Ladies' or Men's?
In many public toilets in Poland the doors are marked with a triangle for men and a circle for ladies. If you mistake them, you will meet with raised eyebrows, a 'witty' comment or even angry word. The signs seem so obvious to everybody that nobody would even think that they can be confusing for people from other countries.
The use of a toilet can be free, e.g. in restaurants for the patrons, otherwise it shouldn't cost more than 1 - 2 zloties. Toilet tissue is usually there, although I have known some exceptions. The most expensive toilet I have come across was in the restaurant on the Puck pier - 5 zl, a real rip-off.
Although the number of public toilets has grown in recent years, there are still places where tourists can look for one in panic, the Bialowieza bison reserve being one of them.Related to:
- Road Trip
Holidays in Poland
Tourists visiting a foreign country often find themselves in a rather awkward situation when it suddenly turns out that they have chosen the day/s of a national holiday for their visit. So here are the dates (or approximate dates) of holidays celebrated in Poland:
1 January - New Year's Day
Easter Sunday and Monday - sometime in March-April
1 - 3 May - Labour Day, Flag Day and the 3rd May Constitution Day
Corpus Christi - a Thursday in late May or early June (11 June in 2009) - in the ninth week after Easter
15 August - Assumption Day
1 November - All Saints' Day
11 November - Independence Day
25, 26 December - Christmas
On these days most shops, museums and various places of interest are closed, although some may stay open for the May holiday as it is the beginning of the summer season. Some ethnographic museums I know are open on Easter Monday.
Many museums stay open on Sundays but remain closed on Mondays.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
In many countries the taxi mafia is active,
If they see a tourist they see the dollars and try to cheat you.
So don't be naiv, Get a feeling for the right price by asking other people.
Always ask for the price before you get off.
Always look what the driver does if he uses the taxameter.
They have sometimes a manipulated taxameter.
If you drive by day be sure that he doesn't use the night tarif.
Unique Suggestions: Pay and try to do better next time!
Fun Alternatives: Use public transportRelated to:
- Budget Travel
Taxi Ride to Auschwitz / Oswiecim
I don't mind paying more if I think it will make me have a better time. I'm not a backpacker type and I'm not inclined to suffer to save some money. But, there's no good reason to agree to let a cabbie take you the 1.75 minute drive to Auschwitz. They will ask. They will offer. They will try to make you think it's worth it. It's not.
The only hard thing about taking the bus is getting someone, anyone -- a concierge, a travel agent, a cop -- to tell you how to get to the bus station. No one can tell you. God forbid someone gets mugged at the bus station, the cops won't help because they don't know where it is. It's not a language thing, either.
The frustration from this alone may lead you to accept a taxi driver's offer (as it did me), but they will want between 200 and 350 zlotys. The bus is about 28, and it takes you right there.
Unique Suggestions: All you have to do is find the elusive bus station. It's "behind the train station. Go there and ask someone." That's the advice I was consistently given. In fact it's true, it is behind the train station, if you are facing the train station with the old town behind you. But you have to go thru some underground passageways to find it.Related to:
- Historical Travel
There is a major tourist part of Warszawa called STARY MIASTO- It is a section rebuilt to look like how the city was before it was destroyed during the war. It is fun to walk through there as a tourist for the first time, but I find all the restaurants and cafes, and other commercial establishments to be marketed to tourists who have the money to pay.
My friend and I went to an upscale cafe which was a bit "high flutin' " with grandeur decor from by gone years - most of the people there were pretentious, and the waitress was short tempered. We ordered an alcoholic coffee and got a bit happy quickly and soon we were the only table laughing and joking and enjoying ourselves- that is the memory I have of that place at least!Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
No small money, Sir
Upon arrival in Warsaw airport, I took a taxi towards the Central station of Warsaw.
Arrived at the railway station the taxi driver told me : no small money, Sir.
It is kind of normal if you arrive in a place for the first time that you have no small money, and this taxi driver took advantage of this fact.
There is also the fact that you have no exact idea on the distance and direction towards your destination, so if he takes a detour, you can never notice.
Maybe that was the reason in the difference of the price for the first ride upon arrival - 33 zl. and only 25 zl. upon departure
Unique Suggestions: I paid 7 zl. to much that is almost 2 euro . . . . He, for that price you can get a delicious local beer on one of the many terraces of the market place in Krakow.
Fun Alternatives: I think there isn't much you can do, especially if you are travelling alone. When you are with two, one could go for a search for small money inside the building.Related to:
- Road Trip
When a foreigner tries to buy a ticket ...
Unfortunately people working at the railway stations do NOT speak any other language than Polish (there are little exceptions but not many).
Unique Suggestions: Before you go to buy a ticket, ask somebody who knows Polish to write all the ticket details for you on a sheet of paper. With this paper go to the ticket office. The price is shown on the cash screen. So don't worry.
If you need to buy a ticket for an international trip at the station in Gdansk Glowny, go to the main hall of the station and go up-stairs on the 1st floor to KASA MIEDZYNARODOWA (INTERNATIONAL TICKET OFFICE). As far as I remember there is no sign in English :-(.
Fun Alternatives: You can always print the text I have attached to this tip and use it, when buying a ticket.
