It is very early in the morning here, just after 2 AM, but I am wide awake. I had about 2 1/2 hours or so of sleep earlier, then woke up and since I was wide awake, decided to get up. Just got out of the shower and have some water heating now for kava or maybe some herbata. When in Rome…. I was thinking about my first impressions of Poland, so here goes.
First off, if you’re going to read my blog, you are going to either (a) know some Polish already, (b) be left wondering what some of those strange italicized words mean, or (c) learn some Polish by either looking them up or guessing them in the context they’re used. My favorite for online simple translations: http://translate.google.com. So if you’re not sure, look it up.
From the air, though it was a somewhat overcast day, it’s a pretty country, lots of green fields and forests, cut through by winding roads, scattered houses, and villages and towns here and there. Occasionally there are larger towns and in the big cities you see the usual factories and the like
Warsaw airport: somewhat utilitarian I’d say, in a sort of stark, mondernistic, glass and steel approach. I understand it’s been remodeled and upgraded. It seemed to be well laid out, at least this bewildered, tired, and foreign tourist was able to make out the signs and the way to go without any problems.
Gdansk airport: small, but comfortable. Also seemed quite busy, perhaps in part due to the solidarnosc celebrations today, or perhaps that’s just normal.
Traffic: Well, at first on leaving the Gdansk airport, it really sucked, but we were told that was in large part due to the Solidarnosc celebrations. And once we got away from that area, the traffic was fine. There is a lot of road construction, however, I noticed that both from the air and from our drive in.
Construction: From what I’ve seen so far, there is a lot of construction in Poland. It seems to be a country that is very busy expanding and enhancing its infrastructure. My guess is that it’s in somewhat of a boom time recovering from the years of Communist domination where everything was cookie-cutter, by the book, and utilitarian. And also lots of infrastructure repairs ignored. Not now, I’d say, there is a lot of building going on.
Our Hotel: Our hotel, The Novotel Centrum Gdansk, is very nice. The room is quite comfortable though a bit chilly for me being a Florida boy. There is a small safe and a small refrigerator as well as a TV. I have free Internet WiFi access which is a big deal to me (and allows you to read this seconds after I post it). It’s got a separate toilet and sink/shower. Everything a person would expect in a hotel room, right down to the little soaps and shampoos. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the hot water pot with teas and instant coffee, as well as smetana and cukier (get out that Google translate!). The lobby is very modern and the restaurant/bar area as well is nicely done up. It’s got a little business center (computer with printer) as well as exercise room with a treadmill or two. Very nice. No pool, but it’s too cold for that anyway!
The city: Well, so far I have only been to the market square area, and a few points nearby. It is quite quaint, a bustling place with street vendors, shops, and lots of restaurants. Being famous for amber, there are plenty of merchants there as well, as lots of other stuff, everything from candies and fresh fruits (including Borowka Amerikanskaja), to ceramics and clothing. And of course, plenty of restaurants as well. The market square is pretty well totally rebuilt from the destruction of World War II, but done in the “old way,” like it was before the war. It is vibrant and full of life, a very fun place. Time willing, I’m sure I’ll be spending some time there just having a piwo (or two) and watching the people go by.
Clothes: I could have got by with shorts, at least in this touristy area. Plenty of guys wearing shorts, though not necessarily the majority. Lots of Blue Jeans too. But, the weather was chilly out of the sun and I”m glad I dressed a bit warmer. But I still look like a tourist with my big ole DSLR camera. Oh well, I am a tourist!