Try not to look too hard at the food in Poland, things that look or sound like awful chaff tend to be downright delicious. Take Gołąbki – directly translated to dove or pigeon, when in fact the dish is made up of pork rolls, and is named after how the little things look when they’re on your plate. Or Oscypek which, depending on the vendor, looks like a small croissant with a bad spray tan, and if you happen to be a cheese connoisseur, was as sweet and saintly as the Virgin Mary.
Why should you visit Poland?
This was one of my bucket list destinations because of its WW2 significance. Not many people have been so that’s another checkbox for me… Something unique. Eastern Europe has never disappointed me, and it is CHEAP!
Where is Poland?
Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the south, and Germany to the west. Pretty much in the Center of Europe. You would almost say she is a great starting point for an eastern European tour.
How to travel around in Poland?
Trains, metros and walking. I never take buses overseas, it causes me too much anxiety having to know where to stop. The metro is easy, quick and warm! Although we did walk a lot. I find that you can work off all the dumplings as well as indulge in amazing sights on route.
Important history before travelling
Poland houses the largest death camp from the Holocaust. It is a must see. Read up on the Holocaust before you visit Aushwitz, it helps makes sense of what you see. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is an entire underground salt city. This is an attraction that is often missed. The tour you take is only 2% of the entire city. You can read more about it on the UNESCO world Heritage site. You can reach both these attractions from Krakow.
What language do they speak in Poland?
The country’s official language is Polish. To the untrained ear it sounds a lot like Russian. Daniel loves languages so he learnt a few words. I always like to say thank you in someone’s language so I learnt the basics.
Important polish language
Hello – Dzień dobry! ( jen Dob-rih) Thank you – Dziękuję! ( Jen koo-yeah )
Where is the toilet? – Gdzie jest toaleta? ( zyeah yest toe-ah-letah)
Two Beers – Dwa piwa ( dva pee-vah ) Cheers – Na zdrowie! ( naz drov-ya )
Where to go in Poland?
That is a difficult question because the 9th largest european country has so much to offer. We only went to Warsaw and Krakow. In both cities, stick to the Old Towns.
Most Eastern European cities have an Old Town and a New Town. The Old Town is more cultural with beautiful historical buildings and lots of wonderment to swallow up.
One thing about the Old Towns is that they are the best places to stay. Most sites are within walking distance of the Old Town. Wake up and walk to the breakfast restaurant right next door. No fuss about where to go?? Cuisine in Poland is tantalizing, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
What do they eat in Poland?
DUMPLINGS! And meat and Dumplings! My favourite thing about Poland was by far the dumplings… So if you didn’t get that, duuummmpppllliiinnnngggssss. They cater for vegetarians too; vegetable dumplings. Also amazing!
In Warsaw we went to Zapiecek… It is a chain but the experience, service and food is all top notch! Polish food is the kind food you look forward to after a freezing cold day. There are so many amazing things you can eat in Poland! One other thing Daniel and I came across by accident Oscypek – it’s a fried, smoked, salty, sheep milk cheese. Have it with some cranberry sauce and “mic drop” your life has changed.
What do they drink in Poland?
I feel like most people know the answer to this… Vodka, duh! But they are a big beer producer too. Daniel and I are more beer drinkers so we really enjoyed it with every meal possible. Just keep in mind the polish love to drink!
A little tip: Don’t pre drink… the drinks are honestly cheap enough for you to drink the whole night and enjoy every moment.
We did a pub crawl… I would love to tell you about it but we both completely blacked out with all the vodka we drank! – Maybe we can ask the hostel if they remembered.
What is the currency?
The Polish Złoty, a currency you like as a South African. R4 to 1 Złoty ( at the time ). A European country where you can afford to eat at fancy restaurants! You can overindulge with your buck there. I think we never stopped eating. Shopping for the coolest clothing, souvenirs and Daniel got a “Private Investigator Style” jacket.
We stumbled across this cheerful lady who was cleaning her shop because a drunk Pole decided to use her new shop as a bedroom for the night! She was offering me rabbits ( rabbit fur clothing ) but we were just looking for a jacket for Daniel. After being persuaded by her sales skills, Daniel bought a pre-loved jacket from an up and coming fashionista.
When is the best time to visit?
Well depends on what you want to do. Like I said before, Poland makes winter so magical. Try Christmas in Poland? It’s very weather friendly, but you need to be too. I think the best time to visit anywhere is when everyone is working. We went in the middle of May, it was freezing cold with some light rain every now and then but it definitely wasn’t full, we never once waited in a queue.
I think Poland is a very special place. We had the most amazing experience, everyone was friendly and everything we did or ate exceeded our expectations by far. I would say consider Poland. It is definitely a memorable location!
Written by Amy Peacock