Poland

In the heart of Europe, Poland welcomes travellers for a breathtaking and dynamic visit. Come and dust off the image of a sad country marked by tragedy and discover the joys of Poland

History does not lie (at least not always) and it is true that Poland is one of the European countries that has suffered most in the past. Deprived of citizenship for more than a century, Poland became a full-fledged nation again only for a short period of time. Annexed, occupied, ravaged by war, crushed under an authoritarian Nazi and Russian boot, the country was marked by tragedy for another fifty years, until 1989. 

Today, Poland has recovered, affected but alive and well, and offers the traveller a masterful lesson in courage and pugnacity to rebuild. It is now beautiful, colourful and dynamic. It has won back its cities, its language and its culture of yesteryear and get the recognition of its great value. Run quickly to meet Poland and Poles!

Bcześć Polska, azywam się Christine, jestem Francuzką, miło cię poznać! Hi Poland!

 

Come and discover Poland in technicolor

 
Poland is not a country in black and white or grayscale, it’s a colourful country. Poland is populated by Poles who are determined to revive the beauty of their cities, bring their traditions back to life. 
Prepare for the shock! Everything has been rebuilt almost identically. The houses with their baroque architecture proudly feature gracefully curved roofs and the facades are resplendent with bright colours. And this is just the beginning.

A real treasure 2 hours flight from Paris

In the middle of Wroclaw Square, early in the evening, I take a 180 ° tour with the smartphone to let my interlocutor enjoy the view.
“But where are you ?”
“Ha Ha, guess a little …”
“Prague, Amsterdam, Budapest?” All the countries pass there except Poland.
Cat got your tongue?” My friend cannot believe it. “Poland, Serious? But it’s magnificent!”.
Well yeah. Come and take your slap in Eastern Europe!

It’s not just Krakow or Warsaw to explore, Wroklaw is worth a visit

 
In Wroclaw, architecture is a real firework display. Baroque, classical, modern, a few futuristic pearls from the 1930s, pure Polish red brick, half-timbering… this city is an open-air museum. 

It is a real pleasure to walk along the canals derived from the Oder. They form 12 islands of unhoped-for greenery which can be visited by crossing elegant footbridges. These islands are planted with restful parks, universities, churches and imposing monuments. These canals have earned it the name Little Venice of Poland and this is not a usurped title.
The first blow awaits the traveller on the market square (Rynek). Gigantic, it is dazzling. You can eat and drink there, every evening it’s party time: brass band, group of jazz musicians or classical singers, violin, double bass, electric guitar, the choice is yours. Enthusiastic? As I said before, it’s only the beginning.

Krakow is a real gem, the whole city is a superlative

 

It is effortlessly rising to the rank of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe alongside its neighbours Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Words are lacking to describe this historical, architectural and cultural profusion. The atmosphere in Krakow is stunning. The city buzzes like a beehive. The restaurants are gourmet and copious, the bars cheerful, the monuments striking.
Krakow also owes the (very justified) fame of its historical centre to the fact that it was not destroyed during the 2nd World War. A miracle, when we see the relentlessness with which the Nazi Germany has struggled to raze the country to the ground. The monuments are therefore original, unlike Gdansk or the old city of Warsaw.

It’s not over yet, we still have to make room for Gdansk, romantic among romantics

 

This city was 95% razed to the ground during the Second World War. Crossing the city gate and discovering the streets is quite simply a wonder: the city on the Baltic Sea is grandiose. Romantic, lively, it has Our Lady of Gdansk in its centre, the third largest brick church in the world after Munich and Bologna (Bologna with a B, in Italy). It has been completely rebuilt exactly as all the buildings in the old town. This does not detract from its charm, although it has been freshly repainted, it smells authentic.

Poland has 1000 faces, you have to take the time to get to know them all

 

It would take much more than one article to describe Poland in detail and list its treasures. The reasons for visiting it are hardly likely to be found in an encyclopaedia. The history of this country, ancient or modern, its roots, traditions, heritage, culture or gastronomy are a real joy for the traveller. Cities, villages, beaches by the sea yes but still? National parks where you can climb, hike or camp. The Tatra National Park, the Giant Mountains welcome explorers of all kinds.

