Categories
Poland

Are Polish people honest?

Polish values

Polish people in my experience are honest peaceful humble people. I have personal  stories of honesty to prove it, the last being the most telling about morality in Poland.

Negativity from communism distorts reality – Polish society is good

I remember when I was taking a tour of Poland in 1999 my tour guide warned us sternly, hold on to your wallets at all times, Polish people will steal if they get a chance.

After repeated warnings after the first week of the tour, I clung to my money with dear life, thinking at any corner a rogue bandit or local Oliver Twist was to make off with my cash.

However, during the second week of the tour I noticed our Polish tour lady was basically being negative about everything, the change to capitalism from communism, people and Poland in general. I started to argue with her that I actually felt safer in Poland than NYC or almost anywhere in the USA. She rolled her eyes. However, in my personal observation there seemed to be low crime and people dealt fairly with me in the market, even though I could not really speak Polish.

Straightforwardness in Polish business

Here is a specific example, I one time handed a girl in an open market a hundred zlotys note thinking it was a ten, and she ran after me to give me my change. In fact this type of thing happened more than once, I know I am a little out there. That is someone was given the chance to take advantage of me and they did the opposite, that is, go out of their way to help me in terms of justice and fairness.

Since I have lived in Poland a number of years I have had generally positive experience with Poles.

 

My wallet full of cash that was returned to me.

 

 

The day I lost my wallet – in Poland and it was not Stolen

The other day I lost my wallet full of cash on the tram. I had baggy pants and I was trying to avoid someone on the tram I did not want to see. It was actually the lady that was involved in helping me get citizenship who worked for the government of Poland in Krakow. She is very nice but I have always feel self-conscious about my Polish as I have an American accent, so did not want to chat with her as she is a very proper formal lady. I hurried out of a crowed tram to avoid her and my wallet dropped out.

I retraced my steps over and over, and did not find it. I looked everywhere and asked everyone. I had several hundred Polish zlotys in cash and my US and Polish IDs and my bank cards etc.

Why I did not panic?

I was not in panic as I have lived in Poland long enough to know Polish people are honest. Maybe because it is a Catholic nation or because parents teach their children right from wrong. Even though I live in a big anonymous city with many poor people, for me it did not matter, I trusted the values and honestly of the people of Poland.

Sure enough the next day I picked up my wallet at the tram office with all the cash and belongings inside. Some honest Pole returned it all. I really did not doubt it for a moment.

 

Categories
Poland

Poland shale gas – USA partnership

Natural gas energy in Poland

Poland has over 5.3 Trillion cubic meters of shale gas. It is an estimate.  This would make it the largest reserve in Europe only second to Russia. And really the reserves are right up there with Saudi Arabia (7 trillion cubic meters). Poland could potentially become fairly rich nation like a Norway, if it develops if this energy and the contracts are handled properly. Poland also wants to pursue a nuclear energy program.

Warsaw Presidential palace where Komoroski and Obama met to talk about shale gas extraction with US oil companies and Polish reserves.

The general idea is to make Poland energy rich and independent with coal, shale gas, nuclear and alternative energies. In my estimate it is on this path and will help Poland. The issue is to balance with environmental concerns and capital shortages to develop this.

Poland needs to protect the shale gas investments and not give it away.

Where are these resources in Eastern Europe? The shale gas in southern and eastern Poland is part of a very large underground reservoir of natural resource reserves. It had been rumored for a long time, but Poland did not want Russia involved in the extraction so kept is secret.

Why is this important and why are the Americans the energy partner with Poland? It could supply Poland and the EU with all its energy needs. Since France and Germany need this specific gas the most, Poland saw it in its best interest to get help from the Americans.

I think this was the right thing to do. President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minster Donald Tusk are aware of this and that is why I think they prefered dealing with the Americans in terms of a partner for shale gas extraction and exploration. ExxonMobil  have been mentioned – stock ticker XOM – for leading the exploration. The key point is they can not give it away, it has to be very advantageous for the Poles or they should not do business.

What is shale gas? – Is it oil or can we fill our cars at the pump?

This is not oil, but shale gas. It is embedded in the earth and the extraction process is complicated and has environmental implications.  Shale or sand gas from fine grain sedimentary rock and oil are profitable only now as technology increases and oil is over about 60 dollars a barrel. Gas is a close substitute for oil and can be used to drive cars. In Poland we use it and it about half the price of petrol at the pump.

US partnership with Poland over energy

Obama want to respect democracy and give Poles visas right? Obama’s trip to Poland was behind the scenes about shale gas contracts for US companies to have rights to explore in Poland – good for Poland I guess as it is costly to explore and extract shale gas. It is not like drilling and pump, it takes capital and cash. I question Obama and the way he handles the US economy with spending, but however, on this point on energy and foreign policy with Poland – it is a win-win for the US and Poland.

The Polish government wanted to US partner instead of a Russian or other partners of course as this is part of Warsaw’s policy of independence in terms of energy.

If Poland does have the shale gas as projected Poland will be a very rich country, that is of course if Warsaw negotiates the contracts correctly.

Oh, Yes, Poland might get added to the list of visa exception companies but Tusk said this was not a priority in the negotiations. Rightfully so as Poland is an EU country and this gives Poles a huge market to work and live in and the US is more for tourism. The gas and natural resource issue is more important.

