Return PolishForums LIVE
  PolishForums Archive :
Archives - 2005-2009 / Travel  % width 96

WE ARE BACK FROM POLAND AND HERE IS OUR REPORT


Rjrogalla 10 | 48  
1 Jun 2008 /  #1
Personal background and Itinerary
I am Polish and my grandfather came from Czersk, Poland so we decided to visit the country. We travel a lot and have been in 29 countries. I am 71 and my wife is 64.

I am writing about our experience in Poland as we feel we should provide feedback because of all the help we got on this forum before we left. We were in Poland from May 10 till the 21st . We rented a car (Nissan Micra) and drove over 1400 miles many of them in the back roads. We visited Warsaw,Kazimierz Dolny,Lublin,Krakow,Auschwitz,Poznan,Torun and many small villages. The car we rented was great and would recommend it. What saved us is that we brought our TomTom GPS with us with the latest Eastern Europe map (7.16) and it was a life saver. Had only one problem and that was in Krakow as they recently changed some roads to one way otherwise the GPS map was 100% accurate. Krakow is very difficult to drive in as other people have reported. I wouldn’t go to any country without a GPS especially Poland because of the difficult names on signs.

TIP-If you get lost flag down a taxi and ask the driver to lead you to your destination. We had to do this in Krakow and it only cost us $8

TIP-If you are planning to take a GPS make sure you ask for a cigarette lighter in your car rental to plug in your GPS.

FLIGHTS
I just want to say avoid any itinerary that includes Lufthansa flights between Munich and Warsaw. There was a ½ hour delay to Warsaw and a 1 ½ hour delay from Warsaw to Munich causing us to miss our US flight from Munich. Because of this delay we had to stay overnight in $$ NY $$. These are old planes.

COST
Total cost per day for this trip was $298 day which included car,gas,hotel,food,drinks,travel insurance and entry tickets.Without alcohol it was $254 day. Airfare was extra. There are ATM machines all over Poland and are very convenient. Don’t exchange your money at the airport unless you have to. We saved 35% in doing our own trip as compared to a similar tour and seen a lot more of real Poland.

DRIVING
Gas averaged $9.23 for a US gallon.. No troubles finding gas stations and we always used credit cards. Biggest problem was not making our schedules because we lost a lot of time going through cities and villages. You will need an International license.

Roads were acceptable. They were not the roads we see in the states but we didn’t see one pothole in our travels. There is a lot of road construction in Poland so factor that in your travels.

Some drivers are suicidal in Poland so you have to drive defensively otherwise you will be in trouble. If someone is approaching you from an opposite direction move over otherwise you will have a collision. If someone approaches you from the rear driving faster then you are move over and let him get by. If you do this you should be OK. Don’t fight it or you will loose.

TIP-Use 45-50 miles an hour when planning your trip. Much faster if you’re using major highways such as the new A2 which I believe has no speed limit. Unfortunetly we had to skip Gdansk because of the delays.

TIP-If you are going to rent a car and you are over 70 you will have to go with National Rental because other rental agencies will most likely turn you down as they did with me.

TIP-Rental cars are usually manual shift and don’t come with AC. Both are available if you ask.

LANGUAGE
No problems with English as long as you are in tourist areas but once outside in the country,villages and non tourist cities like Lublin its very hard to find someone that speaks English . I know enough German that helped me.

HOTELS
We stayed at the Boutique Bed and Breakfast in Warsaw for 2 nights. No complaints. They have an excellent continental breakfast and it’s one of the most beautiful table settings we have seen in Europe and if you can be the first one for breakfast bring your camera. Management speaks very good English and is helpful.By the way taxi fare from the airport is 35PL and not 50-60PL as some people said.

In Kazimierz Dolny we stayed at the Pod Wietrzna guesthouse which I would recommend. Good rooms and American style breakfast. Breakfast menu has 8 selections that are very good that comes with the room. I would not recommend eating lunch or dinner there as we were not pleased.

In Krakow we stayed at the Globtroter on the ground floor. Very good location only 2 short blocks from the square. No breakfast included. Good room.

To see Poznan and Torun we stayed at the Hotel Pietrak in Trzemeszno. Good room and an outstanding buffet breakfast . Strongly recommend this hotel.
On the way back to Warsaw we stayed at the Hotel Gromada close to the airport. Nothing special but room was clean. I would like to say ALL rooms in Poland were very clean and we found public toilets the cleanest we’ve seen in Europe. !!

TIP-Our rooms didn’t come with AC. To get AC you would have to pay $200 night plus. That’s why we went in early May.

FOOD
We tried all kinds of food around the world. Poland has very good restaurants priced reasonably with very good food. We especially liked their “kotlet schabowy” which is a wiener scnitzel, soups, duck and pork knuckles. In Czersk I ordered liver and onions and it was the best I have ever tasted. You will get a lot of potatoes and vegetables. Portions are very large. No matter where you are there are many small grocery stores where you can purchase liquor and food if you want to take it to your room. Wine is pretty cheap at these stores. There are many ethnic restaurants and the most predominate is Italian The Poles do an excellent job in preparing delicious Italian food. When you order in a restaurant its usually ala carte meaning you select the meat then the vegetables,etc.,etc.

DRINKS
There is a 22% tax on alcohol. Wine is very expensive.
TIP-Ask for house wine in carafes and its much cheaper. Beer is reasonable and very good.

PEOPLE
We liked the people. They were helpful when we needed help. The only concern we have is how difficult it is to make them smile. I realize what the country has went through over the years so I’m sure there is resentment. We asked a young lady to join us for dinner to learn more about the people and we asked her why poles don’t smile much and she said Americans smile too much. She worked as a nanny in NY. Interesting.

People are very religious with many crosses and statues all over the country fields.
I read in this forum how beautiful the polish girls were. I was raised in polish communities and I was very skeptical. But WOW how BEATIFULL they are! We always thought the Danes had the most beautiful girls now we are sold on Poland as being number 1 in our travels.

TIP-No matter which country you’re in ask the hotel to find someone that is from the country that speaks English so you can learn more about the country and its people and invite them to dinner on your tab. You will be thankful you did.

SURPRISES
>We thought the country would be poorer.There certainly is a rich class and a middle class.
>We didn’t think the driving would be as bad as the forum said it would be as we survived NY, Italy and Portugal but we have to say the forum was correct. Many times my wife shut her eyes.Its by far the worst we have seen in our travels but if you follow the rules as I mentioned earlier you will be OK.

>In our polish community people are in good spirits and smile easily. This was missing in Poland. I understand Russia is the same.
>All credit cards were charged exactly what we expected. No hidden charges.
> How clean the country is. We didn’t see the garbage other people have reported. Never seen public wash rooms so clean anywhere in our travels.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Go to Poland. Beautiful country with many medieval villages and cities. Food is delicious.
You will need 3 days in both Warsaw and Krakow. Allow at least 5 hours to see Auschwitz and not 3 ½ hours the guidebook recommend. It’s a huge place with a lot to see. We loved the little village of Kazimierz Dolny and its country side, Spend 2 days there and Torun deserves 2 days. Our favorites were in this order;

Torun –Great medieval city with the walls still surrounding the city. No hustle and bustle as in Krakow. In the middle of Rabianska street there is a restaurant that serves a buffet and its for the locals and its obvious they don’t want tourists there but it’s a must see as its very old. Same street as the ginger bread museum.

Krakow- Is a must see. Very historic.
-Kazimierz Dolny Very small ancient village that we enjoyed very much and highly recommend it. Walk behind the Pod Wietrzna guesthouse if you want to see pretty cottages and a few houses being built for the very rich.

Warsaw – The old square is interesting but its not Krakow or Torun. Many good museums. Make sure you go the Rising Museum.
Poznan-Nice square but we dislike large cities.
Auschwitz is not to be compared to the above cities as its very special that everyone must experience. What a tragic event in our history.

SUMMARY
We loved our trip and hated to come back. I made a special trip to Czersk where my grandpa came from and attended mass at the same church he went to. This was very special to me. If you have any questions let us know. This report is how we see Poland

Bob and Dorothy Rogalla
Kennan,Wisconsin
USA
Sadek 4 | 136  
1 Jun 2008 /  #2
thanx for your post it is good you have enjoyed Poland.
polishgirltx  
1 Jun 2008 /  #3
thanks so much for posting that... i'm glad you enjoyed your stay :)
which country is next on your list ?:)
OP Rjrogalla 10 | 48  
1 Jun 2008 /  #4
At our age I'm not sure. We are blessed in what we have seen including living in Switzerland for 5 years with my job. Thanks for asking.
Eurola 4 | 1,906  
1 Jun 2008 /  #5
Great post about the trip Rjrogalla. I was in Poland about the same time, but spent my time mostly with family and friends enjoying their home cooking :) The few times that I went to a restaurant left me satisfied as to food and service.

