POLAND

POLAND

POLAND

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Name: Wawel Castle
Location: Kraków, Poland
The Wawel Castle is a castle residency located in central Kraków, Poland. Built at the behest of King Casimir III the Great, it consists of a number of structures situated around the Italian-styled main courtyard. The castle, being one of the largest in Poland, represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. The Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill constitute the most historically and culturally significant site in the country. In 1978 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Centre of Kraków.

For centuries the residence of the kings of Poland and the symbol of Polish statehood, the Castle is now one of the country’s premier art museums. Established in 1930, the museum encompasses ten curatorial departments responsible for collections of paintings, including an important collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, prints, sculpture, textiles, among them the Sigismund II Augustus tapestry collection, goldsmith’s work, arms and armor, ceramics, Meissen porcelain, and period furniture. The museum’s holdings in oriental art include the largest collection of Ottoman tents in Europe.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wawel_Castle
Name: Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
Location: Oświęcim, Poland
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum - Former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp is a memorial and museum in Oświęcim, Poland, which includes the German Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. It is devoted to the memory of the victims who died at both camps during World War II. The museum performs several tasks, including Holocaust research.

The museum was founded by the act of the Sejm on July 2, 1947. The area covers 191 hectares (470 acres), twenty of them in camp Auschwitz I and 171 hectares in camp Auschwitz II. Since 1979, the former concentration camp has belonged to the World Cultural Heritage and more than 25 million people have visited the museum. From 1955 to 1990, the museum was directed by one of its founders and former inmates, Kazimierz Smoleń.

The areas of remembrance are Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the train ramp between Auschwitz and Birkenau, which was used as a "debarkation-stop" between 1942–1944. The three kilometres between Auschwitz and Birkenau are within walking distance. The museum is situated in several original buildings. In 2017, 2.1 million persons visited the site.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz-Birkenau_Memorial_and_Museum
Name: Wieliczka Salt Mine
Location: Wieliczka, Poland
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, in the town of Wieliczka, southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. Sodium chloride (table salt) was formerly produced there from the upwelling brine - and had been since Neolithic times. The Wieliczka salt mine, excavated from the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world's oldest operating salt mines. Throughout its history, the royal salt mine was operated by the Żupy Krakowskie (Kraków Salt Mines) company.

Commercial salt mining was discontinued in 1996 owing to falling salt prices and mine flooding. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is now an official Polish Historic Monument. Its attractions include the shafts and labyrinthine passageways, displays of historic salt-mining technology, an underground lake, four chapels and numerous statues carved by miners out of the rock salt, and more recent sculptures by contemporary artists.

The mine is currently one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments, whose attractions include dozens of statues and four chapels carved out of the rock salt by the miners. About 1.2 million people visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine annually.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wieliczka_Salt_Mine
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COUNTRY INFORMATION GUIDE
PLEASE SEE BELOW FACTS, USEFUL US GOVERNMENT TRAVEL LINKS AND BUSINESS VISITOR ACTIVITIES, FOR TRAVEL TO POLAND.
FACTS:
Official Languages: Polish / Kashubian
Currency: Poland Zloty (PLN)
Time zone: CET (UTC+1) / CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Calling code: +48
Local / up-to-date weather in Warsaw (and other regions): BBC global weather – click here
US GOVT TRAVEL LINKS:

For more useful information on safety & security, local laws / customs, health and more, please see the below official US travel.state.gov web link for Poland travel advice. NB: Entry requirements herein listed are for US nationals only, unless stated otherwise.

You can also find recommended information on vaccinations, malaria and other more detailed health considerations for travel to Poland, at the below official US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weblink.

BUSINESS VISITOR ACTIVITIES*:
Activities you may undertake on a business visa / as a business visitor:
PERMISSIBLE
ATTENDING MEETINGS / DISCUSSIONS: TBC
ATTENDING A CONFERENCE: TBC
RECEIVING TRAINING (CLASSROOM-BASED): TBC
NON-PERMISSIBLE
AUDIT WORK: TBC
PROVIDING TRAINING: TBC
PROJECT WORK: TBC
*This information does not constitute legal advice and is not an exhaustive list. For a full legal assessment on business visitor activities, please revert to your internal company legal team / counsel.
TRAVEL INFORMATION**
It is highly recommenced that you access the above official US travel.state.gov web link and read all safety & security information prior to making your travel arrangements / planning your trip.
PLEASE CLICK / TOGGLE BELOW FOR USEFUL TRAVEL INFORMATION TO POLAND.

The legal tender in Poland is the Polish złoty, denoted by the synbol “zł” (ISO code: PLN). The złoty is divided into 100 groszy (see infobox for details). In 1995, 10,000 old złoty were replaced by one new złoty. When it joined the EU, Poland committed to adopting the euro, but this is opposed by the current government.