When you hear an  US President talk about democracy be a little skeptical, usually there is something else behind the scenes like oil or gas or supporting an ally that is in the best interest of the President at the time. Think of the wars in Kuwait, Iraq and Libya and why they were fought.

Skepticism aside, in conclusion, I think the US and Poland have similar ideals in terms of the world and vision of freedom and democracy. These countries are two great allies and I think Poland and the US will benefit from further cooperation as the US and Poland are both lights for the free world. This shale gas in Poland will help Poland in the long run, especially with US help in terms of capital.

I am fairly postive about the idea of exploring for oil and gas in Poland with the USA in a business partnership, however, what is your opinion on Polish natural resources and the Warsaw’s policy of extraction and partnership with the USA?

 

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Krakow Poland

Krakow market square and cloth hall – a short tour

The market square in Krakow is the largest market square in Europe. It might be the largest in the world, considering most places in the world do not have traditional market squares besides Europe.  However, for Europe it is the largest open market square. Below I made a video of the center of Krakow. I posted it on my YouTube channel where I have a few other videos about Krakow and Poland.

Cracow Main Market Square

The size of the market square is 40,000 sq meters or 430,000 square feet. If you were to fly over the market you would see three evenly spaced roads each at right angles to the main market square.

Below the market square is even a larger network of tunnels and caverns and secret passages. But that is a for another topic and day.

The exception to this symetry is ul. Grodzka, which is the oldest street and on the southern side.

Krakow is a Medieval Gothic town. The market squares are lining museum pieces. It is also the geographical center of the city.

Cloth Hall Krakow

At the center of the market square in Krakow is the Cloth hall. The market square is called the Rynek Głowny or literally main market. Many towns have something called a Rynek. Rynek means market in Polish.

The large yellow building in front of us is called the Cloth hall or in Polish the Sukiennice. It was started in 1344. It now has more of a 16th century look with gables and gargoyles. There was also a 19th century reconstruction. This is and was a center for trade. You can buy things specifically Polish and made in Poland.

It is the world’s oldest continuously running shopping mall. Krakow has the oldest Shopping mall in Europe the Sukiennice and arguably the largest also Galleria Bonarka. I like to go to both. The prices in Cracow’s cloth hall are good. I actually still go shopping there for things from time to time. Where can you find a wooden chess set or mountain slippers for ten dollars but here? In a modern shoopping center you will pay many times more for the same or lesser quality.

In the Middle Ages, on Monday’s you could also buy fresh meat. The animals were butchered in another part of Krakow. At the end of the day of course prices went down.

Old City call tower

The town city call is called Wieża Ratuszowa or literally the town hall tower. While it was used by the city of Krakow government it contained a room for the town council, court and jail. It also had a room of torture (see the anthropology museum for this) and a storage area. Now it is a museum and you can go up in the tower. At the base is a cafe.

The statue of Adam Michiewicz

This monument was erected in 1898. He was Poland’s national poet born in Lithuania and died in Istanbul. However, we do not know if he ever came to Krakow, probably not. However, he is buried in the Wawel castle. When the statue was first put up, there was controversy whether it was too modern and not appropriate for the poetry of the Rynek. The statue was taken by the Germans during the war and sold for scrap but recovered in Hamburg Germany after the war.

Today, along with Empik bookstore people wait for dates or meet their friends. If you watch my movie below you will see a few girls in font of Empik waiting for someone. Watch for the girl who turns her head.

This is a short history as I want you to actually someday visit the center. In another post I might include more details. If you have any questions please let me know. I have lived in Krakow a good part of my life. There are also a number free English-speaking walking tours in the center if you take a trip there.

Categories
living in Poland Poland

Life in Poland – What is it like?

Everyday life in Poland

As an American who has spent a good part of his life in Poland (I am a Polish citizen also) I have a unique perceptive on life in Poland. I can see this better than a native Pole in some ways as I have something to compare it with.The bottom line here is life in American is easy but life in Poland is beautiful.

Despite the fact that Poles love to complain and be contradictory and argue that things are wrong, the reality I think most of them in their hearts know how beautiful of a country it is.

The way I see Poland

The first thing you will notice about Poland is life is sweeter. You do not make as much money or have all the niceties of living in the US or UK but life has a quality all its own. It is like living in another century. If you have ever seen the movie ‘Kate and Leopold’, you have the idea. Life has a different feel to it that you can not describe. Yes, in the States we have more Playstation, but so what.

It would be hard to argue life in Poland is anything but beautiful

What I mean is there are just as many things in Poland as in the USA to buy and consume, however, the culture here is people would rather spend their time in a park reading a book than a mall. People are much closer to their families and often live three generation in the same house. Unless you live in a city, every Polish person I know has a small piece of land and they grow something.

Being a good human and Christian is the focus of most unless you are one of these new rich metro men.

Green Krakow - note the monestary on the right

Economics of Poland

The first thing people ask is what is it like in terms of the economy.  What is the cost of living in Poland? Well Poland is a modern EU country that left communism a quarter of a century ago. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit you can make as much money as you want in Poland. Working at job is harder you need to have concrete skills. If you are an entrepreneur or a manager you will be richer than your counterparts in London or New York if you factor in the Polish standard of living and lifestyle. I know people will disagree with me on this, but human labor, from baby sitters to house cleaners, special tutors for your children, personal trainers and massage people and garners are very cheap. You can buy local organic vegetables that cost a lot in the USA. You can take vacations to places like Crimea or the Baltic for relatively little money.

How can you say Poland is poor?

If you are a worker you will be about 20% poor than in the USA. That is the reality because Poland had the war and communism.But not everything is about Złoty and dollars. Further, Poles get around the system a lot so what they report might not be the reality. I see a lot of big cars in Poland and nice houses.

Small mall in Poland

It will take until about 2025 until Poland is on par with the West in terms of worker. But in terms of managers and business owners, except for the extremes it is already there, actually higher as reported in the Economist magzine. I wrote an article on Why Polish wages are low.

If you make money, you have a nice life in Poland

Dating life in Poland

It is 100% better for love and marriage. If you are marriage in Poland you wife will stand by your side and be very loyal. She will not care about money and it would be considered gouache to focus on such things. Not every Polish girl is like this as there are new Poles who are as bad or worse than the US and will divorce you or not date you if you are not making money. But generally Polish dating is all about marriage and having a family. If you are not married it is a great place to find a spouse. Ask me if you have questions.

Day to-day life in Poland

It is the same as all over the world, except things move at a slower pace. People are more relaxed and easy-going. If you send someone and e-mail do not expect it to be returned right away. Even me, I am lazy about this but in the USA I would not do this.

It depends if you live in the city or country in Poland.

Polish farm house in anytown, Poland - the coutryside is amazing.

In Poland I shop for food everyday. My wife cooks homemade meals from scratch everyday. Poles do not go out to eat too much as if you have a Polish wife cooking what is the point, the food will be of lower quality at a restaurant.

Garden house in Krakow - at least I hope it is a garden house.

Living in Poland is like living anywhere else in Europe. I think the Poles tend to be more connected to nature as manifest by the large percentage of people in Poland who have farms or gardens. Even in Krakow, there are a number of garden houses.

Now this is a charming garden house in Krakow

Polish weather is not the best

I would say six months you stay inside because of winter. Three months are 50-50 and three months are ideal. Summer all business basically slow down to a snail’s pace.

Try to get something done in the summer. You will notice the whole country is on vacation. Krakow, the Baltic coast Warsaw even is left for the tourists.

People are not smiling as much in Poland,  I think mostly because of the weather. It is a micro climate where moisture from the Atalanta meets cold weather from the north and it is mostly damp, cloudy and cool.

I would say only one in five days are really sunny at best.

Are Polish people friendly?

I think generally Polish people are friendly. You always have more primitive people who are negative and angry about life, but in my experience people are very nice in Poland. If someone is upset at life they will be upset at the world. It is not you. While in America, I think people are more friendly, at least on a superficial level. It is more like it takes people time to trust you and you have to earn your respect.

Customer service in Poland

It is getting better but not the best. Basically if something breaks it is your problem, even if the EU grants you a two-year warranty. To get a return on a defective product you need to prove everything and they will still tell you no. But in the end if you argue you will get it, because that is the law. Do not yield to intimidation. The first answer will always be ‘no’. It is your problem. Why are you bothering me. You need to complain to the top.

Government in Poland

It is exactly like customer service. At the basic level it makes paperwork hard. People take it easy and do not know their job. However, at a higher level, the people in charge are very responsible and want to improve the system. I think Poland is still a socialist country weighted down by an army of bureaucrats. It is changing fast but not fast enough. Poland could be one of the richest countries in Europe, in seven years, if it eliminated the income tax. However, to do this it would have to modernized, computerize all aspects of government. It would have to privatize the social state. In return it would be a rich country for all.

Demographically Poland is going from 40 million to 35 million very soon. People have few kids and many leave for the USA, UK and now Germany as the EU is one market. In some ways this is great, housing prices in Poland should continue to fall, but on the other hand the fat government will not be able to pay the bills and will tax the people or to p[ay for the fat bureaucrats pensions. I do not know what will happen. I think eventually Poland will invite immigrants from Ukraine and Asia and Turkey. If you want to get a Polish citizenship and you have Polish roots, you are welcome.

Transportation in Poland

Going on a decade of living here and I do not need a car. Does that say something. Every small town as a good bus or rail connection and every city has trams and buses. It is very easy to get around Europe without a car. I have never had a problem. Polish people complain about Polish roads but there is less traffic here. In Krakow you can get from one end of the city to another in 1/2 hour. Try doing that in Boston, maybe you can on a Sunday, but not Monday morning rush hour.

Sports in Poland

People are not as into sports as in the USA. except for soccer every one is pretty much just walking for fitness. There are gyms of course, but people ride bikes and walk and look very thin, not as meaty as American guys for example, more intellectual. But Americans are very smart people, just more like the ancient Romans and the European like the ancient Greeks. People play chess a lot like in all Eastern European post communist countries.

Education in Poland

It is a classical education, focused on literature, languages, history and religious as well as science and math. No Political correctness added. More about know Polish literature and history and liberal arts. I like this ideal. The average Poles is much more aware of the world than most people in the west about geography and art and literature. No question, however, people in the West have a more realistic view of business and understanding of markets. Poeple in the USA understand a job is to make money and do a service. In Poland people granduate with Masters degrees and think it is below them to work in a shop. This is crazy, just because you have a degree means nothing. Polish students need to realize this.

Religious life is important in Poland

Do not be mislead that region is gone. Religious families have many children, not religious new Poles do not have kids. Do the math. New Poles might win out, however, I think no one can predict the future. Today, faith is very alive in Poland and the center of life for most.

Family and faith is the center.

