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Poland, located in Central Europe, celebrates its 30th anniversary of escaping communism and Russian superiority this year. The country expanded greatly over those years in many areas, such as economy and global relations, but it’s still underappreciated in the tourism spheres.
90% of the people I talk to about Poland are surprised to hear how much it has to offer. And polish people, on the other hand, are surprised to hear that our own Mazury made it on the National Geographic’s list of Top Places to visit in 2016.
Even though it does not offer blue oceans and tropical weather, it has something for everyone- access to the Baltic and SPA resorts to the North, breath-taking rocky Tatra mountains to the South, and a land of blue lakes in its North-Western part. In addition tourists can explore strongly European architecture, experience vibes of 1000+ years old cities, eat great food and listen to a very distinctive language.
So whenever you decide to be one of those who visit this small country, I hope you will fall in love with it, and you may find some of the basic travel information below helpful.
Poland has developed great public transportation, not only within the cities but also across the country. In every big city, whether it’s Warsaw or Cracow, a bus, tram or train will quickly and easily get you to every attraction.
If you decide to visit a bigger chunk of the country and move from one city to another, the best and easiest way is to use a train (called PKP or Intercity), which would take you e.g. from Gdansk to Cracow in 7-8 hours for about 20 GBP, and there are over 15 times during the day to choose from.
A cheaper but longer option would be a bus, and there is a variety of buses and times to choose from. Air travel within Polish territory is not very good and super expensive.
2. Money and prices
Poland’s currency is the Polish Zloty (PLN), which stands for ‘gold’. Currency Exchanges are very common, usually marked with a big word KANTOR, but do not worry about getting too much cash, 98% of stores, restaurants etc will take a card. To be honest, more places accept cards nowadays in Poland, than e.g. in Germany. You should, however, gear up in cash when visiting farmers markets, or village stores. Also be aware that some smaller stores may have a minimum card amount, usually 10-20 zlotys (~2-4 GBP). I’s say prices are fairly cheap. To give you an idea, some of the prices in a touristy area are:
-A meal for 2 in a good restaurant with drinks ~100 zlotys (~20 GBP)
-Pint of beer in a pub ~8-14 zlotys (1,60-3 GBP)
-Basic cup of coffee ~6 zlotys (~1,20 GBP)
-Loaf of bread ~2,50 zlotys (~ 0,50 GBP)
3. What to eat
Poland offers different types of regional food in different areas, meat-lovers will be especially happy there, but there is bunch of vegetarian options as well. Some of the must-try’s are:
·Pierogies (dumplings with filling; cheese and potatoes- ‘ruskie’ are the most common)
·Oscypek (found in the South, a smoked sheep cheese)
·Flounder and 20+ types of spiced herring (found in the North, regional Baltic fish)
·Toruń gingerbread cookies
·Zurek soup (regional Southern soup, but can be found everywhere, made of fermented cereals often served in a bread bowl)
4. Hidden gems (outside of the big cities everybody knows about)
- Zakopane (a ski resort in the Tatra Mountains)
- Sopot (Baltic sea resort with the longest wooden pier in Europe)
- Malbork Castle (a 13th century Teutonic Order castle)
- Biskupin (open-air museum with a real size model of an Iron Age settlement)
- Toruń (a home of Nicolaus Copernicus and a capital of Polish gingerbread)
The more I think the more I could expand that list, but it’s best to just come and discover it for yourself!
About the Author
My name is Klaudia and I am an Archaeology and Anthropology student at the University of Bristol. I am a passionate travel blogger and photographer, who during the 23 years of her life visited 24 countries and dreams about a career in the travel writing industry.
Link to my blog: https://adventurnik.com/
Jerusalem is the holy city to three major religions – Christianism, Judaism, and Islam. But there is so much more to this unique city, an exciting destination for religious AND non-religious tourists alike!
What to Visit
You will not be disappointed with Jerusalem. This is a fascinating city, with a lot of history. Be sure to explore:
- The Old City: Take your time walking around this walled area, where history comes alive. Divided into four quarters (Muslim, Christian, Armenian and Christian), here you will find:
- Western Wall
- Church of the Holy Sepulcher
- Via Dolorosa
- Dome of the Rock
- Tower of David
- Machane Yehuda Market: So many different tastes and smell! Make sure to try what you can here. Delicious and authentic Mediterranean cuisine, cheaper than most restaurants.
- Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center: free entrance and an experience you will not forget. It takes at least a couple of hours to walk through the whole museum, so plan ahead.
- Mount of Olives: get breath-taking views of the city from this holy place.
Tips to Visiting the City
1.IT IS SAFE!
Rest assured, Jerusalem is completely safe. Because it is a high conflict region, you will see a lot of Israeli soldiers everywhere you go, which might be a bit of a shock, but you get used to it. They are around to make sure you are safe. Of course, you should do a little research ahead, and make sure they are not currently going through a period of special tension. But other than that, the everyday tourist has nothing to worry about.
