Just got back from 2.5 weeks in southern Poland! Finally had a chance to write down some thoughts and impressions. The goal of my trip was less so traditional sightseeing and more revisiting old friends and favorites places. To be honest traveling in Poland has never been better and more accessible. While the Ukrainian War and refugee crisis is quite a tragic situation it had no impact on traveling through Poland.
Poland is booming, lots of economic activity, new modern housing and buildings going up, more luxury cars on the street, infrastructure projects.
Everything "back to normal" and running at full speed, no covid restrictions.
Lots of domestic tourism and little foreigner tourism, mostly British and Germans only in the most touristy areas. I was there during off-season and Holy Week so that would certainly be the reason.
Gastronomy and accommodations now a lot more sophisticated than in previous years.
April is not a good month to visit Poland, weather changes a lot and unpredictable, it was snowing, rain, sun, windy, needed to buy extra clothes.
I had to go in April due to personal circumstances, but if I had a choice I would go from either mid May to late September or in December for the Christmas markets.
None whatsoever zero masks inside or outside, no social distancing, like pandemic is over and done with (even though it isn't). Many times I was the only one with a mask.
I flew from Spain to Germany then to Poland, everyone on the flights had masks on throughout the flight. I was not asked for any coivd documentation.
Flew on United back to the USA, halfway through the flight (when people learned of the Florida judge ruling mid-flight) 1/2 the passengers took off masks including many crew. Thank god I did not catch anything then.
Ukrainian refugee situation
I have donated to quite a few organizations for both Ukrainian refugee assistance and the ongoing war effort. I am very aware of the tragic situation, however in the places in Poland I visited, other than some Ukrainian flags, you would not realize there was a war going on next door.
I drove all around from Wrocław to Krakow and I did not encounter many Ukrainian refugees, maybe 2-3 families in some of the shops and a number of the Uber/Taxi drivers were Ukrainian immigrants from before the war.
I did notice an uptick in Ukrainian license plates on the highways, but not a lot, most were for expensive luxury cars.
No military presence, no shortages of food or supplies, shops and restaurants full.
Hotels 60-70% full, mostly of local Poles, rest were tourists from neighboring countries.
I have seen some headlines from international media like "Poland struggling under the weight of Ukrainian refugees", that was certainly not the case from my experience. Everything was running very normal and orderly.
I landed in Krakow airport rented car from Krakow Panek Rental great service, very good slection of cars, no issues.
The tolls on the major highways in Poland have now been electronized called E-Tolls you can’t pay in person at the windows, you need to pre-pay beforehand on their website (https://etoll.gov.pl/en/), or go to specific gas stations for a pre-paid ticket before driving.
Uber is till one of the best ways to get around cities, many drivers Ukrainian immigrants. Polish Uber now allows you to donate a significant portion of your fare to the Ukrainian refugee fund, it was worth using Ubers just for that.