Everyday life centers on faith and family in Eastern Europe.

I love living in Poland and if you have any questions or are thinking of moving to Poland, just write.

Categories
Poland Polish economy

Why are Polish wages low?

Polish wages are lower than the EU

Polish wages are not on par with EU average wages. Why is this so? Poland has been free from communism for over 20 years and part of the EU for over 7. Why does someone only a few hundred miles away in Austria, Germany or Sweden get paid many times more than workers with comparable skills in Poland?

It is changing but I know many educated Poles with low wages. On one hand, if you want to start a business it is a good place as wage levels are low. Start a business in Poland and you can be rich and employ cheap labor with good skills.  However, but on the other hand for the average Pole it is harder to live.

I am a capitalist and economist and in a free market, which the EU is, this should not exist unless there is some market distortion. There could be an argument that the lack of capital that causes this but in my view it is more a distortion of the market lets look at why.

Why wages are low in Poland

Here are the three reasons why Poles earn less.

  1. excess government drains resources of the people
  2. lack of capital to generate enough labor demand
  3. bosses have an Eastern European business acumen.

Poland’s government is still not free

The main reason is the government controls too much, the system is weighted down by laws, ZUS, lack of transparency, corruption, high pension for government workers that they could never get in the private sector, early retirement for government workers etc. The country is socialist country. There is a huge tax on the productive. The government wants to change but it is still a long way from transparency. Bribes must still occur in government because the things I see just do not make sense.

  • I would pass a law like Norway did that if you are caught in a lie or a bride, you lose your future pension for life. In one day it stopped corruption.
  • I would privatize everything and model it on a libertarian system of government. Let the markets work and reduce the weight of government offices.
  • Increase taxes on tobacco, drinking etc 2000%.  Save money on health care, while generating money for things like hosptials. Greece use to be one of the unhealthiest countries and they did this and over night statistics changed and it became one of the healthiest. There are a lot of people living off the system and drinking and smoking their life a way. It is unfair for the productive.
  • I have many other progressive ideas for Poland that is the beyond the scope of this post.

Government controls and offices still have too much power. Government sector workers seems to be richer in many ways than private sector workers.  Some how things to do not add up.

Lack of capital and developed money markets

The Polish economy had no crisis and is hot. It is exporting to Germany and the world and there is a world of opportunity for business. Capital is coming in from everywhere. I do not think there is a capital shortage in Poland. It is a golden opportunity for those who see it.

Polish business owners

I personally think it is because many Polish owners are greedy and do not play by the same rules as in the west. A great example is Polish real estate prices are distorted to the point it is twice that of Berlin for example. Markets are not competitive and business owners know this. They manipulate the system and keep wages low.

I see a large difference between rich and poor.  Bosses have much more and flaunt it as new rich do.  I see those who have power able to work the government system, legally and maybe even illegally to their own advantage. On the surface the old ways of socialism has been removed. But the reality is there is a lot of red tape and bureaucracy still that needs to be overcome in Poland.

Tea party movement in Poland

Poland needs to wake up and even a tea party movement to liberate it from the burden of government.  When markets are free middle class wages rise. When a country is socialistic, everyone is poorer except those in control.

I have personally had many roadblock in government. I tried to do the honest good thing.  Fat cat bureaucrats are too entrenched.  I would say at the top and in Poland in general people are responsive and very aware of these things. I did get a response when I pushed an issue high enough, but low down it was hard.

Hence, why are Polish wages so low? Excess government. It drains the economic life out of people. But the good news is I love living in Poland and things are nice here. If I sound like I am complaining I am not. I do the same about the USA government and its excesses because I am more of a libertarian Adam Smith free market economist.

 

Categories
Poland

Polish hospital

Hospitals in Poland – what are they like – my personal experience with Polish social medical care

The purpose of this post is to describe what a hospital in Poland is like. Maybe you are considering traveling to Poland for a medical procedure, medical tourism as it is called. Or maybe you live in Poland and are afraid of the Hospital because you have herd tales from communist times. Let me assure you Polish hospitals are good. The reason is the doctors and nurses and medical technicians are well trained (I was impressed and would not get that personal care in the USA) and the equipment is modern. The only thing difference is maybe some of the niceties are not there, like flowers in the rooms or something. But medical care in Poland is at a high level and I trust that if you need something done or have a medical emergency, you will be in good hands.

My trip to UJ medical center

I had to go to a Polish hospital the other week because of an accident.  Under the rules of Polish ZUS, which is the social medical insurance, I had to stay 3 days. I think all the testing and scans could have been done in one day or a few hours, but because of the rules, if I go to the Hospital you have to stay, or insurance will not pay. Mind you I pay taxes and pay for this insurance, it is just publically run and rationed. The rules are I am required to stay 3 days, I am fine now, but just needed a  lot of tests. Normally I would not need to stay in a Polish hospital but my case was for some exceptional testing. It was very unusual stuff.

How was my experience at a Polish hospital? Positive and I say without hesitation the medical care is good in Poland. However, the general experience for anyone of staying in any hospital for 3 days is no fun. This not only acts as a disincentive for people who go there for minor things but also for removes the responsibility from the hospital for discharging you too early. However, I do not know if this would be a disincentive in US hospitals as compared to as it is in Polish hospitals. In a Polish hospital everyone simply wants to go home. Maybe it is the same. I have never really been in an American hospital for such a long time. I also think the doctors in the USA send you home as soon as possible to save costs. In Poland they are very careful to check things and make sure everything is fine. It is a different culture. Polish culture is about checking and documenting, American culture is about saving costs.

