CAPITAL CITY: Warsaw
AREA: 312,685 km ²
POPULATION (est.): 38,186,860
CURRENCY: Złoty (PLN)
ROUGH CONVERSION: £1 = 5zł
TIME ZONE: GMT+ 1 hour
AVERAGE JUNE TEMP: 17 °C
WHAT TO SEE…
Poland’s rich history means that there is a vast array of tourist sites all around the country. Whilst the Euro 2012 host cities of Warsaw, Gdańsk, Poznań and Wrocław are major tourism destinations; there is a lot more to see in the beautiful country of Poland.
Poland’s second city of Kraków is one of the most popular city-break destinations, not just in Poland, but in Europe. Home to the massive Rynek Market Square, as well as St. Mary’s Basilica and Waweł Castle, it’s hardly surprising that tourists continue to flock to the city.
The hugely important coal-mining region of Upper Silesia (Górny Sląsk) is a short trip westwards from Kraków, and contains the cities of Katowice, Gliwice, Chorzów, Zabrze and Bytom.
In between the cities of Katowice and Kraków lies arguably the most important site in the whole of the country – the former Nazi Concentration camp of Auschwitz. If you’re within reaching distance of the camp and have a spare day, it’s strongly suggested that you visit the memorial museum. But beware, it can be very distressing.
One of the most stunning views in Poland comes high in the Tatra mountains – close to Poland’s border with Slovakia. Surrounded by a backdrop of mountains lies the town of Zakopane. Famous for its winter sports, it is a fantastic place to relax for a day-or-two.
Heading further north, the town of Częstochowa is home to Poland’s most popular religious shrine – the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. This is housed in the massive Jasna Gora Monastery, which is the site of one of the biggest pilgrimages in Europe – attracting approximately 4.5 million visitors per year.
In the far east of Poland sits the Białowieża Forest, recognised as the last remaining parts of the massive forest which once spread across the entirety of the continent. Whilst the larger part of the forest is located in neighbouring Belarus, an area of approximately 39 square miles is situated on the Polish side of the border.
Heading away from the border, the cities of Białystok and Toruń are known for their beautiful old towns; whilst the Masurian Lake District is a popular spot for vacationing Poles.
Around the host city of Gdańsk is the Baltic Coast, home to Poland’s rich and famous during the Summer months. The beaches around Sopot are some of the best in the country.
As well as the airports of the four host cities, there are also a further six airports dotted around Poland – all hosting flights from the UK and Ireland.
Kraków (220km) and Katowice (160km) in the south are possible alternatives to arriving in Wrocław; whilst both Łódź (124km/185km) and Bydgoszcz (225km/105km) airports have fairly straightforward connections to both Warsaw and Poznań. Szczecin airport - close to the German border - is approximately 260km from Gdańsk, whilst Bydgoszcz is 150km away. Rzeszów Airport sits approximately 250km to the South of Warsaw, but the closest host city is over the Ukrainian border – as Lviv lies just 145km away.
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
During your time in Poland, it will probably benefit you to pick up a few words and phrases that may come in handy. Whilst most of the younger generation have a decent grasp of English, it’s likely that you will come across a few locals who don’t. Here are a few basic words and phrases that will help you to get by:
Some letters in the Polish alphabet can look harmless, but getting them correct can make all the difference in being understood.
The polish letter ‘Ł’ is pronounced like the English ‘w’; whilst the ‘ą’ and ‘ę’ are said as ‘on’ and ‘en’ respectively.
In Polish, it’s common to see letters placed together in a word that we wouldn’t dream of trying to combine in English. Sometimes this can prove very difficult when trying to speak them. Whilst ‘CZ’ and ‘SZ’ are simply said as ‘ch’ and ‘sh’; a Polish ‘DZ’ is more like ‘ds’, whilst an ‘RZ’ is closer to ‘sh’. To throw a complete spanner into the works, if you see ‘DRZ’, it is said similar to the letter ‘g’ in “George”.
Cześć [cheshch] – Hi/Goodbye
Dzień dobry [jen do-bri] – Good day
Dobry wieczór [do-bri vyeh-choor]- Good evening
Dobranoc [dobra-nots] - Good night
Tak [tahk] - Yes
Nie [nyeh] - No
Proszę [prosheh] - Please
Dziękuje [jen-koo-yeh] - Thank You
Przepraszam [psheh-prasham] - Sorry
Jestem z Anglii/Irlandii [yehstem zanglee/zeer-landee] - I am from England/Ireland
Czy mówi pan/panipo angielsku? [che mooveepan/paneepo angyelskoo?] - Do you (male/female) speak English?
Nie mówię popolsku [nyeh moovyeh popolskoo] - I don’t speak Polish
Jedno piwo poproszę [yedno peevo pohprosheh] – Can I have a beer please
Jeden [yeh-den] – One
Dwa [dva] – Two
Trzy [tshi] – Three
Cztery [ch-tery] – Four
Pięć [pee-ench] – Five
Dziesięć [jay-shench] - Ten
Lotnisko [lot-nee-sko] – Airport
Dworzec [dvor-shets] – Train Station
Lewo/Prawo [Lay-vo/Pra-vo] – Left/Right
Jeden bilet do Warszawy Proszę [yeh-den bee-let do Var-shar-vee prosheh] – One ticket to Warsaw please.
During the tournament, there will be local consulate points created in Poland, to help with any consular advice or problems. However, if an actual embassy is required, the closest ones are as follows:
Ulica Kawalerii 12,
Tel: (22) 311 0000
Fax: (22) 311 0311
Republic of Ireland
Ulica Mysia 5,
Tel: (22) 849 6633/849 6655
Fax: (22) 849 8431
Not from the UK or Ireland? A full list of embassies can be found at http://www.msz.gov.pl/Przedstawicielstwa,dyplomatyczne,w,Polsce,12916.html
Fire Brigade: 998
City Guard: 986
During the tournament, there will be special emergency hotlines in place for foreign speakers. Call +48 800 200 300 (or +48 608 599 999 from a mobile) to access the line. These numbers will be available between 10am and 10pm daily, between June 1st and September 30th.
It’s possible to exchange money everywhere in Poland; just look out for big signs saying “Kantor”. Major banks, large hotels and some border crossings will also exchange major currencies.
24-hour pharmacies are available in all four host cities, as well as other major towns. Just look out for “Apteka” – the Polish word for Pharmacy.
Although Poland is known for having extremely cold winters (sometimes reaching minus 30 degrees Celsius), the country can bask in sunshine during the summer months. The average temperature during June is around 17 °C depending on the exact region; however it isn’t uncommon for the mercury to touch 30°C!