Poland and the Netherlands are 2 countries that Vincent from MyWarsawDream.blogspot.com really loves.
He’s a Dutchman living in Warsaw and has answered a few questions about life here in Poland!
Who am I?
A Dutch guy from the countryside, 39, now living in Warsaw. Here I met my wife, here we are happy and here we will hopefully get old in good health together.
That is the question a lot of Polish folks asked me. I love to make photos and recently met a photographer from Warsaw. And again that question…I chose to counter it this time.
What is so remarkable that my wife and I chose to settle in Warsaw and not in the Netherlands?
He explained that for many Poles the Netherlands, or Holandia like they say, is the promised land. He corrected himself when he initially said it is like a paradise to many.
I thought he was blowing things out of proportion, but it was nice to hear. I only knew the stories about people from the area close to the German border, where the unemployment rates were skyrocketing resulting in a true exodus of people moving to Germany, the Netherlands, UK, and Ireland.
Warsaw is an amazing city. Honestly, I did not know much about it apart from the Warsaw Pact and that the city was heavily bombed during ww2.
Somehow this city always fascinated me during history classes at school. I can remember primary school. We had to choose a subject and talk about it from the front of the class, educating my fellow classmates.
We were young, so many chose to talk about their hamster, sport or holiday country.
I do not know why, but I chose the Warsaw Pact as a subject. While I am writing this I am thinking, I must have been a weird kid.
In the Netherlands, tourism to Poland was always more focused on Kraków and Gdańsk for city trips. That is slowly changing at the moment, by the way, I sometimes hear tourists speaking Dutch now.
I remember my first visit like it was yesterday. That center! The Palace of Culture and Science towering above anything else, the hypermodern skyscrapers around it, this was a lot different than I expected.
Of course, I had seen pictures, but in reality, this village boy was amazed, Ineeded a few more pairs of eyes really.
After a couple of years, I married Mrs MyWarsawDream and settled in Warsaw.
A quick mention, but not I quick thing to arrange.
I remember the moment we had our whole dining table full of documents, having dozens of stamps. Plus the documents from my country which were translated by a sworn translator, including translation of all of the stamps.
I got so fed up with it, having to go from this city office to the other and back. But before frustration reached our boiling points, we managed to do it.
Pretty strange since both of our countries are EU member states, you would expect a more smooth process. But my Polish teacher spoke the following words to me:
“They just wanted to be sure you really loved each other.” Amen.
Biggest differences between the 2 countries
- Bureaucracy: of course there’s bureaucracy in the Netherlands as well, but here it is extreme I would say. They seem to have a stamp for everything. Make that two. Or three.
- Queueing: Locals might disagree, but I see a queueing culture. People are already in a line more than an hour before planes depart. There are not many arguments while queueing, the only thing is that some of the babcias have a bag full of tricks to jump queues (babcia: grandma with superpowers).
- Friendships: Making friends goes less fast compared to the Netherlands. Many people are a bit more distant at the start but once you have touched their heart they are a true friend who would do everything for you.
- Weather: I have experienced some pretty cold winters during my teens, but I.will never forget my first winter in Poland. Minus 22 degrees Celsius in your face and people just live like normal. Trains are just running, airports just operate without big delays and cancellations. Legia fans jump up and down in the stadium with their tops off…and I…am freezing my bollocks off! This is my third winter and I have to say that I can stand it better now.
- City life: The elderly receive a lot of respect here. Also, I notice many really old people living alone in a flat. In the Netherlands, they would be either in a home for elderly or in a 1-floor building with home support for their daily routine. Here a lot is on the shoulders of children, relatives, and neighbors. I never expected to see this kind of social control in a big city like Warsaw. Heartwarming.
- Languages: Younger people speak English, but quite some are not feeling comfortable talking. With previous generations, it really is a gamble. In the Netherlands, everybody speaks English or a sort of English. Since I am building a future here, I am following Polish lessons twice per week at the Polish Linguistic Institute. For practical reasons but also to show respect to the local community.
- Food: The traditional Polish dishes are superb, exactly what I love. Old school, nice food. People spend more time in their kitchens here compared to what I was used to. Also, many people bake fresh cakes and other sweet delicious things from the oven. I never was a big fan of sweet things in the Netherlands, but here I really need to be careful not to gain weight.
After more than a hundred flights back and forth I started to think about writing a blog about my airport adventures, flights, famous Poles I bumped into, etcetera.
But it did not materialize, it did after settling in Poland’s capital. I got to know the city well and started in December 2017. Light content with a personal touch, posted every other day.
Nonpretentious and simple. No politics and no religion. Just stories, my observations, and perceptions.
To date I posted about Czesław Niemen, Legia Warsaw, stereotypes, moving from village to metropole, Polish cuisine, footwear, słoiki, video games, opening of the markets to the west, headwear, customs, traditions, early adventures in supermarkets, chocolate, learning the language, public holidays, legends, Winnie the Pooh, laws, Esperanto, David Bowie, buses, cars, districts, you name it.
And still much more in the pipeline. The pile of stories about this city (and country) is endless it seems.
City of contrast
I also maintain a photo account with more than 2000 photos of Warsaw by now. From Złota44 tower to Praga’s roughest area. From Lamborghinis to Polski Fiats. From huge malls to small bazaars. I just love Warsaw, my new home.
If you would like to read more, then check:
And my Instagram photo account: