In a few weeks time I’ll be on the road again.
The fact that I live in Germany means that I have pretty easy access to other European countries nearby, and isn’t that a wonderful thing. The fact that I live in Berlin means that you can also get out there and do stuff!
So in order to put that into action I’m going to be on the road to Poland.
Now I really like Poland and so does “The Tall Young Gentleman” since he’s a chip off the old block and all that, but The Music Producer aka my husband, not so much.
However, a lot of people don’t really know a lot about Poland, have stereotypical thoughts of people queuing for bread, or are scared because Poland was a country locked behind the Iron Curtain and is therefore, shock and awe – a card-wearing member of the Eastern Bloc and therefore, Eastern Europe!
Well, if you want to visit Poland you had better brace yourself as I’m going to tell you 10 reasons why you shouldn’t bother!
1. Poland is a large country: If you’re looking for an island that is small and quaint, then don’t bother.
Poland is one of the largest European countries surrounded by an interesting mix of Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia, It’s in the middle of the continent and is rather more Central Europe than Eastern Europe.
2. Poland has too many aspects to it: If you’re looking for just the beach or just the mountains then you’ve come to the wrong place: Poland is a wonderful blend of beaches, lakes, forests, mountains, and interesting cities with lots of history. Quite like Germany in fact!
3. Poland is cheap: If you want the 5-star treatment at 5-star prices then go to Japan. I know that Berlin has modest prices but prices in Poland are even, dare I say it. Cheaper.
If you’re looking for a bit of an adventure and the budget is not as much as you would have liked, then you could do worse than to go to Poland.
4. Polish food is going to knock you for six or perhaps even for seven: If you’re looking for pizza and chips then stay at home. If you are willing to experiment, then exotic items like zurek (soup made from sour rye flour and pieces of varied meat) and pierogi (a type of dumpling) is there for the taking.
5. Poland is an old country: If you’re looking for clean lines, modern buildings made of glass and skyscrapers every second (2nd) street, then you must have mistaken Poland for Hong Kong!
Poland is an ancient country with over 1,000 years of history so of course, things are going to be old.
The churches and synagogues are old.
The castles are old.
Even the cobbled streets are old.
Rather annoying if you want to zip down the street with the latest sports car!
6. Poland is traditional: Forget the hordes of drunken stag night drinkers. There are kids and senior citizens everywhere, and lots and lots of churches that people actually go to on a Sunday. So please don’t vomit on the church steps!
Tradition and family values are still pretty important in this country and if you can’t deal with a bash on the head and a huge shove by an old woman, don’t go there!
7. Be ready and prepared for anything: Poland might be a country that has existed for thousands of years but in modern terms, it’s still pretty “new” and as a result, things can be slightly….
If you’re looking for certainty and boredom, then Poland is not the place for you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed my bus stop or even taken the wrong train, but if you can’t stand taking a chance and working with the outcome, then book the next extremely swift train with excellent service, to Switzerland!
8. Tourist friendly: Well not really. Poland has loads of little towns that are not really packed with tourists. Some Americans. Some Germans.
Yes alright, but hardly what you would call, the holiday package group. I mean when did you last hear of friends taking a package holiday to Poland?
So if you are into that, Spain is rather pleasant at this time of year.
Tourists and travellers who do venture into Poland take either high standard hotels or decide to live with the locals which, generally means a hostel or living with the family – pension / B&B style.
I wouldn’t recommend a “package.”
9. People use public transport: OMG! Get me out of here ‘cos I have to use the scenic train and horror of horrors, the bus! Packed with local people who. Talk. To. You. and Help. You. With. Your. Bags. How can that be?
If you don’t want local interaction and prefer to be on your lonesome, please don’t go to Poland.
The people are quite friendly. Some even take photographs of you!
10. City destinations: With a delicious mix of variety such as Krakow, Wroclaw, Gdansk (Danzig), Lodz, Warsaw or Poznan that include old style flavour and modern interests, Poland is not the place if you’re on the search for the glamour of Vegas or the romance of Paris, and if you’re expecting a pack of howling hounds and beggars with bowls of soup outside your hotel door, you’ll be disappointed.
Perhaps, just the once!
But what do we know about Poland anyway?
Whenever I say that I’m going to Poland, my German friends look at me as if I’ve gone mad.
Let me correct that.
My West German friends look at me as if I’ve lost my marbles!
The relationship between Poland and Germany can be quite complicated.
There’s the historical closeness in the first instance and the issue of where the German border ends and the Polish border begins. There is also the awful fact that Poland has the worst and most horrifying Jewish concentration camp in the history of Nazi Germany – Auschwitz.
In fact, my friends advice me to go to Italy instead!
Well, Poland is the 9th largest country in Europe and has a population of roughly 38 million people.
Even though Poland is part of the European Union, the country hasn’t yet made the switch to the Euro and uses it’s own currency that is the zloty. As of now, €10.00 is PLN 41.63 (Polish Zloty) and $10.00 is PLN 30.38 (Polish Zloty).
Poland is said to have been in existence from around the year 800 and although the people are of Slavic origins they are also a blend of German, Ukrainian, Russian and Jewish ethnicity.
Territory, boundary and issues of property are still very prickly topics of which there is much unhappiness, anger, development and discussion.
Things are however changing in Poland as in 2004, exactly ten years ago, 10 new countries including the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Poland, were welcomed into the fold and enlargement of the European Union (EU).
Since then, the European labour market has opened to Poland and many local people unfortunately, left their homelands to the more economically prosperous countries, like my original homeland of Great Britain, and of course to my new home, Germany.
Poland is in a most important location of Europe surrounded by East and West and the transit route of the Baltic Sea, and that is where I will be going from April 21st.
I will be in Poland for a week and we will be taking the train from Germany.
Follow my journey as I show you how easy and exciting it is to go to the area of Pomerania where the largest castle in the world resides – Malbork Castle – and where the sand dunes move at the Słowiński National Park. That place in the Slavic language known as the “Land at the Sea.”
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