use public transportation and eliminate a private car and driver to hold down costs. She was fine with this. I appreciated her flexibility and willingness to accommodate.
Gwen did an excellent job for our family on a Munich, Salzburg, Czech Republic trip. Everything was seamless and went like clockwork. We really wanted to stay at the Goldener Hirsch but it was uncertain if it would be reopen in time after remodeling. Gwen made back up reservations but then when the Hirsch (happily!) reopened on schedule, moved us over there into the most fabulous rooms. Cesky Krumlov wasn’t on our radar — she put it on and booked us at a fabulous new boutique hotel. We are so delighted she did. She accommodated our request for a private tour at Cesky Budejovices Budweiser/Budvar brewery and it was fantastic. The highlight of the trip however was the private tour of the Strahov monastery library. A once in a lifetime experience.
Thanks to Gwen’s help and deep experience, we had a great 2+ week trip to major cities in Central Europe. We liked every city, with just the right amount of time in each. Vienna and Budapest were favorites. We enjoyed Salzburg and Prague but found the latter to be overrun by hordes of tourists. In early planning, Gwen had duly learned our needs, wants and preferences. As a result, our hotels were fabulous, especially Sacher Vien and the Aria Budapest. Happily, we received great upgrades at both! Guides can make or break a trip like this, and all our guides were exceptional, especially Peter in Vienna and Anna in Budapest. We had many great meals, often at Gwen’s recommended restaurants. We also benefited from her many suggestions of how to spend leisure time. For example, the thermal baths in Budapest were a blast! All the transportation arrangements went very smoothly. City-to-city travel by train was easy and pleasant and our local drivers were polite and professional. Gwen arranged several memorable experiences. We loved the Vienna Choir Boys and Lipizzaner stallions at the Tribute to Vienna. A real highlight was a special visit with guide Peter and his wife at their gorgeous apartment in Vienna. And the Czech Philharmonic concert was truly amazing. This was a wonderful trip at a fair price. In the end, we were so very glad we chose to work with Gwen on this custom trip rather than partaking of a standard Danube river cruise!
As usual when using one of Wendy’s great specialists, Gwen and her team helped create a fascinating experience.
We contacted Gwen when a last-minute work trip provided the opportunity for an extended vacation. With 4 weeks to plan Gwen took time to get to know us and provided us with excellent recommendations on ways to enjoy our time in Austria. The guides she selected, the transportation (train, driver and rental car) were all seamless and the hotels were amazing. She was always a pleasure to deal with an even handled a small snafu (our fault) while we were away. Gwen even teamed up with Wendy for our WOW moment at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which did not disappoint! We love learning about art and Julia’s passion and knowledge were infectious! She was such a pleasure to spend time with and we had an amazing afternoon. A highlight was the time she spent on the Klimt brothers paintings on the walls and ceiling of the museum. Not only did she teach us so much about the history of the works and the artists but she had high resolution photos of the works on her tablet that allowed us to zoom in on the details of the art you cannot see with the naked eye – a completely different perspective and they are even more amazing seeing them through that lens. What a memory!
Thanks to Gwen (and Wendy!) we had an amazing trip we will remember for a lifetime.
We hired Gwen just a few weeks before a last-minute trip to Prague. She quickly put together a comprehensive trip for us, even though we ended up using hotel loyalty points to book our hotel. She organized guides who were knowledgable and listened to our interests. We only eat kosher food and she not only researched kosher restaurants in the area, but also found places that could deliver to us. We only had 4 days there but left feeling as if we really saw almost everything! Thankfully we had no glitches at all except for a delay on our flight home, and Dana (Gwen’s person on the ground) quickly switched our airport transfer for us. We would definitely hire Gwen and her team again.
Gwen arranged our trip to Austria and Switzerland. She picked our hotels, restaurants and activities. Everyone in our group, from toddler to adult, had at least one activity designed for them each day. Gwen found things to do in each locale that were both fun and authentic, such as performances by the Vienna Boys Choir and the Spanish Riding School. She also found ways for us to experience local culture, such as cooking national dishes with local hosts right in their homes. Our whole group was very pleased with the itinerary she delivered.
Agent arranged every transfer, hotel, guide, and entertainment tickets and made restaurant suggestions. We were never disappointed. The hotels, guides and drivers were welcoming and accommodating. We felt very prepared for the itinerary, logistics and tipping. When one of our flights was cancelled, it was handled well and we felt secure and it finding alternatives.