This image is from Jagiellonian university medical. This image understates the beauty of Polish hospitals, at least in Krakow. The buildings are grand eloquent buildings with large windows high ceilings, wide corridors and gardens. The Hospitals were build in the 19th century and most have beautiful architecture and feel. You would not find anything like that in an American hospital. I lived across from Harvard medical and the buildings were just concrete blocks.

My case was I simply needed an MRI. I first went to a private facility and paid for it myself. I was about 120 dollars out of pocket. However, the machine I used was new but had weaker magnetic fields. So I needed to get a scan at a University hospital which had a better scanner. But to do this I had to spend 3 boring days in a Polish hospital.

Betting bored and what to do about it – You have know idea how boring it was. I can only imagine how people in the slammer feel. I think the best strategy for bored is either read or simply close your eyes and take trips in your imagination. Really detailed trips that take a long time, imagining every step. But that is another story.

I got a semi private room. In my opinion the conditions were not as foofy as an American hospital, but I had wi-fi Internet and that is all that matters. I do not think it is standard I think I kind of lets just say borrowed a signal. The rooms do not have a TV thank goodness. It would drive me nuts to listen to one all day.

I am married so I have no interest in looking at the Polish nurses, but one of my friends who is not married was delighted at the notion of visiting just for that fact. Polish nurses have a reputation of being beautiful.

But I brought my Eee PC I bought when I was in Florida visiting my folks last year and was able to Skype home anytime I wanted and check my blogs and play chess online. Yes I had Wi-fi high speed Internet in my hospital room.

How was the food? It was fine. Good Polish cooking. But my wife brought in more as I like yogurt and things. But the food is better than most dinners in the USA.

Krakow Poland medical center where I was

Is there a language problem at a Polish Hospital?

Do not worry, you will always find someone that speaks English.

I practiced my Polish with the other bored patients but even that lost its excitement after a few hours. Some people speak English, but basic and there is always a doctor who speaks English perfectly as do all the countless medical students walking around in the halls in groups with smiles.

On my wing I was known as ‘the English Patient’. Even though I am really American and Polish.

The meals were traditional Polish cooking, but light. My wife brought homemade chicken soup, which was a big moral boast as were her visits. I told her if I was a dog right now I would be wagging my tales.

Basically the worst thing is the boredom. I mean, besides pacing the halls and surfing the Internet what was I to do. I realized how life is really about your personal connections with people rather than hobbies. I mean I could surf the net, or play computer games all day long and it really is boring.

Excellent care in Poland

I felt like George in the Seinfeld episode when he was in the hospital, he said when we gets out he will do the whole Zen thing.

Grand old buildings like this are a rarity in the USA.

Polish social medicine

Social insurance in Poland is a really nice thing because everything is paid for. However, the reality is I pay for it via the a special medical tax. Also the country runs a deficit as it is often hard to ration health care. This is the big problem. So when I put my libertarian hat on, I say, it is more efficient when the government does not manage it. I believe this. But when I put my social hat on, I say health care can not be rationed based on the size of the car you drive. I think Polish doctors less into money than American doctors and they are entering medicine for different reason. US doctors want to serve, the public also but it does not feel the same 100%. It is a little more ego in the USA.

Brownstone buildings from a more elegant time

Now remember, Poland has a two tier system, private and public so you have a choice in most cases. So we have private medical care really cheap and very foofy.  But it is only really the hospitals that are 100% public. And in some cases like mine it is the only way you can access the care you need.

Old buildings modern equiptment

Poland had communism so of course it does not have the niceties of an American hospital but in my opinion it has very good doctors. Further, the buildings are very elegant and large. They were build at the turn of the last century. High ceilings, wide corridors and elegant design and gardens I do not see in American standard concrete hospitals.

The equipment in a Polish hospital from what I can see is the same as an American hospital. Everything is high tech. Norway grants has also donated a lot of money to Polish hospitals.

Polish hospital – This is a top medical and research hospital in Krakow, it has an English page like most Polish medical websites.

This building is connected with university medical

Conclusion: should you be concerned about your trip to a Polish hospital?
If you need to go to the hospital in Poland do not worry. Remember if you do not want a procedure or test you can refuse. They will want to give you every test under the sun, think critically and talk with the doctors there if you feel for some reason something is wrong or not for you. The bottom line is the doctors are excellent, conditions are fine, even though Polish people like to complain about little things. It is not true, Polish medical care is excellent and at a high level mostly because of the doctors. Meals are on the light side but fine. Bring a lot of books or better yet an e-reader or netbook. Ask me any questions if you have any about getting a procedure done or medical care in Poland.

Categories
Poland

Poland Jesus Statue

Jesus Statue in Poland

The largest statue in the world of Jesus is in Poland. The statue of Christ is 33 meters high. This represents one meter for every year of Jesus’ life. On top there are 2 additional meters as there sites a golden crown. The base of the stature is18 meters which makes the statue 51 meters in total. This out does the Jesus statue in Rio by 13 meters. It weights 27 metric tons.

The location of the statue is in western Polish town of Swiebodzin which has a population of 22,000. The construction cost a 1.5 million and took five years. It was funded by donations.

