If you have any question about the great nation of Poland let me know. You can ask it under the specific post or category set up or simply in the comments below. Leave a comment and ask a question about the Polish nation anything you can imagine ask.
Some sample questions about Poland are:
Ask about a town, where your relatives are from example? I have a pretty good idea on how to approach this.
Questions about Polish surnames and what they mean or questions about Polish first names, girls names and boys names.
Ask about Poland and other nationalities, such as Jewish or Ukrainians or Germans living in Poland and what the relationship.
Travel to Poland – This section will be built but you can ask in the comments below until it is complete. It could include anything from medical coverage to hotels to stay in.
Polish women – and dating questions. I am very happy I married my wife from Poland. It is a world of difference than western dating culture.
Historical questions. It is a long history and my initial interest in Poland came from a historical perspective. I think I will have to expand this section on Poland.
Polish language You can ask anywhere here under my Polish grammar section. This includes learning Polish for kids to Polish as an adult.
Religion in Poland.
What are Polish people like?
Polish weather – what is it really like?
How do Polish people use the Internet?
Where do Polish people go on vacations?
Sending things to and from Poland.
Polish places, cities and towns.
Polish driving questions.
Polish people abroad?
Polish news sources – where to find the best Polish news.
Shopping in Poland.
Business, economics and real estate in Eastern Europe.
If you have any crazy question in just ask it. Do not be afraid, just leave a comment and I will reply as soon as I can, usually in a day. You can also contact me via e-mail, but sometimes those e-mails do not get through. The best ad surest way is via the comments below.
I am working to build this site up to be more of a forum but it will take time. I ask you subscribe and contribute with comments if you can.
Why do I know about Poland?
I am a duel US and Polish citizen and lived in Poland for about ten years. I have made it a lifetime passion to study about Poland. I live in the USA now. I have a pretty good perspective about Poland and the world as I have traveled a lot though Eastern Europe and the world. Although sometimes I write negative things about Poland, generally I have a positive spin on Poland and a realistic understanding of the culture.
I am a foreigner in Poland and can answer the question easily in one word ‘economics’. Concern of economic loss and poverty and being poor like in the 1990. Polish magazines and forums can analysis it all they want, but I can see it objectively from the outside looking in. Polish people have fewer and fewer kids to the point that the population is shrinking is because Polish people are obsessed with material security. They want to build that fence around their stone house (common in Polish homes) and being all set in life.
The new generation is being programmed to override one million years of human evolution that tells them to procreate freely and often and replace it with a selfish feeling of material comfort. All because many Polish people’s new matra is ‘we need more (money) to have more children’. Although this generation is richer than ever, Poles live in fear they do not have enough money. Let me tell you this. I worked on Wall Street, you will never feel like you have enough money.
Take it from a post crisis American; once you have a house and car and vacation, you will feel spiritually empty. Life is a spiritual journey. You will feel empty if you do not have a family that jumps on you and wraps their arms around you, as soon as you walk in the door. Think of the movie Family Man’ with Nichoas Cage. Do not build your spiritual house on sand. Think of the man in the Bible who set up his life economically, yet God took it from this world that very night or the story of Lazarus.
Why Polish people started to replace children with last-minute trips to Egypt, a new Toyota Yaris and a 60 meter flat
There was a mentality shift in Polish society to focus on the material and money. Post communist – new capitalist families finding their way in the 1990s and 2000s conveyed a new ethic to their children. Buy apartment, even if it is 60 meters, before you start living. I understand why, because they grew up with so little and did have a hard life. But so what? We all as humans suffer in different ways, and can not insulate ourselves from this.
The new generation parrots this collective unconsciousness with ‘ how can we afford to have kids’. The reason we do not have many kids is we have no money. I say this is nonsense. Do not listen to your fears (or rather the fears of your parents).
That is the sin of greed and lust for material things talking. People all over the world in less developed countries than rich fancy EU Poland (and yes Poland is a relatively rich country) have many kids and the children are happy and so are their parents.
