What we like about Poland
We enjoy visiting Poland because it still a relatively unspoiled country with vast acres of superb landscapes. Outside the cities there is much less traffic than in the UK, prices are generally lower and on holidays you can eat gourmet food at very low prices.
We have visited Poland intermittently over the years and noticed gradual changes; the proliferation of cars, the rising prices, better stocked shops, the mass emigration of Poles for work and better standards of living abroad.
Most of our trips have been to the south east Krakow area of Poland because we like our landscapes hilly or mountainous and don't really see the point of visiting the Baltic coastline when there are glorious beaches in sunnier climes around the world.
That brings me on to another popular misconception - that Poland is cold. We have just returned from a trip in mid June 2006. The weather has been hot and humid. As one fellow passenger asked on our return to Stansted Airport in the Uk "Who switched the heating off?"
Summers are definitely warmer and winters colder compared to the UK.
I find the people in south east people generally kind, friendly and genuine although attitudes are different from those in the UK.
Service in shops and sometimes is not as you and I know it - sometimes it's excellent then other times absolutely dreadful.
For example, a visit to a certain restaurant in Krakow with a Monk's theme. Bursting for a pee after trudging around Krakow we descended the 2 flights of stairs into the 'Monastery' basement, sat down at a table and were given menus. I asked where the toilet was and was informed that it was upstairs. Back I trudged up 2 flights of stairs only to find the toilet locked. I returned back down to ask for the key which the same waitress then gave me.
It was a similar story with the meal. I selected traditional pierogi, my husband chose the salmon with garlic butter etc. So, I asked for the pierogi and salmon with butter for my husband thinking that I had ordered 2 main meals stated on the menu. The meal arrived as ordered - O got my pierogi, my husband received only salmon with butter, not garlic butter, no potatoes or other vegetables. It wasn't a particulary generous portion of salmon either. The waitress had asked if we wanted anything else and I had replied that we didn't, but didn't realise that vegetables had to be ordered separately. Now, if she had asked what sort of potatoes we wanted or to select veggies then we would have received a meal that we were happy with. The staff on this occasion did not receive a tip.
Attitudes in young people are similar to those in the UK in that they no longer necessarily offer up their seats on public transport to the elderly or frail, or open doors for women although there is still more consideration. Hand kissing of females is still practised among the older generation.
A lot of activity is evident on early summer evenings with people either strolling, cycling or roller-blading. Perhaps their TV programmes aren't as interesting as in the UK.
I have been brought up with Polish food and enjoy it. Some of the foods eaten are an acquired taste and would not suit all palates. Polish cuisine can sometimes be described as '2001 ways of cooking pork' because it dominates menus. Foods available on menus are definitely seasonal although a wider variety can now be found. Vegetables and home-grown produce is definitely more natural and fresher than in the UK, with a resulting better flavour. They haven't ever left organic here. Imported salmon is commonly available, international restaurants are appearing in cities.
Do not expect side plates even for bread rolls. The Poles don't use side plates - it's not bad manners, just different.
Related Polish cultural pages