Poland | Gdansk

6/12/18 - 11/12/18

 

This 5 day trip to Gdansk, Poland, was my early birthday present from Jenny. It was supposed to be a surprise but one day at work I received an email telling me that my Airbnb in Gdansk had been confirmed. I wasn’t aware I had an Airbnb in Poland so asked Jenny and she revealed it was a mistake and I wasn’t supposed to know. What a fail. So anyway for the next couple months I pretended like I didn’t know and let her do all the planning. What a surprise I got on the morning of the 6th, I didn’t have a clue...

 

Day 1

 

Jenny drove to Edinburgh and we used the Long Stay Express car park again, as we did for Iceland. We were greeted by the host as we got out of the Uber and he was extremely friendly and helpful, telling us everything we needed to know about the flat and local area. He’d even put up a homemade happy birthday sign across the window for me - what a champ. The Airbnb was really big and had everything we needed. 

 

We settled in and went along the river shortly to find a shop and get some supplies. Whilst there I asked for some help to find double cream and was snapped at by the worker who clearly hated foreigners. I used my phone to translate and communicated but she did not help at all, just walked away shaking her head. We had pasta for dinner and we watched the new episode of Vikings. 

 

Day 2

 

Early in the morning we left to explore the city. Everything was so close to our apartment because it’s quite a small place so it was perfect. We wandered around the canals and streets to get our bearings and then went to the WWII museum at around 1pm.

 

From 1-5pm we explored the WWII museum which was literally 100m from our front door. We totally lost track of time as there was just so much eye opening information to take in, and we didn’t even see it all! 

 

It was £15 ish for the 2 of us for an audio tour of the museum and if you have any interest in Polish/German history of the war, you should definitely go. It really was eye opening and they had really put in a lot of effort to the displays. From war crimes to Hitler to concentration camps: it really covers everything about the involvement of Poland in the war. Not for the faint hearted. 

 

We chilled for a couple of hours and later walked to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner - great choice for local cuisine, I know. My portion was stupidly small but tasted pretty good, despite the burger being super duper rare. I was actually going to complain but it took too long for him to come over and I was hungry so just munched it. Of course, I got my souvenir cocktail glass. Surprisingly, this Cafe was a lot cheaper than most other ones as usually for large chains like that the prices are universal, I’ve found. 

 

Day 3

 

At 10am we headed to the the centre of town to catch a free walking tour with “Walkative”, something we do in every city we go. The group was massive but got split in two and overall lasted 3 hours. It was very informative and we got to learn a lot about Gdansk’s past and present, as well as tips on good places to eat and drink. Fun fact: Gdansk was the birthplace of ? Fareinheit and therefore the way half the world reads temperatures. 

 

At around half 1 we quickly went back to the flat to get warmer clothes and started the long process of trying to find some local lunch. We found a little restaurant on “Long Street” which is the high street, called Rekawiczka. 

 

After ordering pretty swiftly, the waitress disappeared and so there was just one guy waiting 15 tables alone and this was the beginning of our bad experience. We ordered 3 things to share: boar dumplings, seafood soup and a cheese/ham antipasti board, which the waitress didn’t write down. After nearly an hour there was still no sign of our food so I asked the sole waiter what was up. He assured us it wouldn’t be long, and nearly half an hour later it arrived. But it was wrong. Anyway, the food was really good but by the time it arrived (correctly) both of us had lost our appetite and took the leftovers home in a doggy bag. We weren’t offered any sort of discount and, although being very polite, were treated quite rudely by the guy. We told him the service was extremely poor but we work in the industry and know it isn’t his fault but still there was no form of discount offered. The meal was about £35, including 2 rounds of drinks, and we did not leave a tip due to the horrendous service. 

 

We found a bar along the canal on the way home and sat for a drink and chill. 

 

Day 4

 

Today we had a late start and got an Uber to Sopot, about 20 mins from Gdansk. As it’s on the coast, it has a long beach and pier which was quite busy, with a small market nearby. We walked out the pier and sauntered around town, stopping in a shopping centre for lunch. 

 

By this time it was already about half 1, so we headed back to Gdansk to climb to the summit of St Mary’s Basilica, the highest point of Gdansk. The church is free to enter but it costs £2 per person to climb to the top, going round and round a narrow spiral staircase all the way up the (roughly) 300 steps. The viewpoint was small but not very busy so we got an incredible view over the whole city. 

 

We later headed to a museum on Long Street but we just missed it. At a bar called Elephant, we sat for a few hours listening to a man play the guitar whilst people watching on the main street and sipping some bevvys. 

 

Day 5

 

At about 10:30 we got an Uber out of town to Westerplatte which is the place where the Germans first invaded Poland. There are ruins, watchtowers, bunkers and information boards spread out across maybe a mile long stretch of woodland. At first we were kind of nervous about getting back to the city because it seemed like a pretty isolated place but that proved to work out fine. This was definitely worth a stop if you’re in the city as its a part of the area that isn’t really visited that much but it holds so much history. 

 

After a couple of hours wandering around we got an Uber back to the old town to meet our guide  Kaja for a private local food and vodka tour which we had prepaid £30 each. In the first of 3 places we tried 4 kinds of dumplings and a hazelnut vodka called Soplika which was so good. Secondly, we went to Kos restaurant on “beer street” which we tried 2 Polish Christmas dishes, one was breaded pork, kind of like a schnitzel, with bacon cabbage, Brussel sprouts and carrots and the other dish was turkey with a barely risotto and roast potatoes. Finally, we went to a desert place where we got some cheesecake and thanked Kaja for our tour. She was really good and has been a tour guide in Gdansk for 5 years. We left her a 30zl tip.

 

After the tour we explored the Forum shopping centre trying to scope out some bargains and I got a nice sweatshirt for about £8. We went home via the shop for some snacks and watched some crime documentary on Netflix.

 

Day 6

 

We cleaned the flat and packed then went for a wander to kill time before our flight at 17:20. With the final dumpling and bruschetta mission completed at Mojito Cafe on Long Street, we tried and failed for a 3rd time in a row to visit the Gdansk History Museum. I guess it’s just fate for us not to visit it!

 

We returned to the flat for an hour or so and chilled out for a bit before getting an Uber to the airport where we might of picked up 8 bottles of Soplika which was only about £7 per bottle… It is sooo good!

 

And that was that! Gdansk is a beautiful city and seems to fly under the radar of the masses of tourists which is surprising in this day and age. So, now is definably the time to visit before people catch on to the beauty of the place and swarm it! This was definitely a good find and all credit goes to Jenny for this one!

© James Lilley 2018