Polish expectations about wealth in contrast with other nations
Further, Polish people have such rigid expectations about life and they are high. They think they get out of school and with their degree, they will get a good job and work for an “emerytura”. ‘News flash’, this is the new economy and nothing is guaranteed. Life is an art not a science. Just because life is not going along a perfect track do not deny yourself the birthright of self having kids.
Examples of poor people with a big happy family
For example, even in ‘richer’ countries like the USA where I am from many people buy their first house after 50. They have had many children and live happy lives without worrying they are renting a small apartment with no more. They have had five kids like my parents did or nine kids like my friend Paul has or six kids like my friend Jose who still does not have a house. Their kids are all happy nice and well-adjusted.
In contrast, in Poland every Polish couple I know has to own an apartment, have a good income, leave the children in day care or with Babcia and a good car and basically be ‘all set’. Then they start thinking of having one or two kids because that is all they can afford. My reply is ‘really’? Where is your sense of life and adventure? Kids in my area of the USA, are running all over the yard and they have no money and everyone is happy like out of a Disney movie. It is only the rich and self-absorbed who think different. There are many Polish girls who are serial monogamists instead of getting married as they delay their lives until they are in a better situation (economic) to have a family. But I have news for you sister, by then it will be too late.
One lady told me they want to wait until they can afford an English tutor for their children before they have kids. I said ‘really’, just live in the UK even to do a blue-collar job, for a few years and they will be native speakers better than the richest families in Poland. Or teach your kids English yourself by reading to them. But this Polish gal was a career lady. What a nightmare.
Is waiting to have children until they were rich or comfortable, what your grandparents did who had nothing? Is that what John Paul II taught or have Poles forgotten already? Is that what any of the Indian or Spanish or African friends I have in the USA do? It’s a cultural myth in some sterile cultures you need money to have a family.
In the USA I do taxes and see what people make. One of my friend makes a fraction of what my friends in Poland make and he has seven kids and they are happy. I know what he makes as I do his taxes.
Whatever it is, maybe Polish people have a sense of entitlement and a feeling of self-consciousness or lack of confidence that they are some how behind the west and want to catch up. My message is get over it. Poland is a great nation, but will be a footnote in history unless values change.
Let me tell you from someone who has live in Poland a good part of their life, and travelled the world, Poland is a rich country and if you are not having kids because of fear of lack, it is your psychological problem not reality.
Poland has things other countries do not have to raise a child
Consider cultures that see children as a blessing not a burden. Children are a blessing and take little to no money to rise besides a roof over your head. Your Medical care is free in Poland as is education and even daycare. What else do you want? I see a lot of fat Polish youngsters on the street and none are starving.
Good bye Poland hello Asian people
I am sorry to sound hard but Polish people have such high material expectations I can only classify as greed and pride and the price will be the Polish nation and people will disappear eventually. It will become demographically Asian most likely. It will not happen today but extrapolate out the demographics. I love Polish culture but also Asian culture. It looks like the Poles do not stand a chance right now if you project out a few generations. It is simple mathematics. The population of Poland is declining and the reason is clear. Polish people are focusing on money rather than family.
A warning for Polish girls
Many Polish girls read feminist Western magazines and silly books from Empik and watch TVN serale, and get programmed into thinking ‘having fun’ and develop your career first and experience life is the way to go. My reply is, why not experience life with your own family? Forget the money, do not listen to your parents fears they project on your and have a bunch of kids. There is no adventure is greater. What greater career could there be than having rasing children?
Polish girls if you wonder why your guy is not committing? ‘Why buy the cow if the milk is for free’. See feminism and materialism are like thieves in the night that take the sweetness and joy from the one of the most basic things in life, and that is having a family. If your guy is not committing to you it is because you are too hip and cool and give up your virtue so he is not inspired to marry you.
Polish guys are often afraid to marry because they will be tied down or it will not work. My message is, find a girl who is moral and good and you will not have to worry. If girls did not give it up so easy today in Polish society then guys would marry more because guys need companionship. Its human evolution.
So the young new Poles can make fun of the Catholic church or idolizes the West all they want, and keep chasing ‘almighty Zloty’, and blame the economy for everything, but this will result in the disappearance of Poland. Children are always a blessing. Money does not buy you happiness.