Why the largest Statue of Jesus was built in Poland

On one hand, the Jesus statue in Poland is built in honor of our Lord. On the other hand, some people say it is not in the spirit of humility that Jesus taught.

My perspective on this as an American and Pole is this, Poland is a religious country. I often see long lines at the confessionals and churches so filled with people that people are standing outside the church. Although many people criticizes people who go to church, for going there to show up, I can tell you I know no Polish person that goes to church to show up or be seen. Not one. People go because they sincerely are trying to live a good life. Poles are very humble peaceful people for the most part. People who criticizes this want to sir up attention for media reasons than out of any understanding or sincerity.

I personally might have an issues in the political abstract sense about the way things are done in the Roman Catholic church, but this statue is not about that. I think it was built in honor of “Christ the King” rather than anything to do with ego. Rev. Sylwester Zawadzki was the priest behind the dream. The 78 year old builder priest also erected two churches. Always focus on the positive:

  • This Jesus monument is not much different from building a cathedral in honor of God. It is to make the world that the message of Jesus is still alive today.
  • When Poland was entering the EU John Paul II stated that Poland has a lot of positive things to benefit from this Union, but also Western Europe can benefit from Poland, especially in terms of belief. And yes I think Western Europe is lacking in faith and the effects can be seen.
  • Pilgrimages are still done in Poland like in the Middle Ages. It is not uncommon for students to visit shrines like “Our Lady of Czestochowa” over a week long pilgrimage walking there. I do not know if this statue will be a site for serious pilgrimages, I think more for tourists, or at least religious tourists, which are like pilgrims lite. However, I like it.
  • The Polish language translation of this figure is Pomnik Chrystusa Króla – I think the literal translation is apparent. Pomnik is monument it is kind of related to the Polish word for remember which is pamiętać.

The style of the art sculpture

This photo was taken at night so does not do justice to the artistic power of this statue of Christ the king. You have to go there and see it for yourself.

The style is modern and classical. Classical in the sense that it is proportional and clean lines. Modern in the sense that is it nothing like an ancient classic which would be more dramatic and flowing in my opinion. I think they did a good job with the construction. Let me know what your thoughts are about the worlds largest statue of Jesus in Poland.



Categories
Krakow Poland

Miracle water Krakow – St. Stanislaus well

Miracle water of Krakow at St. Stanislaus well

If you are in Krakow, Poland and are thirsty, please stop by the well of St. Stanislaus. This water in Krakow is said to have miraculous healing powers. I would like to look at this claim and tell you about the history of St. Stanislaus.

How to find the this well water in Krakow

The well is in the Paulist monetary in Kazimierz. You can walk along the Wistula river and see a big white church. It is known as Kościoł na Skałce or Church on the small little rock. It is exactly located around the streets Paulinska and Św. Stanislawa. This is down the street from Św. Katarzyny. I would recommend to take the 6 or the 8 tram to Plac Wolnica and walk towards the river and you can  not miss the monastery.

The monetary itself is a very quite, peaceful place to relax with green grass and no noise of traffic. There is even a WC for tourists and a lot of information in English and always friendly Krakovians to ask questions to.  So if you are walking by foot, there is no reason to miss this monetary.

It is near the church of St. Michała. St. Michael fights the devil who takes the form of a dragon. I remember I went here in 1999 on a tour and I do not even think the guide pointed out the well.

Originally the area was ancient pagan religious center and in the 11th century a Romaneque church was built on these cliffs and later replaced by a Gothic church funded by Kazimierz the Great.

From this well you can be sure that the water in Krakow is healthy for drinking.

Who was St. Stanislaus?

This church and more specially the well is the place of Martyrdom for St. Stanislaus of Szczepanowo. He is a patron saint of Poland. Stanislaus was the Bishop of Krakow. He stood in opposition to the brutal king  Bolesław (who was eventually exiled). He opposed the kings immoral behavior and his ruthless treatment of women. St. Stanislaus was a man who had the courage of his convictions. He stood his ground to the king. The king ordered his men to execute Stanislaus. His men refused to harm such a good human, so the king did it himself.  He chopped up St. Stanislaus, his finger first and throw the pieces of his hacked and dismembered body in this ancient well.

This is the well where you can drink the blessed water.This well is in the Paulist monetary in the Kazimierz district of Krakow

What happened next in this pool of water in Krakow? The body started to reassemble itself in front of people’s eyes. St. Stanislaus is buried in Wawel castle and the King fled the country.

The image of St. Stanislaus at his well

Krakow water you can drink

In Krakow, people drink bottled water. I filter the water. The water is not bad from the tap, but it is like any other city water in the world, it is better filtered as you do not know what is in it. However, the water at St. Stanislaus’ well is rich in macro and mirco elements. It is safe for drinking and they even recommend you try it.

The water is actually holy water. It is blessed right from the well.

It has a very strong taste as it is so rich in minerals and elements that it is more like spa water. I love the taste. Some people say it tastes like sulphur and nitrogen. I love the exotic rich taste.

I think there are so many micro nutrients in the water which they have not identified. But a partial list can be found by the well, which has been tested and is pure.

You can fill up bottle if you like. Take this healing water.

The water from this wealth is healthy to drink in Krakow. The question is, is it miracle water?

Miracle water

I could write a book on this subject. I am religious but not a super naturalist. I guess I wrote this post to somewhat temper all the claims I see on the Internet of some “miracle water” being sold from somewhere. I do not like this type of hype.

