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Poland is quite a resilient country due to its resistance against acclimatising to foreign rule. It went through long periods of domination by more powerful neighbours such as Russia, Prussia, Austria, Germany, and even the Soviet Union. This tumultuous history has made Poland remain strong under pressure and form the 'Solidarity', a free trade union that gained political traction in the 1980s to 1990s. This brought the end of the communist regime in the country, which was followed by a 'shock therapy program' that jolted the economy in the early 1990s.

The transformation of the country to a democratic state is also astounding due to its speed and effectiveness. Its growth is also admirable as the Poles have made great strides in energy, defence, and infrastructure. Foreign relations are also not set aside, as the country fostered ties with Euro-Atlantic organisations such as NATO and the European Union.

What to see & do

There is something magical in the atmosphere of old towns steeped in its own history. This can be felt in the historic centre of Kraków, where travellers will find the largest medieval market square in Europe. There is also the Church of Holy Mary with its fascinating limewood-carved altar in the Gothic design. Wawel Hill also makes quite a sight with the Royal Palace and the Cathedral, which were once the site of various ceremonies and other formal events. Travellers going here will not be disappointed by the sights, especially if one chances on being a part of some of the city's famous festivals such as the film festival, classical music shows, and other fun events.

Warsaw is also a fascinating city to visit due to its past when major parts of the city was rebuilt from the ground up at the end of World War II. A UNESCO World Heritage city like Kraków, Warsaw's popularity partly stems from the dedication of its people to preserve their heritage. The ancient town which was laid in ruins was rebuilt and repaired in 1971 until tourists today will not be able to easily distinguish between the original and restored parts of the city. The Royal Castle is a testament to the time and effort put into reviving the city's old historic district.

Auschwitz, well known as the horrifying location of systemic genocide of Jews, can also be found in Poland. Tourists going to see the largest Nazi concentration camp can go to the outskirts of Oświęcim. One will see here the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum displaying evidence of the genocide, as well as personal items, documents, and photographs of the victims. The ruins of the gas chambers and the crematoria can also be seen today as one continues on to the International Camp Victims Memorial.

How to get around within Poland

Public transport is mainly reliable and comfortable for travellers in Poland. The country has a comprehensive bus network that links passengers to various towns and cities. This is suitable for short-distance travel, however, as those going across the country can turn to the train system instead. The Polskie Koleje Panstwowe will bring travellers going to various destinations. There are several classifications available: Intercity, Express, Fast, and Ordinary.

Travellers who want to drive towards various attractions can hire a car. Drivers use the right side of the road, so those unused to this system should keep caution while driving. Those looking for taxis can also find them in the cities to get to different places easily.

How to get there

Travellers going to Poland will most likely land on Warsaw Chopin Airport. Various commercial flights come from Europe with a few from Asian airlines. Some of the flights going here come from: Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, airBaltic, Air Berlin, Air France, Air Serbia, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Czech Airlines, Emirates, Finnair, Germanwings, KLM, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Qatar Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, Vueling, and Wizz Air.

Images by Flickr\PolandMFA

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