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Situated in the centre of Europe, Poland’s history during the second world war – and the unfortunate troubles it suffered – have made it a sad figure in the world history. However, it is a stunning country which has successfully put its melancholy past behind it and is now an up-coming ‘must see’ destination for those visiting Europe. The country’s enviable location – with Germany to the West, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the South, as well as close proximity to Russia – mean that it is also ideal for an extended tour of Europe and Russia.
Warsaw, the capital, and Krakow are the defining cities of the country and area a fine introduction to the gentleness and kindness of Polish culture – as well as the beauty of the architecture. The capital is a great deal livelier and more cosmopolitan than it's often given credit for, and a constantly growing range of inviting bars, restaurants and clubs has appeared to cater for the new consumer classes. Wroclaw, Lublin and Oswiecim are other musts for those on the history trail – proving that the past sufferings of the Poles will never be forgotten. Auschwitz Birkenau is the most notorious of the Nazi death camps and is certain to move any visitor. It is also one of the most ‘necessary’ sites for visitors in the whole country. However you can also take in some spectacular scenery including the Wisa River, which runs between the South and North of the Mazovian plains. They provide for a brilliantly accessible sight of the gorgeous Polish countryside.
If prices are high by Polish standards they still compare favourably to those in Western Europe and Varsovians are generous and highly hospitable people. If you strike up a friendship here (and friendships in Warsaw are quickly formed) you'll find much to enrich your experience of the city.