I am no conservative by the way, I am a free thinking libertarian. But the facts are the facts, Poland is getting smaller and smaller and the reason is material greed or at least fear of lack. Get over your fears and have some kids. Polish girls listen up, don’t get smart too late.
Kopiec Kościuszki a view from above of the Royal city of Krakow
Kopiec (mound) is a tribute built in commemoration of someone important. It is pretty much an artificial hill with symmetrical paths leading to the top. There are four of these in Kraków, the oldest ones are Princess Wanda Mound and King Krak Mound (the legendary founder of Kraków)and they were originally meant to be graves built by the thankful residents of the town.
Its amazing I have lived in Krakow for so many years and only hike a few of the mounds and I have certainly not done all of the touristy things. The hills in Cracow are worth seeing as they give you a good panorama of the cityscape of the Royal city which you can not get in any other way.
The Story of Kościuszko Mound
Kościuszko is a Polish, Lithuanian and Us military hero. He was a Polish general who led the Kościuszko Uprising against Russia and Prussia. He was also involved in American Revolutionary War as a colonel. In short words, he was and still is a quite special guy to the Polish Nation, so they decided that he deserved his very own mound. It was built three years after his death, on top of St Bronisława Hill (Polish name: Wzgórze Swiętej Bronisławy), also known as Wzgórze Sikornik.
It is visible from a lot of spots in Kraków, I can even see it right now when I look out of the window. You can see it when you walk along Piłsudskiego Street, which has very nice architecture by the way, so it is worth taking a walk there.
Tickets & opening hours
It costs 10 złoty to enter the mound area (but just going up is free of course only the tower top costs), there is also a chapel of Saint Bronislawa and some exhibitions every now and then. A couple of times a year it is free of charge. It is normally open from 9 till dusk and between may 1st and Sepptember 30th it is open until 11pm but only on the weekends and holidays. It is magical at night with the lights along the path great place for a date in Kraków.
How to get there
There are 2 bus lines that you can take, 100 and 101, but it is more more fun if you walk as you can see the landscape along the way. The easiest way to do it is take a tram or bus to the Salwator terminal (trams 1, 2, 6, buses 109, 209, 229, 239, 259, 269, 409) , then head up the hill along St Bronislawa Street (Ulica Swiętej Bronisławy) and then Washington Alley (Aleja Waszyngtona). You can also rent a bike and ride it all the way to Kopiec, there is a place to park it and they even provide free locks.
Make sure you take a camera with you, the view is amazing. I have not put too many photos here as I did not want to spoil the surprise, more something you have to experience.
John Paul II Airport (KRK) is a fairly small and convenient airport with very good access to the city centre, so you have no need to worry even if you tend to get nervous and / or lost at airports. There is not enough space to get lost, really, though the airport is still growing.
It only has two terminals: domestic (T2) and international (T1). There is a shuttle bus that will drive you from the train stop to your terminal, but if you are trying to get to the international terminal it is quite slow, as it goes to the domestic terminal first, then turns around and goes back to the international. I wouldn’t advise taking it if you are in a hurry, unless you have a lot of luggage of course, simply because it is much faster to walk. And it is not a long walk at all.
The transport from Balice Airport to Kraków center
There most convenient way to get from the airport to the city centre or vice versa is to take the train. The ride is only about 15 minutes and even if it takes an extra stop on the way it is never longer than 20 minutes. If you take it from the railroad station it usually leaves off platform 1 every 30 minutes, unless there is a renovation going on. It is just a short white and red train, it’s easy to find it.
If you take it from the airport: there is a shuttle bus right outside the door, it is free and will take you to the train station. You can also walk, I think it is about 100 meters. There is a bus stop on the right and a pavement along it that ends at the train stop.
You can buy the tickets at the station’s ticket window , at the machine inside of the train (coins only) or you can also buy it from the ticket controller after the train takes off. Do not worry about getting a fine if you do not have a ticket when the guy asks you to show it. It does not work the same way as Kraków public transport (MPK) , if you don’t have a ticket you can simply buy it with some extra charge. A regular ticket is 10 złoty.
