A country that will surprise you

Are you planning your vacation? You look for destinations to go to. In this post we are going to present you the 20 curious things about Poland. It is a central European country, with a fascinating, bittersweet history, with many ups and downs. Do I call your attention? Let’s get started!

1. Covid-19

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To enter the country, it is required to have the vaccination certificate. The vaccines approved by the European Union are BioTech and Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson, Novarax. It is required to have at least 2 doses or the Negative Covid test. In this link you will find the information required for travelers who are inside and outside the European Union. Ministry of Health in Poland and COVID-19: Travel within the EU.

 

2. Money exchange  – Kantor

20 datos curiosos Polonia Viadrina Tours

The exchange houses are found in the historic center of each city “Kantor”. Exchange rates can vary, there are some chains that rip off. Because sometimes they deceptively have the very attractive sales rate. At the time of being at the window, it turns out that this amount applies from an excessively high sum, for example, 1000 Euros. Therefore, we recommend that you make sure how much you will receive for 100 Euros, or vice versa if you have a good amount to change to zloty you can negotiate the exchange rate. You can check the official website of the Polish National Bank for the exchange rate.

We recommend using the Banco Santander ATM. They have the option to choose the language in Spanish. Remember never change money in Spain. The exchange rate will never be favorable. If you want to be more practical. I recommend using the Revolut or TransferWise app. You can pay everywhere by card and they always offer the best current exchange rates.

 

3. Currency

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Poland is a member of the European Union. However, their currency is called zolty (PLN). Almost 60% of Poles are firmly against replacing it with the euro. It remains a complicated issue at the political level. The country’s constitution stipulates that the institution responsible for issuing the currency is the Polish National Bank. With the current political forces in parliament, it is unlikely that more than 65% of seats will meet to change the constitution. It seems that zloty (PLN) will stay in Poland for a longer time.

The word zloty means “golden” in Spanish. The Polish currency bills are very good to study its history, since the most important kings of the two dynasties the “Piast” and the “Jagiellon” appear. So don’t forget your wallet during your visit to “Wawel Castle” there, you will be able to check all the royal tombs with the contents of your bills.

 

4. Tips not included

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In restaurants or bars, you usually leave an extra 10% to 15% tip. If the service was of good quality and attention. There will be places where from a certain number of people they already automatically charge you a percentage for the service. In the case of making reservations, in some places they may ask you to pay a certain amount that is deducted at the end of the account. This way they make sure that you are really going to arrive.

 

5. Stacja Kolejowa o Dworzec Kolejowy

Estacion de trenes Polonia trainstation Poland

The most popular ways to travel are by bus or train. The trains are under the domain of PKP (Polish State Railways) the train station is called Dworzec Kolejowy PKP. In most big cities, train stations are known as “Główny”.

Not always the “central station” is located in the center of the city. You can check it in your train reservation if the word “miasto” appears. If so, it is in the center of the city. In Warsaw it is a bit different because the main station is called “Dworzec Centralny”.

The bus stations run under the name “PKS Dworzec Autobusowy” and there are many regional companies offering bus travel services. The best known companies in Poland are Flixbus, Polonus, Lajkonik.

6. Low-cost airlines

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Here we mention which are the low-cost airlines with the airline Ryanair you can fly from the Polish cities Wroclaw, Katowice, Gdannsk and Krakow departing from Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga Alicante and Gran Canarias. The other airline is Wizzair, the city with the most connections is from Katowice- Barcelona, ​​Castellon, Fuerteventura, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife.

You have no excuse not to visit Poland. If these airlines do not convince you. You can always opt for others such as Lufthansa, Lot, Iberia.

 

7. Language

Polish is the fourth most difficult language in the world, some of its characteristics are: it is spoken in the third person, it comes from the Slavic languages, the type of alphabet is Latin and it has an extensive vocabulary.

There are words that sound the same in Spanish, but have different meanings in Polish. So that you do not get confused here we mention some examples.

It is a difficult language to learn, it takes 8 cases (declensions) each adjective and noun is declined in its singular and plural form. So you have endless grammar not to mention grammatical exceptions. Some languages ​​that look alike are Czech, Slovak and Ukrainian. There is a very vague similarity to Russian, but it is not the same. Poles are very good at speaking foreign languages, so don’t worry. There will always be someone who understands you in Spanish, English, German or Portuguese!

 

8. The National sport

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Poland is a sports-loving country but it’s hard to say that people are crazy about football.