We had previously traveled with Gwen’s colleagues to Russia, so when we saw Wendy recommended them for Croatia we were delighted. We were traveling over Easter and wanted to maximize our time and see as much as we could. We needed to fit in the museums we wanted and balance it with the early closings and other sightseeing. We agreed to an itinerary including Split, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb with day trips to Hvar, Cavtat & Konavle. We wanted to get a mix of history, art, culture, Jewish history, and Game of Thrones, and each of our three guides delivered. Our guides and drivers were knowledgeable, connected to their community, friendly, and great hosts. We truly enjoyed our time with each of the guides and saw and learned so much more than we could have seen on our own. Our driver Maro was like having a friend showing you around. Gwen was able to help us secure reservations at the restaurants we wanted, including Michelin-starred Restaurant 360 in Dubrovnik. We also loved her suggestions of Restaurant Dubrovnik and Adriatic Graso in Split — we had amazing meals and service. While in Dubrovnik we were surprised with our WOW Moment. We had a private boat ride from the new harbor to the old harbor just outside the Ancient Walls of Dubrovnik. We were served wine and charcuterie. Despite the rough waters, Captain Chris gave us a wonderful tour and a new perspective of Dubrovnik. It was such a treat. I highly recommend the Judita Palace for its location and manager Andrew, and the Excelsior Hotel for everything (we received a double room upgrade to an executive suite). Croatia is a magical place and Gwen’s team is there to roll out the red carpet for you.
We recently returned from a trip to Berlin and Vienna planned by Gwen Kozlowski and Silvia Baigorri and are extremely happy with our experiences in both cities and the itineraries that were put together for us. Our guides were excellent, our tours perfect for us. Since it was our first visit to these cities we decided to do walking tours. We find that this type of tour gives us a great overview and sense of the layout of a city. Also, it’s a great way for us to decide if this is a city we would want to visit again. If so, then we book a much more in-depth tour on our return visit. These are two cities that we will definitely visit again! We did 4-hour tours in each city and I must say that our time was well planned and yet jammed packed with one great experience after the next. Our only regret was in not planning 6-hour tours so as to be able to spend 2 more hours with our terrific guides…Olaf and Peter!
Our guide Olaf Kolbatz in Berlin was excellent. His knowledge and the historical perspective he provided us with was special. You can read all of the information that’s been printed about the Berlin Wall but to speak with someone who actually lived through those times, as Olaf had, was quite special. His insights and perspective enriched our experience not only as it related to the Berlin Wall but to Berlin and its rich history.
Our guide in Vienna, Peter Heuritsch, was not only knowledgeable but so enjoyable to be with. He provided us with a great first impression of this beautiful city greatly enhancing our experience. We had a fantastic day with him. He shared wonderful stories with us about Austria and its history and in particular Vienna. His knowledge was and is vast.
Gwen was fabulous to work with. Prior to our trip she provided us with our itinerary as well as an incredible wealth of information as it related to each city. There was a very comprehensive list of restaurant suggestions and the offer to help in securing reservations. Of course, we chose only those restaurants that Gwen gave her “star” rating to and we were not disappointed. While we were in Berlin I sent her a note asking about Jazz venues. She immediately sent me an in-depth list of suggested jazz venues and a description of each club and the type of music that was being performed. Great info!
She also arranged for us, with very little lead time, to go to the Musikverein on two occasions. One evening the Vienna Symphony was performing and on the other the National Symphony Orchestra of Katowice (Poland) was performing. Both evenings were most enjoyable and our seats were excellent!
Gwen and her team put together a terrific itinerary together for us. Communicating with her was easy and her response to any request or question that I had was always answered quickly. I will look forward to collaborating with her again….. hopefully, in the not too distant future!
Thank you, Wendy for another great recommendation!
Gwen and her team were outstanding in planning our itinerary for Vienna and Prague. The entire family had a wonderful time filled with unforgettable memories. We would definitely use her services again!
For our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, we considered booking a Danube river cruise (as we have immensely enjoyed river cruising). After perusing several cruise lines’ itineraries, I wished we could combine elements from each cruise to create the perfect anniversary trip. Following an initial phone conversation with Gwen, I realized it was possible to design a land trip, based out of Prague and Vienna, that could include all our “must haves,” from touring Lobkowicz Palace and the Jewish Quarter in Prague to climbing the 343 stairs to the roof of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, to biking along the Danube in the Wachau Valley, to seeing The Sound of Music highlights in Salzburg. Because we would be “in port” all the time, we could also add evening ballet and symphony performances, plus a romantic anniversary dinner at a top-rated Viennese restaurant.
After corresponding for several months with Gwen and Lori, I felt confident that we had finalized every last detail of our dream itinerary. But what I didn’t fully appreciate was that Gwen could provide the perfect ingredient that no amount of my researching and selecting sites could provide—and that was our private guides.
In Prague, Kamila candidly shared details about her childhood under communist rule. As we walked through New Town, she pointed out where her father stood as he witnessed the Russian tanks that entered their city in 1968. Kamila was expert at keeping us on task (with our ambitious site-seeing itinerary) without ever rushing us. She allowed ample pauses to soak in the architectural beauty, reminding us to “always look up and look behind” when we were admiring the scenery.
Our Viennese guide, Peter, provided in-depth historical context so that we could appreciate that “Austrians are not Germans.” Before beginning our biking adventure along the Danube, Peter took us along charming back streets to view centuries-old buildings in Krems, his childhood home. Our visit inside the church in Durnstein seemed especially intimate when Peter revealed he was married there. Peter provided a local lens to his Austria so that we felt a little less like tourists and more like guests.
