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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Krakow living in Poland Poland

Where to live in Poland? – city or country

When I grew up I loved the countryside.  I grew up in New England in the countryside I wanted to stay. In fact, when I moved to NYC out of college I thought why?  Everything I wanted was in small town New England. I had lakes and fields to play in, I have a beautiful old library, fitness center and shopping at some local stores.

When I became a city person

I became a city guy when I was a consultant.  I traveled to most of the major US cities and live the consultant lifestyle in hotels and corporate apartments.  By the time I took a job in Boston, I only wanted to live in Beacon Hill, Boston.  I loved Beacon Hill for its old town center city lifestyle. I found I could live and work in the city and on the weekends enjoy the countryside in New Hampshire.  So I thought what was the point of living in the country as opposed to the city.

My next big city move was Krakow, Poland where I have lived for about six years.   I have become quite attached to city life.  I have though of building a house in the countryside of Poland, a nice wooden log home.  However, the though of being in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do but watch the grass grow, bores me.

City or country living?

I guess I make a huge switch from country to city. I love living in a Polish city like Krakow.  I am curious if you prefer the city or the country and what your experiences with the two lifestyles have been?

living in Poland Poland

Polish homes

The purpose of this post is to talk about homes in Poland just from my personal view.

Why I know about Polish homes

I am in the American that lives in Poland. I have lived here for many years.  One thing I have noticed about the Polish landscape is the style of houses are different than those in the United States.  The United States has an eclectic style of homes.  Poland has a style, the cities are ancient and amazing, it looks like Europe.

Polish style of homes in the country

  • The Polish style home is in my opinion are stronger than your typical American home, however build more for efficiency than style.
  • Some of the nicer styles imitate the old manor estates that have a neo-classical look.

Almost all Polish homes are made of stone with some sort of stucco on the outside.  Polish people like this because they feel it’s more sturdy.   This may be true.  They look a lot like home you see in Florida, that is the style of  stucco white homes often red roofs and windows to converse energy. The new style Polish homes are really nice and like the new rich of America have.
My style of house

My own style of home, is something that has been natural elements like would and a lot of class and windows.  I believe light is very important particularly in Poland.  The reason is in the winter it is a very dark country, and you need to maximize light.

Polish homes try to save on heating bills, the news ones have large windows as people are not going for style over saving every little penny.  This may have been true in the past way and you had the stain single class windows, however now all and even in my apartment I have the state doubled last windows and I don’t have a major problem with my heating bill.  Remember most of the heat I believe extends through the windows, and perhaps doors.  However if you have this double thick glass in the windows then it’s not an issue.  In fact, you should haveas much window as possible save almost have solar heating.

Another reason why Polish homes have small windows is because builders quote potential clients price per meter.  If the price is smaller there is a more chance they will buy, and the homes with the smaller windows have the smaller price. People not having a lot of money look at the bottom line price per meter.  Polish people are very smart and practical and always looking at price per meter and every aspect to maximize value.

If I build a home in Poland

Therefore, if I ever to build a home in Poland and gonna make it in a unique style with a lot of class and a lot of glass, with the roof that does not create a shadow over the windows, and will probably be made over would.

Perhaps I’m too used to seeing American style homes that are very eclectic and I can see this right off when I came to Poland.  Polish homes are starting to evolve into a much nicer style, as people here grow rich. Another idea is a wood log home.  I know many Americans do not like these but if done right it is very cozy and the long Polish winters can be endured better.

If you have any questions about homes in Poland, or in eastern Europe in general please write me and let me know or simply leave a comment on my Polish homes post.


Krakow Medieval festival

Behind my house every year on the Tuesday following Easter is living history, a Krakow Medieval festival. It is the Rekwaka tournament and reenactment of the Middle Ages that is connected to the founder of Krakow – Prince Krak.  Rękawka means sleeve in Polish. It was said that people moved the earth from to build the burial mound of Krak. It again is a stone’s throw away from where I live.

Krakow Knights ready to do battle

I was lucky to take some photos, although next year I will try to bring my better Camera.  It is really amazing running for about 10 hours with something different every hour. I would love to be a reenactor and it would be good for my Polish.

