My first ever post from Poland, wow! Finally after 32h long trip I made it home. I still suffer from jet lag and food coma (thank you Mom and Dad for leaving all the sweets in my bedroom, you’re da real MVP) so I didn’t have much chance to go out, but I already want to write my Polish-series soooooo badly!
I want to start with some basic informations you need while traveling to Poland. It’s based mostly on Wroclaw, my hometown, but should apply to most of the big cities. It’s my personal choice that might make your life easier!
Paying by your credit card
It’s not really a big problem, some places still might want you to spend a minimum of X PLN before you use a credit card, but what’s an issue in my opinion is the currency they charge. Sing and few people I know had that problem – your local bank will probably give you the best exchange rate, just like ours, and choosing PLN is quite pointless but people will automatically pick PLN for you before they hand you a credit card terminal make sure that they pick your local currency.
Unless you visit Warsaw, but don’t think it’s impressive. With 1 subway line in one single city we cannot call our country ‘the most public-transport-riders-friendly‘, but when it goes to buses and trams they will take you everywhere. Especially in Wroclaw it’s really easy to get practically everywhere in max. 2 hours even if you live really far away. And for most of the city’s attractions you can simply WALK. Now that’s convenient.
Most of places have their individual discount rules, but public transport is quite generous, especially to students – including international students. Just be sure to make/take an ISIC – International Student Identification Card. It will not only let you get a cheaper transportation but if you go to http://www.isic.org/benefits/ you can find really good deals all around the world. Pretty useful while traveling in general.
If you stay in Poland for longer I would suggest you get a ticket-card. Comparing to Hong Kong’s Octopus or SF Bay Area’s Clipper you don’t use it as a second wallet and pay for every ride. You charge it in a machine and keep it in your wallet until you’re asked about the ticket. From my small experience the same thing is in Copenhagen – unless someone doesn’t ask you, you don’t need to do anything with your valid ticket. Also when it goes to a card in Wroclaw you can connect it to your bank account for free! The only trick is your bank account should be in WBK which I personally hate (not to mention their horrible exchange rate!). For more information click here to get to URBAN CARD official page.
Plugs and voltage
If you are a traveler from Europe/Russia you shouldn’t be worried about getting the adapter, but it’s always good to check the chart below, I also give you a spread of plugs around the world – as for Poland:
- Voltage: 230 V
- Frequency: 50 Hz
- Power sockets: type E
Don’t worry if you forget to bring it with you – big shopping malls for sure have places like Euro RTV AGD, MediaMarkt or Saturn where you can buy an adapter for few PLN.
Mobile Network Operators
This one is totally subjective, but in my opinion very important. If you have different opinion, please feel free to share. As all of us know nowadays mobile Internet is extremely important. You might get lost, you might need to check something, you might need to post your lunch on Instagram. In America I can recommend you 30USD/month T-Mobile plan that gives you unlimited Internet access (up to 5GB of LTE speed) and 100 minutes to talk. I use up all 5 GB and maximum of 10 minutes, only if Sing uses it. So if you are an Internet addict I cannot recommend you a better offer. But it’s Poland’s month so let’s move on!
I never used a mobile Internet on my phone but now since I have very little time and I still want to stay in touch with you guys (and remind Sing to clean the litter box, even when there’s no WIFI around), I decided to get myself a starter. I cannot say a thing about Plus’ offer, but from three main mobile carriers – T-Mobile, Play and Orange – I can say the best choice is Play.
I had high expectations of T-Mobile since it gives me a great plan back in the US, even their site mentioned up to 6GB for 30PLN, but a guy said it’s just a commercial and from start we can get 500MB. Is there anyone who can confirm this? Because I don’t know if that guy was just too lazy to do any business or they really suck.
Orange didn’t really have a good offer too, but this year just like in previous one, they made a promotion – 6GB for 6 PLN that can be used in 60 days. You could even activate it on the very last day of summer (promotion starts from 8.07 till 31.08). So check it out if you’re traveling next summer – remember it can only be used if you’re having one of the following plans: Orange Yes, Orange One, Orange POP or Nowe Orange Go.
I chose Play Online Na Karte – you get 2GB for 19PLN that can be used in 14 days, then you get extra data for charging your phone account (you can check how much the data costs here – click) or you can ask for a FREE starter with 300MB of 4G/LTE data for testing and just ask them to charge your account right away. That’s the way I got my 3.3GB to use for a month! And it’s available everyday. If I have to recommend I would pick Play’s offer, but as I said before – it’s my very subjective choice.
When to come
I love how beautiful my country is during every time of the year, especially the Christmas Market that takes place every December in the city center, but winter time can be extremely cold (even -15/20C!) so traveling, even with lots of snow, might not be a good idea. Imagine your train getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with no heating… it’s more common in Poland than you might think. One politician who is in charge of the train system said literally ‘Sorry, taki mamy klimat’ – ‘Sorry, that’s the climate we have’, but saying ‘sorry’ instead of ‘przepraszam’ is really impolite. It’s now like a meme in Poland.
I personally would just pick any time I don’t come – I always bring a bad weather, but my favorite time is Spring and Autumn – both are not too hot, not too cold but the views are amazing. Everything is blossoming or you’re drowning in golden leaves. It’s simply amazing, little bit like those Windows XP wallpapers. I know most of us cannot control our days off from work, but if you have a choice I’m strongly recommending you May or September.
Is there anything important anyone traveling to Poland should know? Or if you’re Polish yourself, maybe you can add some of your own experience into this. Make your suggestions! I also want to know what is the most bothersome for you when you travel!
And if you want please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, especially since this weekend I will be writing about BEAUTIFUL KRAKÓW!