After a vigorous Fraulein Maria public bike tour in Salzburg, we were hoping for a lazy afternoon. Our guide, Michaela, streamlined our previously scheduled car tour to achieve a visually stimulating, yet low-key, route through the Lake District. We especially enjoyed gorgeous (and tranquil) views atop “Goat Mountain” and an impromptu stop at a local shop in St. Gilgen, where we conversed with the jovial store owner before purchasing locally made goods (including salt and pumpkin seed oil). Knowing we’d appreciate a view of the church in Mondsee, Michaela squeezed in this final stop—but not before calling the restaurant to push back our dinner reservations.
Our perspectives of the places we visited were authentically enriched by Kamila, Peter, and Michaela. We’re grateful that Gwen and Lori arranged for us to tour with knowledgeable, personable, and genuinely dedicated guides.
We explained in our first phone conference with Gwen that we wanted to hear some fine classical music in and around Vienna. Gwen assembled information on what was available in October so we could select the performances that interested us and the dates for our travel. We selected a couple of symphonies at the Musikverein, a string octet at Karl’s Church, a piano recital in the crypt of St. Peter’s church, and the Sunday mass at Hofmusikkapell that featured the Vienna Boys Choir and Schubert’s Mass. Gwen and Lori got us all the tickets with favored seats. We also indicated an interest in hearing Gregorian chants and they arranged for us to hear the monks sing the midday service at Heiligenkreuz Abbey near Baden (combined with a personal tour of the Beethoven Museum). Wow: what an array of wonderful musical performances in an array of special and varied venues, all wrapped into one week!
Gwen and Lori also led us into other great experiences. For food, they advised us on restaurants and signed us up for a personal foodie tour by an accomplished and published chef with a hands-on lesson in making apple strudel. For wine, we were driven out to taste and learn about special white wines in Wachau on the Danube. For art, we got a personal tour of the Belvedere Museum and, together with an excellent gourmet dinner in the cupola hall of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Fine Arts Museum), a personal tour of the Curiosities collection by a member of the museum’s Education staff. For sport, they got us prized arena-level seats to watch the Lippizaner horses perform at the Spanish Riding School, followed by a personal tour of the stable, exercise ring and tack room where we came literally eye-to-eye with the horses.
But a fundamental value for our trip came from spending time and conversing with the outstanding guides and docents and chauffeurs during our personal tours. Each was engaging and knowledgeable. Each was respectful of our impaired walking ability. Each shared personal experiences and insights with us about their lives and current life in and around Vienna.
Gwen and Lori were excellent trip planners. They really know intimately the area we traveled to, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. We had amazing tour guides and what was really jaw-dropping is that everything went as planned….at every new place we were greeted on time by our new guide or picked up by the driver to take us to the next region or next experience. The vehicles were first class, comfortable and always equipped with water and snacks. A map was always provided in each city. Loved the handy spiral booklet they created for the itinerary. And the guides spoke very highly of Gwen and her team as well. And we had a number of extraordinary experiences planned by Gwen that were wonderful and better than we expected. Thanks, Gwen and Lori!
Gwen and her team were amazing. From the flawless planning and documentation of the trip to follow-up during the trip. The hired great guides, suggested amazing restaurants.
Our Travel specialist was so excellent for many reasons. I would absolutely use Gwen again. She listened to my needs and preferences. She understood exactly what type of trip we wanted and the accommodations we like to stay in. The pace of the tours in each city was really comfortable. Her contacts and tour guides were so good they felt like family. She was easily accessible answered any questions or queries very quickly. Her suggestions were phenomenal and she took all the guess work out of our trip. We had some very specific needs to be met and she accommodated us willingly. Gwen made sure that any specific sights we wanted to see were open when we in the a particular country and planned our schedule around those exhibits I am an avid traveler and quite skilled at creating an itinerary but after using Gwen and having her fit everything we wanted to accomplish within out timeline and restrictions I will be using these services again. The thing that impressed me most was that she was not afraid to say that certain countries were out of her area of expertise and would suggest I contact someone else if we wanted to see countries she was not well versed in. Her honesty was refreshing. Thank you so much for a perfect trip.
We informed Gwen that our focus on Vienna was history. She provided a guide that took us to museums, palaces, areas of government that really satisfied our travel request. Our trip was seamless and effortless thanks to Gwen and Lori. Prior to our trip she provided pages of restaurant suggestions and was willing to help with any request we might have had.
Gwen and her team helped us with several bespoke excursions during our recent trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Gwen was really helpful with information about accommodations early on in our trip planning — we wanted to stay in Montenegro in a rental property and she helped educated us that verified options home rental options were rare in Montenegro and recommended staying in Southern Croatia instead. This was really helpful advice and allowed us to solidify our plans around Dubrovnik, where we eventually found a truly lovely property to rent.
They organized 2 local excursions from Dubrovnik. One to a local winery and one to Montenegro. They both went very well. Our winery trip was local and super delightful. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Our excursion to Montenegro was similarly wonderful. It was a bit longer than we expected but we saw much of the small country and were happy that we did it. We were surprised by lovely things along the way, such as the amazing Our Lady of the Rocks, a small church with super interesting and beautiful artifacts on a man-made island that took over 200 years to build. Our guides and drivers were knowledgeable, flexible, and wonderful throughout.
Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. Gwen created the most amazing, magical, seamless experience of my life. She is truly brilliant, astute and intuitive. Every single detail she arranged was perfect. I am emotional writing this as I am remembering the pure joy my son and I experienced together on this trip because of Gwen. Our hotels were amazing, we both fell in love with Berlin, Vienna, and Prague through the most exceptional guides we had whom we absolutely adored, each and every one. Everyone treated us with such kindness and dignity. I am beyond grateful to Gwen for literally orchestrating a dream come true.
We had a wonderful time in Dubrovnik and in Montenegro. Everyone was professional, knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. Our driver, Ilija, was outstanding. We were thankful to be with him all three days. He knew the perfect spots to stop for photos and helped avoid traffic. Our half day walking tour guide in Dubrovnik on the first day helped us see everything we hoped to see in the walled city and gave us great historical information. On the second day, Aleka was the best! She was with us for a full day tour of Perast and Kotor. We learned so much and saw so many beautiful sights. Aleka had vouchers prepared for entry to every sight and also recommended a delicious restaurant for lunch. We loved the entire trip.
In May 2018, my husband and I spent 2 1/2 weeks on a self-drive trip around Slovenia and Croatia arranged by Gwen. We aren’t cruise people and most who go here do so on cruise ships. A couple of years ago, we found Gwen who proposed a better way — at least for us–than the typical cruise ship stopping along the coast. Gwen is a Wendy expert for Central/Eastern Europe. For a variety of scheduling reasons, we worked with Gwen over a couple of years. We started with Gwen’s pre-planned tour called “Ultimate Self-Drive Croatia & Slovenia: A Private, Historical and Cultural Self-Drive Tour of Zagreb through to Dubrovnik, with private guides opening doors along the way.” Using an already planned itinerary generally has little appeal to us but this did. Driving ourselves would allow us to see the countryside, not just the coast. It seemed well thought out (remarkably so, it turned out). The stops made sense, the hotels were the kind we like, the allocation of time with guides and free time seemed reasonable, and the price was right. Of course, we tinker with everything and opted for upgraded hotels and a few additional days that sent the price up. But we ended up getting what we wanted.
Frankly, we were amazed at how well it worked out. Gwen’s guides were superb; the hotels were terrific; the restaurant reservations she had made for us were spot on (and we had one of the best meals we’ve had in the world at Restaurant Monte in Rovinj, which she directed us to). The itinerary was great though, in retrospect, we wish we’d spent even longer in that unexpected jewel of a country — Slovenia. Gwen’s GPS with all our stops and possible side attractions already pre-set made driving (and even parking for the hotels) easy; the unexpected free loan of a Croatia cell phone was a bonus that got used far more than we expected. Gwen was always accessible and her on-the-ground person in Croatia, Nastasa, was only a phone call away. We made a major change along the way by deciding to add in Bosnia but that didn’t phase Gwen or Nastasa at all and a terrific guide was put at our disposal.
Gwen is our 14th Wendy Perrin expert who’s planned a trip for us. This is the first time we’ve used a base itinerary that was already figured out. And yes, we tinkered with it. But we were very impressed by how well thought her self-drive itinerary was. She knew just how much time to allot to guided vs. free time, what were the most important places for us to spend time, what lots of additional side trips ( pre-set in the GPS) we could (and invariably did) make, and how these two foodies could get the best possible meals in Croatia and Slovenia.
We had a great time. Wendy’s trip specialists score again!
We got a late start planning this trip because we didn’t know when my daughters summer internship dates would be; so we were only a couple of months out with the planning. The main reason we worked with Gwen is that every request I sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau for a guide came back rejected and you can only work with their authorized guides. I am seriously hearing impaired so groups and headphones are useless to me. I also wanted my daughter to be able to ask questions if she found anything confusing. And this was the most important day of our Berlin & Krakow tour. Gwen came through with an excellent private guide and we came away with a deep but very heartrending understanding of the camps.
Thank you so much! You have helped us once again plan a perfect vacation that we will remember forever. This was a trip that was planned at the very last minute once we learned that two of our children could join us. We reached out to Gwen Kozlowski to see if she could possibly help us plan a trip to Hungary and Croatia. We did not make it easy on her as our trip was last minute, involved 2 teenagers, included a side jaunt of our own that we inserted, and the fact that we wanted to drive ourselves to get a true feel for the areas that we were visiting. Nothing was a problem for Gwen. Our accommodations were absolutely stunning- the restaurant recommendations were superb, and our guides could not have been better! Every detail was considered- at one point we had a little problem with our GPS (our fault) and Gwen had it addressed immediately. It was as if she was holding our hand throughout our entire trip. The highlight of our trip was a private yacht excursion to the islands in the Adriatic that Gwen recommended- it is truly a day that we will always remember. What an amazing trip! Our thanks to you once again for your wonderful recommendation of Gwen and her team!
