Europe,  Poland,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Krakow (Poland): first days, first impressions

It is June 3, 2017, one month after the end of our first world tour, we start a second one, this time as digital nomads. Our first chosen destination is Krakow, Poland. Because we haven’t travelled much in Europe and we have to take advantage of the good weather in summer to discover the Eastern countries

We hesitated a lot between Warszawa (Warsaw), Wroclaw and Kracow (Krakow), but our friends convinced us to choose Krakow instead

If JB takes an Easyjet to get there directly, I take a longer route with Air France and KLM with a stopover in Amsterdam, simply because I have a €100 Air France voucher to use absolutely before the end of June. I obtained this voucher following the catering strike on the flight from Johannesburg to Paris (during the first round-the-world trip)

A lot of kindness

My first interactions with the Poles were more than positive. My neighbor on the plane offered to fetch my carry-on luggage for me without my asking her. On the bus, a Pole, seeing me in an unstable position, kindly showed me a bar that I could lean on so I wouldn’t fall over. And finally, the cab that drove me from the train station to the apartment, not only accepted the credit card for 5€ of fare, but also wanted to stay with me until JB came to pick me up

The next day, Alexandre, a French expatriate with whom we were in contact on Facebook, offered us to have lunch with him and take a little tour of the city. As he has been living in Poland for 4 years, he gave us very interesting insights about the country and Krakow in particular

Polish: a difficult language

Polish, which I wanted to learn just a little bit to get by, seems very difficult to me. There are so many weird rules and exceptions that I give up very quickly, contenting myself with just a few basic words (hello, sorry, please, thank you)

Polish covers such a wide range of tones that Poles have no trouble learning foreign languages. No wonder Poles are so good at it, like Michel Thomas, whose Spanish and Portuguese lessons I take in 8:30 am. Alexandre explained to us, for example, that plurals change according to the number. For example, to order 2 to 4 beers, we use one form of plurals, then between 5 to 11 beers, we use another form. Then between 12 and 14, we have another word for “12 beers”. It was like saying “4 beers”, “7 beers”, “13 beers” or something like that

Even though Polish words have a lot of consonants side by side, you just need to know the rules to pronounce a word correctly. As a result, it is quite possible to pronounce words containing “szcz” ! Once you know the Polish alphabet, you will be able to correctly cut the word into syllables and pronounce it correctly. There aren’t too many traps

Then, to know the different versions of “beer” according to the number of beers you want to order. Or to make the difference between “Poland” and “in Poland” (they are two different words), it will take years and years of learning

There are quite a few French words that exist in the Polish vocabulary. They are just written differently. People of the older generation understand a lot of French

Life in Poland

The prices here are amazing! After a month in Paris, it feels good to eat (well) for 7€/person drink included. The Airbnb apartment (a F2 of 40m²) that we rented costs only 750€/month (if you’re interested, this is the one, use this link to register and get 35€ discount on Airbnb

This is very reasonable for a short term rental, knowing that a long term rental (45 to 50m²) would have cost only 400€/month. If you are interested, we made a video of the apartment

Real estate level is clearly a good plan. It is quite possible to invest in a nice new apartment for 100 000€ and receive 1000€ monthly rent

At the work level, the working conditions are very good because there is more work than manpower. They start very early in the morning (7h30-8h) and finish early (16h30), with 30mn break for lunch => 40h/week, but the rhythm is super relaxed, no stress like in France

Basic necessities are inexpensive, allowing the poorest to have a decent life. Engineers, on the other hand, still earn a very good salary, in the range of 3000€/month. Taxes are levied at source (as in Scandinavia), with two installments: 18% and 32%. There is no tax exemption as in France, nor unemployment insurance

The winter is apparently not that bad, it is cold, but it is a dry cold, therefore bearable. The snag is that Poland still uses a lot of coal to generate electricity, hence a cloud of pollution, especially in Krakow at weekends. It was as if every household had its own barbecue

Finding an apartment is very simple, first come, first served. No one will ask you for a pay slip, they consider that if you ask to visit the apartment, it is because you can afford it. There is no inventory of fixtures either

It pleases me too much to live again in a “peace and love” country like this. It reminds me too much of Norway, where I lived for a year, where everyone was handsome and kind, honest, hard-working and positive. In spite of the crowd (it’s the Dragon Festival today), you feel good, people are relaxed and there are positive vibes that I like

And to make you want to come here (to visit, or to live), here are some pictures of Krakow

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