Poland is one of the few countries where many people head North during the holidays. The Baltic Sea coast is one of the most popular destinations for young Poles who leave on holidays. The concept of leaving the country to celebrate holidays abroad is relatively new, but the market for such vacations is developing at full speed. More and more people are exchanging the Polish beaches for something more exotic. Today`s question to young Poles in Wroclaw: what`s Your program for this summer?
British people will be surprised to learn about Polish people visiting their country with the simple purpose of enjoying holidays. In many cases, they are right. It would make sense to suspect that Poles would travel all across Europe this year to visit their friends who are working abroad, but they don`t. If they go to Britain or Ireland, they are more likely to go there for work than for simply having a good time with friends. Lidia (25) is one of the exceptions. `I will not have a lot of spare time this summer, but I do count on going to London for 6 days and staying with friends. I will dedicate my two weeks of summer holiday to an intensive training in psychology, which is a part of the study-and-work program that I am participating in at the moment. The remaining weekends will allow me to go see my parents who live somewhere near Poznan.`
`I`m going to spend some fun time with friends this summer`
Grzesiek (23) spent some previous holidays traveling `by the thumb`, but he won`t be doing it again this year. `I had a bad experience some time ago. Having to run away from a car was quite a big turn-off. Nevertheless, some of my friends are still active hitchhikers. Two of them once left for a hitchhiking tour back and forth to Spain in a month`s time. Others also use hitchhiking as cheap replacement for public transportation outside the holiday season.`
Grzesiek is not aiming for far-away places this year. `One of my relatives is seriously ill and I don`t want to go far away. I think I will spend most of the time working in my father`s garden, somewhere the countryside in the middle of Poland: picking and selling cherries, plums, apples and pears. It`s a good way to empty the head after a year of reading and studying. I don`t get paid for it, but since my father pays for my studies and accommodation in Wroclaw, I have nothing to complain about when it comes to the money. My other plans for the summer are to do a couple of short trips within Poland. I think many people are starting forget how much you can see without leaving the country. One of the places I want to see is Auschwitz. I have never been there, because I never felt sufficiently prepared and informed to go there. This time, I do and so I will go.`
Eva (18) will travel to the Polish mountains in the South of the country, along with her parents. She explains how Polish under-20s often go on holiday with their parents. `It`s quite common for them to bring some friends and accommodate themselves somewhere near the tent or residence of their parents. The parents keep the supervision, while the young people can still spend a lot of time on their own. After 20, they go on their own until the moment they get children. Then they will join their parents again for a few years, so they can party while the parents take care of the child. In most cases, parents pay for their children`s holidays until the moment they have their own family or full-time job.`
Jacek (24) is going to Slovakia as a guide of a children`s camp. `It`s a general sports camp that parents send their children to if they don`t have time or money to go on holiday as a family. Such trips are organised by special travel agencies and in this case it will be a group of about 100 children coming from all over Poland. I have a license to do this kind of work and this is how I have been spending most of the past few summers. This will be my first time in Slovakia, so I am curious what it will be like.`
Piotr (26) tells me that Polish people are happy that it`s now lots easier for them to travel wherever they want. `Spending time in a crappy bungalow in Yugoslavia used to be the max of the max in Polish holidays. During the early years of communism, we were allowed to travel but didn`t have the money. No more need to sit on a lousy bus to Spain: two days to get there and two days to get back home. With a fair chance that the bus would break down on the way and shorten the actual holidays even further. Whoever has enough money will now book an all-in holiday to Turkey, Tunisia or Egypt. Hotel included and relaxing all the way, and, by now, really barely more expensive than the Polish coast. Sunshine guaranteed.
Many Polish people work hard during the year, so they prefer doing nothing during their holidays. Flying to a far away country where it`s always hot perfectly matches with that desire. I don`t know many people who travel in the way Western or Northern Europeans do: just packing a bag and going somewhere for half a year or even longer. Poles would easily see that as a waste of time and money. Most of them don`t travel to experience. Instead, they transport themselves to a place where they can relax and have a good time.`
Regardless of Piotr`s international appetite, he will spend most of this year`s summer in Sopot. `I am taking my business contacts to the `Top Trendy` music festival in Sopot. All famous Polish singers dream of performing at `Top Trendy`. The style of music they play there is not exactly what I like, but it will be fun anyway.` Piotr also tells me about Heineken Open-Er and the annual music festival in Opole, which are all examples of how many amusement activities are organised in Poland all summer long.
