Hello, My husband lived in Poland for two years and fell in love with it. He now wants to take me back but I am not very excited. We have recently visited Spain and Italy, which I loved, and am worried that Poland will disappoint. Any thoughts?
We need to know why you think it will disappoint - what bias do you have that makes you think it will not live up to your expectations? We were there this summer on our 2nd trip to Poland - hit Warsaw, Torun, Malbork and Gdansk/Sopot. Had a good time - but then we have traveled a lot and go to strange places. In fact, we moved onto Georgia and Armenia after Poland. Yours is an impossible question to answer until you are willing to share some more.
I agree with Arnold about it being difficult to know if you'd be disappointed in Poland without knowing what your expectations and interests are. However, I, like your husband, lived for almost two years in Poland, and I most definitely fell in love. I had been talking for a long time about wanting to teach English abroad, especially in Europe, but with EU rules, it's difficult. A friend of mine suggested Poland as, at the time, it wasn't yet a member. Honestly, all I could associate with Poland was concentration camps and Soviet type factories and pollution, but she assured me that it was beautiful. Well, long story a bit shorter, I found a teaching job in a small town about 20 miles from Krakow. (Being in a small town with no nightlife, they had a hard time attracting teachers, so they didn't mind the extra hassle to hire a US citizen.) Anyway, the point is, Poland is beautiful: beautiful countryside, mountains, cities and towns. There may not be as many "must-see" sites as there are in Italy (which I also love) and Spain, but there's a certain romance and charm that is hard to put your finger on, but is very real. I haven't traveled as much as many on this board, but I have been to England, much of Italy, Prague and Budapest as well as several places in the Pacific rim, and I can honestly say that Krakow is my favorite city. I'm sure part of it is sentimentality, but my love was immediate. Poland isn't everyone's cup of tea, but seeing how popular Krakow, Wroclaw,etc have become, your husband and I aren't the only ones who love it:) Here's a video of Krakow made by two of my friends. It doesn't cover much, but it gives a taste of Krakow's charm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLacu73g1uM
Sorry I didn't give enough info. I am concerned that Poland will disappoint because my preconceived idea of the country is that it was destroyed by the Nazis only to be rebuilt by Communist Russia. I realize my ignorance but in my mind, it seems grey and uninviting. I have, however, begun to do a little research and am realizing that this may not be true. The other two contenders for our next European trip are the Dordogne region of France or Croatia. In my mind Poland would be a distant third. Enlighten me.
Well, the Dordogne is gorgeous, no question, and a good destination. I'd probably vote for it over the other 2. I haven't been to Croatia, but we drove from Prague to Krakow, which was a good 3 day stop. I thought there was a lot of energy in Poland with great spirit and lovely scenery. The people were pretty good looking, too. It was interesting enough that we wished we had time to see more of Poland and Romania. Maybe if you read a couple of guidebooks you'll find something to interest you. After all, Italy and France and Germany also suffered destruction during the wars and have been rebuilt.
melissa, How much time do you have for this trip? If you only have two weeks, you could (for example) spend one week in Poland and one week in either Croatia or the Dordogne. That would allow you and your husband to both visit an area that interests each of you. Using open-jaw flights would of course be the best idea. Whether to choose Croatia or France will probably depend on the availability and cost of flights. Good luck and happy travels!
A little along the lines of James' thinking - you need to sit with your husband and lay out the options and weigh them against each other and then collectively decide the areas you want to visit.
You're saying you don't trust the judgement of the guy you married?
I had the pleasure of living in Europe for 3 years and did quite a bit of travelling. People often ask my what my favorite place was; suprisingly, I usually say Poland and Italy. The Polish people are so welcoming and kind, they really made my family and I feel welcome. I understand your concerns about much of the country being rebuilt, and yes, some of it is. Luckily, Krakow was spared and remains pretty much intact. Our guide said that even Hitler recognized the beauty of Krakow and couldn't destroy it. For an authenic view of Poland, I would definitely spend some time in Krakow. Also, Auschwitz is only an hour drive from Krakow, and I feel it is a must see. Our concierge was surprised when we asked him to help arrange a tour, apparantly many Americans are not interested in visiting. I couldn't imagine going to Poland without stopping to see such a huge part of our world's history. It is a humbling and emotional trip that you will be happy that you made time for. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as I did, I can see why your husband fell in love with it. It is different from Western Europe, but it truly is one of my most memorable destinations.
