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Just visited Poland - here is my random rant


JKSA
28 Jun 2013  #1
Here is my random rant about Poland where I was a week days ago. I currently live in one of the 'Western' countries, but I grew up in Poland until my 20-ties.

1. There appears to be shortage of people in Poland. It looks the streets are not as crowded as they used to be, even in the most popular cities. The majority of people are either elder or very young. Where are the 20-40 yo, all working abroad?

2. There are some very nice cars (including brand new) on the streets. The best models, the best brands. Especially in bigger cities like Warsaw, Wroclaw, or Krakow. In general, brands like Audi or BMW are very common to the point they are boring.

3. Many of the Polish villages and small towns.. still a disaster to look at. Most of the buildings are 100-200 years old. They just don't fit to the current world. All people do is to change the outer siding (using some cheap cement), which is an equivalent of putting up fire with oil. Many buildings are in pathetic state and people have been living in them for the past few generations. This is probably the worst problem of Poland's infrastructure - how to get rid of the old buildings which are not up to the modern age. I understand people don't have money to build new ones, but still..

Unless there is something major done with the old Polish buildings, Poland cannot look 'nice' to an average tourist. My prediction is that these buildings will stay until they collapse (it could take another 50-60 years). Only then something modern and efficient can be build. Heating or cooling such old buildings would cost arms and legs and it's wasted money.

4. The roads in Poland have significantly improved. Now it takes 30-50 percent less time to drive between some cities. Hopefully they will keep maintaining them properly in the long term.

5. Anti-radars on the roads... pathetic disaster. Imagine 2 radars, one cop, and one 'straz miejska' officer all trying to catch you speeding on a 5km road! Who agreed to install these radars in the first place? I thought Poles like freedom, but apparently this is the history. It seems half of the power of Polish police and 'city cops' are directed at trying to fine drivers over speeding. Again, a big turn off for potential travelers.

6. Some hotels in Poland are very nice. They offer everything you need and are not as expensive as they initially seem.

7. I have to pay for a plastic bag in a store!? Seriously, I spend 200zl in a big chain store and I'm still required to pay 0.1 Zloty for one small plastic bag? (and they are small so I have to buy a few for my stuff to fit) In a civilized country you spend money and things like a plastic bag is free as it should be.

8. I was on an airport in Warsaw waiting for a plane. I went to an airport store and wanted to buy a newspaper. The clerk wanted to see my... airline ticket or else she would not sell me the paper. What's it all about, jeezz...

9. Prices of food are still reasonable (considering the food in Poland is still of good quality). But you have to watch where you buy - one place offered 1kg of cherries for 22zl (I could buy the same for 8zl after a 100m walk to another store).

10. The quality of hardware stuff (like furniture) is not good. And the sizes are small, really small. Take a sink, for example. The 'standard size' is like for a 10 year old, not for an adult. If you want to have something that fits an adult, it's an upgraded size (to pay more, of course).

11. In Poland you have to pay for everything extra. Besides the plastic bags, you have to pay extra for small things like juice, lemon to tea, or even extra toilet paper. It's not comfortable for a traveler to be asked to pay for the little things that should be free, considering you spend enough money.

12. The famous Polish beaurocracy.. still thrives. I was trying to open a bank account in Poland. I did without much trouble, but then I wanted to add my relative to the account. I could not do it because I forgot my 'dowod osobisty' and only had my drivers license. What's wrong with my drivers license (which features my name, picture, and the same address anyway)?

13. Poles have been duped by their politicians (well, that affects most of the countries) and now business owners take advantage of the failed policies. For example, it's very common for a Pole to work on a contract basis (and the contract is being renewed every... WEEK). That way the employer saves money and the employee isn't really an employee but a contractor without legal rights to many things. And most people seem to be fine with that. They don't know they are being screwed twice (and once from behind?)

14. Parking meters.. are being installed everywhere in the cities. Soon you have to spend more time paying for tickets than enjoying the time in the city.

