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Monday, 24 September 2018

10 Things You Should Know Before Coming To Poland - Part 3

Dearest pumpkins,

Yes, Autumn is here and this past week the temperature dropped visibly from 23 degrees Celsius to about 13... rain and wind is on the order of the day, but we do get occasional sun bursts, that make one leave the house and explore more ;) so don't get frightened and get out and explore the city! A weekend trip to Poland, during the golden Autumn, is a must! In my humble opinion,  Autumn (late September, early October) is the best time to visit Poland. The leaves are changing, there is the smell of apples and grapes and pumpkin in the air... and it's less crowded than during summer or winter. Anyway, without further ado, I wanted to share with you today the part 3 of the series "10 Things You Should Know Before Coming To Poland" - for your reference, here is part 1 and part 2
1. Is Poland safe? I keep hearing this question and it baffles me that people nowdays, in this century, still believe the stupid things that people say on the social media, without researching further or analysing and filtering things themselves. I've been living in Poland for over 7 years now and never have I felt not safe. Poland is highly ranked on the list of the safest countries. People that visit have never faced any serious threats during their stay - nothing life threatening. There are, of course - as in other countries, cases of pickpocketing or petty thefts, overcharge or even ATM scams, but tell me one country where that doesn't happen! 
2. Tipping in Poland - should one tip or should not? This is the question ;) well... Tipping in Poland, in restaurants, especially in tourist areas or cities like Krakow, Warsaw, Wroclaw or the Tri-City area (Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot) is the norm. Usually we tip around 10% or the bill value - 15% if you are REALLY HAPPY of the service. Usually the tip is not included in the bill, but make sure and check, so you don't double tip. Some restaurants in Krakow,  in the crowded touristy areas, already ads that to their bill (10%). For example, the very nice Israeli restaurant called AWIW, in Kazimierz, adds it to the check. 
Kosciol Mariacki (St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow)
3. Is Poland in Schengen? Do I need a Visa to get there? Well... currently the Schengen area consist of 26 European countries (of which 22 are EU states). Poland is one of them, so no need for a Visa if you are also part of the Schengen area ;) that means that you can travel border free and you are not required to show a passport or national ID card. It's recommended though to have it with you, so you can prove your age and identity. 
4. Try to learn a fee words - it's hard, I know, but it will make your life easier and it will provide you a better quality of life! Polish people love it when you try and speak polish. They know how hard it is and they appreciate it. Don't get discouraged. Everyone had a tough time learning it. Try at the beginning: Dziekuje = Thank you; Rachunek = the bill; Przepraszam = Sorry/Excuse me. 
The pedestrian crossing between Kazimierz and Podgorze, Krakow, Poland
5. (Free) Walking Tours - now I don't get to say it often, but the best way to visit Poland (It's cities) is by walking. No need to rent a car - you can walk and maybe use public transport if the distance is too big. The Free Walking Tours of Krakow are the best I've seen and there is a organisation that spreads into Warsaw and Wroclaw as well, providing tours in Polish, English, Spanish, Italian and German (for Wroclaw). These tours usually last about 1 hour and 30 minutes but it get get up to 2 hours or more, according to the topic. At the end of the tour you can decide how much you wish to pay. Remember, theguided used their time to teach you new things! Be generous! 
6. Public toilets - there are plenty and either they are for free or there is a small tax to be payed (usually 1 or 2 zloty, so make sure you have some change with you, as you can't pay by card). They are always split between male and female and they are quite clean. The Galerias (the malls) have them on each floor and they have options as well for people with disabilities. 
Prism view of the Main Podgorze Church, Krakow
7. Kissing 3 times - when you meet someone you will kiss 3 times during the official cases, like meeting family for Christmas or when you meet your Polish friends. BUT! If it's the first time you meet some, that may be a bit too much, so truth stick to a simple handshake ;) leave the kisses for later! In Romania we miss twice, one on each cheek, and it was confusing for me at the beginning :) 
8. Polish Faith - majority of the Poles are Christians and 86.7% belong to the Roman Catholic church. If you know a bit if polish language you can tune in and listen to the Catholic TV channel or the radio station - Radio Maria. Also, if you enjoy large monuments and you always walked to go to Rio and see the great statue of Christ... well... you can go to western Poland, to Swiebodzin, and see the statue of Jesus Christ (Pomnik Chrystusa Krola). Finished in November 2010, it has 33 meters and it is the tallest statue of Jesus in the world. That's right! Taller than the one in Rio de Janeiro! 
A building from 1873, still standing, in the Podgorze area in Krakow, Poland 
9. Will there be any internet connection? Neah... we live in trees and we eat bananas and we are a third world country that has no clue what internet is! Of course Poland has internet! Of course not as awesome as the one we have in Romania, but still... free internet is also available in the big cities and inside most shopping malls and cafe's like Starbucks. At the public wifi's you need to accept the Terms and conditions and maybe give an email address and/or a phone number. If you need some help, and the instructions are in Polish, feel free to go to the Info Office inside the malls. They will surely help you out ;)
10. Traditional Polish last names change depending on the sex - names that end with -ski/-ska or -cka/-cki work like adjectives and they need to match the gender of the one who takes them, in Polish. So, if your father is called Kowalski and you are a girl, you will be named Kowalska. Keep that in mind, when adressing someone ;) 

How do you feel about today's list of 10 Things You Should Know Before Coming To Poland? Have you checked out part 1 and part 2 yet? What else would you like to know about Poland before visiting this fine country? Shout out! :)

Yours sincerely, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Poland

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