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How Can I Not be the "Ugly American" Tourist in Poland?


Rakky 9 | 217  
7 Jul 2008 /  #1
Hi,
I'll be arriving in Krakow next week and am looking for tips about how to not be viewed by the locals as an "Ugly American." Physical appearance aside - how should I dress so that I don't stick out like a sore thumb or cause offense, but generally complement the people I'll be spending time with? I'm bald, so will be wearing a hat to protect my scalp from the sun - are there any customs regarding the removal of a hat for particular people or in certain places? Is shaking hands customary? How should I expect to be greeted, and what would be an appropriate way for me to reciprocate? I've read some messages in this forum that seem to indicate that smiling too much may be viewed suspiciously - is that true?

I'll only be in Krakow for a day - the rest of the week will be spent in the southeast corner of the country - in southern Gorlice and Jaslo Counties, near the mountains.

I'd apprecaite any tips you'd care to convey.
Thanks!
Wroclaw 44 | 5,387  
7 Jul 2008 /  #2
Be yourself. You'll only look a fool if you fake it.
tornado2007 11 | 2,274  
7 Jul 2008 /  #3
its good advice, don't behave out of the ordinary, obviously don't behave in a way that will attract bad attention to yourself. Its really all about common sense, if you have that then you'll be fine
Zgubiony 15 | 1,554  
7 Jul 2008 /  #4
I'm bald

You won't be alone here. Many PL men are baled/shaved.

are there any customs regarding the removal of a hat for particular people or in certain places

Do the same as you would anywhere. Especially during meals IMO.

shaking hands customary? How should I expect to be greeted, and what would be an appropriate way for me to reciprocate

Shaking is normal and most likely, you'll be greeted with "Czesc" or "Dzien Dobry". Repeating the same would be ok if you can't speak Polish.

I've read some messages in this forum that seem to indicate that smiling too much may be viewed suspiciously - is that true?

If you're happy, smile. Don't hide it. I do hear 'fake' smile comments, but I wouldn't let that stop you from being yourself...really, don't even think about it.

I'd apprecaite any tips you'd care to convey.

Eat, drink and be merry :)
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893  
7 Jul 2008 /  #5
Just dress as you would at home, in general people just wear jeans and a t-shirt as for the bald head you'll be in good company, from what I can remember when I was in Krakow in the summer all the guys had shaved heads :) As always its good manners to take your hat off when entering a restaurant or bar and obviously a church :) Avoid wearing those rediculous "fanny bags" and a camera round your neck, like I said just do what you would normally at home.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
7 Jul 2008 /  #6
I'd apprecaite any tips you'd care to convey

A leopard cant change its spots dude. People will know what ever you do

But kudos for recognising a need for change

Vote Obama
szarlotka 8 | 2,209  
7 Jul 2008 /  #7
how should I dress so that I don't stick out like a sore thumb or cause offense

Like everybody has said. Be yourself, dress so that you feel comfortable. If you feel comfortable then you will appear relaxed. You will have a great time.

Twenty years ago I could have given the advice not to wear those horrible checked sports jackets but the US has moved on.LOL
lowfunk99 10 | 397  
7 Jul 2008 /  #8
From what I have read this is what makes us Americans stand out.

1. baseball caps
2. hip packs
3. smiling
Zgubiony 15 | 1,554  
7 Jul 2008 /  #9
I don't know about the ball caps anymore...hip hop is big and I see a lot of these. I don't know anyone who wears a fanny bag anymore...more of an old folk or 80's thing.

I'm sorry, but the whole smiling thing has to go. I always see people in PL having a good time.
Ranj 21 | 948  
7 Jul 2008 /  #10
Try to speak in an "indoor voice". While sitting at the Luton airport, waiting to Depart to Poland, there were 3 American girls, chatting very loudly about their plans for their trip to Scotland.....I remember calling BW from there thinking to myself, "Oh God, it's true.....no wonder other countries look at us as loud, obnoxious Americans."

Other than that, just be yourself, like others have said and I'm sure you will do fine:)

2. hip packs

I don't know anyone who has worn a hip pack in the last 20 years.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
7 Jul 2008 /  #11
I would suggest telling everyone you meet that you feel there is a need for change and that you plan to vote for Obama. I would suggest telling them this as soon as you meet so as not to get off on the wrong foot. So to speak.

If that deosn't work then pick up a couple of maple leaf badges (pins in your speak) at the airport and pretend to be Canadian.
lowfunk99 10 | 397  
7 Jul 2008 /  #12
My gf's friend mentioned the smiling thing. She also said not to worry about it and be yourself.
miranda  
7 Jul 2008 /  #13
pretend to be Canadian.

works for me every time;)
OP Rakky 9 | 217  
7 Jul 2008 /  #14
Hi, everyone,
Thanks for all the great feedback - I'm feeling a lot more confident now.

