Just back from an assignment in Poland . Been in several cities and places there . The country left me an impression of youth , dynamism and modernity . If some european countries are on the decline , certainly not Poland . It is both a modern country with a booming economy ( as it seems ) and a quiet and traditional one . What strikes the visitor is everyone , from all age , has a cell phone , internet cafes are common and affordable ( 3 Zl an hour , or 0,7 Euro ) , and young people are often fluent in english . War has left big scars , with many historic city centers reduced to several blocks , then come the drab housing blocks built in the 50's and 60's , that they happily sometimes recently painted with nice colors . And even what looks like historic city centers have often been rebuilt from scratch after complete WW2 destruction .The unsuspecting tourist may think this part of town never suffered that bad . Churches are in use , even on weekdays and services are held at different times of the day . It is not uncommon to see young women and men enter to join the assembly . Their train system is efficient . The fastest train , the IC ( Inter City ) is the equivalent of our "train corail" in France , except the service is better . A young woman does all the train at the beginning of the journey with a cart to serve for free: bottled water , coffee , tea , with a biscuit bar . French retailers are massively present here , all the big names ( Carrefour , Auchan , Leclerc, Geant , Leroy Merlin , Castorama ) have built supermarkets in most suburbs of polish towns . But small retailers like the many kiosks that were in use in the communist times are still there , selling all kind of things . In the cities , an avid consumering culture has taken hold , with gleaming commercial centers here and there and all the usual brand stores seen elsewhere in Europe . I discovered Poland has an exceptional shoe industry with many different designs & styles . I bought some and am now a fan of polish shoes . They love dogs , that are often muzzled ( by law I presume ) .
Good food . I discovered I was a sea mammal when I began to eat marinaded small fish, maybe sprats , called " Moskaliki " . Just could'nt stop ... They sell that for example in the food department , for about 8 Zl a kilo , or 2 Euro . First bought 100 gr , then came back for another 200 gr when I found them ... One of my fave restaurants had something called " Nalesniki z Serem ", wich are rolled pankakes with cheese and raisins inside . This tastes like central european cheese cake . So good ... Many restaurants keep the " bar mleczny " style of the communist era . Simple affordable eateries where you bring yourself your dishes with a tray at your table and at the end leave plates & stuff at the kitchen window . Beer of course is the beverage here. By 1/2 liter you can enjoy many different local brands . A few names : Piast , Tyskie , Tatra , Lech , Okocim ... Many good beers among them . A picture I made in one of the hotels I stayed in . I like the soviet/communist flavor of the place . You have to come soon in Poland to experience these last old fashioned hotels . The country is changing fast and they will be replaced by the usual predictible international standard accommodations .