I arrived in the beautiful Gdansk central train station at 08.30 on a Monday morning in early October. Luckily my walk into the old town was roughly directed by a local guy on his way to work who also told me a little of the history and gave me a quick lesson on Lech Walesa! On entering the stunning old town I spotted many museums and places I want to visit in my 48 hours here, including a vegan restaurant (YEY!).
It was cloudy and much colder than it had been in Warsaw, but luckily the clouds held up and it didn’t rain until I had found my hostel, but decided not to check in (not that I would have been able to go to my room so early!). Instead I ventured out along the river and found the lovely “Restauracja Barylka” for a coffee (my third this morning!) and a sh
eltered seat outdoors with fantastic heaters.
In view I have the Motlawa River, the “Amber Sky” ferris wheel, some hotels and beautiful buildings, and of course locals having their traditional breakfast. I can sit calmly and write whilst tourists and locals alike trek past with their umbrellas, cameras and handbags on their way to wherever they may be destined in this unique place.
Like Warsaw, I feel that there is a calm in the city. There are of course the busy roads and the highly bustling areas, but generally there is a peaceful atmosphere as if everyone is content with their way of life here. I hope I am correct with this observation! Perhaps I am living in a little bubble of my own satisfaction with Poland so far and the tranquility and freedom of traveling alone with no plans and the country at my feet, so to speak.
My time in Gdansk was serene and simple, and comfortable thanks to the Riverside Hostel (39PLN a night). One doesn’t need a lot of time to wander the streets of this Baltic coast city, just a relaxed mind to soak in the beauty. The old town consists of one main street enclosed by decorative and colorful town houses lined up for your inspection and enjoyment – its like a free outdoor museum, no one facade the same as another.
As a book lover, one treasure that I found was a discount book store which was linked to a language school, and so had shelves of English books (and fantastically random ones too!). I spotted this as I wandered out of the little old town and down Podmlynska towards the indoor market place, which wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped.
Although I didn’t go on the little Gdansk version of the London Eye, I did take a stroll around the two little islands: Spichrze and Olowianka. They give you a new perspective of the riverside buildings which is paraded on postcards of Gdansk, but I managed to get lost by thinking that Olowianka would link to the main part of the city – it doesn’t, and this is a “con” for my continuous disregard of maps when traveling. I ended up somewhat confused in a very abandoned area which, as I realized later when I had finally located a map, isn’t outlined on the tourist maps…
An absolute highlight of my adventures here was seeing locals perform amazing live music on the main street in the rain. Everyone gathered around with their umbrellas to listen to amazing talent on a wintery night – so romantic! Another highlight, which was more of a fleeting visual feast from the train on my way back from the Tri-City excursion, was the view of Stocznia Gdanska (Gdansk Shipyard). I have never seen so much amazingly picturesque and powerful machinery stood majestically against the backdrop of the city! I regret not getting off the train for a better look, I really do!
To conclude my time in Gdansk, it is breathtakingly charming. The architecture and atmosphere reminded me of a sort of amalgamation of Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Antwerp: not a bad mix at all! However, as with many small cities, you don’t need to dedicate days and days to see Gdansk. Just by wandering around you can attain a real sense of the city and see many beautiful sites, such as Neptunes Fountain and the Bazylika Mariacka.