15. High grass in public places. Poland's towns and cities would be much prettier if someone took care of lawns. For now, it appears you are in a city but have high grass and bushes around you, not nice looking.

16. Energy cost is way too high in Poland. I wonder why. It's annoying when everybody tries to saves some zlotych and you have to live in darkness or have a few seconds to dry your hands. Maybe that's the reason grass in the cities is high and lawns are not maintained.

17. Corruption. If you have a company and can offer a much better deal but you don't know anyone in the government (be it local or not) then you are screwed. Contracts are given to friends or to those who pay bribes. It's not only Poland's problem, but it should be obvious for people to do something about that.

18. Polish weather. It used to be that spring lasted a couple of months and the weather was predictable. Not any more. It could be 30C today and tomorrow 15C. It's a lottery to bet on good weather if you plan to visit Poland.

19. There are a lot of properties listed for sale in Poland. That includes both land, flats, and buildings. I'm sure some people who invested in Polish real estate are now affected. The prices are lower than a few years ago, during the real estate bubble. They are unlikely to jump back in the coming few years.

20. There are a lot of factories in Poland. Ugly ones. They are being built in the outskirts of towns and cities, which makes them ugly. Who wants to live in the area with a view on factories or smoking chimneys? Unfortunately, that's a common view for a lot of families. Poland creates some 'economic incentive zones' which help bring business to the region, but nobody seems to care about the long term effects of the commercial buildings surrounded by housing estates, schools, or churches.

21. Contrary to general belief, Polish people are easy to manipulate by the government mass media (especially about issues going on in foreign countries). The majority of them believe in the mainstream news that feature propaganda about what's going on in different parts of the world.

22. Poles like to dress well and Polish women are as beautiful as always. It's nice to watch well-dressed people on Polish streets. What I noticed, however, is that people aren't as easily approachable as they used to be and are more stressed out in general. Rat race in Poland is in a high gear too.

23. Everybody I met knows some other Pole who works in a foreign country.

24. Overall, Poland seems to be a small place. There are no local news (ie. news related to your small town or village). Not surprising since now it's possible to cross Poland North-South and East-West within one day by car.

-------------------------

Overall, I spent a nice time in Poland. If the things I described above are improved, Poland is on a good way to be a nice country to live (as long as you have a good job and enough money). The problem is, some fundamental things are going to take decades to improve.

If you have enough money and you don't care about little things that may annoy you, Poland is a very good option to visit or settle. Otherwise, you're still better off staying in a country you have a job because it's not easy to find one that pays well in Poland.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
29 Jun 2013  #2
Top post, I disagree with only a few points, including the speeding on the roads bit. Speeding should be discouraged.
jkb - | 198
29 Jun 2013  #3
Why do you share your "rant" on an English speaking forum if you're Polish?

Isn't this Polish Forums, where we discuss all things Poland? What is your problem? - From admin - troll comment removed.

JKSA, it's a very nice post. I'll add some comments to your rant:

1. There appears to be shortage of people in Poland.

A lot of 20-40's left Poland since 2004. But saying we are less crowded is an understatement. I just recently left Poland and as I remember Warsaw was still pretty crowded.

4. The roads in Poland have significantly improved.

That's true. Polish road infrastructure is thriving and we have some really good quality roads happening recently. Personally I loved the convenience of being able to drive from Warsaw to Berlin in just over 4 hours.

5. Anti-radars on the roads... pathetic disaster.

Yes, it's ridiculous. But that's the strategy our government implemented. In order to squeeze more money from drivers, let's create unsubstantiated speed limits and set up strict enforcement measures.

7. I have to pay for a plastic bag in a store!?

That's in order to be "more eco-friendly". In reality - just another way to take more of your money.

8. I was on an airport in Warsaw waiting for a plane.

This is not uncommon and applies to many airports, actually. If you are making a purchase in the secure / duty free zone, in order to be able to purchase items duty free, you need to show your ticket (and have it scanned at times) as proof that you're leaving Poland.