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Berlin with our granddaughter, who had just graduated from high school. Unbeknownst to us, she had taken a course in her senior year about the Holocaust and 20th-century German history – so she was ecstatic with most everything we saw, the most memorable being the room in Potsdam where the final agreement between the three powers was signed at the end of WWII. We had told Gwen that we were interested in the highlights of Berlin (Reichstag; Berlin Wall; Brandenburg Gate), possibly Potsdam and that we were of the Jewish faith and so would like to see some Holocaust-related sights as well. And we saw ALL of these things. The best of all was our guide, Jeanette. She knew EVERYTHING – from art to history to Holocaust, etc. She also was lovely, understanding of a teenager (as well as my husband’s bad knees) and flexible as needed. Gwen picked out the very best sites for us to see – and the hotel was perfect – location, view, breakfast! There is so much to do in Berlin, and her choices were right on. Many thanks.
Gwen and Sylvia on her team were very receptive to our ideas and were also forthcoming with their own suggestions. We spent a week in Prague at the Augustine hotel, recommended by the travel agent. And, it was wonderful: excellent service, large room, good food both at breakfast and at dinner and perfect location for wandering around this beautiful city. And two of our days, we took guided tours; and our guides were wonderful, informative, educational, and very personable. We would definitely use them again; appreciated their willingness to work with us even though we were only going to be traveling for one week; and, we did not want to book tours for every day. They made wonderful suggestions about what we could do on our own. We had a great week!
My husband and I just returned from our third private trip with the Gwen’s team to Eastern Europe. This time we visited Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, and Gdansk and just as before, it could not have been easier to plan or better to experience. We contacted Gwen Kozlowski just 6 weeks before we wanted to travel but Dasha and Gwen made it all happen. We exchanged some ideas on the itinerary and in no time at all, everything was confirmed. As always, they gave us great recommendations on what we should do and also adjusted for some special requests/interests. All 4 hotels were terrific, all the guides and drivers were excellent and even when we had a seriously delayed flight from Vilnius to Gdansk, Gwen’s representative in Poland contacted us, updated the plan, reassured us about timing, and adjusted seamlessly so that we did not miss a thing. Eastern Europe is fascinating and we can’t wait to visit some new places with their help. A fabulous trip, filled with educational and memorable experiences!
Gwen was terrific from our first email until we returned. She helped plan an excellent trip, the guides were terrific as were the drivers. The contact in Poland was responsive immediately when we had 2 issues with pickups. Gwen helped with reservations for hotels and meals even beyond the Poland portion of our trip. One of the important things was her quick responses and always making us feel our trip was important to her. I have already recommended her to several friends.
Wendy, thank you for providing your WOW List. I had always used a travel agent in Chicago who recently retired. We travel a great deal and do some trips ad hoc, but felt Poland and the important history made having guides important. Often, I use context tours, but when I contacted them, they said they do not do Poland and recommended I go to your website..it all worked out perfectly. Poland is a very emotionally straining trip, but I felt we had wonderful insight and experiences. Gwen must remain on your list.
We loved our local guides…..they were wonderful. Our driver, in Tivat, was a professional basketball player who had traveled the world. He was so good with kids. Our guide in Belgrade was so great he helped me organize other outings and he was great with kids. The bread museum was so cool! The owners let us into their house to show my girls 3-day old kittens. It was so sweet.
Gwen Kozlowski planned and executed an absolutely amazing trip to Vienna and Prague for my family. During our first phone conversation, Gwen asked questions to understand how we like to travel (the type of hotel, things to do, the food we like, etc.), especially when it came to what would interest our 17-year-old son. I told her that our son is passionate about playing piano, particularly the music of classical and romantic era composers. Gwen put together an itinerary that included visits to Mozart’s and Beethoven’s apartments in Vienna, and a visit to the cemetery in Vienna where Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, and Schönberg are buried. She also arranged for us to go to an exhibit that included one of Mozart’s original manuscripts. In Prague she included visits to a collection that included the original score to Beethoven’s third symphony, as well as access to Strahov Library that tourists typically only get to view from a distance – we got to wander among the stacks! We also got spray paint our “tags” on the famous Lennon Wall! Gwen paired us with fabulous guides who, by the time we left, felt more like friends than mere guides. One bonus was our guide in Vienna is from a musical family so she had unique insights into Viennese musical history. Gwen also recommended great restaurants and even made our dinner reservations before we left so we never had to worry about where to have great dinners. All in all, once our plane landed in Vienna everything happened smoothly and seamlessly. I would not hesitate to use Gwen again or to recommend her to anyone traveling to Central or Eastern Europe.
1. The logistics were flawless. We had multiple airport/train pickups and drop-offs, some of them at unusual hours. Multiple restaurant reservations and hotel check-ins, multiple meetings with guides. Everyone they used was on time and waiting for us when we needed them. They made it extremely easy and took the stress out of the trip.
2. The hotel rooms we got were great – I realize we were the ones paying for them, but they clearly knew the properties and got us good rooms with great views.
3. The guides were good – one of them very good.
4. Everything else they told us, ranging from restaurant recommendations, ability to use Uber, itinerary suggestions, etc., was spot on in terms of accuracy and quality. Their food recommendations were particularly good. Gwen clearly knows Poland extremely well.
