May is the perfect time to travel around Euope. Between Winter making the last of its very reluctant exit and Summer gearing up for a blazing entrance, Spring struts about in all its resplendent glory.
Multihued flowers sprout and sway out of every fertile spot and lush trees in myriad shades of green pleasantly nod as you walk by. These bursts of color, further enhanced by the green, make for a beautiful sight, adding a spring to your step making walking such a pleasure.
May is also when you can enjoy multiple weather changes in a single day, with warm days and cool evenings and even the occasional chilly night. And the luxury of long, long days, as the sun sets no earlier than 9 pm.Be prepared for sudden showers though, as Rain is an unwanted bonus that makes its appearance, and often when you want it the least.
The countries behind the Iron Curtain have always held an element of mystery.To unearth some of it, in May 2007, I flew to Poland where the capital city of Warsaw was my first stop. I then crossed borders into neighboring Germany to visit yet another capital city, Berlin, which then made way for the fairy-tale like ambience of Prague in the Czech Republic. A revisit to Poland, to discover Krakow this time, was followed by the twin cities of Buda and Pest which form Budapest in Hungary and which also put a, very reluctant, full stop to an exciting month of travel and discoveries.
Local Currency: Zloty
Exchange Ratio of Zloty to Indian Rupees: 14.56 (May ’07 approx rate)
Local Language: Polish. German is spoken too. English is neither spoken nor understood and it would be a smart decision to hire an interpreter to get around.
Time difference between Poland and Mumbai: 3 ½ hours (we are ahead) Add +1 when calculating Daylight Saving Time (DST) which starts from the end of March and lasts to the end of October.
What to buy: Vodka. Intricately Carved, surprisingly lightweight, wooden boxes. Silver artifacts and jewelry. E.Wedel,local Polish Chocolates.Beautifully crafted Amber jewelry. Be careful to check that you get the real stuff, as fakes are not only available everywhere, but look better than the real thing.Genuine shops give you a certificate of authenticity along with your purchase.
Best Time to go: April to June, when it is Spring and September to late October, during Autumn.The months from June to September are supposed to get awfully hot. A bitter Winter sets in from November and lasts till Mid-March.
Note: Wherever we went, we were repeatedly warned to be cautious against pick pockets. Though we faced no such untoward incident ourselves it is a good idea to be careful with your money and belongings when moving around.
TO BE CONTINUED…