27 gru 2010

What I don’t like in Christmas

Let’s face it – Poles are not exactly Catholics (who is?). Yes, I know, you can hear everywhere that we are, you have the statistics, you see people going to the church. The truth is – in Poland the Catholic Church has the enormous influence on the government and the law. People are not used to protest against it so they have to live in the Northern Roman Empire. But it doesn’t mean they live according to the Decalogue, read the Bible, listen to bishops or even believe in the God the Father. Polish religiousness is more pagan style (but don’t say it loudly;) – Poles want saints, angels and Mary to care for them, pray not in order to be saved but rather happy now. (It’s a big topic and for sure I will come back to it. Today I wanted to comment on Christmas.) Thus Christmas is far more a family holiday than religious. It can be a wonderful time but unfortunately so many Poles force themselves to do things they don’t need or want.

Let’s have a look at the typical Polish family (I know, it doesn’t exist but I must generalize a bit). Who is responsible for Christmas? Of course – the Mother! Or a grandmother or a daughter but for sure WOMEN. They plan, cook, bake, clean, do shopping, pack gifts, wash, decorate, serve, wash the dishes... The list is long. Polish Christmas should be splendid: 12 dishes for Christmas Eve, other for the next day, preferably prepared at home not bought. Houses must shine, the more gifts we buy the better. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I support the idea of cleaning everything twice a year but I don’t like the social context.

Many responsibilities don’t mean women have a real power in the family. They were brought up to organize family holidays and serve everybody. Even in quite modern families which try to share equally duties between men and women Christmas or Easter cause problems. Women work very hard but are not respected for that. Because they feel overwhelmed and underestimated they become angry. So you have family discussions, grievance, blackmail... Men generally AVOID. During Christmas preparations they go out and disappear or do one thing with a lot of celebration (“dad is baking his special cake!”). Children don’t want to spend time with irritated mothers so nobody feels good at the table.

Matka-Polka is a term used to describe women who are very dedicated to the family and always put their individual benefits aside. Children and family life are the most important factors in their life. Sometimes they can be happy and fulfilled but in most cases after many years of serving husbands and children they are frustrated and often explode (“this year there will be no Christmas, you’re ungrateful!”, “Through all my life I have sacrificed everything for you!”). You can say – it’s their fault! They have educated husband and children badly. It’s not exactly true – this is how women have functioned in the culture for the last 1000 years. Finally in the XX century they started to really decide about themselves. So it requires more time to redefine family relations.

My point is that you don’t have to sacrifice anything or work until you faint to have a great time with your family. Everybody should be engaged in Christmas preparations and not just “help” (I hate this word) the mother. Food or decorations are far less important than the nice atmosphere. I wish you only Christmas like this:)

24 gru 2010

Christmas preparations and who is a Matka-Polka?

I wanted to write a few days ago but finally I’ve spent too much time on my Christmas preparations. I also have a constant cold and it doesn't help. In fact as it's 2:00 a.m. I should be sleeping now...

I promise to write more as soon as possible! I will explain who is a Mother-Pole:) I won’t write much about the Christmas traditions in Poland, my fellow bloggers have already done it. Please have a look:

1) in English: transparent/polish, tasting Poland.

2) en Español: polskeando.

Today is Wigilia (Christmas Eve) and I wish you warm and nice atmosphere, close people around, good food and a lot of lovely gifts:)

This is my favourite Polish kolęda (Christmas carol) in the best version - by Krzysztof Krawczyk. Enjoy:)

17 gru 2010

Swearing in Polish

This video motivated me to write something on the Polish swearing style. Indeed our language is very rich - there are many different words on different levels of vulgarity so you can express yourself in every situation;)

to swear – przeklinać. 1. ja przeklinam, 2. ty przeklinasz
a swear word – przekleństwo, brzydkie słowo

1) Take the worst word - kurwa ("prostitute"). I don't recommend to use it in public despite the fact that you can hear it on every corner, at school or work. Some people add it to an every sentence in order to express the whole scale of emotions. Don’t do that unless you want to be seen as primitive and poorly educated.
Poles made up funny substitutes for kurwa. From the worst to the very light: 1) kurna 2) kurde 3) kurczę/kurczak…

The worst words describing women are kurwa, suka (bitch), cipa and pizda ("vulva"). For men there is chuj ("penis"), skurwysyn/sukinsyn (son of a bitch).

2) gówno – shit
Gówno mnie to obchodzi!
Gówno wiesz!

3) English verb to fuck can be translated with many words: pieprzyć, pierdolić, jebać... Originally they refer to the sexual activity. Pieprzyć nad pierdolić mean also to say bullshit and to fuck up.

Mój znajomy całą noc pierdolił o swoich sukcesach.
Wczoraj spieprzył mi się komputer.

4) They behave like all the other verbs – if you add a prefix they have different meanings (all vulgar). I just give a few examples, the whole list is overwhelming.

a) NA-
napierdolić się, najebać się – "to get drunk"
Nie umiesz normalnie pić? Zawsze musisz się napierdolić?

b) O-
opierdolić, opieprzyć – "to tick off"
Szef mnie opieprzył za spóźnienie.

c) OD-
odpierdolić się, odpieprzyć się – "to sod off"
Odpierdol się, to moje sprawy!

d) PRZY-
przypierdolić, przypieprzyć, przyjebać – "to hit"
Przyjebałem głową o szafkę.

e) WY-
wypieprzyć, wypierdolić, wyjebać – "to throw away/out"
Wyjebałeś wszystkie moje rzeczy na śmietnik?

e) ZA-
zapierdolić, zapieprzyć, zajebać – "to steal"
Sąsiad zajebał mi grabie. (I’m smiling when writing this, it’s vulgar but sounds so funny:)

When you can’t use any swear word and something is needed you can use the light cholera or kurczę. In fact you can use anything, the intonation counts. What do you think about the famous motyla noga (butterfly’s leg)? ;)

More beautiful expressions you will find here. And here przekleństwa taken from Polish films.

What words do you use? What is your experience with swearing in Polish?

11 gru 2010

My first pierogi

As you probably know pierogi (singular – pieróg [pieruk]) is a Polish typical dish. It’s a dough made of flour and water stuffed with anything you like. We boil them and sometimes fry after in a pan. In Poland there’s no tradition of baking pierogi like in many other countries.

What Poles like to put inside of pierogi?

Traditional pierogi:

1) Pierogi ruskie z białym serem i ziemniakami – “Russian” type with Polish white cheese and boiled potatoes
2) Pierogi z mięsem – with meat (beef or chicken or different mixed)
3) Pierogi z kapustą i grzybami – with sauerkraut (sour cabbage) and dried mushrooms. Served on the Christmas Eve

Other (great for vegetarians or vegans):

1) Pierogi ze szpinakiem – with spinach
2) Pierogi z soczewicą – with lens
3) Pierogi z kaszą gryczaną – with buckwheat groats

Sweet (accompanied with cream):

1) Pierogi z serem – with white cheese and sometimes raisins
2) Pierogi z truskawkami – with strawberries
3) Pierogi z jagodami – with berries

Feel free to experiment with different stuffling!

