If you're bringing a laptop, Wireless LAN Hot-Spots are available in distinct places, sometimes free, otherwise not very cheap. Best chances of finding one are at airports, railway stations, in cafÃ©s, shopping malls and universities. You can ask in your hotel, but be prepared to pay. For those who need to connect at an internet cafe, fear not, because Poland's major cities have internet cafes.
With your mobile phone you can use: CSD, HSCSD, GPRS or EDGE, but the cost may be unattractive. UMTS/HSPA is available in almost every big and mid-size cities. If your phone is not SIM-locked, you may consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card designed for data access. Every mobile operator offering his own pre-paid internet offer. You may purchase Era Blueconnect Starter, iPlus Simdata, Orange Free na kartÄ or Play Online na kartÄ. Internet service from Era, Plus and Orange covers all country area with GPRS/EDGE technology. In almost every big, medium and some small size cities it's possible to recive 3G/3.5G signal.
Blueconnect starter - cost: 25 pln - 83mb data included - 0,30 pln / 1mb (http://www.era.pl/pl/indy...)
Iplus simdata - cost: 20 pln - 67mb data included - 0,30 pln / 1mb (http://www.iplus.pl/indyw...)
Orange free na kartä - cost: 20 pln - 65mb data included - 0,30 pln / 1mb (http://www.orange.pl/port...)
Play online na kartä - cost: 19 pln - 1gb data included (http://web.playmobile.pl/...) note: play network does not cover the entire country. you can use internet service only in cities listed on this map (http://internet.playmobil...). despite this, voice services are still available in whole country. play internet is only 3g capable. it means, that you need modem or phone that supports 3g technology. play also limits speed of his internet up to 1mb/s to provide satisfactory speed connection for reasonable price.
You can refill your Play account with 30 or 50 PLN
Top-up for 30 PLN - 2GB data traffic valid for 28 days
Top-up for 50 PLN - 4GB data traffic valid for 56 days
You can also consider buying a wireless 3G modem from Play
Starter kit with HSDPA modem + 1GB data traffic valid for 14 days costs 269 PLN
Starter kit with HSDPA modem + 31GB data traffic valid for 365 days costs 499 PLN
If you want to communicate with Poles, you'll need two programs - Gadu-Gadu (http://komunikator.gadu-g...), a Polish language instant messenger program, or Skype (http://www.skype.com). Gadu-Gadu will be difficult to use for non-Polish speaking people, but alternatives such as Adium (http://www.adiumx.com) Mac OSX, Kadu (http://www.kadu.net/w/Eng...) Mac OSX/Linux, and Pidgin (http://www.pidgin.im/) Linux, Windows, all of which can be used in English, can be helpful.
The European unified emergency number 112 is being deployed in Poland. By now, it certainly works for all mobile-phone calls and most landline calls. There are also three "old" emergency numbers that are still in use. These are:
Ambulance: 999 Pogotowie, dziewiÄÄ-dziewiÄÄ-dziewiÄÄ
Firefighters: 998 StraÅ¼ poÅ¼arna, dziewiÄÄ-dziewiÄÄ-osiem
Police: 997 Policja, dziewiÄÄ-dziewiÄÄ-siedem
Municipal Guards: 986 StraÅ¼ Miejska, dziewiÄÄ-osiem-szeÅÄ it is a kind of auxiliary Police force found only in large cities. They are not armed and their role is primarily to cope with parking offenses and minor cases of unsocial behavior.
Most public toilets have turned to pay-per-use schemes; expect to pay 1 - 2 zÅ to use a public restroom, eg. at a bus station or at a fast-food place.
Toilets for women are marked with a circle on the door, and toilets for men are marked with a triangle.
All restaurants and bars are forced by law to have toilets inside but not all comply. It's not a common practice to use their toilet without ordering at least coffee, but if you ask a waiter, he wouldn't mind in most cases. Sometimes you have to get a key to the toilet at the counter. If there seems to be a lack of public toilets you may want to try to visit McDonald's or another fast food place just to use the toilet.
In case of larger events, organizers provide so called toi-toi toilets from one of companies that service them. They are narrow plastic booths, usually blue, not very comfortable, often not very clean, and hardly ever with water or paper.
