Surprising Things About Poland

Here were 14 things that surprised us about Poland:

  1. There are bunches of bugs here in the summer and no screens. The window sill ends up looking like a small bug cemetery. You’re welcome for that mental image.
  2. Polish Toilet Seat CoverThey seem to like transparent toilet seat covers with kitschy images on them, whether it’s sea horses or fish. The one on the right is from one of the apartments at which we stayed, but we also saw them in a cafe bathroom as well.
  3. Speaking of bathrooms, Polish Bathroom Doortheir primary method of ventilation is to put five small holes at the bottom of the door. It’s a bit weird, but I suppose it’s better than not having it. We saw it in both private homes and in public areas like museums.
  4. Poles seem to play tourist in their own country a lot. In some of the other countries we’ve visited, we hear a ton of different languages: Germans and Aussies in Denmark, French and Japanese people in Sweden, etc. But in Poland, I would say that the majority of tourists seemed to have been from within Poland. We weren’t sure if this was an economic thing or part of the country’s mentality – like the American Midwest has a car culture.
  5. There Warsaw Fountainseem to be more fountains than we see in other countries. Kids run around, getting wet in the smaller ones, and adults sit around the larger ones in parks, as they gossip or quietly relax.
  6. Most people here dress well, more notably than in other countries. I don’t mean that the clothing is expensive, nor do I mean that it’s fancy. It’s more like they learn what looks good on them – whatever their body type – and generally stick to it. The fashion ranged from the chic to the goth, as it does anywhere, but overall, I liked outfit-watching here more than anywhere else we’ve been.
  7. Everywhere we went, they had signs offering ‘stomatologia,’ which I was starting to think had something to do with treating stomach ailments. Turns out it means dentistry! Given their quantity, Poles must have either terrible or wonderful teeth.
  8. They call Kebab-Flavored Potato Chipstheir BBQ potato chips ‘papryka’-flavored. Not that we had any or anything. And in the realm of weird flavors (like Sweden’s bacon-flavored cheese), they also had kebab-flavored potato chips. Those, we didn’t try.
  9. The Poles *love* flyers. They station young people outside metro stops or on popular streets to give out postcard-sized flyers for their restaurant, salon, party, whatever.
  10. When we took a walking tour in Kraków, our guide told us that until just last year, the requirements to lead tours in Poland were ridiculously high. They involved an 8-month to 3-year course on Polish history and culture, and a complicated exam on it all – exclusively in Polish. I wonder if the change is due to an increase in tourists, or just a desire for deregulation.
  11. In the 50s through the 80s, all people of the Soviet Union received a shot for tuberculosis that left a scar on their upper arm. When we were in warm weather, the tank tops came out, and I was reminded of how prevalent this was at the time. Not that Eastern Europeans are particularly known for aging well, but this isn’t a bad way to estimate age.
  12. I might Polish Flowershave just noticed them more, but they seemed to have a lot of bright flowers in beds on medians, in parks, and on the side of the road.
  13. Poland has a lot of street art.
  14. We saw very few people begging for money in Poland.

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