In my family grandma is the person who always makes and distributes pierogi. I’ve never had a motivation to try my own. But the time has come! I chose a recipe with not just water and flour but also a little bit of fat (olive oil) and yolk.

I will not give you the amounts because I failed;) My dough wasn’t sticky enough and pierogi were difficult to seal. That’s why I recommend to use only boiling water and flour. Nevertheless I didn’t want to throw away the dough! I decided to try to bake pierogi in the oven. I made small ones (now more similar to cakes) with a rose jam from Bulgaria and one big pieróg with broccoli, onion and blue cheese. And it was not only edible but also tasty! Not exactly Polish but never mind. So if something goes wrong don’t feel discouraged! They look not so bad:)

It’s easier to watch than just read so I recommend to take a look on youtube. Here you will find a recipe for pierogi in Polish and here in English.


2 gru 2010

The worst Polish ads

Here are the nominees in the Chamlety contest of the worst Polish ads. "Chamlety" is a smart combination of Hamlet and Polish cham*.

Here you can see the worst outdoor ads. Three of them are degrading for women who are presented as sexual objects created for men's pleasure. They don't have mind or individuality, their body is used only to catch the attention. One brakes the law encouraging to violence and the one about Grunwald is completely ridiculous.

Here are the worst video ads. Sexist and repulsive. OK, so stupid that funny but in general it's not funny at all. Sexism in marketing is of course the international problem. Not so difficult to solve, contests like this can help to raise awareness. What everybody can do is to stop buying products promoted in a such way. If you still aren't convinced that this is really a problem I recommend you to watch "Killing us softly 3". Hopefully people working in advertising agencies will understand it too.

* no idea how to translate, look in a dictionary. Cham it's a very useful word, not vulgar but offensive.

29 lis 2010

Christopher Columbus was Polish?

Today very short - just the link. What do you think about it? What does it change?

Have a good night - dobrej nocy/dobranoc!

24 lis 2010

Never again "Polish concentration camps"

EDIT: After your request I will explain it once more.

From time to time in Poland media inform that somewhere in the world somebody wrote about the "Polish concentration camps". During the WW II there wasn't any "Polish concentration camp", on the Polish territory all of them were established by Germans (to be more precise - by the Nazis). "Polish concentration camp" is a very dangerous mental leap because it leaves the impression that Poles created the death factories and killed millions of Jews. We are very sensitive about this issue because we know well how easy is to change the history and teach next generations false facts. For example after the WW II in Polish schools children couldn't learn anything positive about the Polish underground forces (AK). Oficially this topic came back after the democratic transformation.

Now the American Polonia (Polish diaspora) wants to eliminate the term "Polish concentration camps" from the US media. They want to convince the biggest dailies to write in their stylebooks that you should use only the accurate term "German concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Poland". If you think it's important please help and sign the petition. Many many people did it.

If you're not familiar with the topic of the Nazi camps have a look at the very useful publication of the Auschwitz Memorial. You can download it in many languages. If you live in Poland of course I recommend you to visit at least one camp. Auschwitz-Birkenau is near Kraków and for example Majdanek is in Lublin.

19 lis 2010

Polish music 2010

To be honest it's not easy to be up-to-date with the newest Polish music. In the radio you can hear mostly good old hits and the Western music. In Poland radio stations are obliged to play Polish music during at least 33% of the time (it's a ridiculous law or you have it also in your countries??). But as they don't enjoy it or think that people don't want to listen it's played at nights. It's not better on television so Internet has become the first and last source.

My favourite music is rather mainstream. I can't stand that now the appearance of singers starts to play the more significant role than their voice or talent. People with no skills are promoted in order to make money. Why do we have to listen to this?

I picked some examples of the Polish music 2010 that I listen to, maybe you could add some more? What do you like?

1) Monika Brodka "W pięciu smakach"

The song inspired by the Far East in Warsaw (food, markets). Great lyrics, modesty, humour, interesting video. Bravo! The new album is more individual than the previous one, hopefully she will keep doing this.

2) 3R (Robert M, Dirty Rush, Remo) "Shine on"

The video is the real American style nightmare. Produced by men for men, with almost naked girls with no facial expression. But I like the beat. The comments below are terrific:) Poles are very critical about themselves and always find fault!

3) Kayah & Royal Quartet "Wiosna przyjdzie i tak"

Kayah it's a real star. Her old songs are super hits in Poland: "Fleciki", "Supermenka", "Testosteron". With Goran Bregovic she did "Prawy do lewego", "Tabakiera" and many more. In 2010 she recorded her hits for the second time with the Royal Quartet. More info you will find here. The song "Wiosna przyjdzie i tak" was a promoting singel. Originally comes from the movie "Przedwiośnie".

EDIT: I had a request to translate the last lyrics so here it is. I'm not a translator and I'm open to your ideas how to do it better.

Kayah - “The spring will come anyway”

You wanted to rustle as a tree
Race in the sky as a young wind
Today the sky is so low
That you must bow down

Although your world has ruined
The spring will come anyway

If you’ve made a mistake
The youth will absolve you
If you’ve stopped believing this
The time teaches us hope

Although your world has ruined
The spring will come anyway

15 lis 2010

Poland - a highly developed country?

It had been my plan to write on the new UN Human Development Index report and the 41st place of Poland but a friendly blogger did it faster. I don't want to repeat everything so please read this text. I also recommend you this very interesting website with a lot of Polish recipes!

I'm happy that humanistic and economical factors show that Poland is considered as a highly developed country. The development is fast, our cites are safe and more elegant, Poles live longer, travel and buy more things. The future seen from the capital city is optimistic but we also should pay attention to the huge social problems. Well, I'm a Pole, so I must complain a little bit;) The picture isn't so wonderful. The tendencies are the same all over the world - some people are more affluent but in the same time poor people are poorer. Still many children like to go to school because they can eat there a meal. Unemployment and the lack of opportunities are a big problem in the smaller communities. The civil society is arising but many people choose no commitment in the local or public matters. The “liberal” government has no idea how to deal with the public debt and raises VAT to 23% from the next year. Why it’s so difficult to spend more on education, research and development? Poles are enterprising, they just need knowledge, favourable working conditions and a creativity booster. School education still consists in learning encyclopaedia by heart and how to pass exams. Media like to follow public debates on completely unimportant discussions like crosses or personal games in political parties. But on Sunday we have the local elections and can decide!

7 lis 2010

11.11 Fascism shall not pass


The 11th of November is the Polish Independence Day. On the 11.11.1918 Poland regained independence and after 123 years reappeared on the map of Europe. It was the end of the WW I. But today I don't want to write about the history. Every year this optimistic event is recalled by solemn celebrations - the army marches and presidential speeches. But unfortunately it's also the occasion for marginal radical groups to walk on the streets. Many people and organizations consider it as dangerous and want to protest. This is what is written in the manifesto:

"As every year on November 11, nationalists and neo-fascists from various organizations are planning a march through the streets of Warsaw. We do not want the supporters of xenophobic and racist ideology, who proudly refer to the pre-war organizations of openly fascist sympathies, to again pass through the capital. Remembering the past, we believe that the growing national movement must be opposed. For two years now, we have been trying to block this march. We will stop it only if there will be many of us.

