Poland is my second favorite country on the planet. That might sound strange, especially to a Pole, but it is the truth. My reason for this is not a sound one based on any tangible facts, it is merely because I always felt comfortable and at home while there. This opinion is not based on a weekend or summer holiday in the country, but on living there for about two years in multiple areas.
As this is an overview I will stick to generalities of the country, with individual stories of the cities and villages to come later.
First off, Poland is a very large country but is not a melting pot like Germany. In my two years there I cannot remember ever seeing a black person outside of Warsaw. So it is highly Slavic, which is fine by me as I love Slavic women. And that takes me to my first love of the country, which is the people. I have already mentioned that the women are beautiful but beyond this they dress well and are good with cosmetics. I have found that only Russian are better are showing themselves off and are the only people on the planet trained from birth to walk in heels. But beyond the superficial beauty I found them all intelligent, educated, fun, and interesting. Some of the best nights of my life were sitting in a pub drinking wine, laughing and having interesting conversations with a Pole. And I do not mean only the women. I also had some male friends that were the same. This is a huge difference from Russia where I found all the men to be worthless drunks. So the people are a huge attraction.
My next love was the safety. I have never felt so safe before. I would walk anywhere by myself at any time of day or night. Many times after leaving the pub I zigzagged my way through dark streets and never had an issue. There was only once that I felt uncomfortable and turned around and that was a street out of the center in Krakow with a few locals hanging outside their BMWs in a group. For comparison there were many places I would not walk in Washington D.C., San Francisco, and all other US cities. I never felt safe or comfortable in Hungary, and I didn’t even like going out alone in the daytime in Russia. Maybe I was just lucky, but I tell it like it is.
Here is my biggest love of Poland. The history! I am a fan of military history and Poland has it is spades. Yes, Hungary has an interesting history as well but the Turks don’t interest me near as much as the Nazis. The Polish history is facinating. I couldn’t get through their history books fast enough. The only reason I liked Warsaw was that every corner of the city has some mark from the war. Walking the streets it would take me hours to go a few blocks as I would stop and read all the plaques and touch the walls. I dreamed of the Warsaw Uprising when I slept. It was all so magical. I’ll sure the locals would call the memories by a different name but for me it was incredible. I also know of no other country that didn’t exist, then re-existed, then didn’t exist again and so on. I recommend you read some history books about the country before visiting or while riding the trains around.
The ryneks! These are the main squares. Warsaw doesn’t really have one but all the other cities do. Full of restaurants, clubs, and pubs, they are beautiful areas that fill with people sitting outside in the summer. I used to spend hours sitting outside with my friends drinking beers and watching people walk by. It is darn near my idea of a perfect city center.
Should I continue? I think not. I try to keep these posts short so you don’t get bored, but do not think for a moment it is for lack of material. But I will discuss some of the problems with Poland. Oh yes, it has problems just like anywhere else. It is so religious that it is scary and that holds them back a bit. They are homophobic, racist, etc. Gay bars have to lock their doors and only admit people they know(My best friend in Poland is gay). The government is poorly run, though they have improved by leaps and bounds lately. In the winter the whole country smells of coal, but I actually enjoyed the smell, plus I don’t mind losing a few years of my life. I think we all live too long anyway. And I think that is about it. I’m sure for residents there are more complaints but I don’t really have any. It is a wonderful country to visit and just icing on the cake if you enjoy military history. In later posts I will discuss my experiences in the individual cities where I lived, inlcuding Warsaw, Krakow, Torun, Poznan, and Wrolcaw.