We went to Prague in December. The guide provided was wonderful and helpful. The schedule was worked out reflecting our interests and the VIP tours were exceptional experiences.
The guide was excellent, interesting with great insights. Helped to skip the lines as well. Everyone was very responsive by email, even to random questions.
We could not have been happier with our experience from the planning stage on. Gwen talked with us to find out our interests then arranged an itinerary and suggested restaurants that were perfect. All the travel arrangements from airport pickup to drop off were smooth with all the drivers there ahead of time. We want to give special credit to the guide Gwen arranged for our first day. Claudia was knowledgeable about the art and architecture and history of the Hapsburgs and managed to convey a sense of it all in a memorable way.
Thank you for recommending Gwen and her team.
Gwen and her team were extremely responsive and knowledgeable. We would highly recommend them.
Although Gwen only helped us with a day and one half in Budapest and in Prague bookending our Backroads bike trip, she was very helpful. She even helped me choose my hotels which I was booking on points. We had some special experiences, the wine district outside Budapest and visiting with the Holocaust survivor in Prague that we would not have had on our own. I would recommend Gwen without hesitation.
The guides hired by Gwen were all excellent, well-informed about history in each locale, personable, experienced and good communicators. Gwen’s team responded quickly to questions I had during the trip. We traveled in October 2017.
Gwen Kozlowski crafted a five week itinerary that allowed my
wife and I to travel throughout Croatia and Slovenia and to get an overview of Bosnia &
Herzegovina. This historical and cultural tour was ideal. We had outstanding guides, the
same driver throughout the trip, excellent hotels, the opportunity to tour many wineries
as well as the chance to visit several islands by boat. We visited each of the places of
historical significance within these countries. Our in-country support was monitored and coordinated by Natasha Lovric who ensured that everything proceeded as planned. After all, the devil is always in the details and there were many arrangements on this trip and all were executed flawlessly. Special thanks for my birthday celebration. Unfortunately, we had to curtail our adventure for health reasons and we very much appreciated the supporting arrangements made by Gwen to get us home early. This is our 3rd lengthy trip planned by Gwen and each has exceeded our expectations. We highly recommend Gwen and her team for travel to the Balkans, to Eastern Europe, to Russia and to Scandinavia.
This is the second time that my wife and I have used Gwen and her staff. Our trip to Romania and Bulgaria (September 2017 for two weeks) was just as well orchestrated as our prior trip to Russia. Gwen and Silvia are tops in customizing to meet the special needs and interests of their clients. Their firm excels because they do not attempt to be all things to all people. Their specialization and expertise results in exceptional and flawless execution. Excellent guides, well thought out itineraries, good property selection creating unique experiences…..the real deal.
We could not have been more pleased. Highly recommended.
We had a wonderful trip to Poland and Austria. We expected to like Austria — we just stayed in Vienna — more than Poland but ended up loving the food and experiences we had in Warsaw and Krakow. Our guides in both countries were phenomenal — deeply knowledgeable, flexible and fun. We would highly recommend both countries.
Gwen did a great job with our trip, and we had a fabulous time. Her guides were excellent, and her hotels were varied and interesting. We liked that she had local contacts in each country, and her well-organized guidebook/itinerary was very useful. Her help booking the rental car and recommending concerts worked very well also. We booked our trip last-minute, and communication was a little spotty (I could tell she was very busy as we got into summer), but she absolutely came through in the end.
Utilized Gwen and her team for our recent visit to Lithuania and would do so again. My son and I had a unique, customized adventure which was well executed and benefited from the first-hand experience of Gwen and her team. We would utilize her again and recommend to others.
We used the recommendation of Wendy Perrin and used Gwen Kozlowski and Silva on her team for our three days stay in Berlin this past April/May. They were able to get us to the sites we wanted to see all the while working around our tight schedule and a major European holiday, May Day. Additionally, a surprise to us was that most stores and such are closed on Sunday as well. It was unfortunate that we could not change our travel dates so be aware of holidays in other countries before you book anything. However, they were able to help us plan and maximize our time with seeing the sites we wanted to see. Gwen and Silvia were able to provide us with hotel recommendations that were able to make use of our time in that the hotels were in the hub of ‘tourist/historic’ area. Easy walk to the Brandenburg Gate at sunset. Easy walk to the Island Museums, which were open on Sunday and the holiday!
Also, the guide that was arraigned for us was excellent. I cannot say enough positive things about Daniel. His excellent command of English, his in-depth knowledge of history and culture of Berlin and Germany were a highlight of our trip. He helped us navigate the subway, trains and other transportation as well. Some of the little-known facts about Potsdam and St. Catherine’s Palace, Daniel could relate them and provide insight that you just can’t get from a book. And for me, Daniel was able to fit in a stop at the wonderful department store KaDaWe. Fabulous!
I would definitely use Gwen and Silvia again. Silvia is a foodie like me so do schedule enough time to enjoy the food at KaDeWe. And Silvia was also able to get a reservation for us at the top of the Reichstag for lunch at the restaurant and enjoy the view on a beautiful spring day.
