Polish hospitality is second to none. So much so that the hearty soups historically prepared before the evening meal were made in such a large quantity-enough to feed a large group of family and friends-had to be stirred with an oar. Prepare to feel welcomed in Poland!

With an active interest in modern day advancements but a heart for tradition, Poles have found their balanced mix of old and new has helped strengthen their healthy economy and attract more visitors by the year. They are a unified people who value equality and tolerance. Poles share a common language and history and, quite often, a devout Catholicism that defines their Polish identity.

Polish is the main language spoken throughout the country, and most regions have their local dialects. English is commonly spoken in tourist areas and in the cities. Other languages you'll hear are German and Russian.

The majority of the Polish population are Christians, with a vast majority of them belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. Other worldwide religions are also represented in smaller numbers.

Poland's thousand-year history found itself under siege during the bombings of World War II when much of the country was left in tatters. Incredibly, the determination of the Polish people rebuilt the country brick by brick. Monuments and museums dedicated to their struggles, heroes, traditions and optimistic survival are a notable part of any journey to Poland. Traditional gender etiquette is alive and well in Poland, where men hold chairs and doors for the ladies as a rule. Composer and virtuoso pianist Frédéric Chopin is from Poland, as is historical painter Jan Matejko. The arts, in both folk and contemporary versions, are celebrated in Poland.

As it turns out, Americans aren't the only ones who love the satisfying combination of meat and potatoes. Delicious Polish home cooking has these at its core, along with a side of bread - a revered Polish staple. Traditional dishes will stick to your ribs and leave you coming back for more.

Kielbasa sausage, pork, wild mushroom soup, borscht (red beet soup), herring, dairy products and vegetables that thrive in cool weather (including beets, carrots and cabbage plus beans, peas, lentils) factor into the typical Polish diet. Beer and vodka are never far from the table at a memorable Polish meal, either.

Your vacation in Poland will likely give you the chance to sample these mainstays of Polish cuisine:
Golabki: Cabbage rolls ground meat, onions and rice, usually baked in a tomato-based sauce
Pierogi: Boiled dumplings with a variety of fillings, like cheese, onion, meat and/or potato
Bigos: A traditional "hunter's stew" considered to be the national dish of Poland with local special recipes that vary by region, often incorporating sauerkraut, meats and sausages, tomatoes, honey and mushrooms.

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