Private currency exchange offices (Polish: kantor) are very common, and offer euro or US dollar exchanges at rates that are usually comparable to commercial banks. Exchanges in tourist hot-spots, such as the train stations or popular tourist destinations, tend to overcharge. Avoid “Interchange” Kantor locations, easily recognized by their orange color; the rates they offer are very bad.

There is also an extensive network of cash machines or ATMs (Polish: bankomat). The exchange rate will depend on your particular bank, but usually ends up being pretty favorable, and comparable to reasonably good exchange offices, but you will probably find very high “service fees” in your bank statement when you get home.

Credit cards can be used to pay almost everywhere in the big cities. Even single bus ride tickets can be paid for by cards in major cities provided the passenger buys them in vending machines at bus stops. The exception would be small businesses and post offices where acceptance is not completely universal. Popular cards include Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard and Maestro. AmEx and Diners’ Club can be used in a few places (notably the big, business-class hotels) but are not popular and you should not rely on them for any payments. In some merchants you will be given an option to have the card bill you in Złoty or your home currency directly. In the former, your bank will convert the transaction for you (subject to the foreign exchange charges it sets) whereas in the latter, the rates set are usually worse than what your bank uses; hence choose to be charged in złoty.

Cheques were never particularly popular in Poland and they are not used nowadays. Local banks do not issue cheque books to customers and stores do not accept them.

BY PLANE:

LOT Polish Airlines offers domestic flights between Warsaw Chopin Airport and the airports of Kraków, Katowice, Wrocław, Poznań, Szczecin, Gdańsk, Olsztyn (only in summer season), Zielona Góra, Rzeszów and on route between Kraków and Gdańsk. The best prices are available in booking with 60 days advance. Prices are 60-130 zł. Ryanair offers daily flights from Warsaw Chopin to Gdańsk, Wrocław and Szczecin and on route between Kraków and Gdańsk. Prices start from 9 zł. Connections from Radom to Wrocław and Gdańsk are operated by Sprint Air. There are no domestic flights to or from Warsaw Modlin, Łódź, Bydgoszcz and Lublin airports.

Every Wednesday, LOT holds a 24 hours ticket sale for return flights originating at Warsaw airport and often some other Polish airports, also including some domestic connections. The discounted flights offered are usually a few months away from the date of sale, and the number of tickets and available dates is restricted, but if you are planning ahead on visiting Poland and/or other European countries, you may find this offer attractive.

BY TRAIN:

In Poland, the national railway carriers are PKP Intercity (Polskie Koleje Państwowe) and Przewozy Regionalne. There are few local carriers that belong to voivodships or major cities.

Train tickets are quite economical, but travel conditions reflect the fact that much of the infrastructure is rather old.The rule of thumb is to avoid planning any type of tight connections, as delays up to 2 hrs are not uncommon.

However, you can expect a fast, clean and modern connection on the new IC (InterCity) routes, such as Warsaw – Katowice, Warsaw – Kraków, Warsaw – Poznań and Poznań – Szczecin or RE (RegioEkspress). Consider first class tickets, because the price difference between the second and first class is not so big. The jump in comfort may be substantial but then it is also common to see trains where 2nd class carriages have been renovated and 1st class carriages are old and correspondingly low quality.

Train types:

  • EIP (Express Intercity Premium), EIC (ExpressInterCity), EC (EuroCity), IC (Intercity) – express trains between metro areas, and to major tourist destinations. Reservation usually required. Power points for laptops are sometimes available next to the seat. Company: PKP Intercity.
  • TLK (Twoje Linie Kolejowe) – discount trains, slower but cheaper than the above. Not many routes, but very good alternative for budget travelers. Reservation obligatory for 1st and 2nd class. Use older carriages which are not always suited to high speed travel. There are also several night trains connecting southern Poland with the north. Company: PKP Intercity.
  • RE (RegioEkspress) – cheaper than TLK and even higher standard, but only 3 of these type are running: Lublin – Poznań, Warsaw – Szczecin and Wrocław – Dresden. Company: Przewozy Regionalne.
  • IR (InterRegio) – cheaper than TLK and RegioExpress but most routes are supporter by poor quality trains. Company: Przewozy Regionalne.
  • REGIO/Osobowy – ordinary passenger train; usually slow, stops everywhere. You can also buy a weekend turystyczny ticket, or a week-long pass. Great if you are not in a hurry, but expect these to be very crowded at times. Company: Przewozy Regionalne; other.
  • Podmiejski – suburban commuter train. Varying degrees of comfort and facilities. Tickets need to be bought at station ticket counters. Some companies allow you to buy a ticket on board from the train manager, in the very first compartment. A surcharge will apply.
  • Narrow gauge – Poland still retains a number of local narrow-gauged railways. Some of them are oriented towards tourism and operate only in summer or on weekends, while others remain active as everyday municipal rail.