Just got back from Prague (March 2017). It was only one day yet Gwen was to put together a program that fit our needs perfectly. We were at a conference in Wroclaw and on our own, planned a visit Auschwitz on our way to Prague. Even though we had not hired Gwen for that portion of the trip, she made several suggestions on transportation and lodging that we found invaluable – and never would have figured it out on our own (or at least not nearly as well). Thanks again Gwen.
Gwen and her team were amazing. She listened to what we wanted (and did not want) and delivered beautifully. The hotel locations and quality were just what we asked for. The guides Gwen recommended were the absolute highlights of our trip. They brought our destinations, Vienna, Prague and Durnstein to life. The planning and logistics were flawless all the way down the small bound book with day by day itinerary sent to us in advance and the GPS with all of our designations and potential side trips pre-programmed. She thought of everything! Two pieces of advice. 1) Ask Gwen and her team to send you concert and dinner options and recommendations *early* in the planning and then make reservations or get tickets for at least one night in each city. Gwen will send you a great (invaluable) restaurant lists for each city and will make restaurant reservations. Don’t wait. 2) Be prepared for tipping. Gwen will send you recommendations via email but this was not part of the printed itinerary. It took us a day or two to figure out where the information was.
Using a WOW trusted travel advisor changed our experience. We weren’t just tourists looking at a place. We experienced and learned about our destinations. We have already booked a second trip ( to a different destination).
We had very specific requests about our trip and one of them included an “insider” visit to the Wachau and Kremstal wine region in Austria. Our guide, Martin was a gem. He was flexible to move around our original tour dates to accommodate visits with specific vintners and winery owners. With a wealth of information about the wine region and his personal friendships with vintners, he was a delight to tour with. Gwen was also able to arrange first rate seats at the ballet in Vienna and all of her hotel and dining recommendations were excellent. Can’t wait to go back…
My husband and I travelled to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague the last 2 weeks of April 2016. This was our 4th European trip with a Wendy Perrin travel specialist and Gwen Kozlowski and her team were simply the best! I contacted Gwen through Wendy’s link back in November and was shocked that she actually remembered speaking with me 5 years before when we first thought we would take this trip and had kept our details available for my call back. This is the kind of organization and attention she gave to the planning of every moment of our trip.
Gwen is involved in every step of the planning process, although she does use assistants, she reads every email that her office receives, interjects when needed, and is always available to answer any question. Initially, we spent several weeks going back and forth about which cities to visit in the allotted time and the order in which to see them. Gwen was great in sorting this out for us because we originally wanted to incorporate a stop in Poland and decided (with her gentle guidance) that this would be too crazy given our 2 weeks of travel time.
What impressed us the most about Gwen is that she really listened to what we wanted to get out of our trip, our likes and dislikes, and incorporated (or didn’t) those items in both her suggestions for our itinerary and hotels. Additionally, she selected our tour guides for their particular expertise based on the things we expressed interest in – history, architecture, wine, etc. Although she recommended tours and experiences she’d used before, our trip was totally tailored to our interests. Her guides, drivers, special experiences, hotels and restaurant recommendations were all fabulous. What was especially appreciated was the way that our touring and free time was scheduled so that we never felt overwhelmingly exhausted. For example, when we were picked up at the airport in Budapest we were delivered to our hotel and didn’t have anything scheduled until the next day. This gave us time to nap, shower and enjoy an evening stroll and leisurely dinner which was very rejuvenating after a long flight. All we needed to do to make this a trip of a lifetime was board our flight and show up at the appointed times.
Our trip was totally stress-free, and that says a lot about Gwen and her team! The more information you can give Gwen about what you want to get out of your trip, the better it will be, and don’t hesitate to ask for changes if what she drafts for you isn’t exactly perfect. We will definitely use Gwen again when we go back for our tour of Poland.
My son and I are both history buffs, and for a quick father-son bonding trip, we decided to learn about WW2 and to immerse ourselves in Krakow and Berlin – with the guidance of Gwen and her team. We visited Krakow for two nights and Berlin for three nights, with day excursions out of the city to see Auschwitz (from Krakow) and Potsdam from Berlin. Aside from the flawless operations, everything went without a hitch, the trip was beyond words for us. Visiting the sites and learning firsthand about the history was huge, and of course the content itself was moving. Everything from the hotel selection, itinerary planning, guide selection and all of the little details gave us just what we were hoping for…a 6-day history lesson executed with style! Specifically, their guides made it a spectacular trip as we were in the presence of true experts, historians and professional hosts. I highly recommend Gwen and the teamfor any journeys in the regions where they operate. It was life-changing. Thank you Gwen!!
Gwen and her team were wonderful to work with. The trip went so well. All of the guides and drivers were on time, were so knowledgeable and made the trip so enjoyable. We would definitely work with Gwen again and would highly recommend her to others.
Gwen and her staff were fantastic, patiently crafting our wonderful vacation to Krakow, Prague and Budapest in October, 2015. Gwen’s prompt and thorough response to phone calls and emails makes you feel like you are her only client. Our itinerary, accommodations and guides were all top notch. I highly recommend Gwen and her team!
