Click on the colored areas of the map to access a travelogue. The colors indicate different regions of Poland -- scroll down for explanation and introduction for each location. (Original map comes from the CIA World Factbook)
Introduction. Poland is a country that has a rocky, divided history in recent times -- heavily influenced (and conquered) by Germany and Russia. With the Cold War over, Poland is now seeking to assert itself and its own identity separate from the powers it is sandwiched between. The country has history on its side. It was once a great kingdom of its own, who produced great warriors and great thinkers like Copernicus. It also has a wealth of natural resources, great port locations in the Eastern Sea, and a rapidly progressing economy. As Poland prepares to join the EU in 2004, it clearly plans to join at a position of strength.
I've been to Poland about a half-dozen times, mostly on short business trips, but a few times for leisure. The cities of Krakow and Warsaw are the clear first places to visit for anyone going to Poland, in particular Krakow which is extremely well preserved, and is not only famed as the place where John Paul II was cardinal, but also as the site of Poland's largest Jewish populations before the Nazi invasion. Visitors with strong stomachs are encouraged to visit the famous Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, not far from Krakow, for a stark history lesson (it attracts large numbers of Israelites and European Jews each year).
One thing is for sure, the country absolutely adores the Pope. Nearly every town and city has a Jan Paulus Street or Square or Building. John Paul statues, paintings, and pictures are common. But this is more than just hero worship -- Poland is a deeply Catholic country with the vast majority of its inhabitants actively religious, attending daily Mass in Poland's many churches.
The Polish border region has also become very popular because of Poland's inexpensive and high-quality earthenware. "Polish Pottery" trips are very popular among western Europeans, and I too have shopped there, especially around Bolaslawiec (I don't have a travelogue for there, but might someday when I return).
My "list" for Poland is very extensive. I've made several acquaintances in the country, all of whom have been eager to show the nation's hidden treasures. Cities like Szczecin (pronounced Shtet-sin) in far northwest, Wroclaw (Vroat-slaff, also known as Breslau) in the southwest, and Lublin in the southeast have been strongly recommended to me. I also have an interest in visiting the great port city of Gdansk for another history lesson -- to walk the ground where Lech Walesa led the nation's Solidarnosci movement in the mid-1980s.
Travelogues. The coloring of the locations on the map above indicate different locations in Poland, as shown below.
Stories and Features:
None yet -- check again at a future time.
Links. The below links connect you to external sites in a new window. All links are official sites sanctioned by the national, state, or local governments unless otherwise indicated. These links will open to the Polish-language home page, which will offer an icon or link to an English-language section (normally limited content). If an English language link is not available, click on the "Turystyka" section. This is for the tourism page, which should have English content available. Pages where English content was not readily available is marked "in Polish". Links updated 9 January 2006.