Polish Language Blog

Talking About Travel Posted by on Mar 12, 2010 in Grammar, Vocabulary

Adam’s last post about different vacation options in Poland made me think about travel in general.

Podróże (travels, journeys, trips) is a plural noun. Singular – podróż (feminine).
And podróżować (to travel) is the verb we need here.
So, what do you call a person that travels? Podróżnik, but that implies someone who travels seeking excitement, adventure and really wild things in unexplored lands. Someone who just goes somewhere by PKP, that’s “podróżny”.

Though from what I’m seeing and hearing, all the hip and cool kids who like to travel use the word “wyprawa” these days. Literally it means an expedition, and personally I’m not fond of hearing that someone is planning a “wyprawa” to Koh Samui in Thailand to sit on the beach and drink cocktails with little paper umbrellas in them. In my eyes, that’s not “wyprawa”, but “wycieczka”.

Wycieczka (feminine, plural: wycieczki) can be any trip of any length, but generally (at least in my eyes) does not imply any hardships along the way the way “wyprawa” would. Or maybe I’m simply a snob when it comes to travel.

And then we have these two confusing verbs:

  • zwiedzić (zwiedzać, imperfective), and
  • odwiedzić (odwiedzać, imperfective).

odwiedzić – to visit.
You can “odwiedzić” your babcia in Pcim Dolny, or you can odwiedzić Tokyo or Paris.

And once you are in Tokyo or Paris, then what you want to do is “zwiedzać”.

zwiedzać – to engage in the activity of sightseeing, to see the sights

But zwiedzić (perfective) implies not just sightseeing, but actually the whole enchilada of traveling and seeing a place. For example:
Zwiedziłam Tajlandię.
That would suggest that I visited more than just Koh Samui and in fact traveled around and saw a bit more of the country.

Confusing? Yes, it is. Even for me. And frankly, instead of talking about it, I would much rather go somewhere. Preferably somewhere warm.

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  1. odrzut:

    There is funny second meaning to wycieczka, – Henryk Sienkiewicz uses it often in “Ogniem i Mieczem”.

    Wycieczka can mean (at least in old Polish) “surprising attack performed by defenders of the castle to kill some enemies that besiege such a castle and decrease the morale of the rest of invaders”.

    Also – “wędrówka” is interesting word – what I would translate to English as journey (like in “Wędrówką jedną jest życie człowieka” = “The life of a man is a one big journey”). The verb is wędrować, and when you wędrujesz, it means the act is more important than destination, and it can be a very long experience.

    PS sorry for my English, please, correct my mistakes