Poland is not a place we knew much about and what we had heard probably wasn’t overly flattering so we had few expectations. Were we in for a pleasant surprise! A country packed full of beautiful landscapes, history and culture, there is much to experience and learn here.
It’s been a hotly contended piece of land throughout its history, at great cost to the Polish people. Its attractiveness as a strategic position was aptly illustrated by the recent NATO decision to place defensive troops and weapons here at the recent summit in Warsaw. Poland’s contrasting communist and democratic eras and its pivotal role in World War two make for fascinating material (although we’ve only begun to scratch the surface). What’s more the history from all eras is well remembered in a visible but subtle way by numerous memorials and monuments in each town and city. This is definitely a country that quietly invites you to learn more about it.
It’s a country that gives you space too. The green spaces have a wilder, older feel to them than I’m used to. The cities we’ve seen so far don’t have a closed-in feel, and there are plenty of nature spots within them that the locals seem to make full use of. The architecture is also beautifully fascinating. It ranges from stunning, ornate baroque and flower adorned wrought iron balconies to austere, crumbling, grimy cold war era, which holds a fascinating charm all of its own.
The food is hearty, the roads are nowhere near as bad as we’ve been led to believe (nor is the driving) and the people know how to show their guests hospitality. Mickey finds it all not dissimilar from the Irish and Ireland in these respects. Many people seem quite open and friendly, and conversation comes easily in a quiet, not-in-your-face, way. We’ve stopped to chat a few times, because people have had a question for us or they’ve mistaken us for Polish and on finding out we’re not they’re interested to know about us. Overall, combined it all gives a really good, chilled feeling to our stay here.
The language is a bit of a tongue twister for our English-trained mouths, but an interesting challenge. Whilst it’s based on the latin alphabet, the diacritics add pronunciation variety that add complexity when trying to translate reading into speech. There’s also a bewildering array of ways to address an object thanks to the noun cases. But it’s a language I’d happily grapple with to stay in the country longer. Most importantly the majority of people seem to appreciate the effort you make in speaking it, and graciously smile while you butcher their mother tongue 😉
Here are pictures from the first part of our stay…