Tickets:

It’s probably easiest to buy InterCity tickets on-line (see links below). You can also buy tickets on-line for Regio, RE, IR and TLK.

Tickets for any route can generally be purchased at any station. For a foreigner buying tickets, this can prove to be a frustrating experience, since only cashiers at international ticket offices (in major cities) can be expected to speak multiple languages. It is recommended that you buy your train tickets at a travel agency or on-line to avoid communication difficulties and long queues.

It may be easier to buy in advance during peak seasons (e.g. end of holiday period, New Year) for trains that require reserved seating.

Tickets bought for E-IC, EC, EXpress, etc. trains are not valid for local/regional trains on the same routes. If you change trains between InterCity and Regional you have to buy a second ticket.

  • Timetable search (in English, but station names of course in Polish)
  • PKP information: +48 22 9436, international information +48 22 5116003.
  • PKP Intercity serves express connections (tickets can be bought on-line and printed or shown to the conductor on a smart-phone, laptop or similar devices)
  • Przewozy Regionalne tickets for Regio, RE and IR – only Polish version; you should provide yourself a ticket printout.
  • Polrail Service offers a guide to rail travel in Poland and on-line purchase of tickets and rail passes for Polish and international trains to neighbouring countries. There’s a fee of around 22 zł for every ticket.
  • PolishTrains allows to search, book and buy train tickets to numerous polish and european destinations. Comparison of many train carriers allows to choose the best travel solution and purchase ticket online in the best price.
  • Traffic info about all moving trains – check, if the train has a delay

If you travel in a group with the Regional, you should get a 33% discount for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th person (offer Ty i 1,2,3).

If you are a weekend traveller think about the weekend offers, which are valid from Friday 19:00 until Monday 06:00:

  • for all Intercity trains (E-IC,Ex,TLK) Bilet Weekendowy (from 154 zł, reservation not included)
  • for TLK Bilet Podróżnika (74zł) + Regio Bilet Plus (from 17 zł)
  • for all Regional trains (REGIO, IR, RE) Bilet Turystyczny (from 79 zł)
  • only for Regio trains Bilet Turystyczny (from 45 zł)

If a weekend is extended for some national holiday, the ticket will also extend.

Travellers under 26 years of age and studying in Poland are entitled to 26% discount on travel fare on Intercity’s TLK, EX and IC-category trains, excluding the price of seat reservation.

An early booking (7 days before departure) nay be rewarded with additional discounts.

For some IC trains you can travel with the offer Bilet Rewelacyjny – you will get an automatic discount (ca 20%) on chosen routes.

BY BUS:

Poland has a very well developed network of private charter bus companies, which tend to be cheaper, faster, and more comfortable than travel by rail. For trips under 100 km, charter buses are far more popular than trains. However, they are more difficult to use for foreigners, because of language barrier.

There is an on-line timetable available. It available in English and includes bus and train options so you can compare: Online timetables are useful for planning, however, there are multiple carriers at each bus station and departure times for major cities and popular destinations are typically no longer than thirty minutes in-between.

Each city and town has a central bus station (formerly known as PKS), where the various bus routes pick up passengers; you can find their schedules there. Bus routes can also be recognized by signs on the front of the bus that typically state the terminating stop. This is easier if picking up a bus from a roadside stop, rather than the central depot. Tickets are usually purchased directly from the driver, but sometimes it’s also possible to buy them at the station. If purchasing from the driver, simply board the bus, tell the driver your destination and he will inform you of the price. Drivers rarely speak English, so often he will print a receipt showing the amount.

Buses are also a viable choice for long-distance and international travel; however, long-distance schedules are usually more limited than for trains.

Flixbus (ex-PolskiBus) takes a more ‘western’ approach – you can only buy tickets through the Internet and the prices vary depending on the number of seats already sold. They have bus links between Warsaw and most of bigger Polish cities (as well as few neighboring capitals).

BY CAR:

While the road network in Poland still lags behind many of its western neighbours, in particular Germany, there has been continued significant improvement in the 2010s with the opening of many new motorway segments and refurbishments of some long-neglected thoroughfares that were used far above capacity.

In particular, travelling east-west is now generally much easier, with Berlin, Poznań and Warsaw connected with the A2 (E30), and the southern major metropoles in Lower Silesia, Silesia, Lesser Poland and Podkarpackie connected by the A4 (which continues as the E40 into Germany all the way to Cologne, and then further to Brussels and terminates in Calais in France).

Travelling north-south across the country is still not as comfortable as the major routes are still under construction or undergoing major repairs upgrades as of 2014. Most large and medium-sized cities have ring roads allowing you to bypass them even on lower-level roads, as do even smaller towns that are by the major roads. There are, however, still quite a lot of roads that are not up to snuff for the traffic they are supposed to carry and in disrepair.