I do not believe in super natural things. However, the reality  our brains have limited awareness. The human brain is limited by its physical structure there is no way we will ever understand the mysteries of this universe.

For example, if the smartest dog in the world understands basic language and many things, but it can never understand advanced calculus or the quantum physics.  In fact dogs can not see color as a dog’s brain is not wired for colors. A dog will ever see a rainbow. Its brain is limited by its evolutionary structure.  Ours is also.

What are we humans not aware of or out of our senses? Even if we understand everything in our universe , explained by physics and math, it is not the end. We are as limited as the dog. There is one thing different perhaps, humans sense a deeper spiritual existence but do not have the capacity to fully quantify and measure this reality.

There is a complex stratification of reality.

Therefore, even though I am not a super naturalist at all. I believe in miracles. I believe God does great things for us.

Is the well of St. Stanislaus miracle water as some have said? I do not have any knowledge of this. I do not know anything about this or anyone healed by this water. I have not researched it.

I do know the water is free. Any miracle water, if it exists anywhere in the world is never sold, nor should it be if it exists.  I would not trust anyone who sold water under the name of miracle water, like some people do in the USA. The reality is if miracles do exist, they come from God and God alone. Further, your body and mind is often transformed without you being aware of it. It happens as a seed and somewhere and sometime, when you are not aware, your life starts to transform. This could include physical healing. Humans often connect phsycial objects with healing. This is because we live on a physical plane and often need something concrete for us to latch onto to bridge the spiritual and physical.

From a physics perspective, the atoms we are composed of are mostly empty space moving and vibrating so it only appears we are solid. This is true of any physical object like wood or even water. Therefore, we as humans are nothing more than strands of evergy. Maybe some things in this universe have an energy that is unque. This is a simplistic understanding of it. I go back to the idea as a mysterian that our brains Are too small to understand these things.

This Krakow water is simply free. Go to the well and fill up as many bottles of water as you can and take it home with you. At the very least it is healthy spa water.

However, if you pray and purify your intentions and drink it. Perhaps your reality might change a bit.  I think God is always showing us signs, most of us are not listening and looking.

If you have any questions about the healing Miracle water of  St. Stanislaus well in Krakow please let me know. I would be curious about what you think. At the very least go to the well when you are in Krakow. I see thousands of people everyday visiting other spots in Krakow that have been hype and mean little spiritually.

However, few visitors go to this humble quite well in the middle of the city. Maybe its a good thing and I should not have written about this holy water. I feel mixed as on one hand I would like other people to know about it, but on the other hand I do not want it on my semi commercial blog and it to become a tourist spot in a negative sense. However, here is the information and do with it what you like.

Categories
Krakow Poland

Jewish Krakow – Do Jews still live in Poland?

Krakow Jewish life

I would love to write in more detail about this but I thought I would start off a post on Krakow Jewish life.

Do any Jews still live in Krakow Poland?

This is a good question. I live in the old Jewish ghetto of Krakow. My street was the border where the wall divided the Jewish ghetto with the other part. I have be casually reading about the history of Jewish Krakow for about seven years. I am not an expert but how can I not have an interest if I live here? I have many stories that really are other worldly I would like to write about, but this post is less ambitious. It is simply to explain that yes Yiddish and Hebrew is spoken on the street and among the tourists and there are Jews living in Krakow.

The flag of Israel proudly flies along the Polish and American flags in Krakow.

Cracow’s Jews

Often times the question comes up, do any Jewish people live in Krakow? And if so what is it like for them?
The answer is there are about 100 active Jews here, going to synagogue and observing the rites. However, I would say 1000s of inactive Jews in Krakow. Many people here are Jewish or were born of Jewish mothers and converted to Christianity for obvious reason. Remember about 25% of the city was Jewish, 60,000 people and back then that was a lot of people. Plus all over the coutryside there were people living and this number is often ignored and would bring the figure much higher if ou include the metropolitian area.

Many of my students in Krakow have told me they have a Jewish grandmother or something. I would say about 15% of my Polish students have some Jewish blood. The owners of my building are Jewish. The owners of my friends building are Jewish and come to Krakow sometimes for a long-term stay. I know Jews from England and other places that have set up businesses etc in Kazimierz. There are also over a million Jewish tourists to Kraków every year.

So even though there are a few thousand inactive Jews in Krakow and about 100 active Jews  here do not believe the numbers. There are thousands of Jews from all over the world everyday visiting as this is an important city of culture. Their ancestors lived here as long as the Poles did in peace.  This is why in my opinion is an important Jewish city today.

You can buy a Yamaka in Krakow on the street no problem.

What is life like for a Jewish person in Krakow? I think it is like anywhere, the focus is on observing the law of God, living peacefully and in community.

JCC in Kazimesh

I think Krakow is like 19th century Jewish city. If you live here and are not a just coming through you will see how magical it really is. It is like a time machine. In fact, irony is people have written articles telling people not to come to here as they do not want to spoil this too hidden gem of a city. Maybe, I am a bit guilting of telling people not to come here as I do not want to spoil it myself as it is not too commerical, at least yet.

A lot going on every week at an active community center.
My point is this is an active living comminity. You do not have to view photos of 100 years ago to get a sense of what life was like here. It is a live today.

Do Jewish people experience problems in Krakow?