If you want to make your trip to the airport or back really cheap, there are two regular agglomeration bus lines going to the airport: 208 and 292. There is also a night bus 903. They all leave from Dworzec Główny Wschód, the big bus and coach station by Galeria Krakowska and of course stop around the town. You need an agglomeration ticket (bilet normalny aglomeracyjny) for those, as they exceed city district. It costs 3.20zł and you can buy it at kiosks, ticket machines around the town or on the bus. The airport buses have big blue planes on their schedule so even if you forget the bus number, you will still know which one to take without reading every bus schedule at the bus stop.
There will be drivers outside the airport who will offer you a trip to the center in their mini bus for 60 złoty, but it is not a good deal at all, especially here in Kraków with such good transport options and the airport being relatively close to the city. Even a taxi would be cheaper, yet I see plenty of tourists going for it. The cheapest taxi company is called icar by the way, if you ever need to take one in Kraków. There are also other mini buses that I believe charge you 5 złoty for the ride to Galeria Krakowska but they are never right by the exit so you have to look for them. My advice is, if someone walks up and wants you to take their bus say no, because they will more than likely overcharge you. The same applies to mini buses parked right where you can see them after you walk out of the door. They are the most expensive ones and live off of people who have no idea how cheap it actually is to get to the center. Don’t be one of them.
What the name Sary Kleparz refers to now was originally the main square of the city of Kleparz back in the old days. Today if you ask anyone about it they will tell you it is a market. Probably the most popular one in Kraków, along with its younger brother, Nowy Kleparz ( New Kleparz).
Most shoppers visit Kleparz to buy fresh organic vegetables. I do and the meat is also mostly organic as are the dairy products. They are grow and farmed by local farms. You can see this by the fact the garlic is actually pink not the white chinese garlic you see in the rest of the world. But pink garlic full of flavonoids.
There is a huge variety of fruit and vegetables to choose from, homegrown organic things, imported exotic stuff and everything in between. The majority of the market are stands, but there are some mini shops also, mostly on the edges of the square, including bread shops (try the famous one that sells everything out in 2 hours, I can’t tell you the name, but you will probably recognize it by a long line of people), diary & meat shops, candy and even a flower-pot store.
You can buy almost anything there. Flower bouquets, antiques, little decorative pumpkins, seeds, homemade cheese, kitchen ware and even underwear, although this one will probably not be of the best quality, just like all Kleparz clothing . You can get some wicker items at a good price, too. If you get hungry while exploring it, there are some fast food places too, selling zapiekanki and so on.
I think the best time to shop there is winter. In December you can really feel a Christmas spirit, and I’m not talking about the kind of fever that you can experience at the mall. It’s much more calm and relaxing there, people just wander around and pick trees or lights and buy candy for the kids. And speaking of candy, definitely try ice chocolates. You might know them or have heard of them, depending on where you come from. These are only sold in the winter as they melt very easily, almost like ice cream.
Stary Kleparz is located right behind the tram stop called Basztowa Lot. You can get there using lines 0, 2, 3, 4, 7, 14, 15, 20, 24 (trams) or 124, 152 and 424 (buses), but it is quick and easy to reach it from the main square just walk along Sławkowska Street and when you pass the Planty Park go slightly to the right, next to Długa Street you will see something like a cavity since Kleparz is a square.
If you feel like visiting Nowy Kleparz as well, it is not very far from it at the end of Długa Street, which is a 15 minute walk. This is area is also where all the bridal shops are in Krakow.
If you are from the US, Ireland, UK or anywhere in Europe you might be wondering can I buy things cheaper in Poland. My answer is yes generally. I will back this up by data found on numbeo.com. However, it is not just about finding a cheap price, but quality and the things you will actually use or enjoy. This post is an insiders guide to shopping in Krakow, Poland.
Where to shop in Kraków
You would probably expect me to say the best shopping spots in Kraków are Floriańska Street and Galleria Krakowska, which are located in the center, but these are actually the worst spots, unless you don’t mind overcrowded places geared for tourists. I prefer peaceful shopping with better prices and try to avoid those places if I am not in a big hurry. Here is my list of places to shop in Krakow for various consumer and tourist items written by a Cracovian who shops.
