Pros: Friendly People, Beautiful Country Side, Low Traffic except in Big Cities, Low Prices For Labor
Cons: High prices for clothes, accomodation, car rentals, wine, and most restaurants.
When you hear about Poland what is the most common comment that will come out of one?s mouth? The answer is: Poland is very cheap. Well readers should think again. I have been to Poland many times due to the fact that I am dating a Polish girl and I usually end up having a pretty big hole in my wallet after only a few days there for just the day-to-day essentials (i.e. simple hotel and restaurant). I am writing this because I don?t want others to be surprised as I have been so here are the facts.
First, contrary to what you have heard accommodation is on par with or even higher than in Germany especially the capital Warsaw (more on that later). The average price for a bare bones room is about 160 Zloty ($40) with breakfast. Near the border with Germany this will be the cost for a private room, which is incredible considering that a private room in Dresden, Germany was only 15 DM ($7.50) per night. For those of who are considering staying in a Holiday Inn, Mariott or Sheratan Hotel and hoping to spend a reasonable amount of money (i.e. $75 - $120 like in the United States, Luxembourg, Germany, France, or Switzerland) allow me to spoil the surprise. The cost for a single room at the Mariott in Warsaw was $285 ($135 in Zurich, Switzerland) per night without breakfast; the Holiday Inn was $228 ($120 in Paris, France) and $245 ($115 in Luxembourg) for the Sheraton. All in all the cost in Warsaw tower even those of New York City. Elsewhere in Poland I found the prices for hotels much lower but still higher than in Germany (i.e. $125 for the Holiday Inn in Wroclow which was still more than the $85 in Dresden).
Eating out varies considerably and averages anywhere from $25 to over $80 for a simple meal. Don?t expect to be able to have wine with that. Wine in Poland is at a premium. A simple bottle of Lambrusco, which can be bought in any restuarnt in Italy or even Germany for no more than $15 per bottle, averaged 180 Zloty ($45) in a Pizzeria (I compiled this data by eating at 5 different pizzerias and comparing the costs of the wine). In a store a bottle of Lambrusco can be bought for as little as $3 in Germany but not in Poland. That same bottle will cost you 80 Zloty ($20) in the six supermarkets I went to. Being of Italian origin I was upset when I had to fork out insane amounts of cash in order to have wine with my dinner. The wine was almost always more than the dinner. In Warsaw I had a hard time to eat for less than $40 per meal per person in a simple restaurant, no wine of course. If you decide to eat in Warsaw avoid eating in the old town. I ate in a restaurant in the old town and I noticed that a bowl of soup cost 37 Zloty ($9.25) whereas that same exact bowl cost me only 4 Zloty ($1) in the hotel I was staying in north of the train station, that is almost ten times as much. Eating out elsewhere in Poland I found that $25 per person was enough. A reminder, in Poland you have to pay for everything on your plate, for example if one orders a snitzel with mushroom sauce and French fries you have to pay for the $8 for the snitzel, $1 for the mushroom sauce, and $3 french fries even though everything is on the same plate.
Don?t even think about shopping for clothes or renting a car in Poland. Clothes are a premium with $29 costing Wrangler jeans from the PX costing in excess of 340 zloty ($80) in a department store in Poland. In Germany the cost for those jeans was $38. Don?t expect bargains for all other types of clothes (i.e. socks, T-shirts, etc) everything costs more than in most Western European countries partly because of that 22% VAT.
The most ridiculous of all was the cost for renting a car. At a whooping 167 DM ($75) per day for the smallest plus $30 for insurance and $.50 per kilometer after the first 100 kilometers, car rental cost more than anywhere else in Western Europe to rent that same car for a weekend. What I suggest you do is rent a car in Germany and then drive to Poland however there are very few rental companies that will let you drive the car into
Poland. The airport in Berlin has a Hertz car rental office that will allow you to drive your car to Poland and their weekend rate was $80 with insurance and unlimited mileage included.
Let me be fair now. There are ways of saving money and Poland is inexpensive in one aspect. That is in the service department. For example a visit to the doctor will cost about $2 to $10. For about $400 a mechanic will fix the amount of damage that will cost about $5400 here in Germany. Public transportation is dirt-cheap where a taxi costing no more than a dollar for a two kilometer ride or. $.25 for a ride on the streetcars. As for food, every city has milk bars, which are very similar to our mess halls where you can fill yourself up for about $2 (12$ in Warsaw) and no you don?t have to pay for everything on your plate like in most restaurants. Fuel at a gas station is also cheaper than in Germany at about $.75 (.95$ in Warsaw) per liter for super unleaded. An other big issue is the reports of car theft. I have driven my Toyota with American Plates many times to Poland and I never had any problems. In fact, I notice that the crime rate was rather low; infact Poland is probably safer than most Western European cities. Heck, I even walked around Warsaw at 0300 and I didn?t experience any problems what so ever.
In conclusion Poland is a very nice country to visit blessed with magnificent people. If you go to Poland though, figure on spending at least $100 per day if you avoid Warsaw like the plague. Prices here are higher than New York City and more than twice as high as in Paris and Zurich. The strangest fact of all is that the average Pole only earns about 2000 Zloty ($500) per month working 12 hours days sometimes seven days per week. How do they do it? Are foreigners still getting ripped off despite claims from the government stating that practice was abolish back in 1996. If you are looking for a more reasonable alternative may I suggest going to Czech where prices were very low; $8 for a three-course meal with wine and $30 for nice room in center of PRAGUE. If Poland is where you want to go than please feel free to email me and I will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.