We are a group of different people and organizations. We share an idea of resistance against fascism. We are planning a demonstration on the route of the fascist march. We want to physically block it. We will use our civil rights. We invite all residents of Warsaw and all who want to come to Warsaw, to take part in active opposition to the fascists. We look forward to your participation in the preparations, to your arrival to Warsaw on time and at the place proposed by us. We hope you to prepare banners and inform friends about our activities. We count on your presence".

If it's also important for you take part and tell your friends!

People gather in Krakowskie Przedmieście close to św. Anna church at 13.30.

We want no fascism in Poland and anywhere else!

4 lis 2010

Akcja "Znicz" - The "Candle" Action

Every year during the first days of November there is lot of car accidents. Poles kill themselves on the roads all year but in this specific time you can see how dangerous is to use a car in Poland. A lot of policemen monitor the roads and control cars in the akcja "Znicz" but the statistics are far from optimistic. It's not getting better.

What are the reasons?

1) Bad roads. Of course a lot of kilometres of highways have been built but it's still not enough. In my opinion new roads will be too expensive for an average driver. Local roads are dark and often have no signs.

2) Foolhardiness. In Poland abiding by the road rules is still considered as stupid. How can you do 50 km/h in the city? 110 km/h on the highway? Ridiculous. Drivers are always in a hurry. Besides they have better and better cars so why not show off?

3) Alcohol. Embarrasing. This year during the All Saints weekend 1880 drunk drivers were caught. So many years of promotion the sobriety, severe penalties (above 0,5 per mille of alcohol in blood may be punished by 2 years of imprisonment) and the results are poor.

In Poland you can have 0,19 per mille, 0,2 is punished. Our neighbours choose the more strict option, in Belarus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovakia and Ukraine only 0,00 is possible!

I can only add BE CAREFUL!

3 lis 2010

1st and 2nd of November

The 1st of November is the All Saints' Day (Wszystkich Świętych). Although it's a Christian holiday I have never seen anybody recalling the saints in Poland. During the PRL times when all the Catholic holidays were replaced by secular traditions the 1st of November was named the Day of the Dead (Święto/Dzień Zmarłych). It was a successful change because now on the 1st Poles think of these who are gone. It's far more important then the 2nd which is the All Souls' Day (Dzień Zaduszny = Zaduszki). It's also a day off work and the most congested day on the Polish roads. All the country goes to cemeteries which is quite unusual in Europe. Don't plan any trips on the 1st of November because you will stuck. This year it was better because we had 3 days to visit all the cemeteries.

What you find there it's really amazing:) Of course many different lights (znicze). The trends change every year. You can choose from a wide range of shapes and colours. A lot of kitsch.

I prefer the simplest and cheapest.

Poles adore decorating graves. Sometimes it's really too much - you shouldn't do it in order to impress your neighbours. Flowers are also important.

You can think that it's weird but I really love going to the cemetery. Even just for a walk. I'm not a Catholic so I don't feel the obligation. In fact it has nothing to do with the Christianity. In the old pagan times Slavs and Balts commemorated the dead by feast rituals. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth this tradition was taken over by the Christian All Souls' Day. Poles remember it because Adam Mickiewicz wrote the great drama called "Dziady". It's an obligatory text for every Polish pupil so I should present it in the separate note.

I recommend you to visit a Polish cemetery on the 1st or 2nd of November in the evening. It's magical and yes - romantic. There's a light on every grave (even if there's nobody to come strangers will put it) and graves of famous people or tragical events are almost burning. If you live in Warsaw go and see Powązki, beautiful.

26 paź 2010

Book guide part 5.

"Swego nie znacie... czyli Polska oczami obcokrajowców", Judyta Fibiger

You don't know yours but you praise others... A myth or not - Poles don't appreciate what they have? This little book was written in order to show Poles what foreigners who chose Poland as their home appreciate in our country and culture. It consists of 35 short interviews with special women and men from around the world. They represent different professions and have different experience. They also prove that it's possible to speak Polish:) Good pictures, nice to read, I recommend. It should be translated into English and distributed for example during Euro 2012, it could be a great promotion for Poland.

19 paź 2010

Bezpłatne szkolenie dla cudzoziemców spoza UE

A free training for foreigners from outside the UE living in Poland minimum 1 year.

Znalezione w portalu ngo.pl:

Fundacja Inna Przestrzeń organizuje bezpłatne szkolenie dla cudzoziemców spoza UE (którzy minimum rok przebywają w Polsce) z zakresu autoprezentacji, bycia liderem i skutecznego poszukiwania pracy. Odbędzie się ono 31 października 2010 r. w Warszawie. Przyda się każdemu w pracy i na studiach. Rekrutacja tylko do 25.10.

Więcej informacji tutaj.

18 paź 2010

Beautiful Polish autumn - a trip

Piękna polska jesień

In Poland we really think that our autumn is perfect (when it doesn't rain). This year we've had sunny weather for 2 weeks which was very nice. Leaves are full of colour, you can collect chestnuts or acorns and enjoy different aromas. Having in mind the approaching awful winter I went on a weekend very close to Warsaw to catch the last cool days (above zero). I spent 2 nights in a stud. Horses are quite a reliable alarm clock:) The Chopin’s year is getting to an end and I decided to went back to the Chopin’s family house in Żelazowa Wola near Sochaczew (Soho;). The manor house itself isn’t very interesting but the park and the surrounding modern buildings are really worth seeing. Here are my photos:

More info about the museum you will find here. I recommend also a Polish restaurant in front of the Chopin’s parents residence. Food is correct, interior is cosy and peaceful. You can rest there and charge your batteries for the following attractions.

I also went to Nieborów to see the impressive magnate residence. It was built in the 1694 and fortunately preserved until today. You can visit decorative interiors and 2 big parks – one at the residence and the second in Arkadia (a few kilometers towards Łowicz). Łowicz is an old interesting city with a lot of churches, known by its folklore and food industry. A short walk can be also pleasant.

I also wanted to see the unique fortified church in Brochów, a place were Fryderyk Chopin was baptized. Now renovated.

In Sochaczew you will also find the museum of the narrow gauge railway and the municipal and historical museum.

Have I encouraged you to go? Mazowsze is for sure worth exploring:)

6 paź 2010

Imieniny - Name day

As my imieniny (only plural) are approaching I would like to write more about this tradition. It’s of course international, very strong in Poland.

The origin of the name days is Catholic and Orthodox. Memory of saints or martyrs was celebrated by giving them days in the calendar. Believers still celebrate the most important. In Poland people give children only standard names with no extravance so almost everybody has his/her equivalent in the calendar, sometimes more than once.