Clothes – The most convenient place to shop for clothes in Kraków is Bonarka City Center. The location is about the only issue it has, it is definitely not as approachable as Galeria Krakowska, but a lot less crowded, too. Whatever it is that you are hunting for, in Bonarka you have more to choose from than anywhere else. It is a huge 2- story mall with all kinds of shops. I think it is the largest mall in Europe almost as big as Mall of America and the King of Prussia Mall in the USA. Watch out though, because of its size it is easy to get lost and the maps are not very helpful. So if you want a mix between Polish prices and Western brand names go to Bonarka. Take the bright yellow 304 bus there. In this mall my favorite shops are – Auchen for WalMart prices. It is the French WalMart. For women’s clothes Kappha (Swedish Store), Reserved (Polish store).
Food – If you are looking for a place to buy cheap food, again Bonarka is the best choice for you. This is where the cheapest supermarket in Kraków is. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, there are Stary Kleparz by Basztowa Street and Nowy Kleparz at the end of Długa Street. The sellers are often the ones who grew the crops. I cannot say it’s organic food, but it tastes real and nothing like supermarket stuff. Kleparz offers all kinds of goodies, from usual things such as bread or cabbage to hand carved wooden spoons, wildflower bouquets or funny cosmetics sold by a Russian girl. If you are in need of something sophisticated and rare you should probably look in one of Alma stores as they tend to carry a lot of foreign food that is generally hard to find in regular stores. I also like Alma, which is basically WholeFoods of Poland. There are many Alma’s in Krakow but I go to the one in Gallaria Kazimierz. They also have Kosher food in Krakow if that is important to you.
Antiques – There are several antique stores in Kraków and I think Kazimierz has the most of them. There is also a flea market every Sunday morning at Hala Grzegórzecka. The prices are very decent and you can really find some treasures or crazy things. I’ve even seen a big fossiled egg one time.
Souvenirs – I know this is quite obvious, but I have to say Sukiennice (Cloth Hall). Not only because everything in it is about souvenirs and you have a lot to choose from. They are real souvenirs from Kraków, designed and made in Poland, a lot of times by hand, not something that says Kraków but was made in China. The fact that it is a historical building and most likely the first mall in the world makes it more fun to shop there rather than in some regular souvenir shop. Other than that, I think Grodzka Street has a lot of gift and souvenir stores, there is also a good one in about the middle of Sławkowska Street, you can recognize it by different kinds of stuffed cats in the window. There is another good one on Gołębia Street and I believe that one only sells handcrafted items. If you happen to be in Kraków around the holidays- Christmas or Easter, you should definitely check out the holiday market that is set up twice a year before the holidays. This is where the most unique souvenirs are, especially pottery. If it’s there you will see it as it is right on the Main Square.
Art – You can buy paintings at the famous wall on Pijarska Street as well as in numerous galleries around the old town, such as one on Poselska Street, Dominikańska Street or Plac Szczepański. It is not hard to find one and you will most likely come across a few of them while taking a walk around the historical center.
Books– Go to Empik for Polish books and magazines in all languages and Massolit for used English books cheap. Massolit is more an expat hangout in Krakow.
What to buy in Kraków- the must have items
These are things to buy in Cracow. I think the these are all good, but if you want a nice gift or something of lasting value, buy Amber.
Obważanek, also referred to as precel, although it is not its proper name, is probably the most Kraków thing. There are stands selling obważanki all around the town. It tastes close to a roll, but has different crust and is sprinkled with poppy seed, sesame, or grained salt. It’s fun to get one and share it with the pigeons or swans by the river. Do not buy one with salt if you want to that though. This is literally a pretzel circle.
Dragon. It’s a symbol of Kraków. You will see dragons on every souvenir stand around the town. There are all kinds, little wooden ones, bigger stuffed plush ones and dragon t-shirts too, so make sure you do not leave Kraków without one. It might be a little tacky but it’s like going to Paris and not buying a miniature Eiffel Tower.