I too choose this time of year for my visits as the idea of summer heat and no air-conditioning in homes (no matter how big or splendid) - scares me.

I totally agree with the maniac way of driving. Even my sweet niece was turning into a road warrior, when behind the wheel! Everybody on the road seemed to be on her way! I don't know what to think of it...
Polanglik 11 | 303  
2 Jun 2008 /  #6
Really enjoyed reading your report ..... sounds as though you both had a great time in Polska :o)

Was this your 'once in a lifetime' trip to Poland, or do you plan to come back sometime soon ?
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
2 Jun 2008 /  #7
Thanks for the report. An enjoyable read

>We didn’t think the driving would be as bad as the forum said it would be as we survived NY, Italy and Portugal but we have to say the forum was correct.

LOL. Yes. But there are still those who live in denial.
Lukasz 49 | 1,749  
2 Jun 2008 /  #8
LOL. Yes. But there are still those who live in denial.

in one case forum was right. Read whole report ... it isn't Poland form Polish forums.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
2 Jun 2008 /  #9
Not quite sure what you are talking about Lukasz but I think the relevent topic was just how bad Polish driving tends to be.

With regards to this, the OP said that the general opinion of the forum about Polish driving is right. It is terrible.

I said I agree. Polish driving is frequently horrific. I also said that there are people who can't admit this despite the overwhelming evidence
Polson 5 | 1,771  
2 Jun 2008 /  #10
That's a nice trip you had :) Great you enjoyed it.
z_darius 14 | 3,969  
2 Jun 2008 /  #11
Thanks for posting.
Great input to PF, and unlike Michal's, the reflections are based on the present time.
PinkJewel  
2 Jun 2008 /  #12
Great posting, I wish more people would do this :)

Thanks for sharing :)
OP Rjrogalla 10 | 48  
2 Jun 2008 /  #13
We would like to come back but not sure at this time. If we did we would try to meet more people over lunch,etc.
Kennitz 5 | 32  
2 Jun 2008 /  #14
We've recently changed our plans but officially set the time for the end of March 2009. I cant wait!

I've really enjoyed reading your post on this, love the thoroughness. :)

Glad you had a great time!
Wroclaw 44 | 5,388  
2 Jun 2008 /  #15
A great report. I'm pleased to hear that you enjoyed Poland.

With regard to your visit to Czersk.
I understand the emotion of standing in the footsteps of long departed family. I experienced something similar last year when on a visit to the UK. It's a very personal thing.
OP Rjrogalla 10 | 48  
2 Jun 2008 /  #16
Kennitz If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.
plk123 8 | 4,150  
2 Jun 2008 /  #17
wow. excellent. glad you had a blast. :)

you said questions so here we go. lol this $300/day is for two or per person?
mpg on the car? the $10/gal... ouch.

and did you walk around the old warsaw? the square is just a part. there is a lot of cool stuff through out. also Krakowskie Przedmiescie (st.) from the Castle, and Nowy Swiat (prolongation of the first) are the old jewels of the city. warsaw has always been on that street. hope you didn't miss the £azienki park. my personal favourite.

“kotlet schabowy”

breaded pork chop

glad you liked the food, polish is my fav too. :)

i also would be cool with hearing more about warsaw. pics?
Kowalski 7 | 621  
3 Jun 2008 /  #18
We liked the people. They were helpful when we needed help. The only concern we have is how difficult it is to make them smile. I realize what the country has went through over the years so I’m sure there is resentment. We asked a young lady to join us for dinner to learn more about the people and we asked her why poles don’t smile much and she said Americans smile too much.

We don't have in our constitution "pursuit of happiness". Don't have to beam smiles.
Seriously, weather has much to do with smiles. More sun more smiles.
OP Rjrogalla 10 | 48  
3 Jun 2008 /  #19
you said questions so here we go. lol this $300/day is for two or per person?
mpg on the car? the $10/gal... ouch.

The $289 was for two people. Cost of gas even at $9.23 a gallon is actually a small part of total expense and our Nissan gave us great mileage but I never checked miles per gallon.
spiritus 67 | 664  
3 Jun 2008 /  #20
also would be cool with hearing more about warsaw. pics?

plk

I have tons of pics from Warsaw after my recent trip. I've only posted three on the photo thread so far.
randompal 7 | 306  
3 Jun 2008 /  #21
We asked a young lady to join us for dinner to learn more about the people and we asked her why poles don’t smile much and she said Americans smile too much.