BY TAXI:

Use only those that are associated in a “corporation” (look for phone number and a logo on the side and on the top). There are no British style minicabs in Poland. Unaffiliated drivers are likely to cheat and charge you much more. Like everywhere, be especially wary of these taxis near international airports and train stations. They are called the “taxi mafia”.

Because of travelers’ advice like this (and word of mouth), taxis with fake phone numbers can be seen on the streets, although this seems to have decreased – possibly the police have taken notice. Fake phone numbers are easily detected by locals and cater for the unsuspecting traveler. The best advice is to ask your Polish friends or your hotel concierge for the number of the taxi company they use and call them 10–15 minutes in advance (there’s no additional cost). That’s why locals will only hail taxis on the street in an emergency.

You can also find phone numbers for taxis in any city on the Internet, on municipal and newspaper websites. Some taxi companies, particularly in larger towns provide for a cab to be ordered on-line or with a text message. There are also stands, where you can call for their particular taxi for free, often found at train stations.

If you negotiate the fare with the driver you risk ending up paying more than you should. Better make sure that the driver turns the meter on and sets it to the appropriate fare (taryfa):

  • Taryfa 1: Daytime within city limits
  • Taryfa 2: Nights, Sundays and holidays within city limits
  • Taryfa 3: Daytime outside city limits
  • Taryfa 4: Nights, Sundays and holidays outside city limits

The prices would vary slightly between the taxi companies and between different cities, and there is a small fixed starting fee added on top of the mileage fare.

When crossing city limits (for example, when traveling to an airport outside the city), the driver should change the tariff at the city limit.

Every taxi driver is obliged to issue a receipt when asked (at the end of the ride). You can inquire driver about a receipt (rachunek or paragon) before you get into cab, and resign if his reaction seems suspicious or if he refuses.

BY BICYCLE:

Cycling is a good method to get a good impression of the scenery in Poland. The roads can sometimes be in quite a bad state and there is usually no hard shoulder or bicycle lane. Car drivers are careless but most do not necessarily want to kill cyclists on sight which seems to be the case in some other countries.

Rainwater drainage of both city streets is usually in dreadful condition and in the country it is simply non-existent. This means that puddles are huge and common, plus pot-holes make them doubly hazardous.

Especially in the south you can find some nice places for bicycling; e.g. along the rivers Dunajec (from Zakopane to Szczawnica) or Poprad (Krynica to Stary Sącz) or Lower Silesia (Złotoryja – Swierzawa – Jawor). Specially mapped bike routes are starting to appear and there are specialized guide books available so ask a bicycle club for help and you should be just fine. Away from roads which join major cities and large towns you should be able to find some great riding and staying at agroturystyka (room with board at a farmer’s house, for example) can be a great experience.

Bike sharing systems (system roweru miejskiego) exist in all Polish major cities in which there is a growing net of bicycle segregated cycle facilities (bike lanes and bike paths are the most common). It is a self-service system in which you can rent a bike on 24/7 basis from early spring to the end of autumn, with rental fees charged according to local tariffs. First 20 minutes of a rent is usually free of charge. Charge for next 40 minutes is 1-2 zł, then every consecutive hour 3-4 zł. The major system operator in Poland is Nextbike. You should register online to get an account, make pre-payment (usually 10 zł) and then can rent bikes in all cities in which this system exists (including towns in Germany and other Central European countries).

EAT:

Poles take their meals following the standard continental schedule: a light breakfast in the morning (usually some sandwiches with tea/coffee), then a larger lunch (or traditionally a “dinner”) at around 13:00-14:00, then a supper at around 19:00.

It is not difficult to avoid meat, with many restaurants offering at least one vegetarian dish. Most major cities have some exclusively vegetarian restaurants, especially near the city centre. Vegan options remain extremely limited, however.

Traditional local food:

Traditional Polish cuisine tends to be hearty, rich in meats, sauces, and vegetables; sides of pickled vegetables are a favourite accompaniment. Modern Polish cuisine, however, tends towards greater variety, and focuses on healthy choices. In general, the quality of “store-bought” food is very high, especially in dairy products, baked goods, vegetables and meat products.

A dinner commonly includes the first course of soup, followed by the main course. Among soups, barszcz czerwony (red beet soup, also known as borscht) is perhaps the most recognizable: a spicy and slightly sour soup, served hot. It’s commonly poured over dumplings (barszcz z uszkami or barszcz z pierogami), or served with a fried pate roll (barszcz z pasztecikiem). Other uncommon soups include zupa ogórkowa, a cucumber soup made of a mix of fresh and pickled cucumbers; zupa grzybowa, typically made with wild mushrooms; also, flaki or flaczki – well-seasoned tripe. The most common in restaurants is the żurek, a sour-rye soup served with traditional Polish sausage and a hard-boiled egg.