Believe me, I have seen many times desperated tourist who couldn't find the way at the station because of the language barrier...Related to:
Bialystok: the "hotel" that isn't a Hotel
Bialystok: This accommodation place, has a name of “Hotel” but it isn’t a hotel, may be a bad pension, I have seen it when I was in this city looking for room, and I was surprised as this “hotel” is in a 4th floor without lift, the old woman doesn’t speak english, with very poor rooms, and the roller-blind damaged.
It has a big placard Hotel over the house, and it is sited just on the train station Square.
Kazimierz - the Jewish quarter. Originally it was an independent town but it became swallowed by Kracow as time went by. In the 18th century it was incorporated into Kracow and the walls the surrounded it were torn down. This quarter was ignored and neglected by tourist and locals alike for a very long time. It is only since the movie Schindler's List that it became popular. I did not enjoy my visit there, I felt there was something wrong in being there to see what a movie (and not hundreds of years of tragic history) had taught me
Unique Suggestions: Do not expect many beautiful buindings - most were destroyed a long time ago.
Fun Alternatives: Anywhere else in the old town has much nicer buildings
The Ksaiz Castle
Possibly the biggest disappointment that I had well touring Poland, other than the weather, was the Ksaiz Castle. It looks great on the outside. In fact it one of the most picturesque castles I have ever seen but there is little to see inside the castle itself. Just a small museum of minor interest. This is sad because the castle does have a somewhat interesting background. It was built in the 13th century. Hitler was so enchanting with the place that he thought of making it his headquarters during the Second World War. In fact there are suppose to be many tunnels underneath the castle that were to serve as bomb shelters. Today the castle, besides the small museum, is the home of a moderately priced hotel and a couple of restaurants with snobby waiters. I did not eat here. The castle is also hard to reach by public transport.
If you are still game on visiting, the castle is near the interesting town of Swidnica which is in turn another 22 kilometres southwest of Wroclaw. I visited both destinations on a daytrip by bus from Wroclaw.
Unique Suggestions: Spend the night in the hotel which looks like it might be romantic. Also think about taking a hike in the lovely valleys that surround the castle.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Museum Visits
OK, all northern Poles will maybe refuse to vote for me and send me abuse but I AM SORRY, I don't understand its greatness. In fact, every time Spader and I tried to approach it, we soon found our way back south again on a nigh train :-))) To me, the town is interesting because of its wartime history and its Lech Walesa and Solidarity legacy but how it has become such a great tourist destination on these two merits still fail to reach my brain. I was met by a town which was more expensive than the rest of Poland and with an architecture that could just as well have been Lübeck or Roskilde and which is definately surpassed by for instance the cities in Belgian Flanders. I so much want to give this city a second chance though, and probably will as we have ferries from Sweden and my husband has never been to Poland...
Unique Suggestions: Go to the shipping wharf memorial and realise that this is where Poland's new modern times started.
Fun Alternatives: Stay on the beaches along the coast.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Historical Travel
Public toilets are a real pain in the butt :-(
First - there are too few of them. Fortunately there a couple of 'toilet operators', firms who rent mobile toilets, so called toi-toi (from the name of one of those 'operators').
Second - in most cases they are dirty and stinky. But I must admit that things are becomig better and better. It used to be worse a couple of years ago.
Third - usually you'll have to pay for your visit to a public toilet. Nowhere in the world have I seen a lady employed as a 'toilet cashier', this is unique for Poland. In many public toilets the price 'per pee or poo' is 1 zl (about EUR 0.25) and you need to pay in advance. The toilet cashier is a very important person as it is her who holds the toilet paper and (sometimes) paper towels.
McDonalds restaurants are very popular in Poland because they offer toilets free of charge (but still very stinky).
Unique Suggestions: Carry a pack of single use tissues with you. Never sit on a toilet seat in a public toilet.
Fun Alternatives: Hmmm... Stop peing? ;-)
Try to keep a lot of change on hand. No one seems to have it, and they don't care if you don't buy something from them because they cannot give you change. It's good to bring or buy a little change-purse because there are so many coin denominations in Poland that you will find yourself dealing with mostly coins. Just don't spend them all - always keep some on hand for little purchases like tram and bus tickets, because the seller will most likely not have change to give back to you.
in poland are pyramids too
When you arrive to poland you should go on Warmia&Mmazury. It's east-north of poland.
There are a wonderful fields, a lot of lakes and near a Banie Mazurskie village stand a pyramide. That pyramide have window and we can see all inside. What we can see in that darkness? If you want to know you should see it yourself.
Unique Suggestions: first step is a go to Poland of course, next step is travel to Olsztyn, night in hotel (I prefer Novotel - is not most expensive and near a lake). Next step is trip to Gizycko (north-east) and go ahead to Banie Mazurskie. In Banie we should trip on Rapa village and after 8 kilometers in big forest on right we see that pyramide.
American mobile phones
Will my mobile phone work in Poland?
It should. We have three different mobile networks and all of them have roaming agreements all over the world, so there is a great chance that they have one also with you operator.
The only problem can be with some American mobile phones as in Poland we have only networks operating in the European standards: GSM 900, DCS 1800 and old analog NMT 450. So if you have a phone working only with an American DCS 1900 standard it won't work in Poland for sure.
Unique Suggestions: Buy/rent a multiband (in Europe 3 band) mobile phone operating in DCS 900/1800/1900 before your trip to Poland.
Fun Alternatives: Buy the above phone in Poland (used one can cost 25-50 $).
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