The latest Polish guy in my Dlaczego Kochamy Polskę (Why Do We Love Poland?) series to inspire you to visit Poland is Andy! Andy runs the superb website Discover Krakow, check it out! It also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, all promoting beautiful Kraków as a prime tourist destination. Over to Andy for his inspiration today:
Where are you from?
I was born in little Polish town Łobez in West Pomeranian Voivodeship. It used to be famous for its horse stables but nowadays it’s rather boring place without many young people. That’s why I had a motivation to leave it as fast as it was possible so I’ve studied hard. Thanks to that I got to the University in London and I got know the taste of a really big city.
Where in Poland do you live?
Cracow of course! I am the proud citizen of this beautiful city for almost 7 years. I moved here straight from London without being sure, but now I know, that it was one of the best decisions in my life! Reason? The answer won’t be surprising… Polish girl! We are not together anymore but she was the best person who could show me all the gems of Cracow. That helped me to fall in love with this place immediately.
When did you first travel abroad?
My first travel abroad was quite bold – I bought the flight tickets to New York and back just after finishing the High School. Those 5 days were the best time in my life – I felt like a hub of the Universe! Now I know that it was little bit risky – I had no hostel reservations, no map and not so many dollars in my pocket. Nowadays I would plan it a little bit different, but of course I do not regret that travel!
What is your favourite city in Poland and why?
It will sound very patriotic and pathetic but my choice is… Cracow! You have to be there even for a while to understand it! Cracow is the most amazing mix of old-style buildings, wonderful churches, mysterious monuments and very modern architecture as well. I love our crowded Old Town that never sleeps and cosy Kazimierz with its small, tiny shops that has their own, magical atmosphere. Another best thing in Krakow are people! No matter if they are students, locals, tourists, younger or older – everyone is very friendly and very open. Take an extra bite of traditional obwarzanek (local kind of pretzel) and you will have no doubts!
What is your favourite town in Poland and why?
I would say Cracow again with pleasure, but I don’t want you to think, that there is nothing interesting to see around! That’s why I can highly recommend you the small city Wieliczka. It’s really romantic town, full of parks, old, historical buildings and churches. I visit it when I need to slow down and take a little big city-break. And of course I can not miss the famous “Wieliczka” Salt Mine! That wonderful place allows to take few step back in time and contemplate in calm. Yes, Wieliczka is my favourite town, definitely!
What is your favourite village in Poland and why?
I have seen many Polish villages but I remember very well only one of them. It’s called Zalipie and I think now it’s even world-famous. What is the reason? Beautiful, traditional paintings on every house, well and chapel. Every building there has white walls with a lot colorful flowers on it. It looks super-cool and thanks to it you can feel the real country life. Oh, and it’s only 1,5 hours from Cracow! I would like every village to look like this – I think Polish people will be much more optimistic then!
What is your favourite province in Poland and why?
Have you heard about Zakopane? It can be a little bit overcrowded but trust me – you have to see the province of Polish Tatras! Zakopane’s Valley has its own, unique climate. You can see big mountains full of snow in the background and very green halls just in front of you. There are beautiful, rich decorated, wooden houses everywhere and a lot of great restaurants with delicious Polish food. I recommend you to go there in low season – it’s really worth to see! And the next great thing is – it’s not very far from Cracow – something like 100 kilometers!
Why do you like living in Poland?
Living in Poland seems to be… very easy for me. Since I live here, I am less stressed, I feel like I have much more free time and much more everyday contacts with friends. Everything seems to be at my fingertips and I like being in the middle of the Europe. Flights abroad are usually very cheap and the everyday-life here is not expensive as well. I am also a big fan of Polish culture and traditions like Christmas Eve or slow-motion ways to spend “Majówka” (very long, free weekend celebrated by all Poles). Another thing is that you can do in Poland whatever you want! Kitesurfing? Go to Hel! Snowboarding? Go to Zieleniec or somewhere else! A lot of interesting spots to see. I could talk like this forever!
What is your favourite Polish drink and why?
My favourite Polish drink is vodka called Żubrówka. It has beautiful, light green colour and the unique taste like no other alcohol. There is a blade of special grass in every bottle of it. They are taking it from Białowieża Forest that is one of the largest virgin forests in Europe. I buy few bottles of Żubrówka everytime I go abroad to see my friends. They love it as I do! It’s great with an apple juice or just clear with some ice. You should try it!
What is your favourite Polish food and why?
It’s really hard question – there are so many Polish dishes that I love. I can not even remember how many times I have eaten pierogi (Polish dumplings), golonka (pork knuckle), kotlet schabowy (kind of schnitzel – the symbol of Polish food) or faworki (deep-fried dough with powdered sugar). But if I had to choose only one dish it will be… żurek! It’s a kind of sour soup with white sausage, egg and a lot of marjoram inside. It always reminds me Polish winter and – what is good to know – it’s really great hangover cure! I am really glad that almost all restaurants in Cracow have żurek in their Menu!
What is your favourite random fact about Poland?
That you will be never hungry leaving your Polish friends house! Receiving guests is very important tradition for all Polish families, so they serve you always everything the best they can cook or bake! When going for some birthday party or anniversary, you have to have really empty stomach. There is always a soup as a starter, very big main meat-dish and a lot of pies for dessert. Drink two extra coffees, one tee, compote and a glass of home-made wine and you are almost dead! In the other way the hosts will be sad what you really don’t want to! I survived a party like that several times – every time when my friends from Cracow and other cities invited me to their family home. Of course my family does exactly the same! I think it’s really cute!
If you didn’t live in Poland, where would you live?
I can’t even imagine me living somewhere else. Cracow offers me the all I need so I don’t have to look any further. But if I had to leave Poland, I would go back to London. Or maybe New York? Anyway I am little bit afraid, that those places will be too big and too fast for me now. Cracow is the perfect combination of slow-motion life and the all pleasures of the metropolis. But I have an idea! Let me take my Cracow flat, my Polish friends, my favourite restaurant with żurek and my cheap shop from the neighborhood and I can survive wherever I have to! Or just send me to some desert island…
Thank you and Dziękuję bardzo to Andy for being the latest in my series of Those Who Love Poland! If you love Poland and run a blog or are a travel writer, please get in touch, you can be featured, either e-mail jonny (at) northernirishmaninpoland (dot) com or head to my contacts or work page and get connected! You can also subscribe to Northern Irishman in Poland by filling in the form below! Safe travels!