4 Reasons Why Poland Should Be the Next Country You Visit
Whenever you think about traveling to Europe on vacation, what are the places you normally think of when deciding on where you might want to go? Chances are you’re probably going to say Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, and a wide array of other tourist-friendly cities that attract lots of people each year. All of these tourist-friendly places are great in their own unique ways and in no way am I saying that you shouldn’t visit any of those popular cities. I have been too many of them and have nothing but positive things to say about those cities. They offer many attractions, including delicious cuisines, and many other positive aspects. However, there are many places in Europe that don’t get their rightful recognition. There are various reasons as to why certain places are less recognized than others. The place that I think deserves far more appreciation and should be the next country you visit in Europe, is none other than Poland. The following are the four reasons as to why this is the case.
- The cuisine. Polish cuisine features some of the tastiest dishes that are known throughout the world. Some noteworthy bites are bigos (Hunter’s stew), nalesniki (Polish pancakes), golabki (cabbage roll), rosol (chicken soup), and the most famous being pierogi (Polish dumplings). Not to mention the never-ending list of outstanding pastries, ice cream, and alcoholic beverages. Vodka is commonly thought to have been originated from Russia, however, it is actually a Polish invention that was created in the 8th century. Another traditional food item is oscypek, a smoked cheese made from salted sheep milk. It’s only made in the Tatra Mountains, home of the Gorale (highlander people), and has some unique shapes and designs carved into the cheese. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, Poland’s cuisine is sure to have something delicious for everyone to enjoy.
Oscypek shown on display
2. The people. There are many positive things to say about the people of Poland. They are friendly, kind, generous, intelligent, hard-working, and strong-willed. This is impressive considering the many hardships many Poles have faced in the past including WWII and communism rule thanks to the Soviets. Nevertheless, they’ve remained strong and continue to look forward towards the future. If you’re walking down the streets of Warsaw you can spot smiling faces and hear “Dzien dobry” (the world for hello) as you look and walk past them.
3. The sights. No matter what part of Poland you visit there is sure to be something for everyone in this country that is filled with a rich history. In the south, you have the magnificent Wawel Castle in the second biggest city Krakow. It’s a national museum that was once a Renaissance palace and the political and cultural center of Poland through the 16th century. Also in the south, lies the sight of the infamous former concentration camp, Auschwitz. The camp was partially destroyed, however, the remaining buildings that were left intact now serve as part of one large museum. Shifting over to the north, we have the Wolf’s Lair near the town of Ketrzyn. It features 18 overgrown hectares of partially destroyed bunkers, which were Hitler’s headquarters in WWII. Also in the north, lies the beautiful Malbork Castle in the town of Malbork. As the name suggests, the main attraction is a giant castle that was one of the biggest in the Middle Ages and was used as a large fortress to protect citizens from oncoming enemy attacks. Probably my favorite attraction in Poland is in the south, by the city of Krakow, called the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine is a pretty underground labyrinth that showcases, well you guessed it, salt. It gives you an idea of what life was like for the salt miners that were constantly excavating salt, starting from the 13th century all the way to 1996. In all honesty, there are amazing historical sights in practically every city in Poland. The history here is very rich and the people are very proud of how far they’ve come to make it towards freedom.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
4. The national pride. It’s no secret that the Polish people love their country very dearly. Their fight for freedom has been a long, arduous process throughout its history. The millions of Poles who perished during WWII is a painful reminder of how horrific things were not that long ago. In addition, Poland was partitioned by the Prussians, Russians, and Austrians in the late 17th century, meaning that Poland was no longer officially a country until the year 1918 after WWI had ended. As a result of these past hardships, Poland is now stronger than ever and their people couldn’t be more proud of their nation. They love to watch their national sports teams compete in the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, and other well-known sporting events. The unofficial national sport of Poland is soccer, but their loyalty goes far beyond just this one sport. Their fans, or “kibice” as they’re known in Polish, are some of the most appreciative in the world and, win or lose, they have a neverending pride for their teams. This sense of pride extends greatly to religion in Poland as well. The nation is 87% Roman Catholic and is one of the most religious countries in the entire world. Their pride in religion became even larger when Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected into papacy in 1978 and became known as Pope John Paul II. His time period of papacy lasted until his 2005 death, but the Poles have not lost faith and pride in their religion one bit since then. There are countless other disciplines where Poles have shined and their people have shown their love for their heroes. Whether it be in art, literature, religion, science, or various other fields, the Poles’ pride has remained intact even after so many battles and hardships in their historical past.
The nation of Poland is one that definitely has a long and complicated history with many ups and downs. With that being said, it is quite remarkable how enjoyable of a visit you can have when spending some time here. The cuisine is one of a kind, the people are some of the friendliest you will ever meet, the sights and attractions are plentiful, and the national pride can be felt the moment you take your first steps in the country. Many tourists are aware of the attractions that nearby countries France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Greece have to offer, and it’s amazing how they usually overlook Poland when it comes to deciding on where to travel to in Europe. There are many other arguments as to why Poland is such a unique and fascinating country that people need to check out. I went with the four listed because they were by far the biggest and what I think most Poles would agree should be added to a list like this. I really hope that by reading this column, you can now clearly see why Poland should be the next country you visit in the world. Visiting this nation has changed my life for the better, and I really hope it does the same for you.