Be yourself. You'll only look a fool if you fake it.

Agreed - just didn't know if "myself" had any potential to create unpleasant social situations. Don't think so, now.

Its really all about common sense, if you have that then you'll be fine

I usually do, so that's good.

most likely, you'll be greeted with "Czesc" or "Dzien Dobry". Repeating the same would be ok if you can't speak Polish.

I think I can handle that. If not, my father will be able to. He learned from his father and still does pretty well with the language.

If you're happy, smile. Don't hide it.

This was the one I was most worried about, after reading those other threads. I'm expecting to be VERY happy throughout my trip, and my facial expressions usually match (and broadcast) my moods.

Eat, drink and be merry :)

Ooh, do I ever intend to! Excellent advice - thanks.

From what I have read this is what makes us Americans stand out.
1. baseball caps
2. hip packs
3. smiling

Guilty on all 3 counts. Yes, I still use the hip pack. Yes, I'm THAT old. Sigh. Hey, it's either that or stuff every pocket I have with my reading glasses, sun glasses, and assorted pocket stuff. Go ahead - make fun.

I don't know anyone who has worn a hip pack in the last 20 years.

Nice to meetcha!

My gf's friend mentioned the smiling thing. She also said not to worry about it and be yourself.

Sweet. Thanks again, everyone!
LondonChick 31 | 1,134  
7 Jul 2008 /  #15
Please, please don't dress like the rather misguided American Student that I met in a bar in Krakow last year.... he was dressed in a Russian military coat and Russian military style hat.

Apparently he's been up in Nowa Huta checking out the "poor people"

<wince>
szarlotka 8 | 2,209  
7 Jul 2008 /  #16
he was dressed in a Russian military coat and Russian military style hat.

I wonder how he dresses in Moscow then?
Zgubiony 15 | 1,554  
7 Jul 2008 /  #17
Guilty on all 3 counts. Yes, I still use the hip pack. Yes, I'm THAT old. Sigh. Hey, it's either that or stuff every pocket I have with my reading glasses, sun glasses, and assorted pocket stuff. Go ahead - make fun.

Get rid of it. Really ;) Pick up yourself a backpack
sausage 19 | 777  
7 Jul 2008 /  #18
Pick up yourself a backpack

or a mandbag
LondonChick 31 | 1,134  
7 Jul 2008 /  #19
Is a hip pack the same thing as a fanny pack?
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
7 Jul 2008 /  #20
Guilty on all 3 counts. Go ahead - make fun

Yup. Them leopards just cant change their spots ;)
Ranj 21 | 948  
7 Jul 2008 /  #21
Get rid of it. Really ;) Pick up yourself a backpack

That was going to be my suggestion:)

or a mandbag

That would have been my second suggestion:)

Is a hip pack the same thing as a fanny pack?

Yup:)
Zgubiony 15 | 1,554  
7 Jul 2008 /  #22
Is a hip pack the same thing as a fanny pack?

Yes.
szarlotka 8 | 2,209  
7 Jul 2008 /  #23
And is that the same as a bum bag as was much seen on ski slopes
Zgubiony 15 | 1,554  
7 Jul 2008 /  #24
I'm sure there are quite a few names for the fanny pack.

seen on ski slopes

You mean the ones that Ski patrol use? Medi-fanny ;)
szarlotka 8 | 2,209  
7 Jul 2008 /  #25
You mean the ones that Ski patrol use? Medi-fanny ;)

LMAO.....

Rakky - drop the bag man and get a rucksack... even I have converted.
OP Rakky 9 | 217  
7 Jul 2008 /  #26
or a mandbag

OK, I have no idea what you're talking about - what is a mandbag?
LondonChick 31 | 1,134  
7 Jul 2008 /  #28
Rakky - drop the bag man and get a rucksack... even I have converted.

Or a nice courier bag.

Bum bag is a definite no.
OP Rakky 9 | 217  
7 Jul 2008 /  #29
A murse :)

Oh, yeah, much more manly, that is. Jeez. A metro-sexual I'm definitely not.
I agree that the fanny/hip pack looks kind of ridiculous, but I'm not trying to pick up chicks - just toting my stuff around. The backpack solution doesn't work for me, either - it's just too bulky and inconvenient when I need to switch from sunglases to reading glasses or back again. Yes, I know they make reading glasses that are also sunglasses, but then you have to keep switching to regular glasses when you go indoors - there's no perfect solution.

Maybe I'll just stuff my pockets after all.
isthatu2 4 | 2,704  
7 Jul 2008 /  #30
Go to your local army navy store, pick up a gas mask bag,I toted one around zakopane and no one batted an eyelid :)

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