2.PRICES ARE A BIT SALTY
The Israeli Shekel (₪) is not worth much (1£ = 4.7₪; 1€ = 4.1₪; 1 US$ = 3.6₪), however Jerusalem is overall an expensive city throughout the year. You will probably find better deals staying in hostels, many of which offer private rooms. The best places to stay are in or near downtown (near the streets Ben-Yehuda and Yaffo), where you will find good a variety of restaurants, while still being near the Old City.
3.DURING SHABBAT, THEY REST
Jews rest during the Shabbat, which goes from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. This will likely impact your travel plans, because all public transportation stops. You will also encounter many restaurants and shops closed. It is a good time to walk around the city that will be less busy than usual.
If you arrive in Israel through the Ben-Gurion Airport, your options to going into the city are:
·Train: costs 23.50₪, takes only 28 min.
·Public bus (line 485): costs only 16₪ but takes about 50 min.
·Shared taxi (your best option during Shabbat). You will find these minivans once you exit the airport. The “Sherut” will take you to wherever you need to go, and costs around 60₪ per person. It is still much cheaper than a private taxi (that will cost something around 280₪), unless you arrive in a group and can share a private taxi. Be aware that the Sherut only leaves after filling the whole minivan (around 10 seats), so you might have to wait a bit.
The transportation system in Jerusalem is very good. You can get around the city using the light train or city buses very easily. They display information and make announcements in both Hebrew and English, so you will not be completely lost. Most Israelis will also speak English, so when in doubt, ask around!
India is a country you’ll never forget. Once you step out of the airport and hear the distant echo of beeping rickshaws and bustling cities, the country begins to take its hold on you. Despite its reputation of being a dangerous, dirty country, perhaps too chaotic for some - those who take the time to get to know the magical lands often fall in love with it.
India makes you feel alive. It’s intense, surreal, and vibrant. Sometimes it’s even unfair, it’s challenging, and you’ll see things which will change your perspective forever. Around every corner is something new; a rainbow of colours, fragrant smells of herbs and spices, the buzz of bazaars, diverse cuisines and patterns of beautiful fabrics.
You’ll see rickshaws twisting and turning through the windy roads, just missing someone at every swerve.Your eyes will glimmer in the colorful bright fabrics, beads and textiles. The beauty of the Taj Mahal will look different than the photos you’ve seen so many times before; its white marble walls will shine brightly in the sunshine, commanding your attention. You’ll stare in awe at the mountain views and lush, green landscapes across Kerala and the tropical blue beach paradise of Goa.
But not everything you see will dazzle you with joy. You’ll see the crowds of homeless people sleeping at busy Indian train stations. People will squeeze onto a chair class carriage as they embark on a 48 hour train journey with no room to sit down. Maybe, as you walk down the side streets of Kolkata and see hoards of homeless, hungry children, you’ll realise how lucky you really are.
You’ll hear the endless beeping and revs of tuk tuks and scooters. Chatter in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and English will flow past your ears as you walk through crammed streets. You’ll get used to sound of aggressive shoppers haggling at busy bazaars, the beating thumps of women doing laundry and the passion in religious chants.
Then you’ll bask in the calmness of the birds singing in the empty mountains. You’ll listen to the faint sounds of water rippling while boating through serene backwaters. And as you fall asleep in the desert of the Golden City, you’ll hear nothing but the breeze.
You’ll smell the sweetness of Jasmine flowers which delicately decorate women’s hair, representing hope and spirituality. Cinnamon, ginger, coriander, bay leaves, masala and every pungent spice will fill the air as you pass by a bazaar. The savoury scent of samosas and bhajis, or freshly brewed chai sold by busy street stalls are bound to tempt you.
For every good smell in India there’s a bad. Fish rotting in the burning sun, mounds of rubbish piled high, and walls which reek of urine will be common occurrences. But there’s no need to worry - these smells are quickly masked by the pleasant smell of musky sandal and lavender incense burning from every temple, street corner and house.
You’ll taste diverse, rich and spicy food with interesting contrasts at every corner of the country. Vegetarians will feel like they’re in food paradise and relish in the endless meat-free choices. The varied taste of thalis, homely taste of street food, and curries packed with spices will feed your soul. You’ll find yourself addicted to Indian food, which is always infused with passion.
There’s nothing more heart-wrenching than the touch of an Indian child beggar grasping at your hand or banging on your window for food or money. As you stroke an Indian street dog or cat, you’ll feel their bones poke through their fur; not an inch of fat on their bodies.
A trip to India will change your perspective, it will make you feel lucky, and it will make you want to help. You’ll be inspired by Indian’s hope and joy in the smallest of things, and their humble lifestyles will make you think twice. India - a country of sensory overload.