Camp in Krakow reenacting the Middle Ages

During this festival there is a small church behind my house that is open only once a year. There is a great legend and mystical history around this chapel that I think I will save for another post.

Krakow Middle Ages fair

The festival starts at 8 am has of course dancing, Medieval music and a battle at 3 pm.   The festival has a lot more of course including a unusual ending at 5:30 that I will not tell you about incase you ever go. It looks like some of the renactors actually might sleep there overnight.

In the real Middle Ages fair were a very important part of economic life. This is when people came from all over to trade and do business. It was a precursor of the Market. It was a place where goods were exchanged by tradesmen.  Remember there was no China, everything from candles to rope had to be produced locally so every town had its specialties. Fairs from the Dark ages to the High Middle ages were economic based as well as for other reasons.

I have often though of Krakow and Poland in general as a Medieval city and place. The city is filled with living history. There are monks walking the streets, real ones and 800 year old churches everywhere. There are many people with Medieval costumes walking around the city even on none fair days.

More Polish knights

I think these times are more in the collective unconscious of the people here in Poland more than most places. I think the US and UK are too busied with iPads and CNN talk of crisis to appreciate history like people do in Poland. From the Dark ages to the 18th Century it was a great time in Poland. And of course it is a great time to live today in Poland.

Polish Medieval camp

The last picture I hope you will enjoy are a couple of beautiful Polish princesses. I think Poles have very good values and ideas and the women truly are like ladies from the Middle Ages.

Krakow ladies from the Middle Ages

No need for a time machine to see princess from the Polish centuries past, in Poland there are many Cinderellas and peasant girls who have the heart of a princess.

Let me know what you think of these and pictures of Krakow’s Medieval festival. I know I need to improve the quality, however, the theme is interesting. Many people ask me why I am in Poland. I think the answer is obvious. It is such an interesting place, almost everyday I step outside my door and discover something new. Poland is a country that has many layers of history. Krakow itself has had inhabitants up to over 50,000 years ago and settlements and ancient things as fantastic as anything your real in Lord of the Rings.


Polish prices

Here is how to live in Poland based on Polish consumer prices. These are based on my personal experience not some abstract measure or hypothetical person. If you have a reasonable job and want a normal life here are my experiences.

Prices in Poland

I recommend shopping only at Auchens as it is were you get the best quality for the cheapest price on food and clothes etcFor example, you can get a bike for 180 pln and a 3 kg of potatoes for a złoty, you can get a Asus netbook computer for 1000 pln (I paid more at Bestbuy in Florida as you need to add in the sales tax in the USA, Polish prices are quoted in the final price. Of course you could go to Alma or even Klepasz the farmers market and local stores and pay more but why?

Exact prices in Poland

  • Rent, I pay 1000 pln for 69 meters but I have a gem in the old town.  I think rent is more like 2000 for 70 meters for people who can not get the insiders deal.
  • 50 pln for high speed Internet, 50 pln for satellite TV with 1000 stations + 25 for HBO etc. This is low cost compared to the USA.
  • My price for electric is only 50 pln.
  • 200 pln for gas in the winter more like 350, the price of heating and cooking and showers is high in Poland as the gas company nickles and dimes you with service fees.
  • Water and trash and maintenance and extras is 50 pln a month.
  • Good haircut with scissors not a buzzer is 10 pln.
  • Food for a family of 3 is about 1000 pln a month, but I buy a lot of extra nice things. I use to spend 2000 pln and some people spend only 500 pln. I like to buy high price imported items in Poland.
  • Tram pass is 90 pln a month.
  • Movies are about 18 pln lets say.
  • IKEA  has the best furniture.  3000 pln to get set up with nice new things to start, or check Gumtree for cheap things, I am selling my sofa for example this week and going to IKEA to pick up a new one.
  • If you shop allegro you will save more, but Auchens is often better and less stress.
  • So your total cost depends on how you eat and live depends on how you live. Lets say your total costs is 2500 pln a month, then you might have 500 extra for things that come up.

Therefore for about 1000 dollars or about 3000 pln a month you live a nice life, with nice clothes and books from Empik and movies and French cheese. The rest you can save or spend as you wish.