Did you know if you make a remark to someone based on religion or country of origin etc in Poland it is 2 years in prison? Article 67 of the Polish law protects rights and if you look into Polish law you will find if someone even makes a comment or remark about you in a bad way based on who you are you will get two years. The Police are very strict about this because of the history and the connection with Israel.
Maybe someone has experienced problems but I have never heard of it personally. For sure there are some guys who live in the blocks in the bad section of town, that hold less than enlightened ideas in their small brains, but this is everywhere in the world not just Poland.

Photos of Jewish Kraków

The following are some more photos of Kazimierz

I was out the other day with my camera. There are not professional photos but just some I took  while I was in Kazimierz waiting to get a haircut. You can decide for yourself if in Kazimierz or any other part of Krakow, if there are any traces of Jewish culture.

An active Jewish Synagogue in Krakow

Jagiellonian University is where people study Hebrew and about Jewish culture.

Door to the Jewish studies program at Jagiellonian University

I can not even begin to go into the history as it is beyond the scope of this post.

Small holocaust memorials are in many places in Krakow - God bless the souls of the departed.

Do you like sitting at a cafe and reading? This is a Krakovian tradition. And you are in luck because…

There are book shops you can buy Hebrew, Yiddish English and Polish language books about Jewish culture in Krakow.

Orthodox or conservative rituals of cleasing are important. In fact, I heard this one of the first thing that was built in the community here. It makes sense as you should be pure in body and mind to ask for God’s wisdom to build a new community.

Mikveh -An active ritual Jewish bath house Krakow

I think most people cook at home, but it always helps if you have somewhere to go when you want to go out.

Do you like Yiddish food or want a Kosher meal? There are shops and restaurants in Kazimesh.

Even the big commercial shops have Kosher food, just like in the USA.

There is plenty of art in Krakow with Jewish themes lie in these buildings.

Kazimesh has it all when it comes to culture. But after about a couple of weeks you might see all the tourist things and then take a few years to settle in and enjoy the atmosphere.

These small Jewish shops in Krakow make you feel like your in another century.

I would be more than happy to answer any questions if you are coming to Krakow.  I am not Jewish. I am an American Catholic and Polish also. However, if you have any questions about Jewish Krakow or Poland in general I will do my best to answer them.

Categories
living in Poland Poland

Moving to Poland from the US

US to Poland – Why I moved

About seven years ago I moved from the US to Poland. Many people could not believe it. I moved from Boston’s Beacon Hill to Kraków, Poland.  Do not get me wrong, I am a patriot. I love America but that does not mean I have to limit my life experiences.

Since pictures speak louder than words, I took these photos today just walking around my house.  They are nothing special but gives you a real idea what life is like in Poland and why I would want to move from the US.

Poland is so beautiful it is not hard to move from the US to Poland

My grandparents came from Poland many years ago. I have always had an interest in Poland and Polish history from afar. After taking several trips to Poland I decided to study the Polish language in Kraków for a few months. But why did I move? I meet the girl who was to be my future wife. It was my destiny.

We would not have stayed if I did not love Polska.

Hard working Polish workers making Poland greater everyday

Why I moved to Poland and stayed

  • The USA is about 200% to 300% more expensive than Poland for the same exact things.
  • People are very humble and sincere, churches everywhere and people take family and church seriously.
  • It is the center of Europe and from Poland you can go anywhere in a short distance. I often go to Lviv, Vienna , Africa, Greece or the Northern countries with ease.
  • A new experience.
  • Poland has great food, if you love Polish cooking and fresh home cooked meals, you will love Poland. Fresh food in Poland tastes nothing like these large farm grown produce in the United States.
  • Interesting history and culture and art.
  • Countless other reasons I moved from the US to Poland.

Poland gets better everyday

About five years ago people use to say Polish people complain a lot. I do not think that is the case much anymore. Poles are pretty optimistic and every year the economy is getting better and better. Life is pretty good in Poland.  Life is real in Poland, not some something that comes in a package and is heated in a microwave.  People enjoy their lives with 8 weeks of family vacations a year.

You will feel no deprivation of consumer goods as Poland has huge shopping malls like or as nice than the USA

The people here have a strong sense of family and values.  I think in innocence and values it was like America in the early 1960s.  I hope it does not change too much.

Window shopping is always fun on the largest open square in all of Europe.

What about consumer goods when moving to Poland?

You can get anything you want in Poland and usually at a better price and quality. Many things are still made in Poland and most thins come with a two year EU warranty.

Modern Polish trams move people in Poland around their ancient cities.

Basically you have a USA lifestyle that is more interesting, mentally stimulating, 1/2 to 1/3 the price more peaceful, no guns and few violent crimes, free education to the University level and health care. Polish weather is better than the UK or Ireland or many northern countries but not as hot as Spain or Italy. But that is what vacation is for and I enjoy the four seasons in Poland. It is like living in New England.
Poland has mountains and the sea as well as lakes and ancient forests all very beautiful.

I am thinking of moving from the center of Kraków to a wooden house in the Polish countryside.

I have my apartment set up like I did when I lived in the USA. It is large and furnished with Ikea, high-speed Internet.  No standard of living difference.
I have no idea why the expensive USA is still the ideal to live in when the world now is global.

Gothic buildings are everywhere in Poland.

If you need advice on moving to Poland from the USA or Canada or from where ever you live, leave a comment. If you need to know about work in Poland or a visa or citizenship I will answer the best I can.

A Polish church on my street

If you need travel advice, or any ideas about moving to Poland again just write a comment and I will answer the best I can.