For example the most popular Polish female name is Anna. Anna has imieniny on the 10th of January, 7th and 9th of June and 26th of July. Generally people choose the closest date after birthday. You don't need to be a Catholic to have imieniny, atheists celebrate them too:) The motivation is no longer religious. For the older generations imieniny were far more important than urodziny (birthday). It could be connected with the fact that you don’t need to tell your age or remember the date;) Most Polish calendars include dates of imieniny because it's very helpful.

If you want to check if your name appears in the Polish calendar look here.

Now it depends on the family if you organize a party at the name day or birthday. I’m lucky because in my family kids celebrate both, I always receive many gifts. But for example my grandma avoids her birthday (you shouldn’t even wish her anything) and the rest celebrates only big anniversaries (50th or 80th birthday). The Westernization in Poland means also growing significance of birthday.

At schools pupils bring sweets on both occasions. In many companies in Poland employees prefer to organize imieniny. You bring a cake and receive flowers of gifts. If you buy flowers remember that only the odd number. It’s the old superstition but the odd number also looks better in the bouquet (in Polish bukiet). Poles love flowers, you can see how many florist’s are on the streets, it’s a good business.

imię –> imieniny. The celebrating person is called solenizant/solenizantka
urodzić się –> urodziny. Jubilat/jubilatka

My name day is on the 10th of October - wishes are warmly welcomed:)

Universal wishes are Wszystkiego Najlepszego – all the best. The pronunciation and other ideas you wil find here.

25 wrz 2010

Polish modesty

Modesty - sometimes lovely but normally a very irritating feature.

1) Poles don't brag

Probably you will never hear what is somebody's greatest accomplishment or a recent success. We just don't like to be considered as conceited so we prefer to be silent. Children are trained from early childhood - bad behaviour is punished but good is normal so you don't deserve an award. At school teachers don't like to praise pupils, nobody gained his/her self-confidence during school education (many lost).

It leads to absurd - you have to teach people how to speak about their strong points. During one of the workshops in which I took part the most stressful exercise was to speak 1 minute in the most positive way about yourself. Assertiveness is still an unknown word for many.

In Polish there wasn't a word meaning "success", so we borrowed it and now have sukces. But still there is no adjective like "successful". You can only say "człowiek sukcesu" - "a man of success". In this context I prefer American style – talking openly and positively about yourself. Of course I don’t recommend exaggeration.

2) Poles want to be seen as poor

In Poland you shouldn't show off about what you own or how much money you make. Salary is a taboo comparable to masturbation. Poles prefer to hear that everybody live a "normal" life with no extravagance. Of course it’s a kind of a social game, we prefer to hide the truth.

3) Poles don't know what to do with compliments

Compliment Poles and analyze their reaction:) Typical Polish answers are:

- You look perfect in this dress! Wyglądasz fantastycznie w tej sukience!
+ It was a real occasion, 50% discount. To była prawdziwa okazja, przecena 50%.

- You made a delicious dinner. Zrobiłaś pyszną kolację.
+ The meat wasn’t enough salty and I should have baked potatoes a bit longer. Mięso nie było wystarczająco słone, powinnam dłużej piec ziemniaki.

- Your work impressed our clients. Twoja praca zrobiła wrażenie na naszych klientach.
+ All the team worked hard. Cały zespół ciężko pracował.

And what should you hear? Thank you – dziękuję. I also like the idea of agreeing “I think in the same way about myself”, “Też tak o sobie myślę”.

These types of behaviour are strongest among women than men. Women are still taught to be nice, quiet, concentrated on others' needs and to stand in the shadows. Step by step it will change. More and more people invent in their personal development, read self-help books and learn how to think and speak positively about themselves. Trainers and psychologists have a lot to do.

20 wrz 2010

Quick trip to Lublin

Last week I spent only one day in Lublin and in fact most of it in the museum of the Nazi death camp Majdanek (during the WW II called KL Lublin). I understand that not everybody wants to visit these kind of places but I always recommend to go.

For sure the guide is needed, the one which we had was perfect - could answer all the questions and really liked his job. For 3 hours we couldn't talk about everything and also because the area is quite big you should reserve more time for a walk. All the information there you will find in English.

This is the impressive monument - a gate to the camp:

What is unique in Majdanek are original gas chambers. In the other camps they were destroyed and rebuilt. As you can see the camp is in the city, houses are nearby:

In the Lublin district about 1,5 milion Jews were murdered. I've read a lot about the Shoah but I don't want to write here more now. Inside this enormous monument you can see a knoll made from ground with crumbled bones:

After visiting Majdanek I went to the beautiful Lublin Old Town. The castle has a very interesting architecture. You will find there many buildings in the renaissance style.

Because the act of creating the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was signed in Lublin in 1569 (called the Union of Lublin - Unia Lubelska) you can find there many references to the old Rzeczpospolita. For sure Lublin is worth seeing for more than one day.

8 wrz 2010

Easiest vocabulary

When you start to learn polish you can feel discouraged by the long words which are difficult to pronounce. If this is your first Slavic language you have no associations at all. There’s no other way – to must learn them. But today I want to show you that in Polish we have many words what you will understand immediately. We need new words to name the new inventions and ideas and the easiest way is to borrow them from the other language. As many studies and scientific research come from the USA or Great Britain and English is the language of the global communication we can’t escape from having so many anglicisms. But for foreigners who learn Polish it’s for sure better;)

My list is of course incomplete, these are just examples. Many of them come from Latin but it doesn’t interest us at the moment.

1) English-Polish identical words with Polish pronunciation

alarm, argument, bank, bar, drink, fan, film, golf, hamburger, hobby, hotel, idea, internet, market, marketing, media, menu, minimum, moment, ocean, opera, park, partner, party, penis, problem, puzzle, radio, sauna, serial, sofa, sport, student, trend, zero, zoo

2) English-Polish identical words with English pronunciation

case, cool, dealer, design, drive, fitness, leasing, light, peeling, PR, pub, quad, weekend

In the beginning anglicisms have English spelling but after some time it’s getting Polish.

3) English words with Polish spelling

biznes, dżem, dżinsy, flesz, kondom, lider, mecz, menedżer, singiel, striptiz

4) Words from Latin ending in -cja, -sja

Hard to recognize at the first glance but if you remember that in English they all end in –on it will be much easier.

akcja, dyskusja, informacja, lekcja, promocja, relacja, wizja

5) Verbs

It’s often very easy to make a Polish verb. You must take a word from Latin or English and add the ending –ować:

analizować, dekorować, gratulować, interesować się, kopiować, produkować, studiować

The newest words are for example: mailować, mobbować, spamować

It’s also very easy to conjugate them because –ow- always changes into –uj-

1. ja gratuluję (we don’t pronounce this ę but it exists!)
2. ty gratulujesz
3. on/ona/ono/pan/pani gratuluje
1. my gratulujemy
2. wy gratulujecie
3. oni/one/panowie/panie/państwo gratulują

Of course many Polish verbs also end in –ować: pracować, kupować, podróżować.
Remember that when a verb ends in –awać it’s –aj- -> dawać – ja daję.

