As you may have noticed, this post is titled “I.A.”, which is an abbreviation for the Latin inter alia, meaning “among other things”. I thought I would write a bit about a few miscellaneous things I’ve learned/noticed/found interesting on my trip so far. I’ll do this in bullet form, since I don’t imagine most of these small tidbits of information would fit well in any of my other daily writings. Some of these things will be familiar to those of you who have traveled to Europe before, but I believe some of these differences will be points of interest to those of you who are unfamiliar with the customs.
- Polish is a very, very difficult language to speak. It is nearly impossible to understand without practice even if one knows the words someone is saying.
- I’ve found that it’s occasionally easier to get my point across in Spanish.
- When you order water in restaurants, you must specify still or sparkling.
- Water is very expensive at restaurants, more so than beer, liquor, or soft drinks.
- Food, however, is very cheap, which makes up for the price of the water.
- Polish ice cream is delicious, but is more like gelato than American ice cream. You can only order a 1-scoop cone.
- Buses are always on time, and are very clean with nice overhead handles to grab. Appalcart needs to take note of the Polish bus system. The only similarities the two systems have is that all the bus drivers drive like maniacs.
- Never jaywalk or cross before the crosswalk light turns. To do so means a 50€ fine.
- Bags cost extra at supermarkets, and the grocers will not bag the items for you.
- Ketchup and mustard are very different, most notably because of the lack of high fructose corn syrup. The ketchup is a little sweeter due to the use of real sugar, and the mustard is much smoother and is quite delicious as a substitute for ketchup on any dish.
- One must be careful when calling something “cheap”. “Inexpensive” is a better word and is less likely to insult someone.
- Smoking is widely acceptable at restaurants; however, it hasn’t actually bothered me the entire time I’ve been here.
- Cars will actually stop immediately to let you cross at crosswalks.
- If need be, waiters will ask people to move to a smaller table at restaurants in order to accommodate larger groups. People are usually more than happy to do so. In fact, a woman kindly moved tables to accomodate our group at dinner one evening. In America, this would have been the start of World War III.
- Owners and workers often stand outside of their shops or restaurants. This is for one of two reasons: they are either trying to welcome you in and provide you with friendly service, or they are going to relentlessly tell you about the restaurant until you agree to eat there or manage to escape via some excuse.
- The animals in Poland, while similar to those in the US, are often different colors. Crows are grey and black (on one crow), squirrels are red, and ducks are all the colors of the rainbow. I recognize many of the trees and plants from North America, but there are several I have never seen before, especially the flowers.
This concludes my I.A. post. I’ll probably have another or two before the end of the trip, but until then, do widzenia.