9. Prices of food are still reasonable (considering the food in Poland is still of good quality).

The best rule: shop around.

10. The quality of hardware stuff (like furniture) is not good.

Interesting. I did not notice that at all. Where did you encounter poor quality furniture and such small sinks?

11. In Poland you have to pay for everything extra.

Well, why would you expect free handouts? You get what you paid for.

12. The famous Polish beaurocracy.. still thrives.

The reason for that is the Polish driver's license, for some reason, is not considered to be an ID. Just a credential permitting you to use motorized vehicles on public roads. I like the way it's set up in the U.S. where your DL is also your primary ID for everyday use. That being said, I did manage to board a plane using just my Polish DL, but I had to seek special permission from the airport personnel. And that was an in-country flight too.

14. Parking meters.. are being installed everywhere in the cities.

Metered parking is a common thing in many countries in the world.

It's a lottery to bet on good weather if you plan to visit Poland.

Blame global warming and climate change, not Poland ;)

19. There are a lot of properties listed for sale in Poland.

That is not a problem restricted to Poland.

20. There are a lot of factories in Poland. Ugly ones.

The factories have to be built somewhere. The factories, in general, are not very pretty and don't look like candy shops you can find in a cartoon.

21. Contrary to general belief, Polish people are easy to manipulate by the government mass media.

You can't expect objectivity when you're speaking news. When it comes to media, they will always be biased, as there are always people behind the media, who own/control them. And people are biased. Show me a TV station or a newspaper anywhere in the world that has no political inclinations.
Polson 5 | 1,771
29 Jun 2013  #4
still a disaster to look at. Most of the buildings are 100-200 years old.

The worst are still the more 'recent' Commie buildings. They are just the most tasteless buildings ever. And there are still so many. Some more colours would be pretty cool...

Who agreed to install these radars in the first place? I thought Poles like freedom, but apparently this is the history.

Considering how the Poles are lousy drivers, I'm afraid radars are highly needed. Overspeeding is so common here.
Even my Polish teacher, she seems to be a nice, reasonable woman, but when we talked about the maximum speed on Polish highways, she didn't know it. She usually drives much faster. 'Because everybody does it, why bother, huh?'

But yes, it's also an EXCELLENT excuse for the gov to make extra money.

In a civilized country you spend money and things like a plastic bag is free as it should be.

That's not true tho. In France, you usually pay for plastic bags in supermarkets. Officially, for ecological reasons (which is probably still partly true), and unofficially, you know.

Parking meters.. are being installed everywhere in the cities. Soon you have to spend more time paying for tickets than enjoying the time in the city.

If you're comparing to Western countries, that's actually very 'modern'. You can't park free in Paris for instance. Same in London.
Cities need to make money...to cut the lawn ;)

Polish weather. It used to be that spring lasted a couple of months and the weather was predictable. Not any more. It could be 30C today and tomorrow 15C. It's a lottery to bet on good weather if you plan to visit Poland.

Well, nothing to do with Poland. Same everywhere.
pawian 159 | 9,428
29 Jun 2013  #5
The worst are still the more 'recent' Commie buildings. They are just the most tasteless buildings ever. And there are still so many.

Here the case is simple - like it or leave it. :)

Considering how the Poles are lousy drivers, I'm afraid radars are highly needed. Overspeeding is so common here.

Lousy somehow contradicts overspeeding in my opinion. I would rather use bravado here.

Correct me if I am wrong. :)
Polson 5 | 1,771
29 Jun 2013  #6
Here the case is simple - like it or leave it.

Nooo, my flat is not commie-style, it's fine. I won't leave (what the country?) just for some ugly buildings, there are ugly stuff everywhere anyway ;)

Lousy somehow contradicts overspeeding in my opinion. I would rather use bravado here.

