Monday, 7 March 2011
Charlie's Holiday to Poland (16) - Looking Back...
You know, I have stretched this series of blogs on Poland out enough. So it is time to call it quits and to stop looking wistfully back on memories and to move forward in London town. But before I do, let me give a potted guide to the lows and highs of the magical land of Poland:
Food: Not exactly Poland's greatest export. This is no India or China. The food is generally stodgy, and the cliche of potatoes, cabbage and pork is a pretty accurate description of Polish eating habits. Still, the cuisine is better than Germany or Hungary. Unfortunately, unlike Western Europe, there really isn't that many immigrants in Poland, so you really are stuck with Polish food and of course Gyros. Breakfast, it has to be said is a disappointment. Still, one things that is great is the tea and coffee.
Culture: One of Poland's strong points, and to be honest, some of the most easily accessible in Europe, and that is something I am surprised to say. Europe as a whole is really good when it comes to culture. It is the continent's main draw, and Poland is no exception. The bulk of museums have displays in English, and if not, an audio guide/tour will usually be provided in English, so we are really lucky as visitors. Plus the amount of great hip bars, fantastic cinema and of course the surprise of the lot - opera! I think this has to be one of the most cultural holidays I have had in years!
History: Fascinating. As I have mentioned before, Poland has had one hell of a turbulent past. But that is not to say that the history of the nation is all tragedy. A beautiful culture has sprung from this history. Poland is one hell of an interesting place with regards to its past.
Women: Fit! Hot! Super! Really, I kid you not, the legend of beautiful Polish women is a truth.
Language: This is a tricky one. Unlike, say, Hindi which we may have some exposure to, no one really understands Polish. And reading it sends shivers down my spine. One thing that can be said to its advantage is that the rules are the same, so once you get a grasp of them, it becomes a lot easier. The best phrase I can come up with is Lubię laski Polski - and even then, I know I have screwed that line up! However, people of my age generally speak really (and I mean really) good English. A godsend to someone like me, but it does put a smile on a local's face when you can say please and thank you in their language!
Expense: Cheap by European standards, but not by world standards. Accommodation can get pricey, some museums can be extortionate. Food is reasonable, especially if you eat where the locals eat while internal travel is really cheap. The train, while long, will save you tons of cash!
Looking back on Poland, I will say that I definitely enjoyed the country. I will go back, to see other cities, other town and more of the people. It is surprisingly nice. And to be blunt, I was expecting very little from this holiday, but I am glad I made the decision to come. Krakow really is the unsung gem amongst European cities and it bedevils me to think why it is not as popular as Barcelona. Wroclaw too was an unexpectedly great city to spend a couple of days in.
My advice to you is if you are looking for romance, head to Paris. Adventure, head to Asia. Great food, pretty much anywhere else. But if you are looking for a cultural holiday, with fun things to do in a relatively unexplored part of the world, then head here. You will not find the trappings of Communism left here. No, that departed a long time ago, and this country is very much in the EU. What you will find on visiting is a fascinating land, with plenty to do and very accommodating locals at one hell of a price. Unlike much of the New EU, it has not yet been overrun by holiday makers seeking something new, so head over if you ever get the chance. You will not regret it...