There are four mobile phone operators in Poland: Plus (http://plus.pl) code 260 01, T-Mobile formerly ERA (http://www.t-mobile.pl) 260 02, Orange (http://www.orange.pl) 260 03 and Play (http://www.playmobile.pl). The last one is mainly using Plus GSM (http://plusgsm.pl) coverage network. About 98% of the country's surface is covered by the standard European GSM 900/1800 MHz network, the remaining 2% are wildlife reserves or high mountains. UMTS is available in in about 50% of the country. Due to the introduction of virtual brands, some operators now have two names for their prepaid services: Plus has Sami Swoi and Simplus, T-Mobile has Heyah and Tak Tak, while Orange operates Pop and Orange Go. Domestic call rates are roughly the same across all services. Prepaid starter kits with SIM card called starter in Polish are widely available in reasonable pricesfrom 5 to 20 pn, of witch most is available for calls, in many shopsfor example Å»abka and most malls. Ask for starter and be sure to name the network You want. Accounts are valid for outgoing calls for few days, so it is good to fill them up for, lets say, 20 pln do-wa-do-wanie in Polish, be sure to give the value you want.
There is the de facto monopoly operator for landline phones - TP Polish: Telekomunikacja Polska, a subsidiary of France Telecom, renowned for its leaving-much-to-be-desired services. There is also a number of smaller, often regional operators Dialog, Netia, NOM, Energis. They are mainly serving the business market.
Some men, particularly older men, may kiss a woman's hand when greeting or saying goodbye. Kissing a woman's hand is considered to be chivalrous by some, but is more and more often seen as outdated. Handshakes are acceptable; however, it is very important to remember that men should not offer their hand to a woman - a handshake is only considered polite if the woman offers her hand to the man first. For a more heartfelt greeting or goodbye, close friends of opposite sex or two women will hug and kiss three times, alternating cheeks.
A fairly common practice is for people to greet each other with a dzieÅ dobry good day when entering elevators, or at the very least, saying do widzenia good bye when exiting the elevator.
It is usual to bring a gift when invited to someone's home. Flowers are always a good choice. Florists' kiosks are ubiquitous; be sure to get an odd number of flowers, as an even number is associated with funerals. Poles will often bring vodka or whisky, but this depends on the level of familiarity, so tread carefully.
It is customary to hold doors and chairs for women. Poles are generally old-fashioned about gender etiquette.
Men should not wear hats indoors, in particular when entering a church. Most restaurants, museums, and other public buildings have a cloakroom, and people are expected to leave bags and outerwear there.
The practice of placing one foot on a chair while reading or studying something is very much frowned upon.
It is advisable to refer to Poland as well as to some other countries like Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Hungary as Central Europe, and not Eastern Europe. Although not very offensive, if used, it may reflect foreigners' ignorance and a certain disrespect of the history and clearly Latin cultural heritage of the countries from the region. Poles themselves refer to the "old" EU west of its borders as "ZachÃ³d" West and to the states created after the break-up of the USSR as "WschÃ³d" East. Geographically this is borne out by drawing a line from the tip of Norway to Greece and from the Urals to the coast of Portugal. For better or worse, Poland remains at the cross-roads of Europe, right in the continent's center. In global terms, politically, culturally and historically, Poland belongs to "the West".
Another small faux pas involves confusing Polish language with Russian or German. Poles value their language highly as it was kept at a high price during a longer period of oppressive depolonisation during the partitions and WWII. For example this means not saying 'spasibo' or 'danke' for 'thank you' just because you thought it was Polish or you didn't care. If you're not sure if your 'Polish' words are indeed Polish or not it would be seen as extra polite to ask.
To call abroad from Poland:
From a landline phone: 00 Your Country Code The Number Abroad
From a mobile phone: + Your Country Code The Number Abroad
To call to Poland from abroad, dial the Polish country code,48, then the number without the leading 0, as if calling from a domestic mobile phone.
International and roaming calls are expensive. To reduce your bill you can:
buy "phone cards" for international calls
activate a Polish pre-paid account to make or receive calls the cost can be as little as 20 zÅ
talk over the Internet
Poland is generally a safe country. In fact, you are much less likely to experience crime in places like Warsaw or Krakow than in Paris or Rome. Overall, just use common sense and be aware of what you're doing.
In cities, follow standard city travel rules: don't leave valuables in the car in plain sight; don't display money or expensive things needlessly; know where you're going; be suspicious of strangers asking for money or trying to sell you something.
Pickpockets operate, pay attention to your belongings in crowds, at stations, in crowded trains/buses especially to/from the airport, and clubs.
In any case, do not be afraid to seek help or advice from the Police Policja or the Municipal Guards Straz Miejska. They are generally helpful, professional and speak English.
LGBT issues remain very controversial, still very much taboo although decreasingly so, and routinely exploited by conservative politicians. Polish culture also has a long tradition of chivalry and strong, traditional gender roles. That said, in larger cosmopolitan areas, gays and lesbians shouldn't have a hard time fitting in, although trans visitors will immediately attract attention.