Use any synonym you want, overspeeding doesn't mean 'skilled' driver.
On average, Polish roads are quite dangerous, compared to many countries. Just facts ;)
jon357 63 | 14,122
29 Jun 2013  #7
If anything,the older buildings should be preserved. Not covered with plastic weatherboarding or allowed to rot away while the owner lives in a new house next door.
jkb - | 198
29 Jun 2013  #8
Considering how the Poles are lousy drivers, I'm afraid radars are highly needed. Overspeeding is so common here.

What needs to be done in the first place is the speed limits need to be upped.
Polson 5 | 1,771
29 Jun 2013  #9
So people can go even faster? Sure.
jkb - | 198
29 Jun 2013  #10
Not everywhere. But there is a lot of places where the speed limit is arbitrary. And that is also where the police are usually located. And the speed detectors. Nice system set up in place to milk the drivers.
Palivec - | 380
29 Jun 2013  #11
3. Many of the Polish villages and small towns..

Give me a break! You are talking about the cultural heritage of the country. Do you know how cities without these buildings, but with "something modern and efficient" look? Look at the cities built after WW2, both in Western and Eastern Europe. Or the crap that was built since the 1990s. No "average tourist" wants to see this, and no one with a choice wants to live there. Strangely, if people have a choice, they always want to live in historical buildings (if upgraded to modern standards).

But I agree that especially the smaller towns often look horrible. There are several reasons for this:

1) Neither the people nor the communities in the smaller towns have money.

2) No organization and controls. The cultural heritage management in Poland is a mess. The monument protection service is underfunded, has no influence in public policy and cares mostly about churches, and not much else. And the communities don't have basic rules like land utilisation plans or building regulations. Everyone can do whatever he likes.

3) Poles don't have a sense for architecture. For many centuries Poland was a land of a small urban middle class and a big rural lower class, unlike countries like Italy or Germany, which had a big urban middle class already during the Renaissance era. Urban development has a much bigger importance in such societies, that's why they developed the regulations and sensitivity Poland lacks. Just have a look at this thread: skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=967926&page=356

Turrets, battlements, huge portal on tiny buildings, defense walls, ugly colors etc.. The only place where I've seen similar tacky buildings was in Romania, built by Gypsy barons.

4) No emotional connections to the cultural heritage in the so called "recovered territories".
Tlum 10 | 150
29 Jun 2013  #12
It seems half of the power of Polish police and 'city cops' are directed at trying to fine drivers over speeding.

It's time to move to Ohio ;)

theblaze.com/stories/2013/06/28/cant-stand-speed-cameras-a-judge-just-gave-a-small-town-a-major-victory-over-them/
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
29 Jun 2013  #13
15. High grass in public places. Poland's towns and cities would be much prettier if someone took care of lawns.

Very true. It's not uncommon to see a new or renovated public building and a disgusting lawn next to it with grass, which haven't been cut since years.

For many centuries Poland was a land of a small urban middle class and a big rural lower class, unlike countries like Italy or Germany:

LOL !
delphiandomine 83 | 17,625
30 Jun 2013  #14
From what you've said, you've certainly developed that "Pole moved abroad sneer" that many of them developed. It's particularly common with those that emigrated to English speaking countries.

1. There appears to be shortage of people in Poland.

There's no shortage of people in Poland. I'm not sure where you were looking, but the shortage of that age group comes in villages and small towns - not in the major cities.

5. Anti-radars on the roads... pathetic disaster.

I think it's a far bigger turn off to have the disaster that is Polish fatality rates on the roads. It's also a far bigger turn off to have Poles driving the way they do. Tourists aren't bothered by strict controls - they expect it when driving abroad. For what it's worth, enforcement is still absolutely pathetic compared to Western Europe. Anyway, if you obey the law, what's the problem?

