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What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Poland? Posted by on Aug 8, 2019 in Countries, Culture, Outdoors, Places to visit

What do people think of when they hear about Poland today? The first person people mention is Pope John Paul II, then Solidarity and Lech Wałęsa. Some people remember Frederic Chopin or Copernicus (if they know they were Polish), while film enthusiast know of Wajda or Kieślowski. People talk about Polish vodka, beautiful Polish women and amazing Polish food!

But besides all these common things and names, there is a beautiful, natural, quiet country…Just simple nature that I love.

Poland is changing every day, but it has never lost its identity and somewhat old-fashioned charm. Tourists visiting Poland value the country mostly for its unspoiled naturalness. A man with horses ploughing a field, crosses and roadside shrines and crazy scarecrows in the fields bring to mind an open air ethnographic museum, except these are not just for show.

Picture I took in a Polish village few years ago.

In Poland you can still lose yourself in time among ancient oaks and chestnut trees in the parks or on the porch of a small village house, sitting with older people, listening to their stories from the past.

 

Bydgoszcz. Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

Image by Bronisław Dróżka from Pixabay

Nature was definitely very generous to Poland, providing it with a beautiful and extraordinary diversified landscape, enriched by a colorful culture and stormy history. It has the waves of the sea wash its shores and the rocky alpine peaks of the Tatry Mountains look down on it’s lands.

Tatry. Image by Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay

It’s like Europe in a nutshell! Puck Bay, which has steep cliffs and wide, sandy beaches, could be the envy of French Riviera. We have Kashubian Switzerland, Polish Venice in Bydgoszcz and the beautiful land of thousand lakes – Mazury. The land of the lakes may not be equal to the one in Finland in size, but definitely matches it’s beauty. We also have some of the wildest forest in Europe – The Białowieża Primeval Forest inhabited by the mighty bison! There are swift mountain streams and vast wetlands, bright green meadows, deep ravines and gorges and moving sand dunes! Beautiful castles and palaces bring to mind the stormy history of Poland.

Slowinski National Park Sand Dunes. Image by morzaszum from Pixabay

When you ask Poles, they would say the symbols of our country are the Wawel Castle, the stork, the bison, Jasna Góra Monastery, amber (known here as a baltic gold) and a Vistula River. And of course, the eagle and the white and red flag of the nation!

In spite of all these wonderful cultural and natural treasures we have been fighting a long battle with Western European stereotypes which have developed over many years in the minds of our neighbors, in the minds of generations of people. The images of poor, grey communist country have been relegated to the past. Today there is a brand new Poland, beautiful, fascinating and hospitable.

What do you picture when you think of Poland? Please share it with us in the comments!

 

 

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


Comments:

  1. Dr. James Rogerson:

    My first thoughts are the bravery of the Polish soldiers at Monte Cassino, Italy, during the Second World War. Also there are others who served in the RAF during the blitz and on the Eastern front. I hope that I spelled the names of battles correctly.