What do they eat in Poland? Lots of cabbage and potatoes, meat and soups: Polish cuisine is very nourishing

 

Polish gastronomy is a cuisine under influences. But these are some specialities that you will enjoy most of the time. Goulash, originally from Hungary but found everywhere in Central Europe, is present on all menus. Polish pierogis, cabbage stuffed with meat, bigos, this copious sauerkraut with unexpected flavours can be enjoyed without moderation. 
Don’t miss these surprising smoked cheeses, the oscypek. These dense and fragrant cheeses can be eaten pan-fried on a slice of black bread with sometimes a spoonful of jam. 
Poles are great drinkers: beer, Krupnik (alcohol made from honey: sweet but strong, (beware of its 40°) but above all the inevitable Polish vodka! Vodka is strong and even served in tiny glasses, the Polish will never stop filling it up to the sound of Na Zdrowie!

Poland, history and war

 

 Poland suffered terribly during the Second World War. In the history books, schoolchildren learned it well, Poland was the second country annexed (after Czechoslovakia) by the Nazis and sadly marked the beginning of World War II.
Invadors had the firm intention to destroy the inhabitants and seize territories. Warsaw is sadly famous for its Jewish ghetto and its uprising of April 13, 1943. The insurgents resisted the most powerful army in the world for 1 month. This act of resistance is one of the most commemorated.
However, for a Pole, the Warsaw Uprising tells a different story that begins on August 1st, 1944. The Polish resistance takes up arms and throws itself into a battle as unequal as ideadly against the Nazi occupiers. This resistance, which lasts 63 days, is crucial to ensure that Poland does not fall into Soviet hands. The Red Army waits on the other side of the Vistula without moving. Powerful tanks and well-equipped soldiers do not help the insurgents. Stalin is determined to seize the country, and that’s what he will do. So he’s very satisfied to get rid of the polish reticent to the occupation.
Sadly, the Poles are massacred, 80% of the city is destroyed, quarter by quarter and burns for days.

Don’t be surprised by the irritated reaction of a Pole if for you (and also for the internet), “Warsaw uprising” only corresponds to the “uprising of the Jewish ghetto”.
The Polish people were heroic in the battles, the Polish resistance was the strongest in Europe, they would like us not to forget that.

Are Polish people nice?

 

Yes! They are! The young people speak English very well and are happy to guide or exchange with the lost traveller. Welcoming, if they are not always smiling at first sight, just break the ice and be patient, you will be surprised by their kindness.

Speaking Polish is difficult, but learn the basics, the effort will be appreciated by the locals

 
Polish are very protective of their culture and language. Therefore, it may happen that some people refuse to speak English outright (bus drivers, civil servants). There are two reasons for this: they do not always speak it (which in my opinion is not a big issue) and they consider it legitimate for the traveller to make the effort to learn the language.
 

Be careful not to discuss angry subjects with all Polish

 
Poland has deployed phenomenal energy to rebuild itself. They are very proud of what they have achieved and want to affirm their Polish identity.
Issues around the EU (law, immigration, etc.) or simply the last war can be avoided.
Some people feel that they are considered second-class Europeans citizens by other EU countries, so beware of this type of debate, you could make many people angry. On the memory side, I sometimes came across young people who, right after the greetings, immediately moved on to the chapter “the French did not help Poland during the war” with barely veiled hostility. Of course, this is a very small number of them, but an informed traveller is worth two.
 
Don’t say Do svidaniya or Zdorov’ye! (cheers! and goodbye), it’s Russian.
Say it in Polish with the right accent: do widzenia or Na Zdrowie. Do vi-dzè-nia and na-z-dro-viè.
One more thing: Don’t say that Chopin is 100% French, nor Marie Curie, nor Polanski. Copernicus isn’t Italian either.
 

In Poland, caution, don’t joke about religion

 
Poland is a very Catholic country. The most famous Pole in the world remains Carol Józef Wojtyła, John Paul II for the dunces. This charismatic pope with unexpected talents (he was a theatre actor) is a very honoured personality here. Religion is an important part of Polish culture, be respectful.
 
Poland is one of the most incredible European countries to explore. Great history lessons are waiting for you here, breathtaking cities, endearing men and women too. Go and meet her, it deserves it so much!
 

Dziękuję Polsce, do widzenia i do zobaczenia wkrótce!

Pologne

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