Our Travel Team
Partnering Dave with the tour planning and execution is travel and transportation aficionado Jack Samuels, who assists in the planning and escorting of our cultural excursions.
In creating J&D Tours, Jack and Dave are pleased to be assisted by such outstanding travel experts as Wanda Grzesik from Chopin Express Tours; Wlodek Kasperski, our Poland Associate and Tour Guide; and Ute Bosse, our Germany / Central Europe specialist. Together we have forged a knowledgeable and reliable professional travel team ready to ensure that your next travel experience is outstanding.
Dave began planning specialty tours to Europe in 2004. In creating these travel offerings, he has relied on over 20 years experience in high-profile special events management, VIP travel and non-profit administration for various institutions including the University of Pittsburgh, Point Park University and other major non-profit and cultural organizations.
A meticulous planner who was educated in Poland and conversant in Polish and Central European history, folk art and traditions, Dave brings a wealth of insight into each group travel experience. He is a graduate of Alliance College and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, where he lived for two years studying Polish language, culture and history. Dave travels frequently to Poland and extensively researches various ideas for future tours. He is a member of the "Byc Polakiem" Committee of the Polish Parliament which is an initiative encouraging young people of Polish descent around the world to express their heritage through the arts.
An internationally recognized artist and expert on the Krakow Christmas Creche or "Szopka", Dave's szopka pieces have been featured in numerous galleries and private collections around the world including the City of Krakow History Museum, the Gagosian Gallery (New York), the Polish Sejm (Parliament) in Warsaw, Poland, the Frederik Meijer Gallery, among others. The first non-Pole to enter the annual Krakow Szopka Competition, Dave was awarded a prestigious Special Award for Artistic Merit in December, 2010. With the major exhibition of his works in Hong Kong, China, in 2011, he became the first person to exhibit the szopka art form in Asia. (photo shown) Additional information on Dave's art work can be found at www.davidmotak.com; information on Dave's and Jack's Cracow Creche Workshop project can be found at www.cracowcrafts.com
Jack began his involvement in producing specialty travel experiences after 33 years as a teacher, supervisor, curriculum director and technology coordinator in two school districts in Western Pennsylvania. With a Master’s Degree in Education and extensive post-graduate work, Jack has successfully combined his passion for education with his interest in travel and transportation. He has been a volunteer at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum since 1995 serving as an operator of antique streetcars, instructor and Manager of the Education and Interpretation Department and as a former board member. Through these activities, he has been able to share his love for transportation history. Jack's related interest is his love for tourism and travel.
He has had numerous part time positions since retiring from his full time position as educator in 1997, many of which have involved transportation, tourism and travel. He is currently associated with VisitPittsburgh, helping visitors navigate their way around Pittsburgh, registering convention attendees and providing suggestions on places to visit in the city and surrounding areas. For the past several years Jack has been involved in planning and conducting tours with partner, Dave Motak, in Central and Eastern Europe. In addition, he also serves as the business manager for J & D Tours and the Cracow Creche Workshop, which he and Dave created to promote Dave's work as a Szopka Artist.
Wanda was born in Toronto where she lived with her son and daughter until very recently moving north to the shores of Lake Huron to enjoy living and working in a more relaxed setting. Wanda has been working full-time in the travel industry since 1977 and throughout the years has made numerous trips to Poland and has seen first hand all the changes in the past twenty five years.
She is passionate about promoting Poland as an exciting destination and is always anxious to share her knowledge and help people plan their visit to Poland. For the past 14 years she has been managing Chopin Tours, a division of Polimex Travel specializing in arranging and promoting individual and group travel to Poland and other ”less travelled” European destinations.
A native of Krakow, Wlodek has been a professional tour guide, translator and tour facilitator since 2002. Conversant in several languages including English, German and Russian, Wlodek has escorted numerous group excursions in Poland, throughout Europe and around the world, including Peru, China, Russia, Ukraine, the Far East and many other locations. He is also an expert on nature travel and has escorted various excursions around Poland to introduce visitors to the country's diverse and unique flora and fauna. Wlodek's expertise, however, is in showing visitors the cultural and natural treasures of his own native Poland. He has been Tour Guide for J&D Tours since 2005, managing numerous details for us, serving as impromptu translator and advisor, going out of his way to ensure that his guests have a pleasant and comfortable travel experience.