I'd vote for the trip to Poland and letting your husband share his memories with you. Visiting Poland won't be a rerun of your trip to Spain and Italy. The climate, architecture, culture, and history are different, but you'll find a beautiful country on the upswing with friendly locals who generally like interacting with American tourists. Will you see things to remind you of Poland's devastating experiences in WWII and after? Absolutely, but the country survived and is again proudly independent.
Five years ago we spent a week in Krakow. Last fall we spent 3 days in Warsaw. We have no ties with Poland but have to say we LOVED both of our visits. It is true that a great deal of Warsaw was destroyed in WWII but the people have devoted much effort to restoring the city to its original charm and character. Warsaw blends much of the "old" with that of a modern, vibrant city. We revisit the city in a heartbeat if our future travel plans take us into the area. Same with Krakow. Great town, great people. We also loved Spain and Italy and intend to revisit again in the future. Broaden your travel horizon and visit Poland. The people are warm and friendly, and only one generation removed from the cultural "tempering" inflicted on them by WWII. You won't be disappointed.
Stephanie, Another vote here for going to Poland. I also have no ties to Poland, could take it or leave it. But I am very glad that I've made three trips there since 2001, seeing the obvious Warsaw and Krakow, then Gdansk (Danzig), Malbork (Marienburg), Torun (Thorn). No need to be concerned whether you will be disappointed or not with its lovely hospitality and people.
I also doubt that you will be disappointed with Poland. My wife and I visited Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow and Zakopane last May and loved it. She also wasn't too keen on the trip and now wants to go back. Do some reading, keep an open mind and be glad that you are able to do such a trip.
My wife and I just returned from Eastern Europe which included 3 days in Kracow. We loved it and will go back. The only thing we did not love was the train system. A lot of work being done for Euro 2012. Trains were always late. At times we were not aware of the stop because nothing was said. No postings on the side of trains. Maybe all will be better when you go.
I really loved Poland (Krakow) but if you feel it might not be for you, what about adding Prague to the mix or Cesky Krumlov?
I had the opportunity to travel to Poland 4years ago and I loved it! It was never on my bucket list, but if I had the chance to go back again I would. We flew into Krackow with snow coming down in March. We stayed 4 nights in the old town and found it lovely. Took a side trip to Aus/Berk concentration camp and ended that evening in a lovely little restaurant in what remains of the Jewish area in Krakow. There was a small Klezmer band playing their wonderfully haunting music, and it was a very fitting ending to the day. Spent a bit of time in Gdansk, another lovely city and then went in Kalingrad Russia for 5 days then back to fly home from Warsaw. Warsaw was a pleasant surprise, was glad to have a few days there. I treasure my time in Poland, the people were warm and friendly. Yes there were remnants of the soviet era housing, etc, but there was so much beauty. Every trip is different and every area has much to discover. Go to Poland but don,t compare it to other trips, enjoy what each area has to offer.
You will be pleasantly surprised.
I haven't travelled in Poland extensively, but have spent some time in Krakow and regard it as a must-see European city. From all accounts, it was gloomy and bleak during the Soviet era (as was Prague, Budapest...) but is anything but now.... I felt a deeply spiritual vibe in Poland, and my visit moved me deeply. The Hotel Maltanski is a keeper -- well located and on par with hotels I've stayed in either Italy or Spain (http://www.donimirski.com/hotel-maltanski
Spain, Italy, the Dordogne and Croatia have the "cachet" of being popular travel destinations (deservedly so). It's not perceived to be as exciting to say that you visited "ho-hum" Poland... unless you have been there. Poland is beautiful and the very friendly people there make for such a great trip! If your husband still has friends and connections there - you will be in for a very rich travel experience. Go back to Poland with your husband, to visit the places he wants to take you to and share with you, and you're bound to enjoy it. Just make sure that you save some days for Krakow, one of Europe's most romantic cities, IMO! Prague has is a good extension to a Poland trip, so you can easily plan on flying into Poland and back from Prague (with a train to take you to Prague for a few days at the end).