From the tranquillity of the long, sandy Baltic coastline in the north to the tree-decked mountains of the south, Poland is a beautiful place. Add into the mix a proud cultural heritage, gorgeous cities and, naturally, a little vodka and you have a unique cocktail that just begs to be sampled.
Since joining the European Union in May 2004, life in Poland has changed significantly. As money pours into the country, new projects are underway everywhere, including new roads, improved city centres and stronger infrastructure. After a turbulent twentieth century, a little solidarnosc (solidarity) with European neighbours is helping Poland become a thoroughly modern country. The flood of ambitious young Polish people to other corners of Europe has, in turn, made Poland more cosmopolitan as the young people often return with a new outlook. Naturally, some Polish people are not so keen on the European experiment, particularly in the rural areas, but they are in a small minority. Poles are proud people – Marie Curie, who was born in Warsaw – named the first element that she discovered ‘polonium’.
As a visitor, you won’t find anywhere better for horse riding and cycling that the woody south of Poland while the clear water of the Great Masurian Lakes is ideal for sailing and kayaking. The Tatra Mountains offer some fine winter sport opportunities and resorts cost significantly less than the equivalent in the Alps. If you are more of a townie, Krakow and Gdansk are perfect for enjoying all the thrills and spills of modern living against a beautiful, old-fashioned backdrop. Warsaw has that big city buzz and a unique toughness, perhaps inspired by its twentieth century history. The home of Chopin has regular free concerts each summer in his honour.
Tuck into a plate of bigos (cabbage and meat stew), join the debate and get to the heart of Polish culture.