People

THE CZAJKA TRAVEL TEAM

Czajka Travel is about the people. Each of us has a story, but what unites us is our PASSION FOR TRAVEL. It’s not just about discovering new places in distant corners of the world. It’s an energy pushing us forward to make the most of what life has to offer.

Gaining more than rich experiences in our many years as an agency, we’ve created a large network of contacts, which have grown into friendships. Through these friendships, we’ve been able to create a dedicated international team for which nothing is impossible.

Our team is made up of two important and intertwined components:
Polish travel agents and guides who work to fulfill your dreams of travel
Our friends in various destinations across the world who work with our guides to ensure you have the best experience possible. Who better to show you the place they call home than a local?

Get to know us and you’ll see why you want to spend your next vacation with us.

Joanna “Asia” Biernacka

Specializing in legal requirements, documents, and planning the fine details of trips, you’ll hear her inviting voice when you call. Her adventures with tourism began as a guide to the Crimean Peninsula in 2007. Asia’s travels have taken her to the Caucasus, Ukraine, Turkey, the Balkans, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic just to name a few destinations. Since 2008, she’s been helping other travelers realize their own dreams of international travel by helping them organize the vacations of their dreams.

Asia is a master organizer, fountain of knowledge, and cool under pressure. Not only can she answer all of your trip related questions, she will present you an itinerary planned to the finest detail, tell you what you need to pack, and suggest the best souvenirs to bring back. Each client receives individualized service from Asia and can count on her to plan their trip as if she were doing it for her closest friend.

Contact: joanna.biernacka@czajkapodroze.pl

Marcin Kawa

With a head full of ideas and a determined vision for achieving the agency’s mission, Marcin specializes in marketing. With experience in many fields, he finds the most fulfilment in tourism. Traveling all over the world, Marcin most often heads to Asia where he feels most at peace.

It’s hard to get a word in edgewise because he knows the answer to every question, which makes him the ideal officemate and travel companion. Coincidentally, his surname translates from the Polish word for “coffee,” which he gladly brews for all visitors to the agency.

Monika Pazera

Hailing from Nowa Huta, she’s fallen in love with Georgia. Knowing almost everything there is to know about Georgia, she’s more than willing to regale those traveling with her with encyclopedic knowledge.

When not traveling to Georgia, Monika guides countless tourists around Kraków in English and Russian. In her free time, Monika uses every opportunity to travel to her adopted home where she finds the most joy, runs a website dedicated to traveling in Georgia, and is an avid photographer. Those traveling with her can count on her to provide them access to the diverse climates of Georgia, hospitable locals, delectable culinary delights, and fantastic wine.

A more than capable dancer, Monika is also a great cook who likes to prepare new dishes for her guests.

Elena Shakhbazyan

A true Caucasus woman: small and fragile on the surface, but anything but that once you get to know her. Able to guide in heels or hiking boots, Elena readily navigates cultures and anyone traveling with her is guaranteed to learn the music and film of the chosen destination. Her optimistic outlook, openness, sense of humor, and resourcefulness endear her to the travelers under her care and infect them with the same love she has for her homeland.

A fluent Russian speaker born in the Caucasus to an Armenian father and Ossetian mother, she’s lived in Poland for several years. Though her travels haven taken her all over the Caucasus region, she continues to be enamored with Armenia.

Dominika Klimowicz

A political scientist with an interest in cultural studies, Dominika is also a student of the Persian language. During her studies in Tehran, she learned that one life may not be enough to fully understand who the Iranians truly are. Iran has become her second home and she often returns there to enjoy the delights of saffron flavored ice cream and previously unvisited parts of what was once Persia.

Traveling inspires Dominika by allowing her to see new places, new things, and new faces. It’s also an opportunity to abolish stereotypes, build cultural bridges, and face fears.

Agnieszka Trzaska

A geographer with a hunger for new challenges, travel, mountains, and people, Agnieszka has fallen in love with the sights of Georgia on horseback. She’s inspired by culinary delights prepared with love, experiencing new flavors, and capturing all she sees through the lens of her camera.

Not recognizing the concepts of ‘boredom’ or ‘routine,’ Agnieszka chases the seemingly unreachable with a smile on her face. People and places each have a unique history, which Agnieszka seeks to discover and share with those traveling with her.

She lives her life according to the motto, “Yesterday is HISTORY, tomorrow is a MYSTERY, but today is a GIFT. That is why it is called PRESENT.”

Małgorzata “Gosia” Pióro

Our chief photographer and guide on our PHOTOTrips, Gosia will teach you to view with your heart, frame with your eyes, and draw with light. Gosia is an exceptionally warm, creative, and enthusiastic photographer. She loves nothing more than to impart her passion, knowledge, and energy to everyone she meets, which she often does by sharing the climatic photography and stories of her own travels. Gosia will teach you to see the uniqueness in the common because she believes it’s not what we see, but how we see it.