It is not like in other Latin American countries or Spain. However, the number one sport is football, although the Polish league does not stand out at the level of the big teams due to lack of budget. At the same time, there is not such a strong tradition of attending the matches of their clubs, only in the big cities. Unless it is a match at the national level or European Championship

However, there are other sports that are considered of great interest such as the speedway, they are motorcycles without brakes, the races are run on dirt ovals. The Polish league is positioned as one of the strongest in the world, within that league there are many nationalized. This sport is more familiar and friendly to enjoy. As for football, it has a shadow cast by hooligans (hooligans are a minority group that attend games and know how to generate controversy)

The sport that drives Poles crazy is “ski jumping”. It was thanks to the sportsman “Adam Małysz” for his great contribution of Olympic medals and world championships. Not only did he achieve the pride of his country, but he also generated great popularity for this sport. Currently national competitions are organized in the cities of Zakopane and Wisla.

 

9. Hobby of the Poles

invierno Polonia winter Poland

Here they love “hiking” no matter the time of year. So you can always find excursions to go to the mountains. Some of the best known routes are: North and Northeast (West Pomerania, Pomerania, Warmia and Masuria regions and the Podlasie region, Baltic Coast Route, Kashubia Region Route, Warmia and Masuria Route, Main Route of Santa Cruz, Route through the Western Tatras, you have many options to explore and enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes.

 

10. Alcohol

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One gets the impression that only vodka is drunk in Poland. Well no! Here there is something for all tastes. The way to serve vodka is very cold and has 40% alcohol. The process of its production is from wheat or potatoes, this makes it kill any flavor, the most typical way to drink it is in one gulp.

In this country there is a great tradition of preparing vodkas, thanks to the homemade maceration process. They are alcohol infusions (made with rectified spirit) with different combinations of fruit or herb syrups, the most popular are cherry, raspberry, lemon-citron (cytrynowka) and quince (pigwowka). They are known as “Nalewki”. An indispensable element in Polish weddings. Don’t be surprised if you are invited to a shot at your Polish friends’ house.

The flavored vodkas are Żubrówka Polish bison vodka. Inside the bottle is a piece of grass from the virgin forest of Bialowieza where bison still live. Another very popular type is a digestive vodka Żołądkowa Gorzka, the taste is half sweet, half bitter, I recommend the mint version. Returning to sweet drinks, you can not miss the original Krupnik is made from honey. There is another very peculiar drink in the north of Poland in Gdánsk, it is the famous “Gold Liquor”. Goldwasser inside the bottle contains pieces of gold, it does not have a strong smell, however, the taste is very sweet.

Beer – One of the favorite drinks of Poles

The second most popular drink among Poles is beer. There are different types and flavors, from industrial productions that you find in supermarkets to fine and elaborate beers made by craft breweries. The popular one is lager, but you can also find all of them among the dark wheat, honey, cherry, apple and many more. Normally in restaurants or bars they do not serve it as cold as in Spain. They may ask you when ordering a beer, if you want them to add red fruit syrup.

What may sound a bit strange is that there is more and more variety of Polish wines. Climate changes have influenced several regions in the western and southeastern part of the country. Where you will find small craft productions made by wine enthusiasts. Many times they connect you with tastings in their wineries. In the country there is great tolerance in the consumption of alcohol. Although it is forbidden to drink intoxicating drinks in public places. So be careful because you can get fined walking down the street with alcohol.

 

11. Typical food

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Much of Polish cuisine is based on the impressive variety of soups. That during the winter keep the stomach warm. Just to mention a few are: tomato soup, chicken soup, krupnik (vegetable soup). The most traditional are the barszcz soup, basically a beet broth, translucent red in color, accompanied by pierogis or it can be served alone. żurek soup is the most peculiar. Instead of being served on a plate, it is served inside a large special bread, it is very practical when eating. Since at the same time you eat the soup with bread. It is made of rye flour that is allowed to ferment, potatoes, boiled egg, pieces of meat are added.

 

12. “Greasy Thursday”

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This holiday is about eat from 1-4 donuts per person in Poland. How is the donut? The traditional one is a large fried donut filled with sugar-glazed rose marmalade. They stand in long lines at bakeries to eat the famous Pączki, companies buy loads of boxes for their employees.

 

13. Winter time

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Temperatures today are no longer as cold as before, many times during winters they are between -4 and 0 centigrade. The climates are rainy with cold and wind. There may be days or weeks when temperatures drop and it starts to snow heavily, but those events are becoming less frequent. It gets dark earlier during the winter from 16:00 which means that you have fewer hours of sunshine.