Pierogi are, of course, an immediately recognizable Polish dish. They are often served along side another dish (for example, with barszcz), rather than as the main course. There are several types of them, stuffed with a mix of cottage cheese and onion, or with meat or even wild forest fruits. Gołąbki are also widely known: they are large cabbage rolls stuffed with a mix of grains and meats, steamed or boiled and served hot with a white sauce or tomato sauce.

Bigos is another unique, if less well-known, Polish dish: a “hunter’s stew” that includes various meats and vegetables, on a base of pickled cabbage. Bigos tends to be very thick and hearty. Similar ingredients can also be thinned out and served in the form of a cabbage soup, called kapuśniak. Some Austro-Hungarian imports have also become popular over the years, and adopted by the Polish cuisine. These include gulasz, a local version of goulash that’s less spicy than the original, and sznycel po wiedeńsku, which is a traditional schnitzel, often served with potatoes and a selection of vegetables.

When it comes to food-on-the-go, foreign imports tend to dominate (such as kebab or pizza stands, and fast-food franchises). An interesting Polish twist is a zapiekanka, which is an open-faced baguette, covered with mushrooms and cheese (or other toppings of choice), and toasted until the cheese melts. Zapiekanki can be found at numerous roadside stands and bars. In some bars placki ziemniaczane (polish potato pancakes) are also available. Knysza is a polish version of hamburger, but it’s much (much) bigger and it contains beef, variety of vegetables and sauces. Drożdżówka is a popular sweet version of food-on-the-go, which is a sweet yeast bread (sometimes in a form of kolach) or a pie filled with stuffing made of: poppy seed mass; vanilla, chocolate, coconut or advocaat pudding; baked apples; cocoa mass; sweet curd cheese or fruits.

Poland is also known for two unique cheeses, both made by hand in the [Podhale] mountain region in the south. Oscypek is the more famous: a hard, salty cheese, made of unpasteurized sheep milk, and smoked (or not). It goes very well with alcoholic beverages such as beer. The less common is bryndza, a soft cheese, also made with sheep milk (and therefore salty), with a consistency similar to spreadable cheeses. It’s usually served on bread, or baked potatoes. Both cheeses are covered by the EU Protected Designation of Origin (like the French Roquefort, or the Italian Parmegiano-Reggiano).

Polish bread is sold in bakeries (piekarnia in Polish) and shops and it’s a good idea to ask on what times it can be bought hot (in a bakery). Poles are often very attached to their favourite bread suppliers and don’t mind getting up very early in the morning to obtain a fresh loaf. The most common bread (zwykły) is made of rye or rye and wheat flour with sourdough and is best enjoyed very fresh with butter alone or topped with a slice of ham. Many other varieties of breads and bread rolls can be bought and their names and recipes vary depending on a region. Sweet Challah bread (chałka in Polish) is sold in many bakeries.

Polish cake shops (cukiernia) are also worth mentioning, as there’s a big tradition of eating cakes in Poland. They can be found in every city and quite often sell local specialties. The standard cakes and desserts which can be found in every region of Poland are: cheesecake (sernik), applecake (jabłecznik), yeast fruit cakes (drożdżówka) – especially with plums or strawberries, a variety of cream cakes (kremówki), babka which is a plain sweet cake, sometimes with an addition of cocoa, mazurek, fale dunaju, metrowiec, ciasto jogurtowe which is a sponge filled with yoghurt mousse, doughnuts (pączki) which are traditionally filled with wild rose petals marmalade, pszczółka – a yeast cake with coconut pudding and many others.

Polish sausages (kiełbasy) are sold in grocery shops or in butcher’s shops (rzeźnik). There are tens of different types of sausages; most of them can be enjoyed without any further preparation. Therefore there are sausages like biała kiełbasa (traditionally enjoyed in żurek or barszcz biały soup) which are raw and need to be boiled, fried or baked before eating. Some sausages are recommended to be fried or roasted over a bonfire (which is probably as popular as barbecuing). Different local sausages can be found in different regions of Poland (like Lisiecka in Kraków area).

Polish fish & chips (smażalnia ryb) can be found in most cities on the Baltic Sea coast. On the coast and in the Masuria you can also find extremely valued in Poland fish smokehouses (wędzarnia ryb) which sell many types of smoked local fish (mostly marine fish on the coast, freshwater fish in Masuria). Smokehouses might turn out very difficult to find, as they don’t usually display advertisements and are sometimes in some remote areas. It is a good idea to do some investigation and to ask local people for directions and help with searching. Among smoked fish offered for sale you can find: salmon (łosoś), cod (dorsz), flounder (flądra), rose fish (karmazyn), herring (śledź), halibut (halibut), pollock (mintaj), hake (morszczuk), mackerel (makrela), skipper (szprotki, szprot), trout (pstrąg), brown trout (troć), eel (węgorz), zander (sandacz), carp (karp), vendace (sielawa), tencz (lin), bream (leszcz), sturgeon (jesiotr), asp (boleń) and others. You should be careful with smoked butterfish (maślana) as despite being very delicious it can cause diarrhea in some people and shouldn’t be eaten by children and elderly people.

In the whole Poland territory you can buy some smoked fish, among which the most popular is mackerel (it is advised to buy it in a busy shop for full, fresh flavour as it deteriorates quickly; for example in a local market). Also anywhere in Poland you can buy herrings in vinegar or oil marinade. One of the Polish favourites is battered herring or other fish in a vinegar marinade.

Milk bars:

If you want to eat cheaply, you should visit a milk bar (bar mleczny). A milk bar is a very basic sort of fast food restaurant that serves cheap Polish fare. Nowadays it has become harder and harder to find one. They were invented by the communist authorities of Poland in mid-1960s as a means to offer cheap meals to people working in companies that had no official canteen. Its name originates from the fact that until late 1980s the meals served there were mostly dairy-made and vegetarian (especially during the martial law period of the beginning of the 1980s, when meat was rationed). The milk bars are usually subsidized by the state. Eating there is a unique experience – it is not uncommon that you will encounter people from various social classes – students, businessmen, university professors, elderly people, sometimes even homeless, all eating side-by-side in a 1970s-like environment. Presumably, it is the quality of food at absolutely unbeatable price (veggie main courses starting from just a few złoty!) that attracts people. However, a cautionary warning needs to be issued – complete nutjobs do dine at milk bars too, so even if you’re going for the food, you’ll end up with dinner and a show. Curious as to what the show will entail? Well, each show varies, but most of them will leave you scratching your head and require the suspension of disbelief.

DRINK:

Poland is on the border of European “vodka” and “beer culture”. Poles enjoy alcoholic drinks but they drink less than the European average. You can buy beer, vodka and wine. Although Poland is known as the birthplace of vodka, local beer seems to have much more appeal to many Poles. Another traditional alcoholic beverage is mead. Polish liqueurs and nalewka (alcoholic tincture) are a must.

You must be over 18 years old and be able to prove it with a valid ID to buy alcohol, and this is strictly enforced.

Beer:

Poland’s brewery tradition began in the Middle Ages. Today Poland is one of top beer countries in Europe.

Although not well known internationally, Poland traditionally sports some of the best pilsner-type lagers worldwide. The most common big brands include:

  • Żywiec (pronounced ZHIV-y-ets)
  • Tyskie (pronounced TIS-kyeh)
  • Okocim (pronounced oh-KO-cheem)
  • Lech (pronounced LEH)
  • Warka (pronounced VAR-kah)
  • Łomża (pronounced Uom-zha)

Micro-breweries and gastro-pubs are on the rise, in particular in the larger cities, and many delicatessen or supermarkets carry smaller brands, including hand-crafted beers of many types.

Pubs usually offer one or two varietes of draught beer (draft beer), usually only pilsner-type lagers. When ordering a beer, you can choose between “big one” (duże; 0.5 liter) or “small one” (małe; 0.3 liter). You can also ask for “beer with juice” (piwo z sokiem), then a barman will add a bit of sweet syrup (raspberry or ginger). The most popular snack ordered with beer is potato chips.

Vodka:

Common brands are:

  • Żubrówka (Zhoo-BROOF-ka) – vodka with flavors derived from Bison Grass, from eastern Poland.
  • Żołądkowa Gorzka (Zho-wont-KO-va GOSH-ka) – vodka with “bitter” (gorzka) in the name, but sweet in taste. Just like Żubrówka, it’s a unique Polish product and definitely a must-try.
  • Wiśniówka (Vish-NIOOF-ka) – Cherry vodka (very sweet).
  • Krupnik (KROOP-nik) – Honey and spices vodka, a traditional Polish-Lithuanian recipe (very sweet). During winter, many bars sell Grzany Krupnik (warm Krupnik), where hot water, cinnamon, cloves, and citrus zest or slices are added.
  • Żytnia (ZHIT-nea) – rye vodka
  • Wyborowa (Vi-bo-RO-va) – One of Poland’s most popular rye vodkas. This is also one of the most common exported brands. Strong and pleasant.
  • Luksusowa (Look-sus-OH-vah) “Luxurious” – Another popular brand, and a common export along with Wyborowa.
  • Starka “Old” – A vodka traditionally aged for years in oak casks. Of Lithuanian origin
  • Biała Dama (Be-AH-wa DAH-ma) is not a vodka but a name given by winos to cheap rectified spirits of dubious origin, best avoided if you like your eyesight the way it is.
  • Sobieski – rye vodka, one of the most commonly chosen by Polish people.

Deluxe (more expensive) brands include Chopin and Belvedere. Most Poles consider these brands to be “export brands”, and usually don’t drink them.

There are also dozens of flavoured vodkas. Apart from Polish traditional flavours like: Żubrówka, Żołądkowa, Wiśniówka and Krupnik, you can easily buy some less obvious flavours like: pineapple, pear, blackcurrant, cranberry, grapefruit, apple, mint, lemon, herbs and others. The availability of different brands can vary in different regions of the country.

Wine:

Poland makes wines around Zielona Góra in Lubuskie, in Małopolskie, in the Beskids and in Świętokrzyskie in central Poland. They used to be only available from the winery or at regional wine festivals, such as in Zielona Góra. But with a new law passed in 2008, this has changed and Polish wines are also available in retail stores.

As for imported wine, apart from the usual old and new world standards, there is usually a choice of decent table wines from central and eastern Europe, such as Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, the Balkans, and Georgia.

It winter, many Poles drink grzaniec (mulled wine), made of red wine heated with spices such as cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. A similar drink can be made with beer, although wine is the more popular method.

Mead:

Mead – miód pitny is a traditional and historical alcohol drink in Poland. Mead is brewed from honey and has excellent unusual taste similar to wine. Original Polish mead contain 13-20% alcohol. Sometimes it can be very sweet. Today Poles have a strange relationship with mead. All of them have heard of it, almost none have ever tried it.

Cocktails:

Poles are very keen on beer and vodka, and you’ll find that cocktails are often expensive but can be found in most bars in most major cities. One of the best known native to Poland drinks is Szarlotka made of Żubrówka vodka and apple juice.

Tea and coffee:

Throw stereotypes out the door. For Poles, one of the most important staples to quench their thirst is not wódka or beer, but rather tea and coffee. The traditional hot drink is tea (herbata) while coffee (kawa) although known in Poland since close contacts with Turkey in 17th century, became more popular in last twenty five years. It is very common behaviour that if you visit friends at home or start a formal meeting you will be firstly asked: “coffee or tea?”. Refusing a hot drink in this situation may be seen as impolite. It is rather unusual to talk or to meet with somebody without drinking one of those hot drinks.

When ordering a coffee, you’ll find that it is treated with respect reminiscent of Vienna, rather than, say, New York. Which is to say: you’ll get a fresh cup prepared one serving at a time, with table service that assumes you’ll sit down for a while to enjoy it. Mass-produced to-go coffee remains highly unpopular, although chains such as Coffee Heaven have been making inroads. Curiously, there are still only a few Starbucks shops in the whole country, which are occupied mostly by teenagers.

There are four basic types of coffee which you will be offered in Poland. In small bars, fast food or at friends home (where usually they haven’t coffee makers) you can choose between instant coffee (rozpuszczalna) or Turkish coffee (kawa po turecku or kawa sypana). The second one is a very specific Polish style, not known abroad. It is simply two teaspoons of ground coffee poured with boiling water. A traditional way is to serve it in glasses. In restaurants you can additionally order “a coffee from a coffee maker” (kawa z ekspresu). It may be a very small and strong, italian-style espresso or bigger one (200 ml) americano. During order a waiter or a barman always will ask you whether you want “black one?” (czarna?; without milk) or “with milk?” (z mlekiem?).

Ordering a tea, on the other hand, will usually get you a cup or kettle of hot water, and a tea bag on the side, so that the customer can put together a tea that’s as strong or as weak as they like. This is not uncommon in continental Europe, but may require some adjustment for visitors. Drinking tea with milk is not popular, traditionally Poles add a slice of lemon and sugar (herbata z cytryną), unless they drink flavored tea. Tea houses with large selection of good quality teas and a relaxing atmosphere are gaining popularity. In such places you will get rather a kettle with brewed leaf tea. Funnily, drinking tea with milk is commonly believed in Poland to enhance women’s lactation.

For the most part, a good coffee can be had for 5 – 10 zł a cup, while a cup of tea can be purchased for the same, unless you happen to order a small kettle, in which case you’ll probably pay something between 15 – 30 zł.

Prices:

Lodging prices are no longer the bargain they used to be several years ago; now they’re comparable to standard European prices. For the bargain hunter, standard tactics apply: if hotel prices are too much, look on the Internet for private rooms, pensions, or apartments for rent, which can sometimes be found for a very reasonable price. Best deals are usually offered off-season.

Hotels:

Only one major hotel chain has a decent coverage of the entirety of the country, and this is Accor, who have taken over the former state-owned provider Orbis (and still operate several hotels by that name as of 2013). A selection of hotels ranging from the affordable ibis through business-oriented Novotel and Mercure and prestigious Sofitels can be found throughout the country. Do note that while almost all ibis-hotels have been purpose-built in the 2000s, Novotels and Mercures are often converted old Orbis hotels and may not be the best hotels those brands have to offer in Europe. Even Accor has gaps in coverage in less tourist-frequented areas.

The most popular global hotel chains (Intercontinental, Marriott, Hilton, Carlson) have some presence in Poland, but none can really boast full coverage of even the most important cities. There is a number of Best Western-affiliated hotels, but they do not cover the entire country as well. Of particular note of the motorized travellers on a budget is the presence of another French chain, Campanile.