1 wrz 2010

Where to eat cheaply in Warsaw?

It's not so easy to find a cheap and tasty bar. Probably it's also not so easy to find an expensive and delicious restaurant (restauracja). But if you're hungry (głodny) you don't have to eat hamburgers, there are many other places.

My personal preferences:

Bar Vega, ul. Jana Pawła II 36c. Great food not only for vegetarians. Big portions, you can make your own combinations. Also a shop with healthy food.

Kebab Sahara, ul. Krucza 51. Now in the new nicer localization. The best musaka in the world. Many types of kebab but also different dishes everyday.

Co Tu, ul. Nowy Świat 26/28 (pawilon 21). Vietnameses for Poland. Always crowded.

I still haven't found the perfect naleśnikarnia. There are very tasty eco naleśniki (pancakes) in Kukuryku, ul. Kopernika 25 but the interior and service need to be improved. If you're looking for the Polish style naleśniki (not thin French crepes) or pierogi try there.

And what to do if you're in the shoppping mall (centrum handlowe)? If it's Ikea, eat there. Not delicious but for these prices recommendable. It's rather a canteen (stołówka), during the weekends whole families form big queues. If there is no Ikea around and I'm terribly hungry I choose Salad Story or as a last resort Wiking with too expensive Polish food.

There are also Polish-style bars called bar mleczny. They have nothing to do with milk, Polish dishes are served there. You will find good food for example in Bambino, ul. Krucza 21 or Sady, ul. Krasińskiego 36. I don't eat there probably because I had Polish cuisine for many years for lunch (obiad), my grandma cooked perfectly for me.

And what are your types?

Useful vocabulary:

dziękuję - thank you
proszę - please. Proszę 2 kebaby / 2 kebaby proszę.
smaczny - tasty
smacznego! - bon appetit!

29 sie 2010

Book guide part 4.

Recently I mentioned Steffen Möller - a very nice German guy who has chosen Poland for his home. His fluent Polish*, sense of humour and modesty made him popular in our country. He became a stand-up comedian and now jokes about Poles and Germans in Poland and Germany reducing mutual fears and stereotypes. He also played roles in Polish serials and took part in the well-known talk-show "Europa da się lubić".

I would like to encourage you to read his book about Poles and Poland "Polska da się lubić" (in Polish)/"Viva Polonia" (in German). It should be immediately translated into English and send by the Polish government all over the world. It’s funny, unpretentious and warm. You will get to know more about Polish mentality (virtues and imperfections) and customs from A (absurd) to Ż (życzliwość – kindliness). Recommendable also for Poles – great for curing our own complexes.

* he started to learn during his studies - you don't have to have Polish ancestors to achieve it:)

24 sie 2010

No history this month

Recently Polish public debates concetrate mostly on completely unimportant subjects for the citizens' daily life like historical events or pseudo-religious events (cross in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw - holy for some but for others an object of ridicule). There are so many urgent matters to talk about (plans to raise taxes, low standards of the university education, sex parities in the elecction, womens' rights, LGBTQ rights...) but media choose easy infotainment. Unfortunately tv journalists seem to have poor education and interests. As I'm irritated I would like to protest;)

I'm not going to write about the 66th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising and also about the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw.

But I'm not going to leave you just like that. About this first battle I recommend you to watch this interview with the women partisans (in Polish). History is always dedicated to men but fortunately some people try to overcome it.

About the latter - somebody has described it better:) Now in Warsaw in Krakowskie Przedmieście street you will find huge photos of Józef Piłsudski and Lenin. Controversial but looks well.

13 sie 2010

What's your favourite Polish word?

"Gazeta Wyborcza" has prepared a survey. You can send them your own ideas, of course there's no one good answer. I find it a wonderful initiative. I agree with some of the GW's readers that Polish words connected with love and care sound warm and beautiful:

czułość, pieszczota, miś, przytulać.

But what about funny ones?

I love Central Poland words which end in -ak:

zwierzak, bydlak, szczeniak.

They are easier than also not bad zwierzę, bydlę and szczenię, so we replace them.

Steffen Möller who speaks Polish fluently in one of the interviews tells what are his favourite Polish words (I fully agree): dżdżownica, rozbabrany, rozmemłany, bąbelki, ufoludek:)

There are more incredible verbs and participles especially colloquial: memłać, leźć - rozlazły, paść - spasiony, piszczeć, miąchać.

And what do you think about źdźbło, miażdżyca and durnostojka?

Please write me what Polish words do you love!

9 sie 2010

What a disappointment

Sorry for not writing for a while but I'm enjoying my time on holidays:)

I've been waiting for the animated history of Poland in 8 minutes ("Animowana historia Polski") shown on Expo 2010. You can see it on youtube. Unfortunately the movie is completely not worth seeing. Fights, blood, torment = boring "men's history". According to the author there was no interesting Polish women to show*. For a second you can see the university in Kraków and Copernicus. More about the Polish cultural life and ideas should be presented. If you don't know the Polish history I'm not sure if you understand anything from this animated version. I would put more about the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, passion for education, royal eleccions, Polish-Jewish famous people. It's not an easy task to show a lot in such a short time but it doesn't have to be so fast and violent. It's nice that Adam Mickiewicz is there but who will recognize him? So I'm still waiting for the short movie which presents Polish accomplishments, inventions, culture.

* Edit: I'm not alone, there's a page on Facebook about getting rid of women in this movie.

30 lip 2010

Poles on holidays

Where do we spend holidays and what do we like to do?

As everywhere else the money is the most important factor. Generally not many people travel around the world, Poles explore cheaper destinations. During the PRL times you could only choose the Eastern bloc (in Polish “demoludy”) destinations - e.g. Bulgaria, Crimea or East Germany (in Polish NRD). Now a lot more popular for holidays are Western or Southern countries like Greece, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey (on the photo below). But after lovely holidays in Bulgaria I have to admit that many Poles go also there.

Poland is very beautiful and offers a lot regarding holidays but unfortunately if you're looking for 100% perfect weather it's better to go abroad. We even have a nice term for this – “pogoda barowa” – rainy and cloudy weather only for going to a bar.

Poles love Polish seaside – big beaches and clean sand. The only thing that spoils pleasure is the cold Baltic Sea. Sometimes you can swim but I recommend to take a wet suit with you. Where to go? It depends if you like crowds or not. The most popular cities are Sopot, Władysławowo, Krynica Morska, Jastarnia, Jastrzębia Góra, Łeba, Międzyzdroje. If you like water sports the best place is Hel – the peninsula. Below - not the prettiest beach in Łeba:

Mountains in the summer? Why not? It’s quite popular in Poland. Not only Zakopane – Karpacz, Muszyna, Szczawnica, Wisła, Ustrzyki Dolne...

Many people choose agroturystyka – rural houses or apartments for rent usually run by families. All over the country you can live healthy during holidays – eat regional food, drink fresh milk, wander or use a bike. Great not only for people with small kids or dogs – we like to escape from the city for a weekend. Close to Warsaw you can also find nice places to rest for a while in a friendly atmosphere. Host offer not only food but also horses, grills, campfires, workshops and sport equipment.