If you would like to experience winter sports. We recommend the mountains that are in the southern border with the Czech Republic Sudetes and Karpathos. Popular ski destinations are Szklarz Poręba, karpasc zielenia and Czarna Gora in the Sudetenland, Szczyrk – Wisła and everything around Zakopane, is the “Polish Aspen” there are good places for hot springs. In some cities in Poland, the municipalities put up skating rinks for the people.

 

14. Summer

20 datos curiosos Polonia Viadrina Tours

During the summer season, don’t be surprised that it is quite hot and that the sunset is at 8:30 p.m. Temperatures can reach up to 30 degrees. In some cities, “Beach Bars” have become very fashionable. They are open-air places on the banks of rivers, where you can sit in a beach chair while you drink your beer. Different activities are organized there such as yoga, games for children, birthday parties, baby showers. Poles during this time of the year love to enjoy the hot days and spend time with their family making roast meats.

In the city of Gdansk, or better said Puck Bay, located in the Baltic Sea is famous for extreme sports windsurfing and kite surfing. Another region that is one of my favorites is the “Masurian Lakes” in northeastern Poland, an ideal tourist area for lovers of nature, fishing and boating.

 

15. Bicycles

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Large cities have increasingly better infrastructure and the number of bike lanes increases every year. The road culture is improving although it is not Holland. Sustainability is an issue that little by little has more relevance in the social and environmental field, which is why public transport is very accessible to everyone. In this photo we see the mayor of the city of Wroclaw Jacek Sutryk pedaling his bicycle. Another example is in the Lizbark Warminski region, in the north of the country. In 2016, a luminescent bike lane was inaugurated that illuminates the path of cyclists and pedestrians.

 

16. Patriotism

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It is a complicated matter, they are a very patriotic people, do not be surprised to see people wearing a shirt with national themes and it is not linked to the extreme right. In general, dramatic events in the country’s history are preserved, such as the anniversaries of World War II or the fight against communism. They celebrate it with solemnity, reflection and respect. For the Polish people, their history is like their second religion, which is why they proudly carry their legacy.

In Warsaw every week they adorn the monuments made to the victims of World War II and the Smolensky monument with flowers and candles. We tell you about many of these important events in our Free Tours of the historic centers of Wroclaw, Warsaw, Gdańsk, Poznań.

 

17. Religion

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The majority of the Polish population are Roman Catholics. Currently, there are about 10,000 churches in the country. One of the religious routes of pilgrimage centers in Poland is Jasna Góra (light mountain) where the image of the Black Madonna most revered by Poles is found. On August 15, one of the pilgrimages is organized that brings together even the most distant parishes in the country. They meet on the day of the Virgin of the Assumption in the vast meadows in front of the monastery. Other relevant places is undoubtedly Wadowice, the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla Pope John Paul II. Today, his house has been turned into a museum, plus there are many locally revered shrines “Lichen” one of the largest churches in Europe. The Łagiewniki Sanatorium of Divine Mercy in Krakow which is related to “Saint Faustina Kowalska” and “Christ the King of Swiebodzin” is one of the largest statues in the world located in northwestern Poland.

 

18. Civil marriage

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Poland does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions. In the country’s constitution, marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman. The law also prohibits same-sex couples from adopting children.

 

19. “Polish Small Talk”

Poles like to keep their privacy above all else. So to break the ice a bit, when it comes to starting a conversation the most typical talk will be about the “climate”. You can spend hours talking about the same topic. Another issue that is not talked about even with friends is about money, salary and debts, they could mention something very general, but nothing specific, these are very personal issues for Poles.

 

20. At Home

20 datos curiosos Polonia Viadrina Tours

In order to keep the house or apartment clean, they take off their shoes. When someone visits you, don’t be surprised if they bring their own slippers or rubber socks with them.

 

Summary

To finish our list of 20 curious facts about Poland, we want to know your opinion. What do you think of our list with 20 curious facts about Poland? Do you know any more that we should add to our list? Write us in the comments!

 

Our guide is:

Maciej Wronecki

Political scientist and passionate about European history, art and culture, founder of Viadrina Tours.

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We are a team of true enthusiasts about Poland who want to share the unique beauty of this country and its great history. We have more than ten years of experience in receptive tourism and travel planning in Europe.

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