7. I have to pay for a plastic bag in a store!?

It's quite obvious that you haven't travelled very much in the world if you're surprised by the idea of stores charging for plastic bags. This is actually a Government-mandated idea in order to cut plastic bag consumption - it's very very sensible. In many civilised countries, plastic bag use is heavily discouraged - and in some countries, each bag is taxed. It's a normal civilised idea to discourage the consumption of such bags.

10. The quality of hardware stuff (like furniture) is not good. And the sizes are small, really small.

I'd question you on this, but its pretty obvious that you're basing this on a single experience in a single place.

11. In Poland you have to pay for everything extra. Besides the plastic bags, you have to pay extra for small things like juice, lemon to tea, or even extra toilet paper.

I've been here for quite a while and I've never seen anyone charging for lemon for tea or for extra toilet paper. Could you perhaps explain where you've seen this?

As for paying for juice - where, exactly, is it free?

12. The famous Polish beaurocracy.. still thrives. I was trying to open a bank account in Poland.

Everything. This is Europe, not the United States, and in Europe, ID cards rule supreme. For what it's worth, many American businesses will refuse European ID cards, and there are many stories of Europeans being refused booze because they only had a passport on them and not a driving licence.

13. Poles have been duped by their politicians (well, that affects most of the countries) and now business owners take advantage of the failed policies. For example, it's very common for a Pole to work on a contract basis (and the contract is being renewed every... WEEK).

I think it's pretty obvious now that your post is nothing but a troll post. No-one is renewing contracts on a weekly basis - it's just too expensive to deal with such things like that. Accountants would be pretty unhappy about such a setup, the tax office would be highly suspicious and so on.

14. Parking meters.. are being installed everywhere in the cities.

Which is normal in most European cities due to a lack of parking places. Again, this is Europe, not America - Europe doesn't have the space to build huge parking areas everywhere.

16. Energy cost is way too high in Poland. I wonder why.

Because Poland doesn't make heavy use of Government-subsidised nuclear power plants, perhaps?

As for "living in darkness" and "only having a few seconds to dry your hands" - please. I don't know anyone that does either of those things - again - where did you observe this?

17. Corruption. If you have a company and can offer a much better deal but you don't know anyone in the government.

Could you perhaps explain the source of this "fact"?

because it's not easy to find one that pays well in Poland.

Keep telling yourself that.
mafketis 20 | 7,159
30 Jun 2013  #15
Unless there is something major done with the old Polish buildings, Poland cannot look 'nice' to an average tourist.

Huh? No one wants to visit a European country to see new modern buildings. You want to tear down the Warsaw starówka and replace it a big shopping mall?

Older buildings can be made comfortable and modern without tearing them down and destroying the history of a place.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
30 Jun 2013  #16
There's no shortage of people in Poland.

Well, next time you're in Wroc, glance around. You'll see loads of youngsters and 18-20s approx., but very few 30s and 40s in comparison. Sometimes in Wroc, from looking at streetlife, it seems everyone is either 18 or 70. Glance into car driving seats and you do see 30-somethings etc, but in a typical street scene the 18-25s and 70s seem to be the most numerous in any busy area you come across. I've noticed this time and time again.

I think it's a far bigger turn off to have the disaster that is Polish fatality rates on the roads.

+1

I've been here for quite a while and I've never seen anyone charging for lemon for tea or for extra toilet paper.

In other towns, I've been asked extra for a slice of lemon and for milk, although not in Wroc so far
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
30 Jun 2013  #17
All in all, a candid, balanced and generally objective but życzliwy (friendly) portrayal of today's Poland. The wide-ranging topics show you kept your eyes and ears open during your visit. On the other hand, personally I feel there has been too much imitation of the West which has damaged and pauperised the 'Polish soul'. Please dont' as for a definition -- it's something you either sense and feel or you don't!

It's particularly common with those that emigrated to English speaking countries.