Gosia is an artist, teacher, sociologist, and art therapist. She often leads “Art of Viewing” workshops in London, Dublin, and Lviv. In Kraków, she co-teaches workshops on “Adventures with Photography.” More formally, Gosia also teaches “PHOTOCoaching” at the University of Humanities and Economics in Łódź and as part of an Occupational Therapy course at the University of Physical Education in Kraków. She also has experience with children, youths, and adults as part of EU funded projects. She was the 2011 winner of the “Exotic – Portfolio” category in the Travel Photographer of the Year competition and most recently, was selected in September 2015 as the most inspiring photographer by Nikon’s Szeroki Kadr.

Her work can be found on www.malgorzatapioro.pl, www.fotoprzygoda.com, and www.fotopioro.pl.

Jurek Oleszek

Traveling constantly for several years, Jurek is a citizen of the world and nomad by choice. Whether in Hanoi, Krakow, Tbilisi, Prague, Bhaktapur, or Luang Prabang, Jurek is at home. Jurek’s specialty is finding the inconspicuous, unknown, rare, and unseen. He speaks many languages and understands many more. He’s organized several trips to various parts of the world, but continually has an appetite to see more.

Passionate about history, geography, language, and culture, Jurek is constantly searching for heavenly landscapes. On a quest for truth, Jurek’s travels allow him to regularly dispel universal opinions, myths, and stereotypes.

Lucy Kopiniak

A transplant, Lucy left her life in Poland to travel Asia, the land of Buddhism, where she has since settled with her Thai husband. In Asia, everything has its own time and rhythm. Thai peace and the smiles of the locals show that life is as varied and as pronounced as Thai cooking. Since 2012, Lucy has been working as a guide specializing in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Though she knows much about the area, Asia still surprises her, which is what gives life flavor, seasons it with a bit of adrenaline, and introduces a hint of humor.

A sociologist, visual artist, and cultural expert, Lucy is passionate about Thai cooking and the art of the Thai massage. There’s no one better than Lucy to tell you about the Thai life with a dash of humor and healthy dose of passion.

Rafał Kubik

A geographer and lifelong student of cultural studies, Rafał is our man in South Asia. With two years of travel on the Indian Subcontinent, Rafał has visited countless sights ranging from the well-known to the well-hidden. Everything began with Edi Pyrek’s ‘Let the Whole World Think You’re Mad, i.e. Getting to India on 30 Dollars’ in high school. Several years later, Rafał made it to India following the route laid out by Pyrek and has since then returned several times on trips to other countries in the region.

Rafał not only co-authored the first Polish guide to travel in India and Nepal, but also released an album about India published by Bezdroża. Throughout his countless travels, he is often surprised by Asia and the wealth of stories he collects during each trip. Ready to share his vast knowledge of Asia, Rafał ensures those he travels with get a full picture of the culture he is dedicated to. In his free time, Rafał practices Yoga, plays guitar, and enjoys wandering with his camera.

Romek Grzeszykowski

Romek is a certified instructor of Iyengar Yoga at the Intermediate Senior level and owner of the Krakow School of Sadhana Yoga. A teacher by education, Romek has a true talent for what he does and can find a way to explain each pose to anyone. A daily practitioner of Yoga since 1994, he remains active in the community by maintaining relationships with advanced teachers and participating in workshops led by Yoga experts from around the world. As he often highlights, Yoga taught him to focus and attain a peace of mind. He wants others to experience the same joy, which he’s been able to find through this discipline.

Romek leads our Yoga trips to India.

Adam Ramotowski

Without Adam, our Yoga trips to India wouldn’t be the same. Owner of the Warsaw Yoga school, ‘Joga na Foksal,’ and head of the Union of Yoga Schools, Adam has practiced daily since 1988. Since 2002, he’s been teaching and maintains a relationship with BKS Iyengar in Pune as well as advanced Yoga instructors around the world.

Adam comments that, “To explain what Yoga means to me, it’s best to refer to Vyasa’s commentary in the Vishnu Purana. ‘Yoga is the teacher of Yoga, Yoga is to be understood through Yoga, so live in Yoga, to realize Yoga, comprehend Yoga through Yoga.’ I want to express the profound gratitude I feel to all of my teachers as well as to my students from who I learn the most. I invite everyone to train with me!”

 

Tomasz “Tomek” Jeżowski

Just a guy from Muszyna who from childhood was bit by the travel bug, it’s no surprise he’s been pulled to not only travel the world, but share those experiences with others. Though young, Tomek’s traveled much and has found that the East is where he most likes to return

Repeated stays in Ukraine and Russia not only allowed him to learn Russian, but to get to know and love that part of the world, which is so very often overlooked by tourists.
Our specialist when it comes to Ukraine and Russia, Tomek knows not only the history of Kiev and Moscow, but is able to make it come alive and add a bit of humor.

