Some practical advice

1. Language: reportedly Polish is the most difficult of European languages. This is probably not true as most Poles speak Polish fluently, while knowing little or no other languages. Young people here speak English, or - less often - German. Older people may know German or, rarely, French. In the worst scenario the inquired person will walk us 3 kilometers to show that you need to turn right at the first crossing. Such problems will not fret those of you who speak Slavic languages: questions asked in Czech, Russian, or Croatian will be understood with no difficulty and answered fully, and may be capped with an invitation for a glass of something strong.

2. Weather: the best time for pilgrimage through Poland is summer (average temperature is 20-25 °C, the beginning of July tends to be rainy, sunset around 10 - 11 PM). Spring may be warm too; in September the so-called golden Polish autumn/fall starts that typically lasts until the second half of October. Polish winters can be really cold and snow filled, but walking is limited by early dusk (in December just after 3 PM).

3. Transport: you can get to the starting points of the Ways of St. James by train (for information on the timetables go to: www.pkp.pl, choose "Rozkład jazdy pociągów" or directly at rozklad.pkp.pl or by coach (PKS is a network of regional and local coach transport companies). Gniezno, the starting point of the Way to Prague, can be easily accessed from Poznań, while Brzeg and Głogów are located near Wrocław. The cost of passage is approximately 10 PLN (2.50 EUR) for 50 km. Both Poznań and Wrocław can be accessed by plane (also via cheap airlines).

4. Currency: for practical reasons you are advised to change money to Polish currency (1 PLN = 4,50 EUR (valid for June 2009) - www.nbp.pl (the webside of the Polish National Bank) - or draw money in an ATM. In small localities you will find it hard to pay by credit card except for petrol stations.

5. Food and drinks: you will find a grocery almost in all localities; there are supermarkets in towns. Prices of most products are slightly lower than in Western Europe and on a par with those found in other Central and Eastern European countries. Breadstuffs and meat products are significantly cheaper. It can be difficult to find a restaurant in villages - frequently a 'Bar' sign does not mean you will be offered anything beside beverages. However, a roadside inn ('Zajazd') or a tavern ('Karczma') can be a nice surprise. In cities - especially bigger ones - restaurant may well undermine the confidence of chefs and waiters from many European cities: particularly upon receiving the bill. Tap water is potable, though it may not taste like spring water.

6. Safety: pilgrims travelling the Way of St. James do it at their own risk. You are discouraged from travelling after dark - it is easy to lose your way. In the country you can find stray dogs. As opposed to those living in Camino in Spain, they enjoy barking at strangers, but their 'wild character' is limited only to this feature - they are best ignored.

7. Way signs. Throughout its length, the route is marked (both in localities and in the countryside) with 10 x 10 cm boards or stickers with a symbol of a scallop shell of St. James. In some places the shell or yellow arrows are painted on trees. The route leads mainly through forested areas and fields, but there are also longer sections running along surfaced roads with minimal road traffic. In this respect Polish Camino does not differ from the Way of St. James in other European countries. It can be travelled by walking as well as cycling pilgrims.

8. Overnight accommodation is located mainly at parishes, monasteries and nunneries - in this case accommodation is provided only after producing the Pilgrim's ID. What is more, a discretionary donation should be made (donativo). Discounts for pilgrims are offered in commercial places. Each time make a booking by phoning in advance - if possible reserve two days earlier. Pilgrim accommodation is usually very basic and therefore any shortcomings should be borne with Christian patience and understanding. An own sleeping bag is required.

9. ID (Credencial) is used to confirm your will to make the pilgrimage. The ID will let you make use of the pilgrim accommodation. By receiving the ID, pilgrims agree to bear the inconveniences and trouble of the journey.

10. Spiritual care: Poland is predominantly Catholic; in almost each locality you can attend a mass (incl. weekdays). If you are accommodated in a church or monastery/nunnery it is even well-received by the hosts. During the day, you can come across closed churches in the localities you go past; these are opened only for service. In Evangelical and Orthodox temples it takes place usually on Sundays before noon. In the majority of Catholic churches, the service starts in early morning (7 AM or 7.30) as well as evenings (5 PM or 6 PM).

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