That must be the influence of Anglo-Saxon arrogance and superiority.
Ant63 11 | 403
30 Jun 2013  #18
:):):):):)

Nice Pawian.
I was hoping to see a lot of places like this in Poland, but disappointed to find the majority of what people considered old were properties from around 1910 - 1920. I for one would like to see some serious investment in older city buildings that can be very attractive but I understand a lot of properties have ownership issues. It's interesting walking round Poznan bullet hole spotting.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
30 Jun 2013  #19
I've noticed this time and time again.

So it seems the 30+ population has cars and uses them? While the elderly and the youngest don't. Nothing extraordinary IMHO. ;-)
jon357 63 | 14,122
30 Jun 2013  #20
In other towns, I've been asked extra for a slice of lemon and for milk, although not in Wroc so far

I know a płace in Kielce that charges more if you want sugar in your coffee!
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
30 Jun 2013  #21
So it seems the 30+ population has cars and uses them? While the elderly and the youngest don't. Nothing extraordinary IMHO. ;-)

But even when I go to the cinema, other recreational places, malls or supermarkets, there seems to be fewer in the 30/40 age group, so I do know what the OP means when he mentions that. Go to my former home towns in the UK, and the 30/40 year olds are much more in evidence in the town centres. Wroc is a big uni city but even so, it's a thing I notice every time I go out. When I go to smaller towns in Poland, this is much less obvious, however, and there seems a closer to 'normal' age grouping of people walking around the place.

I'd even say that Wrocław makes me feel old - so many young people here!

I know a płace in Kielce that charges more if you want sugar in your coffee!

I don't take sugar, but maybe if I did they'd have asked extra for that too! I think the place that charges extra for the milk is pretty inexpensive for beverages, but I was surprised the first time I realised it was 50gr to whiten my tea (the menu states it clearly, they weren't being dishonest).
poland_
30 Jun 2013  #22
So it seems the 30+ population has cars and uses them?

It would seem that the 30+ are professionals using their cars for business and doing the school run.

The problem is, some fundamental things are going to take decades to improve.

Improvements are born out of bad times not good times. As example I will give Polish customer service which is almost non-exist outside of multinationals in PL, Poland needs a good recession to support the wheat and weed out the chaff. Polish business also needs to start accepting and implementing EU legislation.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,671
30 Jun 2013  #23
I agree with inwroclaw the age demographic seemed a bit skewed the last Polish city I visited
Paulina 9 | 1,448
30 Jun 2013  #24
I know a płace in Kielce that charges more if you want sugar in your coffee!

Which place??? xD
Btw, I always get a packet of sugar with my coffee or tea in Kielce, or there's simply a sugar bowl standing on the table.
jon357 63 | 14,122
30 Jun 2013  #25
In the railway station, left hand side as you're going in.
sobieski 107 | 2,129
30 Jun 2013  #26
Poland needs a good recession to support the wheat and weed out the chaff.

Although for example in the local ZUS office here in Warsaw-Bielany they are always helpful. Last month I made a mistake with in my monthly declaration, and the lady in question was really helpful to sort things out.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
30 Jun 2013  #27
In the railway station, left hand side as you're going in.

Oh, OK lol I've never drunk there and I guess l never will then. What a rip off lol

Improvements are born out of bad times not good times.

I can't say I agree.
poland_
30 Jun 2013  #28
I can't say I agree.

So here are at least ten benefits of recession:

It causes you to get more creative.
It forces you to make the tough decisions.
It thins out the competition.
It makes you realize you can't take anything for granted.
It reminds you that real wealth isn't about the stuff you own.
It fosters out-of-the-box thinking.
It makes it easier to abandon business-as-usual.
It brings you back to the basics.
It accelerates change.
It causes you to be less wasteful.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
30 Jun 2013  #29
This could be true for rich West, but not for Poland which needs other kinds of improvements, the ones the West has already.
During recession you don't develop, you survive. Poland had enough of surviving, imho, what we need is development.
poland_
30 Jun 2013  #30
Your opinion is wrong.


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