Daniel (29) is one of the few Poles who will be heading East this year. `I have a friend in Moscow that I will go see. It was actually quite complicated to get a visa which feels strange if you imagine that the Soviet Union used to be one of the countries that, for us Poles, was among the countries that were relatively easy to access. When my Russian friend once came to Wroclaw, he needed two visas. One to fly into Prague, then another one to get to Poland on the train.`
`I have never been to Moscow before and I am quite curious about it. I think it will be very different from Poland. Fortunately, I shouldn`t have any language problems there. I learnt Russian in primary school and should be able to still speak it`, Daniel says.
Magda (28) is still in doubt over whether to go to Romania or to Croatia. `We will be two couples traveling together in a car. We want to leave without having an exact idea of what we will end up doing. Just take a tent and discover. It`s not the most Polish way of celebrating holidays, but we prefer it this way. Few Poles choose to spend their holidays in fellow ex-communist countries. It`s considered quite an adventure and some people will wonder why we do not go to `normal` holiday countries.
Ola (26) will be moving to France in a couple of weeks to join her boyfriend. `We met 6 months ago and in the meantime met up in different places across Europe. There are not many cheap flight connections between Poland and France, so we met up in Stockholm, The Netherlands, in the UK.. I don`t know what kind of job I will do when I get there.` Ola speaks fluent French, but has only been to France twice and, both times, only for one week. `What I like most about France is James, which is my boyfriend`s name. For the rest I will just wait and see. It would be nice to live in France for two years and then move to The Netherlands afterwards. But let`s first see how the step of moving to France works out.`
Pawel (26) tells me that most Polish people go on holiday once a year. `In my case, that`s in winter, not in summer. During the summer, I hope that I will finally be able to complete my university thesis. I am waiting for winter to arrive so I can go snowboarding in Austria or Italy. Poland would also be an option, but the snow conditions are better in the Alps. It may be more expensive than staying in Poland, but it`s worth every bit of that premium.`
To the sea
Magda (25) will be one of the many Poles to set for the Baltic Sea this summer. More than most people, she can decide on the dates of her holidays. `I work as the supervisor of a team, so I am the first one who gets to decide on my holidays. I have 20 days a year and I am quite free to take them whenever I want. I try to arrange the same flexibility for the people in my team, but I can`t always grant everybody the exact dates they ask for.`
`Last year, I went sailing with some friends in the Mazurian lake district. It was a nice holiday but there was not so much to sail. I now go with the same friends and I hope that sailing along the sea will be a bit more diverse than hanging out on the same lake all the time. Like last year, the men will do the sailing. I remember how they explained me last year which ropes to pull when and why, but I wouldn`t be able to do it by myself. The girls are more into relaxing, sunbathing and swimming.`
Partying and drinking
Magda continues: `We plan to sail around for about a week, then spend some time in the city of Sopot before returning home. Sopot is a bustling place in summer, with lots of events and festivals going on. We will spend some days there, drinking and partying, before heading back home. I will use the remainder of my holidays to visit my mum and grandparents. They live a few hundred kilometers away and I don`t get to visit them very often.`
Daniel (22) is also going to the seaside. `We are going there in a group of five: two couples and one single. There are plenty of extra trains during summer, so it won`t be a problem to get there. I am not afraid that it will be too busy at the seaside. At least, I hope that there won`t be too many people. More and more people spend their holidays in Italy, Spain or Croatia. The Polish coast does not attract many tourists from other countries, so we should be safe.`
Wojtek (20, photo), along with a mixed group of 10-12 friends, will spend two or three weeks of holiday on a campsite in Ustronie Morskie. `We will drink plenty of beer and vodka, play some volleyball on the beach, sunbathe, swim, barbecue.. A perfect holiday on the seaside.`
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