You may have guessed that we love Poland. We love its people and its food, its towns and its cities – especially Krakow. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be picky sometimes. And it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t be picky when it comes to the curious array of Poland’s most annoying habits. Whether it’s a fly-in bon apetite or a complete dearth of change whenever you go to pay for something, these are the things that rarely fail to get the hackles up…
Never having change (or having too much pointless change!)
What you got? 100 PLN? 200 PLN? Oh boy. Don’t just think you can nip in and out to get a banana or bottle of water from the corner shop. At least not without a fight, disappointed glare or something of the sort.
While we like Poland’s currency for its lightness, small size (whoever decided on that massive £10 note back in the UK?) and simplicity (a beer here is 5, not £3.46), something seriously needs to be done about the lack of change.
It’s an issue that pops up time and time again, usually resulting in you staring blankly at a not-so-pleased shopkeeper clutching two-kilo bags of single groszy coins and blinking with the ‘dink dink’ of a bemused cartoon character. Of course, this works both ways – get ready for pockets full of change on the way home.
The intrusive smacznego
Perhaps you’ve settled on the Main Square of Krakow with a steaming paper plate of pierogi? Or are you about to delve into a foot-long pizza bread zapiekanki in the midst of Kazimierz district? Maybe it’s just a cheeky Maccies you’re having before hitting the airport and hoping those Poles don’t clap after landing again…
Well, whatever it is you’re munching on in the big K, get ready to be hounded to oblivion by strangers, each thinking it’s appropriate to poke their head into your personal space and shout smacznego. It’s the Polish version of bon apetite and they’ll yell it as you dig into meals in public. You can rest assured.
Clapping when the plane lands
We’ve all been there. It’s the moment when the plane rumbles towards the John Paul II Airport. You can hear the landing gear creaking out below the fuselage and the light tinkling as the mini gin bottles rattle on the distant drinks cart.
“I wish I’d stocked up on them bad boys,” you’re thinking, just as the Boeing dips out of the Polish skies and into the smog-heavy atmosphere above Krakow.
Then it happens fast! One moment you’re a kilometre in the clouds, the next the rubber tyres of your jet-powered aero-car are screeching to a halt on the concrete. Sweaty grips loosen all around the cabin and a sigh of relief is exhaled in unison. Better clap like nitwits while that Ryanair jingle fanfares above. I mean, that one was close right? Ah, Poland, Poland, Poland.
That over-zealous Smigus Dyngus person
You’ve probably heard of the weird and wonderful post-Easter Polish holiday of Smigus Dyngus – you know, the one where everyone sprays everyone else with water (yea, us neither).
Well, if you do happen to be in town for this, umm, interesting holiday, be prepared to meet just a few over-zealous characters. They’re the ones who weren’t taught were the proverbial line was in school. And boy do they love to cross it.
Basically, just watch out for folk coming at you with water pistols, water bombs, bottles of H20 – you name it. We’ve even heard stories of tramps joining in the fun when travelers are strolling through the Planty Park. And if being water bombed by a bum isn’t a worthy addition to Poland’s most annoying habits, we simply don’t know what is!
Never, ever closing a sandwich
Okay, so this one’s slowly changing (no doubt as more and more Poles discover the delights of the closed sandwich), but it’s still a big issue if you’re just after a classic packed bun or filled bread.
In short: don’t expect them to be readily available around Krakow. Open sandwiches here are the norm. We’ve watched on wide-mouthed as locals prepare both sides of the bread – BOTH SIDES! – with pickles and tomatoes and cheese.
They always plate up ostensibly happy with the fact that the whole thing remains gaping and open. In fact, there’s a whole cooking tradition based on this. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: That ain’t no sandwich.
Did we miss anything? Can you think of any more contenders to bulk out this list of Poland’s most annoying habits? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.