For people with any kind of health problems there are sanatoria. In sanatorium you will get medical treatment and spend time close to the nature. Most sanatoria have been renovated and have offers for foreigners. If you don’t suffer any health problems – not medical spas are highly recommendable. They are expensive but so elegant and all new.

And in summer music festivals attract a lot of people, at last Poland gains on the Western Europe: Open’er, Przystanek Woodstock, Castle Party, Coke Live Music Festival.

Useful vocabulary:

agroturystyka/gospodarstwo agroturystyczne - farm tourism
dom wczasowy = hotel (lower standard)
pensjonat - guesthouse
urlop - holidays from work (leave)
wczasy - holidays
wakacje - holidays
wyżywienie - food on holidays
wyżywienie własne - your own
zajazd - inn
zakwaterowanie - accomodation

And for those fluent in Polish - a funny article in "Gazeta Wyborcza" about complaining on holidays:)

26 lip 2010


I visited Łódź for the second time and would like to recommend you a short trip there. From Warsaw it's easy to go there by train (interRegio is the cheapest option).

Firstly, Łódź means "a boat" and it's feminine (ta Łódź, jadę do Łodzi).

It's a city known by the textile industry which grew in the XIXth century. Immigrants from all over Europe came there allured by the vision of the possible wealth. Poles, Jews, Germans and Russians lived in Łódź together, did business and often went bankrupt. Some manufacturers were very rich and built beautiful residences and tenement houses (kamienica) but the mass was struggling and starving. I don’t have to write what working conditions you could face in the early capitalism. Russian authorities weren’t keen on investing in Łódź – for example the first sewage system was built in the 1920s so life wasn’t very pleasurable in this wild city.

Łódź wasn’t destroyed during the WW II so you can visit old factories and see different architecture. Many buildings are renovated but many aren’t so you will feel more like in the East then West. The main street is called Piotrkowska and it’s almost nice – the main problem is the same as everywhere in Poland – authorities don’t control the number and shape of banners and ads so we have an ugly and chaotic colourful mix which spoils the view. I really can’t stand it, in Warsaw it’s the same.

In the beginning of the XXth century Łódź was one of the biggest Jewish city in the world (240 000 inhabitants). There is the biggest Jewish cemetery in Europe. When you go there it’s good to see the old Radegast Station – from where Nazis deported Jews to the extermination camps. Today’s Łódź is only Polish but you can see many signs of the multicultural past.

So what to see in Łódź? It depends how much time do you have. If not much – Piotrkowska, the Museum of Łódź with the exhibition about famous inhabitants and unique interiors, Manufaktura – the great shopping, entertainment and cultural complex in the old factory. Oh and the perfect hotel... You don’t need any transport, everything is very close. But if you don’t like to walk you can always take a cycle rickshaw (Polish riksza) or a Segway.

If you have more time there’s also a good-looking museum of contemporary art, the little sewage canal museum, the old building museum, famous Film School museum and many other places to visit.

Where to eat? I encourage you to visit a Jewish-Polish restaurant to try a local cuisine.

And I really recommend you one of the best Polish movies ever “Ziemia obiecana” (“The Promised Land” - 1974) by Andrzej Wajda based on the novel of Władysław Reymont (1899) about a Pole, German and Jew who do business together in Łódź. Fantastic actors, plot, pictures. Here you will find the movie.

And last but not least a nice but a bit too long video about Łódź in English:

15 lip 2010

Grunwald - the historical battle

600 years ago on the fields of Grunwald (German Tannenberg) there was a huge battle between the Polish-Lithuanian alliance and the Teutonic Knights. I think it's really interesting but I have no desire to write now about the historical details so please check the Wiki :)

Today the new president of Poland Bronisław Komorowski, the president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights Bruno Platter met in Cracow in order to celebrate this impressive anniversary. Fortunately everybody on the same side:) How good is to live in the Central Europe in peace, after the constant conflicts now we can cooperate.

This week in Grunwald you can watch reconstructions of the battles, medieval crafts, listen to old music and play different games. It's crowded and hot but children love it. Don't forget to visit the biggest castle on the Polish territory - Malbork - the residence of of the Teutonic Knights (XIV-XV).

Below a very good spot made by a Polish great animator Tomasz Bagiński - as always dark and serious. Don't you think that in the past wars were much more fair? Battles were won by these who had better qualifications or were braver. Arms were far less important. And now weapon of mass destruction it's money and technology.

14 lip 2010

EuroPride in Warsaw

EuroPride is the annual event organized by The European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) - a network of European Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Organisations. It started in the 1992 in London and spread in the Western Europe. This summer for the first time EuroPride is organized in the more Eastern Europe. Until the 18th of July you can take part in many different events: conferences, clubbing, parade, film festival. The motto is “Liberty, Equality, Tolerance”.

In Poland LGBTQ rights are still a matter of discussion. Catholic organizations consider them as a danger for the church and families. Protests are loud but fortunately the authorities of Warsaw don't take them into consideration. I wonder how many people will protest during the parade, during the feminist marches there are always some black-dressed guys from nationalistic organizations.

I recommend you to come for the parade and just enjoy colorful diversity and peaceful manifestation. All the details on the official website.

I also invite you to the National Museum in Warsaw where for the first time you can see the exhibition Ars Homo Erotica. More info here.

10 lip 2010

Summer - what to do in Warsaw?

At last we have a real summer:) Temperatures 30-35 degrees! We must enjoy it and don't think about forthcoming long autumn and winter;) Of course you can't stay at home. There are so many great things to do in the capital, most of them for free.

1) The river - rzeka

When we want to be close to the water Wisła it's perfect although swimming is forbidden. You can suntan on the one of the beaches. The one near Łazienkowski bridge has just been opened - entrance is near ul. Kryniczna. Free deckchairs, grills and toys for children.

Water tram - goes from the Old City to Łazienkowski bridge

Ferry to Serock - every Saturday and Sunday, 9 hours of relax on the water. I've bought a ticket and can't wait:)

Small ferries for walkers and bikers

2) Open swimming pools - otwarte baseny

Moczydło - ul. Górczewska

ul. Wał Miedzeszyński 345

Open only a little bit but so nice inside - Wodny Park Warszawianka ul. Puławska.

3) Sighseeing - zwiedzanie

In Warsaw you can find more and more new murals. Just wander and look for them. Some you can check here. In July the city hosts Street Art Doping festival.

4) Free yoga on the weekends - joga za darmo w weekendy

At 10:15 on Saturdays in Skaryszewski Park and on Sundays in Pole Mokotowskie Park. More info here.

5) Ice cream - lody

I recommend Grycan - a Polish company which makes perfect cold desserts.

Malinova - ul. Niepodległości 130

A. Blikle - well-known Polish pastry family.

6) Movies - filmy

15th Film Summer Festival in Warsaw. Here you will find the programme. Cheap tickets.

