Don't ignore Poland while touring around Europe

MENTION you're going to Europe and most people will think of Paris or Switzerland.

Some might take a gamble that you're visiting Croatia or Russia.

Few will ever guess you're going to Poland.

Family brought me to Poland.

My brother was getting married there, but it's the beauty of the country and the warmth and friendliness of the people that will see me going back.

That, and the fact that it is so very cheap.

The wedding was held outside Katowice, a poor city characterised by communist-built apartment blocks, narrow streets and the smell of coal burning.

Poland has had a rough history in the last century.

Taken over by the Germans in the war, the people were forced to either fight, work at the concentration camps (Auschwitz is not far from Katowice) or be sent to Siberia.

Then, after the war, families like my sister-in-law's were forced from their comfortable homes into tiny, characterless apartment blocks.

Most would be smaller than the average Aussie garage. Our pyramid-shaped hotel (something to do with Feng shui) was next to a stunning lake.

We walked through dense mist and were amazed as an old hunting lodge, belonging to one of the Tsars, appeared from nowhere.

This lodge, which is now an upmarket hotel, still had all prized catches of the Tsar's hanging on the walls - grizzly bears, antelopes and the like.

It was like stepping back into a history book: everything was ornate and from another era.

Everything except the toilet.

For some bizarre reason, this historic building has the most modern toilet - the seat swivels to clean itself - I've ever seen.

While Katowice is interesting, Krakow took my breath away.

This city is a working mix of the old and the new, with the 13th century Gothic castle Wawel overlording the landscape.

It is achingly beautiful, with cobbled streets and tasteful upmarket shops.

And the Aussie dollars can buy so much, the problem will be what to fit in your bags.

If you haven't considered Poland on your European travel itinerary, have a rethink. You will love every minute.


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