Izabela Guzik

An admirer of animals and nature, Izabela lives for the thrill of a new experience and new culinary offerings from every corner of the world.

Izabela has a fascination with Arab culture, which has led her to live in the United Arab Emirates and most recently in Jordan, where she believes that authentic Arab culture and tradition can enchant all visitors.

To Izabela, travel is best spent by immersing oneself in the culture and traditions of a country. This is even more true when one can experience life as locals do.

Andrzej Wierzbicki

A graduate of Tourism and Recreation at the University of Physical Education in Kraków, Andrzej feels best when surrounded by the culture, food, music, and people of Morocco. Also a lifelong sailor, he’s visited most of Europe by sea. In his free time, Andrzej plays guitar, reads, or plays squash.

A talkative optimist who sees the best in people, Andrzej is an ideal travel companion. Knowing Morocco like the back of his hand, you can be sure he’ll take you to his favorite places, give you the chance to meet his friends, and give you the opportunity to eat as the locals do.

For those of you seeking cooler climates, thrills, a test of character, a chance to overcome fears, and test their sea worthiness, Andrzej recommends time on the Baltic and North Seas. For those seeking the same thrills, but in a warmer environment, Andrzej invites you to travel the Aegean Sea near Greece.

Anna “Ania” Sagan

She may look small, but her spirit is anything but. Ania specializes in guiding our more physically active trips for those who lead a healthier lifestyle and are seeking to maintain an athletic physique. Ania has been a trainer for several years and seen it all from couch potatoes to bad backs, aching joints, poor lifestyle, weak bladders, asthma, depression, phobias, and more. She’s more than ready to take on those used to a less active lifestyle, young mothers looking to tone up after birth, and even seniors who need more therapeutic training.

Having been challenged by and overcome her own physical ailments through the years, Ania understands exactly what those under her care are going through and how to best address their needs. Ania often says, “I’m a living example that various conditions can be treated using a regimen of properly selected exercises. However, be forewarned that it takes time, patience, and consistency. Living comfortably and free of pain is worth it.” Without a doubt, you can feel comfortable in her capable hands. The key components of Ania’s trainings are interval training, strength training, stretching, and Pilates. Each session will be prepared to ideally suit your condition, abilities, and expectations.

Darek Trener

Alongside Ania, Darek specializes in physically active trips. Translated as ‘trainer,’ Darek’s surname aptly fits what he has chosen as his profession and passion. A contagious ball of energy, Darek’s interests began in boxing and weightlifting before shifting to running. Darek believes that, “Running is a state of mind, which reinforces that everything is possible. It’s a passion and a goal. Fear is what stops us in our tracks, but courage is what allows us to keep going.” When not competing in various marathons, Darek serves as a personal trainer where he finds satisfaction in the extremely effective results of those he trains.  Balancing the correct training program with a healthy diet and motivation, Darek can help you reach any goal you may have!

To list all of Darek’s accomplishments and feats would be impossible, but we’d like to share just some of them: 1st in his age category at the 2010 New Years’ Run (5 km); 1st in his age category and 4th overall at the 2010 Bison Run (15 km); 1st in his age category and 19th overall at the 2011 Warsaw Marathon (42.195 km); 1st in his age category and 12th overall at the 2012 Three Mounds Run (13km); 2nd in his age category and 8th overall at the 2013 Cracovia Marathon (42.195 km); 3rd at the 2014 Rzeszow Ultramarathon (70 km).

Michał Lelek

Also known as Misha or the Human Radio, we wish luck to anyone who thinks they can out-talk Michał. Those who travel with Michał not only find comfort in his professionalism, but find themselves under his spell as he expertly and effortlessly shares tales of the East.  Beginning as a guide on trips to the Crimean Peninsula over several summer seasons, Michał has also become a master guide of the Baltic countries, Russia, and the Caucasus.

Awto

A Georgian who seems to know everyone and whom everyone has heard of, we’re surprised he hasn’t been memorialized in a book or film yet. A ceramist by education and driver by choice, he’s been proclaimed to be a mortal among men and a friend to all Poles. Since meeting Awto in 2011, he’s become like family and our trips to Georgia aren’t complete unless we visit him and hear the colorful tales of his homeland.

We often joke that to know Awto, is to know all Georgians. He sings, dances, recites, navigates, and rules over the Georgian feast known simply as ‘supra.’ Identifying characteristics of Awto include his thick mustache and barrel chest as well as the pack of cigarettes and mobile he keeps within easy reach. Awto is also a true symbol of Georgian hospitality—He treats all as if they were a close friend and would gladly give you the shirt off his back.