7) Music - muzyka

Jazz in the Old Town Festival - every Saturday at 7 p.m. free concerts

Don't forget about Chopin, it's his year! All summer you can listen to the concerts.
Festval "Music Gardens" in the Royal Castle - till the end of July

More info about Chopin Year Celebrations here.

8) Theatre - teatr

Free performances of Teatr Polonia on pl. Konstytucji. Mon-Fri at 5 p.m. From the 12th of July also flamenco show! More info here.

and many more... How to stay abreast? My advice - every Friday buy "Gazeta Wyborcza" with "Co jest grane?".

2 lip 2010

Around hygiene - wokół higieny

"We buy only unwashed eggs" "Attention farmers don't wash eggs (nuts;)"

Every year the same... when it's getting hot using the means of transport can become unbearable. In Warsaw many passengers clearly avoid antiperspirants and sometimes even soap or washing powder. Many buses have air condition but you can never notice - drivers often turn it off in order to save gas and get a bonus. Tons of petitions and nothing has changed.

Many Poles still don't understand why we should care about hygiene and what are basic hygienic habits. These kind of statistics are always risky but we can assume that less than 50% of Poles clean the whole body every day and change the underwear. Not better with brushing teeth. What is interesting people declare that lack of hygiene is dangerous for health but in the same time spend very little money on cosmetics and chemicals.

The Polish state completely doesn't care about education - people aren't taught at school what and how often should we clean and wash. Very little money is spent on preventive treatment, the Ministry of Health prefers to cure very serious diseases. When you are dying possibly you will be treated well in the public health care. If in general you're healthy and just want to check your blood results you won't get anything. What for? Even doctors who work privately often look at you as an alien when you want to do any tests. But the health care system is the other big topic...

And what should we do when somebody around us stinks? Uncomfortable situation, most people tell nothing. The oldest way is to buy a deodorant as a gift - not always effective. What is your advice?

If you are interested how long Poles live and what are the most popular diseases see this document in Polish.

30 cze 2010

Presidential campaign

Because of the tragedy in Smoleńsk the presidential campaign is very short this year. Candidates must be fast and don't have many occasions to fight. After the death of so many people they deliberately didn't want to be aggresive or use any usual dirty methods.

I avoid watching candidates on tv because they mostly pay lip service. Of course I don't expect them to fulfil their promises especially because the president in Poland hasn't a very strong position. The power is divided between him and the prime minister but the government has a lot more to say.

Even though the election itself is boring and debates are sometimes embarrasing the results will be very important. The early ballot wasn't a big surprise, according to the expectations won Bronisław Komorowski from Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform) but Jarosław Kaczyński from Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice*) was right behind him. They are both right-wing and conservative so there isn't a big choice. We choose between a bit more Europe-oriented and open-minded and the populist more concentrated on Poland, Catholic Church and peculiar patriotism. This is a conflict between so called III and IV Republic of Poland. It's quite important to see the difference between these numbers:

1) I RP (Rzeczpospolita Polska) - XV century - 1795
2) II RP - 1918 - 1939
3) III RP - 1989 - now
4) IV RP - a slogan used mostly by Law and Justice in order to differentiate from the III RP governance.

The map of people's votes is extremely interesting. Western and more developed Poland chose Komorowski and Eastern regions preferred Kaczyński. This line represents a border of Russia and Prussia when they ruled Poland. Not so much has changed during last 100 years.

Unfortunately the turnout in Poland is always too low but this year better (55%) than 5 years ago (50%). Many people remain indifferent and many don't want to choose between these two candidates. But after the early ballot there is a huge mobilization in the nation so maybe we'll see a much higher turnout this Sunday. It's always better to take part in the election. I will support Bronisław Komorowski
although he doesn't convince me at all. Maybe next time there will be a candidate for me...

* no English website - meaningful

24 cze 2010

For all EU citizens living in Warsaw

This is the information I was sent by a market research company TNS OBOP which works for the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure. I haven't changed anything:

TNS OBOP are currently conducting a study amongst EU citizens looking at their attitudes and opinions to a number of issues relating to the EU and understanding citizen's experiences in exercising their rights to intra-EU mobility.
We are holding a number of group discussions where we will invite people to come and discuss these issues. There are no right or wrong views or perceptions during these discussions; we are simply interested in what you have to say on the topic.
We would like to invite you to attend a group discussion, with 5-6 other people. The group will be held at 30.06.2010 on TNS OBOP, Wspólna 56 street, Warsaw. Please help our interviewers to gain all information needed to invite you on focus group.

Would you be able to attend?
We are looking for volunteers in the 25-55 years old residing in Poland from 3 to 6 months and from 7 months to 5 years.
Estimated time of the meeting is about 2 hours.
We will pay for your participation gratification in the amount of 150 zł.

Contact Agnieszka Zalewska 504 129 506.

The interviews will be in English and Polish so feel free to speak.
The results will help to the Polish government diagnose what kind of difficulties foreigners face in Poland. Let's do this for the better EU integration:)

11 cze 2010

Adam Mickiewicz

For me there was no doubt - the first Pole that is worth knowing is Adam Mickiewicz - a poet, visionary, man of letters, activist. I studied Polish philology also because of him and spend a lot of time in his fascinating life. He was born in the 1798 on today's Belarusian territory which after the partitions of the Commonwealth was ruled by Russians. One of his quotations (known by every Pole) is "Lithuania, my homeland" so you can have doubts if he was really Polish. He was born in a region where nobles spoke Polish and had Jewish, Belarusian and Lithuanian neighbours. Mickiewicz's first language was Polish, then he wrote also in French. He is regarded as the national poet of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus and of course every nation searches his ancestors.

His life was too complex to write here his biography but I want to just give you some ideas.

Mickiewicz's family was poor but thanks to the scholarship he was able to finish studies on the Vilnius University. As a student he started to write poetry and it became obvious that his talent was outstanding. Too modern for classical old masters he was quickly popular among young people. After unclear investigation about his and his friends' involvement in the patriotic organization he was expelled from home forever. Forced to live in Russia he spent a few years in Petersburg and Moscow. Fortunately, supported by the Russian aristocracy he didn't have to earn a living. It was the time of his personal development, new works, romance. He was not only a sensitive genius but also very attractive man:) He managed to escape from Russia and wandered a few years in Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Italy). Depressed in his thirties he felt like an old man. As many Poles that time he settled in Paris. Too rashly decided to get married. His marriage with mentally ill Celina Szymanowska was very difficult. They had 6 children and were very poor. By the age of 35 he wrote his greatest works. Then he was involved in European politics, wrote articles, became a lecturer of Slavic languages and literatures at the Collège de France. With Andrzej Towiański - a self-made religious leader - he created a sect and lived the EXTRAORDINARY life. After their break-up Mickiewicz was involved in the revolutions of 1848. After his wife's death in the 1855 he went to Constantinople in order to form a Polish and Jewish legions to fight against Russians. His sudden death surprised everybody. He was buried in Paris and then moved to Wawel in Cracow.

Next time more about his works!

