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Poland, Russia, and Eastern Europe Pilgrimage

St Basil Cathedral Select International Tours

The nation of Poland has a rich Catholic history, but also one of tremendous persecution. Throughout these periods of strife, the people have remained devoutly Catholic. It can arguably be said that is is the most Catholic of all European countries, as the others have drifted far from their Christian roots.  Of course, no one can dispute the effect that one Polish priest had on the world: Saint (Pope) John Paul II. His Pontificate helped launch what was certainly one of the most significant events of the 20th Century.

Read More About Traveling to Poland, Russia, and Eastern Europe

What Should I Know Before I Go to Poland, Russia, and Eastern Europe?

Communications

Like most places in the world today, cellular communication is available throughout much of Poland, Russia, and Eastern Europe. Please be sure to check with your provider to understand the fees and options available for your phone. Calls can also be made from phone kiosks, located near Metro and train stations, tourist attractions, and in downtown areas, with pre-paid, locally purchased phone cards.

 
Electricity

The electrical current in is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC); wall outlets take plugs with two round prongs.

Consider making a small investment in a universal adapter, which has several types of plugs in one lightweight, compact unit. Most laptops and mobile phone chargers are dual voltage (i.e., they operate equally well on 110 and 220 volts), so require only an adapter. These days the same is true of small appliances such as hair dryers. Always check labels and manufacturer instructions to be sure. Don’t use 110-volt outlets marked “for shavers only” for high-wattage appliances such as hair-dryers.

Money

It is important to know that the Russian currency is rubles. You can bring any other currency (US dollars and Euros are preferable) and exchange it.  Credit cards are not accepted everywhere, so it is better to have some cash in your pocket. Change money in banks. The largest bank in Russia is Sberbank (Сбербанк), it has thousands of branches in Russian cities.

Please note that Poland is not a member of the Euro currency system and that Poland’s legal tender is złoty. You can exchange money everywhere in Poland, in big cities and small towns. You can use an ATM machine or visit a bank, currency exchange counter in town or at a hotel reception desk.

All major foreign currencies may be exchanged for Polish money at a bank or exchange counter, (identified by the name Kantor). Over the counter exchange is available at larger hotels, at border crossings, or in dedicated outlets across towns and cities.

Banks in larger cities are usually open from 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays and until 1 pm on Saturdays. In smaller towns or villages they have more limited business hours, usually from 5 am to 1 pm.

Kantors are usually open from 9 am to 7 pm on weekdays and until 2 pm on Saturdays. 24-hour services are usually available in larger major tourist centers such as train stations, border crossings, and airports.

 
Passports and Visas

American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and European Union citizens all need visas to visit Russia. A recent US-Russia agreement has seen the visa application procedure for US citizens somewhat eased.

Given the relative complexity of applying, using the services of a visa or travel agency is highly recommended.  Travelers to Russia must register within three days of their arrival.  The immigration form received at passport control must go wherever your passport goes – you will get a stamp at your hotel that will complete the registration process. Be sure to register at every new hotel you stay at when moving from city to city. Registration stamps may be checked upon departure or by law enforcement officials.

Citizens of the United States do not need a visa to visit Poland for up to 90 days.

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