Hostels:

Hostels affiliated with the national hosteling association are often horrid options for backpackers because of imposed curfews. Additionally, Hosteling International (HI) affiliated hostels are frequently used by large school groups, which means young children may very well be screaming their heads off and running around the halls. Some private hostels are clean and welcoming, but others can be worse than HI hostels.

Super and hypermarkets:

Hypermarkets are dominated by western chains: Carrefour, Tesco, Auchan, Real. Some are open 24 hours a day, and are usually in shopping malls or suburbs.

However Poles shop very often at local small stores for bread, meat, fresh dairy, vegetables and fruits – goods for which freshness and quality is essential.

Prices in Poland are some of the lowest in Europe.

Town markets:

Many towns, and larger suburbs, hold traditional weekly markets, similar to farmers’ markets popular in the West. Fresh produce, baker’s goods, dairy, meat and meat products are sold, along with everything from flowers and garden plants to Chinese-made clothing and bric-a-brac. In season wild mushrooms and forest fruit can also be bought. Markets are held on Thursdays, Fridays and/or Saturdays and are a great way to enjoy the local colour. Prices are usually set though you can try a little good-natured bargaining if you buy more than a few items.

**All travel information has been sourced from wikivoyage. However like wikipedia, wikivoyage is an open platform editable by any member of the public. Therefore, although very useful, all above information IS INDICATIVE ONLY and must be verified prior to personal use. Moreover, if you wish to see more information please visit: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Poland
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Name: Wawel Castle
Location: Kraków, Poland
The Wawel Castle is a castle residency located in central Kraków, Poland. Built at the behest of King Casimir III the Great, it consists of a number of structures situated around the Italian-styled main courtyard. The castle, being one of the largest in Poland, represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. The Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill constitute the most historically and culturally significant site in the country. In 1978 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Centre of Kraków.

For centuries the residence of the kings of Poland and the symbol of Polish statehood, the Castle is now one of the country’s premier art museums. Established in 1930, the museum encompasses ten curatorial departments responsible for collections of paintings, including an important collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, prints, sculpture, textiles, among them the Sigismund II Augustus tapestry collection, goldsmith’s work, arms and armor, ceramics, Meissen porcelain, and period furniture. The museum’s holdings in oriental art include the largest collection of Ottoman tents in Europe.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wawel_Castle
Name: Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
Location: Oświęcim, Poland
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum - Former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp is a memorial and museum in Oświęcim, Poland, which includes the German Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. It is devoted to the memory of the victims who died at both camps during World War II. The museum performs several tasks, including Holocaust research.

The museum was founded by the act of the Sejm on July 2, 1947. The area covers 191 hectares (470 acres), twenty of them in camp Auschwitz I and 171 hectares in camp Auschwitz II. Since 1979, the former concentration camp has belonged to the World Cultural Heritage and more than 25 million people have visited the museum. From 1955 to 1990, the museum was directed by one of its founders and former inmates, Kazimierz Smoleń.

The areas of remembrance are Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the train ramp between Auschwitz and Birkenau, which was used as a "debarkation-stop" between 1942–1944. The three kilometres between Auschwitz and Birkenau are within walking distance. The museum is situated in several original buildings. In 2017, 2.1 million persons visited the site.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz-Birkenau_Memorial_and_Museum
Name: Wieliczka Salt Mine
Location: Wieliczka, Poland
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, in the town of Wieliczka, southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. Sodium chloride (table salt) was formerly produced there from the upwelling brine - and had been since Neolithic times. The Wieliczka salt mine, excavated from the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world's oldest operating salt mines. Throughout its history, the royal salt mine was operated by the Żupy Krakowskie (Kraków Salt Mines) company.

Commercial salt mining was discontinued in 1996 owing to falling salt prices and mine flooding. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is now an official Polish Historic Monument. Its attractions include the shafts and labyrinthine passageways, displays of historic salt-mining technology, an underground lake, four chapels and numerous statues carved by miners out of the rock salt, and more recent sculptures by contemporary artists.

The mine is currently one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments, whose attractions include dozens of statues and four chapels carved out of the rock salt by the miners. About 1.2 million people visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine annually.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wieliczka_Salt_Mine
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Our team is dedicated to providing a consular service which focuses on attention to detail, delivering a personal approach and with a high focus on compliance. Feedback is very important to us, therefore any comments you provide about our service are invaluable.

Our team is dedicated to providing a consular service which focuses on attention to detail, delivering a personal approach and with a high focus on compliance. Feedback is very important to us, therefore any comments you provide about our service are invaluableI have provided some of my own personal testimonials over my years in immigration below; working and leading on very large projects...

I have provided some of my own personal testimonials over my years in immigration below; working and leading on very large projects.

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