Dear Readers who more or less accidentally come across my blog,
When I started travelling in Asia and the USA I realized that it is very common for people to do one thing: to avoid Poland in planning their euro-trip. Once I realized it I kept hearing it more and more often: ” Wow, it’s beautiful out there. We did not go to Poland though. But we traveled from Munich to Prague, we went to Vienna and of course Budapest…” Wow, thank you! But Poland is neither Prague nor Budapest. It is not Germany either (although surely there are people who wish it was). Poland is Poland. It consists of mountains, hills, plains, lakes, fields, villages, towns and cities which resemble surrounding countries, but still have their own peculiarities. Why do overseas tourists skip Poland then? So one day I found the answer. In fact I found two answers. The first reason is the stereotype of Poland, which has remained as conventional wisdom: “When I think of Poland a picture of a gloomy, heavy and sad place comes to my mind” – admitted one of my close foreign friends. Another one said: “My husband went there in the 80’s. He said Warsaw was really ugly. We are planning a trip to Europe, but Poland is a hard sell.” Well…. it is gloomy here in winter, but so it is in the rest of this part of Europe. The Polish gloominess inspires a touristic loathing, but Czech, German or Hungarian does not. What is wrong with this picture?
My investigative nature forced me to dig dipper. Then I found the reason number two. Those rare euro-tourists who did visit Poland gave me the answer. ‘So what did you see in Poland?’ ‘The concentration camps. It was so sad. I wanted to cry when I saw…’ – okay. I totally understand why the memory of the camp overshadows everything else you see in Poland. So… ‘Why did you go to Auschwitz?’ I asked. For some this question may seem ignorant, but why would someone spoil their fun holiday by going to a massacre memorial? I remember my trip to Nanjing in China. One of the tourist destinations in the city was the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall which displays bones of tortured people. The difference is that I went to see the Memorial Hall after spending over a year in China and after I had understood that China is a place full of happy and generous people in spite of all of the tragedies they have experienced in the past.
It is time to look at contemporary Poland. Like many other Eastern, Asian and African countries, it has many scars. Countries like Poland are honest like the picture of Dorian Gray. They are pretty where people were just and ugly where they failed. Poland is the true painting of the European people- their passions, their greed and their renascent need to be righteous.
Voice from Poland
- Poland’s FM: Pole Fled Captivity in Syria (abcnews.go.com)
- Poland has a lot to offer!!! (cometopoland.wordpress.com)
- Is Poland attractive for people from other developing countries? (cometopoland.wordpress.com)
- Poland’s first post-communism leader dies (worldbulletin.net)
- Gortat: ‘Go to Poland to Look for a Girlfriend or for a Wife’ (washington.cbslocal.com)