8 cze 2010

Poland on Expo 2010 and folk traditions

Today I would like to show you the Polish design on Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Three young architects (Wojciech Kakowski, Marcin Mostafa, Natalia Paszkowska) inspired by folk art did a great job. The pavilion resembles Polish paper cut-outs (wycinanka). Here you will find different examples of this tradition originally from central Poland. Simple women made these beautiful shapes. I remember doing it in my primary school but of course very simple ones.

If you don't know what souvenirs should you buy in Poland I recommend you for example these modern folk gadgets.

More photos from the inside of the pavilion here.

8 minutes 3D movie by Tomasz Bagiński „Animowana Historia Polski” - "The Animated History of Poland" was seen by many many visitors. It hasn't been showed yet in Poland. From the trailer it looks dramatically (only war and tribulation) but I read that's not everything. How do you like it?

6 cze 2010

Water still dangerous in Poland

... but some guys take advantage of the flood... Yes, it's stupid and risky but I love people with imagination... When Poles do something ridiculous but innovative or cheeky / perky (no idea what's the appropriate word in English) we call it "polska fantazja" - "Polish fantasy". We think that we're not good in everyday solid work but have a lot of energy and brilliant ideas from time to time (especially feeling unsafe).

29 maj 2010

Funny Polish photoblogs

My favourite about bad taste, kitsch, sometimes stupidity and sometimes ignorance.

Aaaby sprzedać - for some people selling things on the internet auctions is a challege;) Original pictures taken from Allegro - the biggest Polish auction portal (with great comments).

Ekskluziff - how to promote your apartment on the web before selling;) Disastrous interiors and design.

Białe kozaczki - "White high boots" (Kozak = Cossack). The symbol of cheap and primitive clothing. Worn by women any age and shape without reflection. Unfortunately usually accompanied by kitsch long nails, extremely blond or black hair, orange suntan and very short skirts. Brrrrrr.

25 maj 2010

Floods in Poland

Wyrzuty sumienia = remorse! I have many ideas to write about but somehow I haven't managed to do it recently. But this week I will improve.

I must come back to the last topic. Many people suffer from the flood, thousands were evacuated and 16 died. In a few regions in Poland it really looks terrible, you can see the video here. All the local services are struggling: firemen, soldiers, also prisoners and volunteers. It's unusual that there's so much water after 3 days of rain in May. In Poland heavy rains start in the summer. The biggest flood ever was in July 1997 (56 casualties). Most vulnerable regions are Małopolska (Kraków), Podkarpacie (Rzeszów) and Dolny Śląsk (Wrocław). Warsaw was always rather safe but this year it changed - the level of Wisła is very high. There are some difficulties but fortunately caused mostly by preventive actions. Many people come to see Wisła and take pictures - "turystyka powodziowa".


powódź - flood
powodzianin (pl. powodzianie) - flood victim
klęska żywiołowa - natural disaster
ratunek - rescue
pomoc - help

If you're in danger in Poland shout "Ratunku!" or "Pomocy!".

How can we help people who lost everything? For example by giving money to the Polish Red Cross.

In 1997 the havoc was enormous. To help raising money Polish artists sang a good song by Hey and Katarzyna Nosowska "Moja i twoja nadzieja" ("My and your hope"). Video here and lyrics here.

I recommend you also a humorous comment on reporters' excessive involvement in the flood.

18 maj 2010

Dangerous rain

Today something in Polish - where should we add Polish characters?

9 maj 2010

Noc Muzeów 2010 - Museum Night Fever

The first Lange Nacht der Museen took place in Berlin in 1997. In the 2003 the idea came to Poland. Every year more and more institutions open for one night. The cultural offer is enormous.

On the 15/16th of May in many Polish cities there will be a lot to do, don't miss it! I warn - if you prefer to watch exhibitions in peace you will have no chance. Museums are crowded but the unique atmosphere counts! If the weather is good people just enjoy walking in the city center. Leave your car at home - in Warsaw there are many special buses besides it's worth to ride a bike (don't forget about the lights!).

Here you will find the programme for every city. The entrance is free:)

Apart from the museums I recommend you to visit for example Próżna street in Warsaw. It was Jewish before the WW II and somehow wasn't completely burnt down after the ghetto uprising in 1943. It's a ruined ghost street and traditionally a place of Jewish cultural events.

BTW remember that the word "noc" is feminine! That's why we say "dobrAnoc". The other option for "good night" is "dobrej nocy" because it's a wish and the Polish verb to wish ("życzyć") requires a noun in the form of the genitive.

Miłej nocy muzeów!:)

If you want to know more feminine nouns that end in a consonant check this.

6 maj 2010

Foreigners and migrants in Poland

A foreigner:

1. obcokrajowiec (pl obcokrajowcy)

obcy (foreign) + kraj (country)

2. cudzoziemiec/cudzoziemka (pl cudzoziemcy)

cudzy (not mine) + ziemia (land)

Emigracja - emigrant/emigrantka
Imigracja - imigrant/imigrantka

I would like to present you some of the great iniciatives for foreigners or by foreigners in Poland.

Welcome Center in Warsaw - a place where you can get advice on legalizing employment or stay in Poland, search for contacts or take part in workshops for migrants.

Publications for foreigners that help to understand the complicated Polish law.

Kultilink - job portal for foreigners.

Los Polandos - a radio programme about Poland and Poles in the eyes of foreigners. Every Friday 11:00, radio TOK FM.

Kontynent Warszawa - a portal with all the information about multiculti events, places, institutions in Warsaw.

Foundation Inna Przestrzeń

3 maj 2010

3rd of May - Day of the Constitution

One of my favourite national days - a remembrance of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth civic traditions. On the 3rd of May 1791 the Parliament signed the act which was aimed to improve defects of the deteriorating state. It was created by the great noblemen around the enlightened king Stanisław August Poniatowski (a controversial guy, I appreciate what he did). The Constitution gave more rights to townspeople and peasants and enhanced some democratic procedures. For details check Wiki.

Unfortunately, the act was in force only a year. It couldn't have been a great success as our three neighbours (Russia, Prussia and Austria) didn't want to see the country stronger. After the first partition in 1772 the Commonwealth was weaker but there was still a big piece of land of to divide and take over. In 1795 the big country perished from the map of Europe for 123 years. Here you have a map of how it exacly looked like.

But the Constitution of May 3 remains a great victory of the reformative block. It is known to be the first constitution in Europe and the second in the world after the United States (1787). On this picture (1891) by Jan Matejko - Polish historical painter - you can feel the probable atmosphere of that time.

From this short presentation you can learn that the signing of the act wasn't 100% legal but...

On this occasion I recommend you to go to the Royal Castle in Warsaw. But don't only look at the interior - it's better to hire a guide or read a lot inside. You can learn the Polish history from the paintings and get to know our last acknowledged king*.

The 3rd of May can be an occasion for many different events. I avoid the military parade in Warsaw but I like the idea of running.

And lastly a nice old song:

* In the XIX century Polish kings were for example Russian tsars but ask Poles - we don't have it in the collective memory.