Polish Language Blog

Vacationing po polsku Posted by on Mar 10, 2010 in Culture

Adam writes:

I am away on vacation, so the topic is close to my heart at the moment. And as this is the middle of winter – so it’s a good time to plan your summer holidays. Planning in advance is something that people in Pomerania, Silesia, Greater and Lesser Poland would be more likely to do. People in Central and Eastern parts of the country are said to be more into deciding on an impulse. If you live there, read this in June

Poland has a multitude of all types of vacation options, resorts, holiday establishments, and standards of accommodation. In this post I’ll go through them in case you were considering bringing your euros, rupees or yuans and yourself over here.

  • wczasy pod gruszą (lit. holidays under a pear-tree, meaning: in the countryside) – are usually organized by family-run farms, and may offer varied standard and facilities. Typically, it would include living in the middle of nowhere, with some rural entertainment, like horse-riding, learning how to milk a cow, how to make butter etc., walking around with no purpose, visits to local attractions, like ancient churches or small museums dedicated to things no one otherwise wants to know. You will eat old-style Polish hearty foods. Of course made from scratch by your hosts. You will need your own vehicle to get there.
  • sanatorium (medical spa holidays) – are a thing typical of Central Europe, where for hundreds of years people were coming to the “springs” to cure their ailments. It’s based on a concept that certain places have special micro-climate that works well for certain illnesses. For instance, Wisła is said to be good for heart diseases, while people doing cosmetic surgery go to Jastrzębia Góra. In these places the whole infrastructure was built – usually there are plenty of medical procedures available, as well as beauty treatments and all things surrounding – like day trips etc.
  • This type of holiday therefore usually attracts people of the age 50+. These are not usually connected with a particular time of year – summer or winter – they’re organized all year round. People with a Polish health insurance may be advised to go to a medical spa by their doctor, and then the bill is paid (fully or in part) by the state. Of course anyone can go, even without a doctor’s referral, but then they have to pay full price.

    Sanatorium is usually organized by large estates and the quality of accommodation offered can vary. The state-sponsored version would typically include staying in a room for four, with three people you don’t know. If you decide to pay some more, there is a wide choice of accommodation available – from standard all the way up to deluxe.

  • wczasy odchudzające – (lit. slimming holidays – fit farm) – are holidays offering a fast weight-loss program. Complete with balanced diet, doctors advice, and plenty of exercise and fitness regimen with other fatties. There is a number of small family-owned establishments dedicated to this type of holidays. They usually employ fitness professionals, nutritionists and doctors. However, some may or may not include a swimming pool or a gym. Most would offer nordic walking as the basic type of exercise.There is one large state-owned institution that offers these holidays as well (state-owned but you have to pay). And it is the Olympic Preparation Centre in Cetniewo (Władysławowo). Fatties here can rub shoulders with olympic teams from Poland and around the world, and are able to use state of the art facilities, gyms, pools and some pretty advanced therapies that aren’t available at many other places.
  • wczasy w górach (holidays in the mountains), or wczasy nad morzem (holidays at the seaside) or wczasy nad jeziorem (holidays at the lake) – yes there are plenty of holiday resorts in this huge country. To those who haven’t seen a map for some time: góry (mountains) in the south, Bałtyk (Baltic sea) in the north and jeziora (lakes) throughout – but especially in the lake district of Mazury (north-east).Most of the accommodation offered there would be sort of B&Bs (called “pensjonat“, or simply “pokoje do wynajęcia” – rooms). Small and family owned they usually don’t offer anything besides a… room. However, unlike in a B&B, you can stay there any time of the day.

    A summer resort in the winter. Not an inviting sight.

    Larger resorts may offer small or larger hotels, sometimes called “ośrodek wypoczynkowy“. Those are not always just one building, sometimes “ośrodek” may include numerous little houses scattered in the forest, near the sea or a lake. These resorts are running typically only during the right season, and most facilities are closed during other times.

  • kolonie (camps for children) – I always wondered why these are called “colonies” in Polish. Maybe because Poland never had any? (Anna’s comment: nah… it comes from some goofy French word, if I remember correctly). Anyway, this is a popular thing – to send the kids away and have some fun. There are all kinds of special options, from general holidays, to language learning camps, or camps dedicated to mastering a specific discipline of sport. Transport and professional care are provided by the organizers.

Should you have questions – leave them in the comments section and Anna and I will surely try to answer.

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