Bombki. Poland is famous for hand-made and painted glass Christmas ornaments. You can buy them at any time of the year, for example on Grodzka Street, although they might be slightly overpriced in the very center of Kraków.
A zapiekanka in Kazimierz. Another very Polish thing. It’s fast food, but probably a kind that you have never tried before if you are a foreigner. You can get them anywhere in Poland, but Kazimierz has the most sophisticated ones and you can pick each ingredient that you want as your zapiekanka topping. You can read more about zapiekanki in a separate post.
Amber. The Baltic Sea is the richest sea in the world when it comes to amber, so you will see plenty of amber jewellery in Kraków at good price. This is a good gift idea, too. Talented Krakow artists are everywhere, this city is a mecca for designers and the prices will be a fraction of NYC or London but better quality in terms of material and design, really.
Wawel chocolate. Especially the Kasztanki or Tiki Taki kind, simply because you will not find it anywhere else other than Poland.
Poland has some great sweets. Sometimes I wonder why is it that everyone talks about Polish sausage or wodka and few people appreciate the sweet stuff. It is just as good as Swiss sweets to me. This is what you will find in every bakery in Poland.
Pączki , which are a Polish version of a donut are a popular snack here. They are actually a lot better than donuts because they have jam inside, usually rose jam, but other kinds also, as well as chocolate or coconut cream. The bad news is, they will kill your silhouette if you have too many of those treats. They are fried and topped with either icing or powdered sugar. This adds up into about 300 calories. Pączek actually has its own celebration day, kind of. It is called Fat Thursday (Polish: Tłusty Czwartek) and falls on the last Thursday before Środa Popielcowa (Popielec), which is the day that the Fast begins. Fat Thursday is meant to be your last chance to indulge yourself before the fast, as you are not supposed to have treats once it begins. That tradition has vanished though and no one obeys it anymore except for the nuns. But Tłusty Czwartek remained there and you will see lines of people in the bakeries all around town. It is almost a crime to come home without a box of something sweet for your family on that day.
Drożdżówki are distant cousins of Pączek, but those are baked and never fried. The name means something made of yeast. So it is a sweet yeast bun with a filling. The most popular ones are sweet cheese, marmalade, poppy seed or pudding, but there is a million other kinds. They are considered breakfast food and make a great addition to coffee. If one works in an office, chances are they eat it every day. There are also French or half-french drożdżówki, which shouldn’t be called that since it’s a completely different thing. Not everybody likes them but I’m a fan. They are messy to eat though and will leave crumbs all over your clothes.
Kremówki. Those are exceptionally sweet for Polish standards, which is why they are usually not very big. Not as sweet as Hiszpan, the most extreme case which I will describe later, but still can give you a sugar rush. The name means something creamy and it is a light colored cream (usually yellowish) between two layers of French pastry. Most of the time it is whipped cream and vanilla pudding, some of them have two layers and those are called Kremówka Wiedeńska (Vienna style kremówka). Kremówki were popularized by the Polish Pope John Paul II as during the visit in his home town of Wadowice he mentioned eating them with his friends after taking high school final exams.
W-Z, also known as Wuzetka. The name comes from an East-West route in Warsaw (Wschód- Zachód). Do not ask me what is has to do with a cake. But what we know is that it is made of two layers of chocolate pastry with whipped cream in the middle and chocolate on top. Sometimes it has a thin layer of jam just under the chocolate coat.
Hiszpan. The word means ‘Spanish Guy’. I’m quite positive it is the sweetest cake you will find in Poland. The base is called Beza (Meringue), which is made of egg whites and sugar. The space between two bezas is stuffed with whipped cream, chocolate or coffee cream. A lot of Polish people stay away from it, as they generally do not like their cakes too sweet. I am one of those people but I actually bought one during my low sugar time. And still could only take two bites.
Ziemniaczek (‘potato’) is a little brown ball covered in coconut, cocoa or walnuts, made of ground pastry or digestive cookies with some chocolate and alcohol added. It often has nuts inside as well. Those are easy to make at home too, and do not require baking.
