I’m back in Warsaw and back at Nathan’s Villa (new window), the great hostel with internet access and wifi included in the price. It is nice to be reconnected…

I’m back from, Krakow. I’ve spent the last few days there with my French cousins and the cousins of my French cousins (get your head round that one!) soaking it all in. I have to say, I’m glad to be back in Warsaw. Krakow was ok, not somewhere I’d hurry back, but I’ve taken a real liking to Warsaw since being in Krakow!

My overall experience of the Polish people has been quite mixed. I’ve found a lot of people in bars and shops very friendly, willing to speak English, or try if they don’t, and / or communicate using the international language of pointing! However, at the other end of the scale, I’ve found a lot of people totally unwilling to speak English or make any space for the fact that I don’t speak Polish.

For example, I was buying some fruit outside the central train station in Krakow. I picked up a few plums and put them on the counter. The woman gruffly said something in Polish, I said “I’m sorry I don’t speak Polish”, so she said something else, then huffed some more, and finally put my plums in a bag. Then she told me the price in Polish. I said, again, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Polish” so she really huffed this time and wrote out 0.80 zl on a piece of paper and showed it to me. I wanted to walk away. I wanted to take my money somewhere that it might actually be appreciated by someone who might actually smile.

I had loads of other similar experiences, normally at small stalls like the fruit one, or selling cigarettes and tickets or snacks. My overwhelming impression was initially negative, but gradually I’ve come round to the notion that the Poles fall into one of two categories. Generally nice and friendly, or downright rude and unpleasant.

My cousin’s wife, and her family, have been wonderfully kind. Her sister has been a great guide, always out with the family, happy to speak English, and generally really nice. I’ve also met a few really nice Polish people, so they obviously do exist. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the older generation, mostly female, who are probably a relic of the eastern block poverty stricken past who are giving Poland a bad name (at least to me!).

Who knows, maybe I was just stressed out living with a bunch of French people I vaguely know for 4 days!

2 thoughts on “Krakow”

  1. I always find that it helps to learn a few basic words and phrases to endear yourself to the local population.
    A few winners are “Yes/No/Please/Thank you/How Much/where/my name is and finally the best one…”I don’t speak (your language) would you help me?

    There is a site that will translate for you.

    Just type in the words you want and select the language to translate into.

    Good luck.


  2. I would agree with the comments regarding Poles falling into two categories. Pleasant or rude. It’s usually directly linked to age. There seems to be no in between. I’ve lived in Krakow for a couple of years now and when eventually when you do get a enough words together to do the basics, they do give you a bit more respect.

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