First Impressions of Poland

Until the last few years, Poland has not been at the top of many travelers’ “go to” lists. Indeed, even after years of travel, we had never visited here. True, we were only in the country for a week and then only to visit Warsaw and Krakow. But, even from this brief exposure, we came away with a very favorable impression of its people.

Virtually all the Poles we met were genuinely kind and pleasant. Both Krakow and Warsaw were very tidy, clean and for the most part, free of graffiti. If one can generalize, Poles seem to be a bit less uptight and stressed than their German neighbors. We didn’t see the number of businesses offering psychotherapy services as we do here. Polish drivers don’t use their car horns as frequently as we’re used to experiencing.

Polish women place a high value on personal appearance and we saw several businesses specializing in cosmetic enhancement treatments. The Polish trains we rode on were excellent. There are sushi restaurants everywhere. Now what’s that all about?

Poland is a fairly homogeneous society. It is overwhelmingly Catholic and in a week, we saw only one woman in muslim dress. The only Blacks we saw were two American tourists in Warsaw. Poles seem to be confident without being arrogant. We asked one Pole if he was concerned about the influx of muslim migrants entering Europe and how that situation affects Poland. He answered, “Muslims don’t want to come here. They would have to work”.

Polish elections took place during our visit and several women we spoke with were concerned about the outcome. All of these women were afraid that if the right of center Law and Justice Party gained power it would not be good for women’s reproductive rights. The party has threatened to ban abortion and in-vitro fertilization. As in the US, the more liberal party, here the Civic Platform, has more support in urban areas while the conservatives are more powerful in the rural areas of Poland. The Law and Justice Party won the election. What this means for Poland in the near future is likely a lean to the right, hopefully without the wave of intolerance we have begun to see in Europe.

Politics aside, Poland is a fascinating country with an often tragic past but with a promising future. We look forward to our next visit.

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