However, to live the same life I lived in Boston with savings and exotic vacations and yoga classes (which cost lets say 15 pln in Poland), and wasting money at the shopping mall on things you do not need and again saving and investing, you need about 2000 dollars a month in Poland.  But if you earn 2000 dollars a month you are rich. I did very well in Boston making about 10,000 dollars a month lets say but for 1/5 that rate I can live the exact same life in Poland because prices are cheaper in Poland than in the USA.  I can take vacations more often.
These sample for cost of living in Poland based on my experience. Please let me know what you think.

Krakow Poland travel

Krakow to Lviv

How to travel from Krakow to Lviv

The following is a list of ways to go from Krakow, Poland to Lviv Ukraine. I live in Krakow and go to Lviv a lot for various reasons. Many people touring Eastern Europe are fine with going to Poland and EU country but are afraid to cross out of the Schengen zone. If you are in Poland for more than a couple of days you might want to consider a trip to Lviv.

The Polish city of Lvov was once the cultural capital of Poland. Krakow was considered a smaller town in comparison. Many people speak Polish in Lviv and the city is multi national and tourist friendly.

How to go from Cracow to Lvov

The return trip is easy as once you get there you can just do the reverse.

  • You can get a bus from Krakow to Lviv for 70 pln or about 22 dollars. This is the simple way, it leaves every night from the main bus station in Krakow at 8 pm. The bus often does not have a bathroom so do not drink water or ask the driver to stop the bus. I have in emergencies. When nature call you can not hang up the phone. I drank 1.5 liters of water and boarder the bus. I did this as I thought the bus came in 1 1/2 hours, but just as I finished the bus pulled up for its 12 hour trip.
  • Another more complicated way which I do personally as I like day travel and trains over buses. I go from Krakow to Przemyśl, a Polish town on the Polish-Ukrainian border. You can get there in 3 1/2 hours. It costs about 15 dollars or 40 Polish złoty.  At Przemysl take a  Marshrootka or van to the  for 2 PLN there are white vans or small buses that are everywhere, just ask someone in English. Do the same to get to Lviv once you cross the Polish boarder, they come ever 20 minutes.  I have been stuck there in the middle of the night because I think they stop at about midnight and had to wait until 5 am. I slept on the grass.
  • Any travel in Ukraine is much cheaper than travel in Poland, about 1/3 or less the price. For example I went 26 hours on a Ukrainian sleeper train to Crimea for about 20 dollars once. This same Polish train would cost about 200 dollars.
  • You can buy a ticket to Lviv for about 50 dollars in a sleeper car.  This is the most comfortable way to get to Ukraine from Poland. But it is also the most expensive (I am not talking about flying or with a private car).
  • If you have tons of cash many Jewish Rabbis have a private car to Lviv and this can be arranged also at the Edan hotel in Krakow.
  • I have flown once but for a strange reason, no worth it generally.
  • My friend who is a girl hitchhikes, I have tried begging a ride also. My recommendation is if you do this hold up a sign that says your destination like “I am going to Lviv”.  Best in the Polish language of course.

Travel issues going to Lviv from Poland

Ukrainian currency – I change currency in Poland. I look for the best rate. The worst place to change money is in the Lviv train station. Just be aware. In Lviv itself there are many places, just check the rates.

Visa requirements for Ukraine – there are none if you are European or American.

Ukrainian boarder crossing – The guards are looking for illegal trade, this does not affect you, tell them you are a tourist and you can cross the boarder in 20 minutes instead of 3 hours.  Really, I flash my American or Polish passport and speak English and I am hustled to the front of the line. The line is really only for people making money going from Poland to Ukraine for economic reasons.

Where to eat in Lviv – Any student cafeteria like Rodzinka or Puzata hut (hata). Three dollars a meal.

Where to say in Lviv – Hotel Lviv, cheap (12 to 18 dollars) and unfriendly but my favorite place. I also stay in the
Kosmonaut Hostel (10 dollars), very cheap but nice.

If you have any questions on how to get from Krakow to Lviv let me know.  Also let me know about your experiences if you have ever been to Krakow or Lviv.