Preparing to go will be as much a mental journey as it will be a practical one. Understanding more about the culture you are about to encounter will help prepare you for the experience.
When you arrive
Making a new home in a new land, with all its cultural, culinary and social differences, is an exciting - and at the same time stressful undertaking. Give yourself and your family time to settle in and adapt to the new environment.Before you start taking in all the Polish capital has to offer, you first need to take care of official matters and familiarise yourself with the logistics and intricacies of everyday living.
Warsaw is the main gateway for people travelling to Poland by air, with the vast majority of European and overseas visiting into Fredric Chipin International Airport. the airport lies in the suburb of Okęcie, roughly 10km south west of the city centre.
Constantly evolving and expanding, Warsaw may be a big city to come to terms with, but most sights are within a manageable distance. The Wisła (Vistula) River bisects the city; to the west lies the historic Old Townand Sródmieście(city centre) with all the ssential tourist sights. Aleje jerozolimskie (jerusalem Avenue) and ulica Marszalkowska are the two longest boulevards defining central warsaw, each lined with a myriad of shops, banks, restaurants and other business establishments. The Royal route encompasses the oldest and arguably most representative arteries of the city, stretching from the Royal Castle along ulica Krakowskie Przedmieście and ulica Nowy Świat, down Aleje Ujazdowskie, Warsaw's embassy row, all the way to Wilanów. On the eastern bank of the river is Praga, an up and coming industrial borough with pre-war architecture, as well as out-lying districts bcovered with communist era blocks of flats.
Taxis are a comfortable and convenient means of moving around but they can also be expensive and the drivers are not always honest. Stands are marked with taxi signs and are located around train stations, shopping centres and the various high -traffic points throughout the city.
Most places around Warsaw can be reached via public transportation, which is quite extensive, inexpensive and fairly efficient. The system consists of buses, trams, local trains and underground, all run by ZTM, the Watsaw Transport Authority. Lines run from about 4.30 AM to 11.20PM, after which night buses marked 'N' take over.
Warsaw is a great city for strolling, whether around the compact Old Town, along the restaurant-and shop-filled Royal route or through the many grand gardens and beautifully landscaped parks.
Warsaw may not yet be a bike friendly city, though a system of bike paths has been recently created along a few major streets, especially in the leafy neighborhood of Mokotow and along the banks of the Vistula River. Riders are not required by law to wear a helmet, but considering the heavy traffic it is highly recommended.
With such an extensive public transport system, there's little incentive to drive in the centre of Warsaw. Driving in town can be a bit hair rising with all the trams, buses, street signs with jumbles of consonantsand the old pothole to contend with. A car, however, does give you the most flexibility and freedom in travelling further afield. Make sure to learn the local traffic rules and customs before renting or purchasing a car. In Poland, the maximum speed allowed in built -up areas is 50 km/ h between 5am and 11pm and 60km/h at night; this rises to 90km/ h on main roads, to 110 km/ h on dual carridgeways and to 130km/h on motorways. Seatbelts are compulsory for everyone in the car and the use of handheld mobile phones is prohibited. A word of caution: poalnd has one of the highest road accident rates in Europe, so be extra careful and vigilant when driving.
An international Drivers Licence (IDL) or a licence issued in any EU country authorises you to drive in Poland for 6 months from the date you arrive. After this time you need to take a medical examination and a written test in Polish to determine how well you know your traffic rules. The best way to avoid this is by obtaining a new international licence on your occasional visits home, which will extend the grace period for another 6 months.
For more detsailed information regarding exams and driving courses in English and German, visit www.naukajazdy.pl
Poland's health care infrastructure is a mix of public and private health care institutions . The Ministry of Health regulates the national health care policy and oversees the state-finances system, The National Health Fund (NFZ), which provides free medical treatment countrywide to all citizens and legal residents. The standard of public care is adequate, though hospitals (szpital) are often cramped and resources, both human and material, are limited. For convenience and ease of communication, expatriates and affluent locals tend to use private medical facilities when possible.
While Warsaw is a fairly safe city, petty theft does occur and crime against expatriates is not unheard of. To be on the safe side it's advisable to take the same security precautions as you would in your home country and to pay close attention to your surroundings. If you have children, you might want to consider moving into a gated community with video surveillance and on site security guards.