Napoleon is probably the most funny looking one here. It is a tall Barbie pink cake, or as Polish people would say- panty pink. It basically consists of a sticky egg white with some strawberry syrup and is covered with a thin layer of French pastry, decorated with some more of that sticky pink stuff. Do not order it if you are on a date, it is definitely not a masculine cake. When it comes to sweetness level, it is just after Hiszpan.
There are many more of course, those are just the most significant ones. My advice is when you are in Poland, try a different thing every time you go have coffee, as there is a lot to explore.
Sounds simple and and it might seem like it’s not hard to guess what is in it, but chances are you will be surprised by this Polish salad, especially by how time consuming it is and the fact that it is probably the most fattening salad ever invented. It is a vegetarian entrée, but definitely not vegan.
In an average Polish home it is made a couple of times a year and is a must have on the holidays, usually made in large amounts. Some people avoid it because of its figure ruining effects but I have never heard of anyone who would dislike it.
It usually consists of 8 main ingredients, including cooked, raw, canned, and brined ones. Potatoes, carrots, parsley root, and celery should be cooked all together in as little amount of water as possible, without salt or any other spice and with skin on. My advice is throw an extra potato in as you will probably eat in the process. I don’t know if it’s the slow cooking or the other veggies that it is cooked with, but it tastes great with just a little bit of salt. Anyway, you peel the veggies after they are done, then chop them up. My salad is well chopped as my family thinks it is better that way, but it can be bigger dice as well. I recommend making the pieces tiny though, it really tastes better that way even though it is more work. The next ingredients are boiled eggs and brined pickles. The proportions should be about even for all these, but you can use more pickles if you like as this is what gives you texture and the specific taste of this Polish salad. If you want it to have mild taste, use more potatoes. The last group are onions and canned peas. Be careful with those, especially the peas, it can ruin the salad if you put too much in. I personally think there is no need to add peas but I guess it’s tradition. My aunt replaces it with corn for instance, not sure if this is the best solution though.
The dressing is very simple, it can be just lots of mayonnaise with salt and pepper. Make sure you use good traditional one without a sweet taste to it. I think Kielecki is the best one when it comes to Polish stuff. Oh, and save fat free or light things for a different occasion too if you want the salad to taste real. You can also mix it with some sour cream and mustard, it is great that way. Remember, it needs lots of seasoning.
Do not serve it right after you stir the dressing in, just try it to see if it needs anything, cover it up with plastic wrap and let it stand in the refrigerator for a few hours. Serve with ham, country sausage or any kind of cold kiełbasa and wheat or wheat-rye bread.
I wrestle in my mind how much eat I should eat both for ethical and health reason. But when I am in Poland, which is where I live, I can not resist Polish Kielbasa, especially grilled.
I do not know one person who could name all the kinds of Polish sausage, simply because there are too many to remember. Some of them are local products, too and you cannot just go to any store and buy it. Here are the most significant kinds.
The name means ‘regular’, ‘usual’ or ‘average’. Zwyczajna is the common kind, almost always destined for grilling or frying on a pan. There are numerous types, such as Śląska or Podwawelska, but they are all similar in taste. Make sure you eat it with good mustard and a wheat roll or bread. It makes a good addition to scrambled eggs after it is cut into half slices and fried, too.
White sausage – Biała Kiełbasa
This kind is boiled instead of smoking which makes it pale and not attractive looking. It usually goes with żurek, polish sour rye soup, sometimes they are even cooked together. I’m not a fan of this one, but a lot of people like it. It is the most controversial sausage- you can either love it or hate it. As a foreigner you are probably more likely to dislike it, but still give it a try.
Kabanos is a skinny cocktail sausage, usually a spicy one. The more dry it is, the better it tastes so do not keep it wrapped into anything after you buy it, although there are low chances of kabanos to last until it is dry, you will most likely eat it the day you get it, this is what happens at my house every time. It is meant to be eaten cold. I have heard of someone making hot dogs with it, but I don’t think it is a good idea. A regular skinny sausage would make a better hot dog as it is not dry. Kabanos is a good party food too, you can make koreczki with it, which are pieces of kabanos or ham, cheese and bell peppers (or whatever you please) on a toothpick.
