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How To... Survive The Polish Winter

Monday, October 19, 2015

My dearest travellers,

Well, In case you were not in Poland last week, you may not know that Winter is Coming! was the word of the day for last Monday - George Martin should be proud of how much this catch-phrase is used! The weekend of 10-11 October was quite cold but on the 12th, Monday morning, as I woke up I saw the fields white. It snowed continuously throughout the day... Guess how much Instagram cracked on #winteriscoming hashtag for Poland! We had a long and warm and sunny summer so it is clear that winter will be long as well, so you need to be prepared for that, if you wish to visit Poland ;) It is true, there will be some nice autumn days from time to time, but don't hope for much!
Winter (zima, in Polish language) is back and with a vengeance! Winter is quite special in Poland, as I have not yet seem anywhere else... It couples with dry air and wind that howls and makes you lose your way. Frostbite is something very common here so people tend to layer up during winter (and autumn), just like onions. I still do not get the hang of that, even after 4 years of living in Poland - but I guess that is why my husband barely ever gets sick and I have continuously running nose... But if you are settled on visiting Poland, and you wish to make the most of it, you may want to read the below Tips & Tricks ;)
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 1. Don't get outside! Stick to the indoor activities! There are a lot of museums that one could visit, in every Polish city - no need to get outside where it's really cold and windy. You might have even troubles breathing properly! When it comes to public transport there are also slight delays (trams/buses) and bigger delays (especially when it comes to trains!). When the wintery snow came last Monday, the airport was closed for several hours and all planes were delayed... take that into consideration!
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2. If you go outside, please make sure you layer up properly! That means gloves (usually without the tops of the fingers so you can easily handle money and tickets...), hat, scarf(es), t-shirt, blouse, winter jacket, overalls, long johns, normal pants, huge winterboots... you name it! Locals are used to the temperature by now, and you may see them with less clothes, but don't be fooled by the sun outside shining on the fresh snow! If the wind will hit you, you will NOT be able to catch your breath! Also make sure you have good boots, as you may bump into some icy portions of the road and you will start doing involuntary ballet ;) I was also told that a proper Polish winter can tell mens from boys! (but hell... I think you would rather gear up than cough all year round!)
Wintery display @ AlmiDecor - December 2014
3. If you have a car, and you wish to use it during winter in Poland, be careful! Make sure you have winter tires and be careful about the plows - they run non stop during winter and it is good to make sure you don't remain stuck in a small street behind them ;) Make sure also that you have enough distance between the car in front and back as the streets tend to get icy and you may have issues with the breaks (a good friend, a very good driver by-the-way, had an accident like this, so don't underestimate this! and don't drive like it's summer!). 
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4. Try to exercise as much as you can! - this will keep you warm! It does not matter if you are not a pro. Try and try again until you succeed. And even if you will not succeed, you will still manage one main thing: you will keep warm and you will not freeze! :) There are many options of what one can do during winter in Poland. For example, each city has in its main square a ice-ring where you can skate. If you are not into skating, that is perfectly ok! You can have a ride in the moutains - learn how to ski or do snowboard ;) if not... there is also running - and even a marathon during the 31st of December, where people dress up Halloween like ;)
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5. Drink a lot of warm fluids! This is a must every day of the year, but during autumn and winter this should be everyones priority! Hot liquids will instantly warm your body up and generate heat. I think that tea with lemon and honey is the best treat in winter (lemon = vitamin C + honey - keeps the sickness away!). Each winter there are Christmas fairs in the big cities and a must is the mulled wine and mulled beer (specific Polish!). Trust me, after a couple of sips you will feel ready to take on the world! (until the next wind stroke will come...). Also, if you are not that much into alcohol or tea, you can always get super-high on sugar and try out some hot chocolate ;) 
6. Make yourself warm and keep the rooms warm as well - don't switch beteen hot-cold temperatures as this will bring you down! This, and the stupid air conditioning in the hotels :/ I think one of the main causes I get sick, during autumn/wintertime (and the reason why I got sick just last week!) is the bloody air-conditioning that is always ON at work. The body is trying to adjust from one temperature to another and the changes are so quick that it becomes confused - then, BAM! the flu hits you! Try to maintain your body temperature at the same level - the layers will help you on this one ;) Buy some warm fluffy socks, and a nice long warm shawl, get a cup of tea and enjoy the snowflakes from afar :) It is not good for the house to have different temperatures throughout and you will see this on your throat, when you will start speaking funny!
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7. Be prepared for a snowdown apocalypse! It is true, winter does manage to surprise everyone, each year! I don't know how people manage to sneak off with this remark: "we were caught by surprise by the amount of snow"... It is winter! What did you think it was coming? An avalanche of daisies and poppies?! Anyway, it will happen, and you may get stranded. The plane may not be able to take off due to the amount of snow on the runway... it is true, so be prepared! You migh even have a power loss - due to the high winds, the trees may break or be up-rooted, and power lines may be affected. This also happens during summer storms, so don't worry! 
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Overall, it's not that bad to come to Poland during wintertime. It's quite lovely when the wind does not blow and takes the life out of you. The Christmas markets are lovely and the view of the cities under snow is just magical. It is true, I rather like Poland in autumn & the tourists like it during summer, but I think that you should try and see Poland in winter as well. Just be prepared and layer up! (onion style is the proper style). Have you ever been to Poland in winter? I have a dear friend of mine that always visited me during wintertime, and she always loved it :)
Embrace the subject and read one of the articles below - How To... In Poland
  1. Do Shopping In Poland - Currency
  2. Pick The Best Time To Visit Poland
  3. Get To Poland - Transit
  4. Eat Like The Locals 
  5. Spend One Day In Krakow 
  6. Be Prepared For Coming To Poland
  7. Recognize Tourists In Poland
  8. Maintain Work-Life Balance In Poland
  9. Books/Films/Music In Poland 
  10. Survive The Polish Weddings  
  11. Survive The Polish Winter - today's letter, to you lovely travellers :)
Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to help travelers out there & expats finding their way to the proud Polish land