8 Polish Souvenirs That Aren't Tacky
#travel in poland
#lifestyle & opinion
no-image, 8 Polish Souvenirs
That Aren't Tacky
Avoid the Polish equivalent of a ‘Mind the Gap’ t-shirt or a figurine of the Statue of Liberty! Stay clear of mass-produced shawls and nesting dolls, and look for these affordable and original items instead.
1. Dried mushrooms
Nothing brings back memories of Poland like the smell of wild forest mushrooms. Even if you haven’t been anywhere near a forest during your trip, you’ve certainly encountered dried mushrooms in classic Polish dishes, like barszcz or bigos. They will last for years when stored properly, and they will also allow you to reproduce that authentic earthy taste in your own kitchen.
Why Are Poles So Obsessed With Mushroom Picking?
Music can also bring back vivid memories. While you’re getting some Chopin for your great-aunts, why not get a unique retro album for yourself? We recommend Night Patrol, a 1980s album by the legendary rock band Manaam ‒ an outstanding English-language record. If rock isn’t your thing, try contemporary folk or jazz.
The Anaklasis Series’ Reinterpretations of Polish Musical History
3. Traditional whistle
standardowy [760 px]
From Andrzej Nowak's whistle collection, photo:Michał Grocholski / Agencja Gazeta
Speaking of music, why not get a Polish instrument as a souvenir? Too expensive, you say? There is one affordable option: a gwizdek, pronounced ‘GFEEZ-dek’, a small folk instrument/toy. Made from earthenware, it is a water-filled flute shaped like a bird, and it makes a pleasant chirruping sound. It doesn’t require any special skill, so you’ll be able to produce a melody without practicing beforehand.
8 Most Unusual Polish Folk Instruments
4. DIY Polish architecture
standardowy [760 px]
‘Blok Wschodni’ (Eastern Bloc), collection of cut-outs, designed by David Navarro and Martyna Sobecka, produced by Zupagrafika, Must Have 2014. The caption reads: ‘Honey, I Shrunk Warsaw’. Photo: Łódź Design Festival 2014
If you’d like something a bit more imposing than a small whistle, you can always take a Polish building back home with you. You can purchase fashionable cardboard cut-outs that look exactly like the real deal. Made by the design studio Zupagrafika, these detailed miniatures of Polish modernist buildings have ‘cool souvenir’ written all over them.
DIY Brutalist Architecture
5. Old-school dishware
‘Ostalgie’, or nostalgia for the designs of the communist period, is in vogue these days in Poland. If you want some typically Polish, communist-inspired design, ceramic beakers from state-owned cafeterias are the way to go. No need to steal some – you can get their contemporary likeness, adorned with stylised retro prints, in most design stores.
A Żubr In A China Shop: A Short History of Polish Ceramics
6. A surreal painting of Poland
If compulsive photo snapping is not your thing, you could bring back a painting as a keepsake. Tytus Brzozowski, for example, creates attractive and unusual drawings of Warsaw. Most Polish artists and designers sell affordable prints of their art.
10 Unmissable Paintings in the Collection of the National Museum in Kraków
7. A classic of Polish cinema
Even if you limit yourself to Oscar nominations or Martin Scorsese’s recommendations, there are a lot of excellent Polish films to choose from. If you want one that captures the lost charm and beauty of pre-war Poland, try The Young Girls of Wilko, directed by Andrzej Wajda. The film is based on a classic short story by the great writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. Daniel Olbrychski, mostly known abroad because of Salt, plays a middle-aged man who returns to a country estate he used to frequent in his younger days. Most entertainment retailers will carry a subtitled version of the DVD.
Classic Polish Films on YouTube
8. A film poster
Film posters from the Polish Poster School are considered extremely valuable by connoisseurs. Most of them were created to promote foreign films, but they don’t conform to mass aesthetics and often have little in common with the familiar blockbuster posters of recent decades.
lifestyle & opinion
Written by Marek Kępa, Apr 2016