I’ve lived here for just about 7 years and I have to say that I dread winter in Poland every year with every part of my being. It’s not the cold that bothers me so much. It’s more the dreary lack of sun that makes me want to jump off a bridge. And then, when there’s a tiny ray of sunlight, I stand in the window soaking it up while I can because by the time you’ve put on your jacket, boots, hat, gloves and scarf, that ray of light has disappeared and you’re left alone again in the dark, overcast sadness that is Polish winter. So what can you do to make it a little bit better? (note: above picture is not representative of Polish winter – it was taken at the end of April!)
Avoid cabin fever and get an outdoor hobby.
Ok, admittedly, I only snowboard because my husband makes me. Despite my terror of the possibility of flying off the mountain, I somehow manage to slide down the mountain at a turtle’s pace, as I like my bones unbroken, and at the bottom I realize that the fresh air and perhaps a little mulled wine makes me feel a little less zombie-like.
Eat, drink, and be merry.
Thank god Christmas is in winter but when that’s over and it’s mid-January blues (I can’t possibly be the only one) then you’ve gotta replace sunlight with something else that brings a little light to your day. Some yummy foods, a little drinky-drink and time with family/friends should hold you over until spring. I recommend miód pitny (alcohol made from honey), a drink I just discovered and have to say is really delicious.
Get addicted to some good tv series.
My recent favorites are the Marvel series from Netflix – Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Mindhunter. Another thing we do each winter is start a marathon of some saga – usually Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. They make for a nice and cozy wintery atmosphere and again some mulled wine to go with doesn’t hurt.
Visit some Christmas markets.
Lots of European cities hold Christmas markets, which make you feel warm and toasty even though it’s below freezing out. Poland has really nice Christmas markets in Wrocław and Kraków – those are the ones I know of – but I’m sure there are plenty in other big and little cities alike. They have massive kiełbasas and smalec sandwiches with onions, sour cucumbers and bacon, and again, hot wine to warm you up. But the markets in Germany and Austria are really close to Poland and definitely worth visiting. I’ve been to the one Dresden (polecam!) but I’ve heard Vienna is supposed to be the best. Stock up on all the fun holiday events you can as come January you’ll be in a gray hell with zero cheer.
Stock up on summer goodies for the winter.
Each summer I make my own jam and kompot. I also freeze berries and veggies like asparagus so that come winter I have a little bit of summer saved up. All that vitamin C will up your immune system too! Another thing you need to survive the winter.
When all else fails, go on a trip to some place sunny, not necessarily warm.
I’m lucky enough to be from Florida and I usually visit in the winter time. My last two trips being in February and November. It helps a lot but it’s brutal to return to. This time we were wearing shorts the day we left and came back to Poland with snow on the ground. A bit shocking but it makes the time there so damn sweet.
So in short, wine helps. What do you do to survive the winter? My mom always tells me to get a UV lamp and I’ve also heard from some people that going to the tanning salon helps. Has anyone ever checked this? I’m afraid to go because I have fair skin, and also I don’t want to be associated with people who go to tanning salons, but if I thought it would help I’d probably go. Any thoughts?