We just returned from our trip to Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Vienna, & Budapest. I found Gwen through the WOW list, and we could not be happier with our experience. I had detailed interaction with Gwen in planning our trip, and she and her team came up with a fabulous trip. We had a few uniquely arranged experiences in every location. The guides were friendly, personable, knowledgeable, and spoke English perfectly. Beyond the guides, there was also great in-country support with her contacts that responded to some changes we wanted to make as well. They were all flexible and responsive to our requests. We loved our hotels, not big chain properties but pretty places with nice sized rooms, fitness centers, and very good service. Gwen suggested great restaurants and truly, as “foodies”, we were thrilled with the restaurants that were suggested and chosen. Everything was SEAMLESS and great and I recommend Gwen VERY highly!!
WOW! Wow is right on spot to describe our Austria trip planned and handled by Gwen Kozlowski and her team from October 15 – 26. From the beginning, our needs were all taken into account, including working within our budget, and more importantly, making sure all accommodations, restaurants, sites chosen, and tours were as handicap accessible as possible. (This means wheelchairs were ready and available when needed, and a legal and a valid handicapped parking permit was obtained for the days when we were self-driving in the countryside.)
I told Gwen we are interested in food, wine, history, and art. Our itinerary reflected these interests perfectly. Her selection of accommodations was top notch and varied from the well-known, perfectly located, grand Hotel Sacher Salzburg with its congenial, yet professional staff to the beautiful, shabby chic B & B, Mooslechners Bürgerhaus, in Rust. However, my two favorites turned out to be the exquisite, historical Schloss Dürnstein, where we felt like royalty (and their decor, service, food, and entertainment was the basis for that). The most surprising was the flamboyant, funky, and perfectly located, in Museum Quarter, Hotel Sans Souci in Vienna. Surprising was the purple velvet, purple paint, and purple lighting, all very modern, yet baroque at the same time and the most beautiful indoor swimming pool and excellent spa.
So, obviously, Gwen knows her clients’ tastes, and she takes care of any problem immediately. We only had one bauble, contacted her, and it was resolved in less than two hours. She has some serious stroke in Austria!
Our private tours and excellent guides were the highlights of the trip. Both my husband and I agree that our favorite experience on the trip was with Martin, a third generation member of a local winemaking family, who was able to take us to the incredible Nikolaihof Winery in the Wachau Valley above the Danube which produces my favorite Grüner Veltliner wine. We toured the unpicked grapes in their vineyard, their winemaking facility, the beautiful and historical cellars, and met the family at lunch on site. The family matriarch sold and autographed her latest cookbook (available in German or English) to me. My husband also really enjoyed the walkability, friendliness, and history of the town of Salzburg. Other special places not to be missed were the Melk Abbey, and the Catholic Cathedral on the grounds of the State Psychiatric Hospital in Vienna. And, I can’t leave out our wonderful wine tasting without mentioning the kind and generous visit with the winemaker, Heidi Schröck in Rust. We have already figured out how to buy both her wines and those from Nikolaihof here in the states.
Two services especially added to our trip. First, were the daily restaurant recommendations and reservations. The food was invariably good, and there was a lot of variety in the food and style. We did cancel several nights and just caved into street food. Our two favorites were Carpe Diem Finest Finger food, which reflects the current food scene in Salzburg, and Vestibul in Vienna where the famous owner/chef made sure we had an all-around special experience from personally matching our wines to our food to autographing and selling me his cookbook. The second service was the provision of the pre-programmed GPS for our rental car. The mere touch of a button got us to every hotel, restaurant, tour site, etc. Big help and stress reducer!
We would highly recommend Gwen. A great travel experience.
We used both Alex and Gwen for this trip to Eastern Europe and they were very helpful in planning our trip. I would not hesitate to use them again and would recommend them highly. The order they set to see the cities we visited was perfect and the hotels they picked were terrific, as were their guides.
Gwen and her team did an awesome job coordinating a trip to Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic for us. It was a big trip, which included several biking excursions, visits to small towns where my grandparents lived, castles, gardens, concerts, museums, galleries, wineries, and even a strudel-making lesson! There were well-informed guides for each country, and good, dependable drivers available for those activities and days when we were on our own. We were blessed with excellent weather, and we got lots of exercise, which we needed to work off the incredible food. Gwen and her team were responsive and flexible in helping to plan and execute this complicated trip, and I recommend her highly!
I recently returned from a trip to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague that was planned by Gwen Kozlowski and Lori Hinkle. My wife, daughter, and I had a marvelous experience. Gwen and Lori were helpful in the planning stages, both suggesting options and accommodating our requests. Our guides were good or (mostly) excellent; they not only showed the sights to us, but shared their cities and histories. Highlights were the private tour of the Strahov Monastery Library which is typically not open to visitors, and a visit to two family wineries in Durnstein. Our hotels in Budapest and Vienna couldn’t have been nicer and all our hotels were well-situated for our roamings. I would have no hesitations working with Gwen and Lori again.