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Poland and Romania: Last Minute Questions

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Aug 6th, 2016, 09:21 AM
  #1
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Poland and Romania: Last Minute Questions

I am headed out on my "Roots" Trip to Poland and Romania on August 31. Please help me with three questions about both countries.

1. Can I drink tap water in either country?

2. What are the tipping policies in either country? I am mostly concerned about drivers--I have three scheduled in Romania, and I plan to take some taxis in both countries. Also, how about restaurants?

3. What kind of currency do the airport ATM's spit out? My Polish hotels quote prices in both euros, and Polish leu, whereas the Romanian hotels quote only in euros.

Thank you in advance.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 09:41 AM
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I can only tell you about Poland:
1. It's a civilized country in which the tap water is totally safe. I can't imagine you thinking otherwise.
2. People get a decent salary for their work. Round up your bill. They won't expect anything more.
3. Polish ATM's give Polish money, which is the zloty.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 09:58 AM
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Thank you, tonfromleiden. I didn't mean to sound condescending about the water question. I mostly travel to Asia, and I have not been to Europe in years. It's just a routine question that I would ask about any country.

So, regarding the Polish currency, are there euros floating around the country, or do I pay for everything in zioty? My main concern is coming from the US, I only have US dollars, and not euros.

Thanks again for your helpful and prompt response.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 10:02 AM
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The reason many hotels in non-Euro countries quote prices in Euro is that they want to give you prices you can understand, without having to do currency conversion in your head. But you'll still be expected to pay in the local currency.

I always use my ATM card in Europe to get the local currency in any country. It has never failed me. I used it in Poland for sure. Check with your credit union or bank to find out the cost (conversion rate) to use your card and any per-ATM fee (for me: free at my credit union, maybe not for you). Make sure your bank/credit union knows you are traveling and where/when. Same with any credit cards you use there. Most places especially hotels take visa/master card in Poland, probably Romania too.

Although I probably drank tap water in Poland, bottled water was also incredibly cheap in the markets there as I recall.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 10:10 AM
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Thank you, Andrew. Yes, I have a an ATM card that has no fees, and I have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. And I will let the banks know that I am travelling, thank you for reminding me.

I had read about boiled water in Poland, which was sort of why I asked the question. Is it bottled and sealed?

Thanks again.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 10:13 AM
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Oops, Andrew, I misread your comment about water. I did read that some people boil water there, which confused me. It is a hassle always trying to have water handy, so I guess I'll drink bottled water only when it is convenient.

Thanks.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 10:21 AM
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There seem to be lots of old comments that are decades out of date about not drinking the local water in various countries. But most European cities have good drinking water these days. I drink it occasionally almost everywhere. Even in St. Petersburg recently, where I still read similar warnings (e.g. in Rick Steves), I drank tap water a few times without boiling it.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 10:50 AM
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Oh, good, Andrew, thank you. That's one less hassle I will have. The biggest challenge is teeth brush with bottled water, lol. Thanks again.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 12:43 PM
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10% in restaurants. If the bill is left on the table and you put cash on it expecting change in return, do not say yes if the waiter asks if it's OK. That means that you do not expect any change in return. I had this happen twice in restaurants, and the second time it was explained to me that being polite by acknowledging the waiter's question with anything but "bring back the change" means that he keeps the change. In my case, it would have been a 40% and 50% tip had I not gotten the money back from the cashier; in both cases the waiter suddenly was unavailable.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 12:45 PM
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Hotel prices are often given in euros, but most ATMs give money in the local currency. I have seen instances of side-by-side ATMs in a bank lobby, one giving out local currency and the other one euros.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 01:24 PM
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It is perfectly safe to drink tap water in Poland, but, as mentioned, bottled water is cheap and widely available.

Bottled water in Poland is either spring or more properly, source water (źródlana), or mineral water (woda mineralna). Both kinds can be non-carbonated (niegazowana) or carbonated (gazowana).

Tipping in Poland varies, I have seen service charges included in the bill in better restaurants (10%), and I have encountered tip jars at places serving ice-cream (lody), waffles (gofry), or chip wagons (frytki).

My Polish cousin tips about 10%.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 01:27 PM
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Forgot to add that Dynamic Currency Conversion is common in Poland when paying with cards.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 01:43 PM
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Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) means the merchant in Poland (or anywhere) may offer to charge your credit card in USD rather than Zloty. Don't do it! It only adds an extra currency conversion fee. Do the currency conversion yourself and save money!
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Aug 6th, 2016, 02:51 PM
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Cali Lady..would help to know just where in Romania you're planning to visit. My association with Romania goes back to the Ceausescu regime. I have driven in every corner of the country and recently took 15 of my readers on a footsteps tour of Romania.) I'm in Ojai....see below
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Aug 6th, 2016, 03:00 PM
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http://www.thelighthousepress.com/archive/2005_0919.htm
you can reach me through my publisher's website (seey profile) or call direct to three one zero six one three zero five eight eight Stuart Tower
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Aug 7th, 2016, 09:06 AM
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Michael - Thank you for the warning about restaurants. Waiters in the US typically say, "I'll bring your change," at which point, the customer either says yes, and tells the waiter to keep the change. This exchange appears to be a bit different. Regarding your comment about ATM machines spitting out Euros, and some spitting out leu, do you personally use Euros or leu in Poland?

cdnyul - Thank you for the good explanation about Polish water, and for the warning about DCC.

Andrew - Thank you again for posting. My son warned me many years ago not to let merchants charge in USD. The currency gets converted twice, with double fees, he said.

tower - I am going to Sibiu, Sighisoara, Sighetu Marmatiei, Suceava, and Bucharest. It's partly a "roots" trip--my family is from Poland originally, and my husband's is from Romania. I saw the write-ups about your book. It looks fascinating.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 09:17 AM
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I use the local currency in all countries, and specify that I want my credit card bill in local currency.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 10:49 AM
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Thank you, Michael, that sums it up quite concisely.

I take it you have not yet been to Cambodia, where the "local currency" is US dollars, but they give you change in Cambodian riel.

Thanks again for all your help.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 11:20 AM
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where the "local currency" is US dollars, but they give you change in Cambodian riel.


I believe that this is also the case in Ecuador, with a different local currency, of course.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 05:11 PM
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We spent 11 nights in Poland recently, and the locals we spoke with do NOT drink the tap water. Buying bottled water in the small stores is convenient and inexpensive; that is what we did throughout Poland.

The Polish currency, as mentioned above, is the zloty; if paying in cash, vendors/restaurants, etc, expect to be paid in zloty, not in euros.
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