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Things I Love About Poland #03: Country vs. City

17 Nov 2010
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Country house in Poland
Country house outside of Kalisz, Poland (where my great grandmother was born). Photo by Maciej Bliziński.

This is the third in a series of articles called "Things I Love About Poland," where I discuss differences between Poland and the USA. In this article, I talk about my dream of living in a Polish village.

In Poland everything is close together. When we lived in Kraków, we lived near the northern edge of the city. Normally we took the tram into the city center ("downtown" for Americans -- "center" in this meaning is mainly British, but when I talk about Poland I like to use it because it sounds like the same word in Polish: "centrum"). But if I wanted to walk there instead it took me exactly 35 minutes (I did it a lot).

For the time being, we're living by my parents just north of the city limits of Milwaukee. It takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes to bicycle downtown! After I get back into shape maybe I'll do it faster. ;-) But walking would be crazy. It would take several hours. This is one of the reasons everyone drives in the USA.

If you wanted to get to the country it would take at least an hour of driving depending on which direction you go. The city goes on and on. Even if it's not technically the "city" it's very city-like. Despite the fact that Wisconsin is mostly country, I've spent so little time there because it's just so far outside of Milwaukee.

In Poland, the difference between city and country (in Polish, instead of "country" you say "village" or "wieś") is very abrupt. Whenever we traveled back to Kraków from somewhere else on the train or bus, you could witness the transition just by looking out the window. You'd see country, country, country ... and suddenly, city! We've arrived! It's Kraków!

Because the country and city are so close, it was always one of my dreams to have a country house in Poland, just outside a city. That way I could enjoy the peace and quiet of the country, have a garden and build our house -- all the while being able to get into the city quickly on the bus (that's right, no car strictly necessary!).

Anonymous's picture

where did you live in Cracow ? i hope that it wasn't 'nowa huta' ;)

Posted by: Konrad (not verified) | Sunday, February 13, 2011 - 16:22
David Snopek's picture

Heh, no. :-) We lived in Żabiniec.

Posted by: David Snopek | Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 07:50
Anonymous's picture

"Because the country and city are so close, it was always one of my dreams to have a country house in Poland, just outside a city."

That is exactly the reason why cities grow, and with them the distance from city center to real country :)

Posted by: ajuc (not verified) | Saturday, March 19, 2011 - 05:04
Anonymous's picture

We probably usually don't think about this advantages that you give in this article. Country is close to city - it's natural for us. I don't have a car, because I don't need it. I can get everywhere by bike (on holidays I'm bicycling even to Paris or Barcelona).

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 18:23
David Snopek's picture

Wow, you bicycle all the way to Paris or Barcelona? Where exactly are you starting from? I'm assuming Poland but that seems like a super long bike ride. :-) Anyway, I wish I had somewhere as interesting to bicycle too. The best I could do would be Canada. ;-)

Best regards,

Posted by: David Snopek | Friday, December 7, 2012 - 18:44
Anonymous's picture

I started from Sczecin. It's over than 2000 km to Barcelona and 1000 km to Paris. Most of all I like bicycling to south :).

Posted by: Maciej (not verified) | Saturday, December 8, 2012 - 03:10
Anonymous's picture

przepraszam z gory z moj okropny polskiego!Jestem Kaliforniem i uwielbam Polska! Czytalem te artikul o mies i wsi i widzialem zdiencze z Kalisz--no spedzielem urlopie, dwie bozich swiatich, w te miasto, moze !2 lat temu.Jak teskinem z familie Oginska i Zdiba ktory mieskala w ulica swiat michalaja w Kalisz! To byl moj pierwy raz w Polsce i bylem zachzwycony jak oni byli mily.Polskich boze swiata jest najlepszy z swiatem.Dzieki Bogdan,Maja,Miroslawa,Vijesza,Rejna,ladna Ludovica, i ich rodzinnich i familia.
Sorry about my supersucky Polish.I'm a Californian who just plumb loves Poland!I read the article about 'town and country' and I saw a photo of Kalisz(the 2nd oldest city in Poland)I spent two Christmas vacations in that town, around a dozen years ago.I sorely the Oginska and Zdib families and all their kin close to Saint Michael St. on the outskirts of town.It was my first trip to Poland and I was bowled over by how nice everyone was, quite different to experiences in France and the UK.Polish Christmas rocks--I think its the best.I thank Bogdan,Maja,Miroslawa,Viejsza,Rejna,and the lovely Ludovica and all their friends and family.--dan

Posted by: dan (not verified) | Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 00:42
David Snopek's picture

Cześć Dan!

Piszesz po polsku całkiem nieźle. :-) To fajnie zobaczyć komentarz od innego Amerykanina i PO POLSKU! ;-) Z tego bardzo się cieszę.

Sam nigdy nie byłem Kaliszu ale bardzo chciałbym kiedyś zwiedzić to miasto. Zazdroszczę Ci takiego doświadczenia tam!

Pozdrawiam serdecznie,

Posted by: David Snopek | Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 19:55
Anonymous's picture

Cześć wszystkim :)
Faktycznie, miasta i wsie są blisko siebie w Polsce, ale są też takie miejsca jak mój rodzinny "Lubicz" - taki "ni pies, ni wydra" ani miasto ani wieś, nasz katecheta zawsze powtarzał, że nie przyznali nam praw miejskich, więc nie jesteśmy miastem :D, mimo to, u nas jest bardzo miło, wiele osób się tu nawzajem zna, wszędzie jest blisko i mamy lasek za szkołą i kościołem :D Tylko trochę długo się dojeżdża do miasta ;)

Posted by: Sandra (not verified) | Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 11:02

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