Country – Wiejska
Another one that is only served cold. Wiejska is the most favorite one and a must have at every Polish home on Christmas, Easter or anytime the family gets together. It tastes best with vegetable salad and country bread.
Dry Kraków sausage, I have no idea why it is called dry sausage because it is not dry at all to me. Maybe it’s because it seems dry on the outside. It is mostly used for sandwiches, kind of like ham and is a good addition to vegetable salad as well. Although it is a chubby sausage, it is called skinny because it contains very little fat compared to other kinds.
It’s just a really fat hot dog but often made with better quality meat, depending on where you buy it.
There are more kinds that are not popular or widely available but these are the basics that you should try while visiting Poland.
The best an only way to travel to and from Vienna is by bus from Krakow. In the evening every night there is a bus and it take about 9 hours with no border stops. It gets into Vienna in the morning. You could also drive but this is a very cheap and fast way. Many Poles work in Vienna (Wien) for the weekend. There are Poles everywhere there. In many ways they are similar cities but really Vienna is a Baroque and linear city and Krakow is city from Ancient times has a more medieval and chaotic character.
A comparison between Krakow and Vienna
A Cracovian’s first impression after coming to Vienna is usually: “Wow, this is almost like home”. Those two towns are quite similar. What I love about Vienna the most was that despite having a skyscraper district it is a big town with a fairly small town atmosphere, just like Kraków.
Both towns have big rivers passing through them, similar architecture and downtowns. Kraków’s Main Square and Vienna’s Stephansplatz look a lot alike. Both are loaded with cafes more than any average city, too. They even have the exact same trams or at least they did a couple of years ago when I visited it last time.
They both have cultural variety, but naturally Vienna has more as it is almost twice as big as Kraków and is also the capital (which Kraków is not). You might get an impression that there are more foreigners living in the town that native Austrians, and this might be true. They are mostly Asians and Middle-East Asians, but it varies in different districts. Vienna was rated the best city to live in the world, no wonder everyone wants to live there.
Transport – how to get about town
Vienna has better public transport, no doubt about that. Besides buses and trams there is the underground that Kraków lacks. Although a lot of times it is crowded, I recommend using it, rather than buses and trams, it is faster and more convenient, especially during hot summers. There is a train coming every 2 or 3 minutes usually and you can get a monthly or a 2-week pass. No one knows why Kraków doesn’t have it, except some legendary reasons like “oh, we cannot have it because it will destroy our old buildings”. This is how the president of the town defends himself for not doing anything about it. If Vienna and Rome can have underground and not collapse, then Kraków can too. Maybe a couple of years down the road it will.
So Vienna has this “fun district” called Prater. There is an amusement park, a regular green park and a zoo. Kraków has a zoo as well, many parks but no amusement park, except a mobile one for a couple of weeks in the spring. I think this is a quite a flaw, since there are not that many other places that the whole family can enjoy. But again, maybe someday.
Kraków and Wien are the capitals of art. I’m not even going to try to name all the places to visit, but any guidebook will help you choose the things you want to see. Vienna is a lot about Mozart, not as much as Salzburg, but still. You should experience something connected to Mozart while in Austria or your visit doesn’t count. If you are not enough of a fan to go to a concert, at least eat a Mozartkugeln.
There is this American shop in Vienna that I adore as it is the only place around that sells American food. You can get thigs like Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke for instance, and that’s hard to get even at Walmart. I’ve heard of people taking pilgrimages for Cadburry chocolate, too, even though Austria’s own chocolate is probably better to be honest or at least at the same level. Either way I wish Cracow had a place that could provide me with the sweet taste of Dr Pepper every now and then. If you know one, please share.
Cost of living
Kraków is a lot cheaper, especially if you rent a place. Food costs less also, and so do theatres, museums and public transport. Any country that has the Euro as currency tends to get pricey. But it’s not too bad and if you live and work there it will not bother you at all. However, if you just visit the town as a tourist, you will have way more fun in Kraków and won’t run out of money as quick as you would in Vienna.
Let me know what you think of both cities if you have been to either or both.