I am writing this blog post because I find there are many who wish to visit Poland and other Central European countries but feel they cannot do so because they do not speak the languages of Central Europe. Really, it is easy to fly to and within Central Europe.
Last Saturday I left Reymontówka with the other team members about 8:30 in the morning. Our leaving time ensures all will make their flights back to their homes or elsewhere for their travels as well as to ensure also that the transportation back to Reymontówka is at the airport for those arriving on the next team. We arrived at the Warsaw airport about 10:00 AM. Luggage carts are readily available when one gets to an airport such as this; they are free unlike how we handle luggage carts in the United States.
My flight on last Saturday was to Poznan where I planned to visit for a few days, and I was using LOT airlines for this flight. For a LOT flight and for nearly every other airline one obtains a boarding pass by using a kiosk. This is exactly that same way that I get my boarding passes at Amsterdam Schiphol airport too.
Next one has to check baggage. While waiting in this line I saw this billboard size poster above my head.
The person who helped me with checking my baggage spoke very good English. One doesn't have to do this task in Polish in Poland nor in Hungarian in Hungary or in Romanian in Romania! English is spoken at nearly every international airport and also within many of the domestic airports in Central European countries.
LOT also wished to weigh my carry-on luggage. Next comes access to the security. Now at both the Warsaw airport and Amsterdam Schiphol one gains access to this by placing the bar code of the boarding pass on a reader.
I had plenty of time before my flight to Poznan so went looking for food.
This is cappuccino with sernik, which is Polish cheese cake. This version had a crust made from chocolate and nuts and then chocolate frosting on the top. What's not to love about that. If you've not had sernik before, the first serving will surprise you. It is not a rich in fat nor as sweet as most American versions of cheesecake
Eventually I wandered to my boarding gate. It was easy to know if I was in the right area. The Warsaw airport is very modern with all digital signage.
Above is the sign when it appeared in Polish and below is the sign when it appeared in English. In the case of these cities the difference between Polish and English is quite subtle.
I would just add a caution that the English spelling of the city as Cracow causes Americans to totally mispronounce it. It seems Americans too want to put an emphasis on the cow syllable. I keep saying there is no cow in that city. One American woman snottily told me, "I'll say it anyway I want to." That kind of attitude is what gives American travelers a bad rap. And I didn't correct her in any public way just quietly told her how to pronounce the name of the city.
And the boarding gate looks like just any other boarding gate in any modern airport.
While waiting at the gate I spent time reading but also seeing some unique things. First a security guard came by riding on a segway. In the same area as my gate to Poznan was a gate to Kraków. One person intending to go there was priest wearing a black short sleeve shirt with a clerical collar coupled with black Bermuda shorts. That sight was a first for me -- but it surely made sense on such a hot day. And while waiting I noticed emergency medical service attendants arriving nearby, again on segways, and checking out the vital signs on a whole family. Don't know what the story was about that for no one appeared to be in great distress.
It is not uncommon to walk down stairs to a bus that takes one out on the tarmac to the plane We took quite a tour of the Warsaw airport before we got to the plane that took us to Poznan.
It was a small prop jet that flew this 50 minute commuter flight.
I quickly realized that the view to the ground might be very good. Here are a couple of pictures
I know I'm over Poland airspace when I see the long skinny fields. Over Slovakia one sees fields shaped in rectangles and squares like one finds in the midwestern United States. And flying over the Czech Republic is way fun because there the fields have every geometric shape you can imagine.
On this short flight we were served water and a Prince Polo bar. I had torn my open before I thought of this story that follows.
I first came to Poland in 2002 flying with LOT. Then we were served meals with real china and silverware. Bread was served in beautiful baskets. It was all quite elegant. But I was mystified about why the dessert, after such an elegantly presented meal, was a Tic-Tac candy bar. Then I got to Poland and discovered the love for wafer bars. Princessa is another brand of wafer candy bars that I buy here. Tic-Tac was the closest thing LOT could purchase in Chicago for the meal service back to Poland.
In Poznan we again walked out of the plane to a bus and then were taken to the airport,
Inside it was easy to find the right luggage belt.
In the luggage area, too, there was advice about using a taxi.
The only problem I had with the taxi service is that there were more passengers wanting taxis than there were taxis. I had to wait a bit for some more to arrive and others pushed in front of me. I heard in a very proper British accent, "They don't mind queue here very much do they?" No they don't, not anywhere in Central Europe. One must be a bit more assertive in a line than I generally am when at home in Minnesota.
So I hope this little story may help any nervous traveler to Central Europe to get here and have a very good time. This is a wonderful part of the world.