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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

How to... Be Prepared For Coming To Poland

My dearest travelers,

One does not simply walk into Mordor! ;))) kidding aside, Poland is not a 3rd world country. Poland is a highly development country, on the rise, facing huge economic growth. You need not be afraid of coming to Poland - people are warm hearted, places are clean, public transport is good and on time, food is finger-licking good and the architecture is lovely! But it is good to know a fee things before coming to Poland, so you would be prepared. Here are a couple of things you should know - do's and don't:
1. Do try out the local cuisine! As I was saying, the food is amazingly good, orientated mainly on quite fat/heavy dishes. If you are vegan/vegetarian than probably you will have trouble finding a good spot to eat. If you are in Kraków I can recommend one of the below options:

Vegan/Vegetarian/Healthy Food - Slow Food:
A must do is tying out the traditional dishes like pierogi and zurek. Also please be warned that usually the portions are quite huge and the meals are heavy, so you can actually make do only with breakfast and dinner in a day. Read more about what to eat while in Poland and pick your meal in advance ans learn how to pronounce it - this gets me to point number 2.
2. Don't even try speaking the language - it's a pain, and you won't learn it during you short stay. Exception: Asian people, who seem to have a predilection for this frightening language! Polish language stands in the top 3 most hardest languages to learn, in the world.  Also the grammar is mostly made out of exceptions from the rule... I was told more than once that even Polish people don't speak it correctly, so don't even try! You can get along, in the big cities, mostly with English language.
3. Be courteous and learn the basics: Hello, Goodbye, Sorry and Thank you. I know... you just read point 2 and now I am coming back to you, saying you should learn the language. It's not a must but it may help you - or at least you will be seen more polite and in touch with the culture you are visiting.  For Hello and Goodbye you can use the same word "Czesc". For Sorry - this is a hard one - you will use "Przepraszam" and for Thank you: "Dziekuje". You will hear them very often so open your ears and pay attention. Repeat after Google until you make it ;)
4. Don't change the money at the exchange office, unless you have to. As I was saying in a previous blog post, it is better to pay things by card or withdraw from the ATM directly. There is a smaller fee for that (for paying by card, it is almost none - depending on the bank you use: eg. If you have a Romanian card from Banca Transilvania, then there is no fee for paying products directly with the card).
5. Don't feel obliged to leave a tip, if you feel the service was not up to your expectations. It is common, amongst the travelers in Poland, to leave around 10-15% of the cheque, no matter what. Tipping is not obligatory and you can tip as much as you wish! :) most of the times I have seen locals that do kit tip at all, even if the product and services are impeccable. The locals reply mostly on the tips from the tourists. If you feel the service was good, be generous!
6. Don't overdo the drinking and don't drink in public places! It is illegal to drink in public places and if you are caught you will get a fine. If you are standing outside a bar/club and they have outside seating, and if you have a beer or a glass of wine in your hand, this  can be acceptable if you are out for a short time - out for a smoke.
7. Be careful where you smoke! The law passed in November 2010 stating that one cannot smoke in public transport. You can smoke in your car though. You cannot smoke also at the bus stops. Inside bars and café  houses / restaurants you can smoke only if there is a separate smoking area. Be careful as the tickets are very pricey and people are vigilant about that...
8. Topics of conversation - Attention!!! When it comes to conversation skills, people in Poland love to complain ;))) starting  with weather to politics to sports to... everything! They live to enter discussions and contradict. The touchy topics that you may encounter are: World War 2, Red Army / communism, relations with Germany (though relations with Russia is even a more touchy subject!), religion (especially John Paul the 2nd).
9. If in Kraków you encounter people who ask you if you are a Wisla or Kraków fan, just say you are a tourist and walk along! These 2 are the main football clubs in Kraków and the fans always get in a fight one over the other... be careful! Especially if you are around one of their games - the crowds of fans will get very much wild during the major soccer matches.  Especially if it is between these 2!
10. Do try to visit a much as you can of Poland! Poland has both mountains and see, it has both old towns and new places - freshly build, it has shopping malls and museums alike. Poland can fulfill everyone's dreams of a perfect vacation. If you are in a mood for a new tattoo there are a lot of really good artists here. If you wish to cross off an item from your Bucket List and do zorbing or tandem parachute jumping... Poland is the place to be!

Embrace the subject and read one of the articles below - How To...
  1. Do Shopping In Poland - Currency
  2. Pick The Best Time To Visit Poland
  3. Get To Poland - Transit
  4. Eat Like The Locals 
  5. Spend One Day In Krakow 
  6. Be Prepared For Coming To Poland
  7. Recognize Tourists In Poland - scheduled 22.09.2015
Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug - here to help the travelers of the world :)

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