We arrived in Gdansk via train from Warsaw in the mid-afternoon. The train station was quite confusing and we couldn’t even figure out how to cross the street into the Old Town.
We had booked a room via Airbnb and we knew it was only about a 1 km from the train station, so we were planning on walking. But, since Tim sprained his wrist, and we had luggage, and we couldn’t figure out how to get around, we decided to take a cab instead.
This turned out to be a good decision because there was a huge fair going on and there were people and vendors everywhere! The St. Dominic’s Fair is the biggest trade event in Poland and one of the biggest in Europe – it’s comparable in size and attendance to Munich’s Oktoberfest!
First impression of Gdansk: Wow, it’s totally different from Warsaw!
Gdansk is a Baltic port city in Poland that has a long history of German occupation. It has been a major center of sea trade throughout history. It is also significant for being the birthplace of the Solidarity movement which played a major role in the downfall of the communist rule in Poland.
The Old Town of Gdansk wasn’t as “new looking” as Warsaw’s. The buildings seemed older and a little dirtier (makes sense since the salt air is tough on paint) but overall, it seemed to have more character.
So, after paying the ridiculous amount of 20 PLN (Polish Zloty) for the taxi, we quickly checked in to our apartment and went out to see the town.
And what a town it was!
Gdansk is unique in that it doesn’t have a town square. Instead Dlugi Targ (Long Street Market) serves as the town’s center. It is a beautiful, long, pedestrian street with colorful 17th century buildings, lined with shops, bars and restaurants. On each end of the street there stands a gate that marks the entrance to the old city. If you go in either direction from Ulica Dluga (Long Street), you will find more of Gdansk’s Old Town with more shops and more bars and restaurants.
During the festival, all the streets were closed to through traffic and there were vendor stalls set up everywhere. They were selling anything from art, to old-style food, to kid’s toys and even spices. You could find almost anything there. We had a great time browsing around.
Following Dlugi Targ, after only a couple of blocks, you will find the Dlugie Porzeze on the river Motlawa. It is a river-front for the Old Town of Gdansk and is amazingly beautiful. Here we found water tours, ferries, restaurants, and more street vendors – and even a pirate ship!
Guess what is sold everywhere in Gdansk? Baltic Amber jewelry! Wow it is beautiful. There is even an Amber museum just outside the one of the gates of the Old City.
We had a great time exploring the Old Town for a couple of days and then we moved on to the Baltic Sea. The next three days we spent checking out the shores of the Baltic; or more precisely the Gdansk Bay on the Baltic Sea.
Gdansk – The Baltic Sea
We stayed in the neighborhood of Brzezno in another Airbnb apartment that was situated only 5-minute walk from the Sea. What a lovely area and a complete contrast to the Old Town of Gdansk!
The feeling here is of a lake or sea resort town – very much like Traverse City Michigan. There are parks with walking and biking trails along the shore, there are long (and short peers), and there are restaurants serving local fish everywhere.. It was all very nice!
Gdansk, Gdynia, and Sopot, are three neighboring towns that form the tri-city (troj-miasto) area of Gdansk. So, we ventured out to Sopot to see what the difference is. The shores of Sopot are much more expansive and the main tourist area is very opulent with more bars, restaurants, and shops. There is even a “Crooked House”, which is basically an architectural façade to a mini-mall.
All in all, we enjoyed the Baltic beaches a lot, in spite of the fact that it rained almost the whole time we were there.
Friends ask us: “Do you like the Baltic better than the other seas or oceans you have seen?”
The answer, of course is: No.
We live in the Caribbean, there just simply isn’t anything that compares to it. But the Baltic and the Mediterranean seas that we saw on this trip were nice. Just not as nice as what we have at home. It’s hard to beat beautiful blue waters, sunshine every day, and palm lined beaches. Just sayin’
All in all, we spent 5 days in Gdansk area and we enjoyed our trip there very much. We discovered that this was not nearly enough time to see everything we wanted to see. Perhaps next time we’ll stay longer..