Gio

Just as mysterious as his father Awto, Gio is also equally as spontaneous, energetic, and entertaining. His big heart is only eclipsed by his sense of humor.

Similar to his father (and every Georgian really), Gio is always smiling, ready to lend a helping hand, and welcoming. The perfect host, a great motivator, and master of surprises, it’s easy to communicate with Gio who speaks a mix of Polish and Russian.  A big fan of white and red memorabilia, he’ll be your best friend from the moment you meet.

.

Wacho

Known as the ‘Georgian Rambo,’ Wacho has more than earned his nickname. At a height of almost 2 meters, laconic, and shy, he is a jack of all trades ready for every mission. After his time in the Special Forces and active duty in Iraq, Wacho found a new calling in tourism where he is respected for his professionalism, wisdom, and honesty. He now serves as mountain guide, driver, and photographer. He feels most comfortable in the mountains where he seems to run even up the steepest of slopes ahead of the groups he’s leading. It’s not uncommon to see Wacho making return trips to take the packs of those in his group as well.

Does Wacho have any weaknesses? Sure, if you count his love of photography and bicycle riding.

Lasha

Half-Georgian and half-Svan, Lasha is most interested in Poland and introducing tourists to Svaneti, the region of Georgia he hails from known for its courageous inhabitants, tall stone towers, and breathtaking views of the highest elevations of the Caucasus mountains.

With a watchful eye and sense of vigilance over those in his group, whether they are two or four legged, safety is his priority. As a proud Georgian, he’s not only a professional at making a toast at a party, but can also effortlessly combine the history and tradition of his country when guiding visitors.  Coupled with his guitar and singing, he’s the life of the party.

Behind his large smile, Lasha houses a vast knowledge on how to make the most of life, which he’s more than willing to share with new friends on a starry night around a campfire in Svaneti.

Bunyad

Our man on the ground in Uzbekistan and a hopeless romantic, Bunyad grew up in Khiva. As the father of four girls, he’s a master of logistics and watches over his groups with a paternal instinct.

A merrymaker with an enormous sense of humor, it’s hard to be bored when with Bunyad. With a spark in his eye, he’ll show you his country like only a native can. A magician of sorts, he’s able to conjure up tea and shish kebabs in an otherwise empty desert.

Hus

Our expert an all things Azerbaijan, Hus speaks fluent Polish. While wandering lost Baku in 2012, we first met Hus when he offered us help in fluent Polish. Not only an invaluable resource in arranging transport and lodging, he’s the perfect guide to show you his home country and introduce you to Azerbaijani tea.

After spending two years studying at the University of Warsaw, he’s found a new home in Poland, but promotes the culture and history of his beloved Azerbaijan whenever the opportunity arises. Aside from Azerbaijani and Polish, Hus speaks Russian, some Czech, and some Ukrainian.

Narmin

Azerbaijani by birth, Polish by education, and traveler by passion, Narmin works as a translator, but may also frequently be found in the kitchen, where she loves to cook during her free time.

In her new home, Narmin is most thrilled by the opportunity to live and work among Poles while also introducing them to the beauty and hidden treasures of her native Azerbaijan. A trip to the Land of Fire with Narmin is one you are surely not to forget.

Elio

One of our friends in Cuba, Elio knows every inch of the island he proudly calls home. Originally a ship engineer, his pride in his country led him to become a guide several years ago. He’s also capable of guiding groups in Polish, which he learned while working in the shipyards of Gdańsk for two years.

Like many of his countrymen, Elio loves to dance, which is often the evening activity of choice when we visit him. Who better to show you Cuba than one of her native sons?

Walter

Walter is another friend of ours in Cuba and just as talented as Elio. Aside from a brief career in chess, Walter worked for several years as an engineer before also becoming a guide. Similarly to Elio, Walter learned Polish after living in Poland for three years.

Currently residing in Havana, Walter cares for our groups as if they were his own family.

Fernando

Our friend in Mexico, Fernando is a walking encyclopedia. Having raised his own large family, he knows how best to care for those we send to him. Having traveled the world, Fernando feels most comfortable at home where he’s found his calling as a promoter of all things Mexico. In addition to acting as a guide, he also regularly writes articles promoting tourism in Mexico.

Having studied in the US, Fernando speaks fluent English in addition to French, Italian, and Portuguese. Everyone is sure to find something to talk about with Fernando.

Juli

Our expert on all matters Argentina, Juli’s age shouldn’t fool you. Wise beyond her years, Juli aptly finds history in every part of her country.

Residing full time in Buenos Aires, Juli is the perfect host to guide you through the metropolis she knows so well. From the easily found sights in plain view to the hidden side streets and local watering holes, Juli is your best bet for a great time in Argentina.

Juli is a great companion for chats, a night out on the town, and casual walks to show you the best her city has to offer.