That is a fascinating question, and not an easy one to answer as so many theories abound. Many people point to the "difficult" situation of many Poles but this doesn't explain why even the rich folks in Poland don't smile too much, only when they are buzzed on alcohol or after being pleasantly surprised by something. But this doesn't explain why in some poorer countries people smile more than Poles do, including countries where the politicians cause even more headaches than here. My personal theory is the weather in Poland, which is usually and consistently crap...

And your dinner guest was right - Americans do smile too much, leading one to think that they are always up to something or secretly getting a bj under the table..
plk123 8 | 4,150  
3 Jun 2008 /  #22
thanks rjrogalla and spiritus (i'll check out the pics in a little bit)

the smile thing: poles (and most eurpeans) are just very reserved people thus no smiling. it was hard to get used to that in the US and i still get "why are you so serious?" from many people. i think randompal kind of hits it. to non smilers it seems that the ones that are smiling are upto no good or at least something fishy is going on.

good to see you back randompal.
mamaye 2 | 38  
3 Jun 2008 /  #23
jeeeezzzz, we have tropical weather right now in PL and still... nobody smiles ;)

now seriously, rjrogalla, great report, worth reading even for us, Polish,living in Poland..:)
my question - were you guided somewhere? I mean, by proffesional local guides,esp. in big cities, or you just counted on yourselves?
plk123 8 | 4,150  
3 Jun 2008 /  #24
sounds like they used guide books.
randompal 7 | 306  
3 Jun 2008 /  #25
good to see you back randompal.

thanks buddy, just taking some time off but I missed the hyper-intellectual discourse so I'm back
OP Rjrogalla 10 | 48  
3 Jun 2008 /  #26
jeeeezzzz, we have tropical weather right now in PL and still... nobody smiles ;)

now seriously, rjrogalla, great report, worth reading even for us, Polish,living in Poland..:)
my question - were you guided somewhere? I mean, by proffesional local guides,esp. in big cities, or you just counted on yourselves?

No guides. I studing Poland for 3 months including this forum before we left as I do on all my trips. My vacation starts when I start researching which I really enjoy.
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
3 Jun 2008 /  #27
Nissan gave us great mileage but I never checked miles per gallon.

according to info on the net:
(depending on the engine, speed 90 km/h)
1.0 l (998 cm3), 16V - 6 l/100 km
1.3 l (1275 cm3), 16V - 6,8 l/100 km
1.4 l (1348 cm3), 16V - 6,1 l/100 km
1.5 l (1527 cm3) Diesel - 5,2 l/100 km
l = litre, km = kilometre
OP Rjrogalla 10 | 48  
3 Jun 2008 /  #28
and did you walk around the old warsaw? the square is just a part. there is a lot of cool stuff through out. also Krakowskie Przedmiescie (st.) from the Castle, and Nowy Swiat (prolongation of the first) are the old jewels of the city. warsaw has always been on that street. hope you didn't miss the £azienki park. my personal favourite.

In all honesty we made a mistake on only allowing 2 days in Warsaw because some of it was hampered by jet lag from the US. I believe Warsaw has lot to offer but we didn't give it a chance. I must admit I am biased against large cities and instead love the quant romantic small cities and villages. All our pictures are on video tape.

If we return we will give Warsaw the time it needs to be truly appreciated.
plk123 8 | 4,150  
3 Jun 2008 /  #29
I missed the hyper-intellectual discourse so I'm back

lol.. i bet. :D

In all honesty we made a mistake on only allowing 2 days in Warsaw because some of it was hampered by jet lag from the US. I believe Warsaw has lot to offer but we didn't give it a chance. I must admit I am biased against large cities and instead love the quant romantic small cities and villages. All our pictures are on video tape.
If we return we will give Warsaw the time it needs to be truly appreciated.

i hope you have a chance but i understand your liking of the country. it is something else too. i miss the quaintness of polish countryside, for sure. and i hope you come back here and ask away and then tell us about your adventures all over again as this report is just fantastic.
RingosDrum - | 2  
3 Jun 2008 /  #30
Thank you for the thorough report on Poland. I have been wanting to go for a couple years now. It's possible that we might make it May 2009 if the gas prices don't keep going up (travel is getting expensive!) It's also neat that you live in Wisconsin as I do. :)

This may sound like a silly question, but is Poland a dog friendly place? I was just in Munich,Germany and if I brought my dog I could have taken her everywhere that I went. I wish I knew that before going.

Archives - 2005-2009 / Travel / WE ARE BACK FROM POLAND AND HERE IS OUR REPORTArchived