In mid August of this year Barry and I flew over to Warsaw, Poland because of a new and convenient flight service that had begun between Aberdeen and the Polish capital. I was very excited to go for I had never made it to the land of pierogi while Barry, on the other hand, had been to Krakow several years ago, but was eager to return for he had enjoyed it so much.
After a two hour flight delay, we eventually checked into the hotel by 3:00am, but were ready to venture out within a few hours. True to form, we immediately began to scan, observe, digest, and partake in the cultural similitudes and nuances, and the following are a few things we noticed throughout our 10 day trip in northeastern Poland.
Life in General
* Poland is a very flat country
* Spacious and clean streets (trash cans were easily found anywhere throughout Warsaw)
* Wise words of advise: Always carry 1 & 2 PLN (Polish Zloty) for that's how much
public toilets tend to charge
* Poles have a "free for all attitude" - queues "appear" to be optional. There is no respect for "first come, first serve", but rather it is about who is the quickest at grabbing someone's attention for service. (This was our biggest pet peeve! Grrrrrrrrr!)
* Polish flags proudly flap everywhere, whether on commercial buildings, apartments or house windows
* August is a famous month for weddings. We saw five weddings in one day!
* Some museums appear to be closed, but they are not. Do not be fooled...always push the front entrance door!
* Most museums offer Polish-English explanations within Warsaw museums, but it becomes scarce outside of the capital city. At times it feels like you miss out in things.
* Compared to Britain, the cost of living in Poland was very economical, i.e. food, museums, petrol, etc.
* There are some non-segregated public toilets/restrooms
* Overall, locals are helpful. Although not overtly friendly (except in tourists spots), they have a very "matter of fact" attitude. They definitely appreciate when you try using Polish words.
* Even when translated into English, quite a few Polish websites do not necessarily provide complete information about the venue, opening hours, available tours in various languages, etc.
* Poles conserve energy by turning off lights in rooms which are not in use, i.e.: some museums turned off the lights if there were not any visitors, hence why museums appear to be closed when they are not
* Following the aforementioned, restroom/public toilet lights tend to be turned off. Out of courtesy, turn off the lights when done to conserve electricity
* Regardless of where you are, always inquire about wifi because they do not openly publicize its availability. Normally, they will provide the wifi information on a piece of paper and it tends to be one password per person.
* Poles are fervent Catholic believers. Regardless of the day or time of day, within every church we visited, there was always a devout Catholic praying. On Sundays, mass services were packed.
Life on the Road (check out our trusted hire car below!)
* Poles tend, overall, to be good drivers. There is good usage of signals throughout the cities and country roads. However, it must be mentioned that there is some aggressive speeding on motorways
* When driving on single lane roads, slower cars tend to move over onto the hard shoulder to let cars by
* Drivers thank other drivers through the use of the emergency lights - a few blinks of gratitude
* If driving in Poland, be extremely vigilant with cyclists...they are everywhere!
* Drivers tend to drive very fast on motorways. Remember to use the left lane to pass up cars.
* Although distances may appear close on a map, be aware that there are few motorways and dual carriage ways/freeways/highways. Translation: Travel takes longer in Poland.
* Drivers drive with their headlights on all the time (we were informed it is the law).
* Road surfaces are pretty good for we encountered very few pot holes.
* Interestingly enough, we never saw police cars on the motorways. There were hardly any speed cameras, but they were well signed posted prior to approaching one.
* There are good lane indicators through the use of arrows on roads which offers drivers in advance which lane to take
* There are hardly any motorcycles on the road which helps make driving much easier
* Watch out for traffic lights and pedestrian zebras on motorways/highways/dual carriageways. There are no pedestrian bridges to help facilitate people crossing over from one side to the other. Crazy!
* Pedestrians and cyclists respect the pedestrian crossing lights for they will only cross the street when the green man is on. We witnessed how everyone would wait to cross the road even if there was not a single car on the road!
Delish Traditional Cooking
* Poles do not seem to use much butter or mayonnaise on their food, i.e. sandwiches or coleslaw
* Garlic is a favourite seasoning in Polish cooking
* We loved the variety of natural fruit juices. Nutritious and delicious!
* Desserts are not very sweet but deliciously flavourful (at least we thought so!)
* Regardless of where we ate, every single meal tasted as if it were homemade. We absolutely loved Polish cooking.
As one can imagine, our five senses were on overdrive as we immersed with the Polish culture on a daily basis. So join us for our next BESPOKE travel blog post as we give you our take on "reconstructed" Warsaw.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels as you welcome the new year!
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