Gdansk, Poland

 

I stayed in the Hilton Gdansk for three nights in the King Courtyard room, priced at £58.00 per night. The hotel was really nice with spacious rooms overlooking the Motlawa River, and just a short walk from the popular Gdansk attractions.

I had pre-booked a taxi through the hotel to collect us from the airport, which cost 70 PLN and took approximately 30 minutes.

 

I flew to Gdansk with Ryanair for £45.00 return from London Stansted. I flight arrived at lunchtime on Thursday 08th December 2016, and was greeted by my taxi driver to take us to the hotel. After I’d checked in, it was time for lunch. As I started to walk to the Old Town, I stopped for food at a restaurant called Pod Banderą and I couldn’t wait to try some local food. Lloyd and I both had a tomato soup with pasta in a bread bowl and it was absolutely delicious!

After the carb-overload lunch, I continued my short walk to the Old Town to do some exploring.

The main reason why I’d decided to go away in December was to check out some Christmas markets, and Gdansk had just that. The Christmas market in Gdansk, also known as Jarmark Bożonarodzeniowy, takes place along the Targ Weglowy in the Old Town. Here you will find little wooden huts selling food, Christmas gifts and amber crafts. I felt really festive walking around the Christmas market, singing along to the Christmas songs playing and drinking mulled wine.

Despite being in Poland, I found a Thai restaurant close to our hotel called Lao Thai so it was Pad Thai for dinner and an early night ready for a day of exploring Gdansk.

On Friday morning, I took a local bus from the hotel to the train station. From there, I took the 106 bus to Westerplatte. Westerplatte was originally a popular health resort but it’s now notoriously known as a military zone and the place where the opening shots of World War 2 were fired. Today it is a memorial site featuring a scattering of shelled bunkers, burnt-out ruins and a permanent outdoor exhibition.

The permanent outdoor exhibition is split into four parts; the first shows the life of the peninsular from its formation and development as a spa resort which lasted up until World War 1, the second focuses on the development of the Polish Military Transit Depot in the inter-war years which leads into the third part, the defence of the peninsular in September 1939. The final part shows the significance of Westerplatte in the collective consciousness of Poles and its effect on the policies of the communist government up to 1989. It was really interesting to read.

The cemetery of the defenders of Westerplatte contains the bodies of the 15 men who died during the first engagement of World War 2 when Nazi Germany launched its attack on Poland here at the Polish Military Transit Depot.

I also visited the Statue of the Defenders of Westerplatte, which is a huge 20 metre monument made from 236 granite blocks.

After about an hour and a half, I got the bus back to the train station and walked back to the Old Town. I walked through “Amber Street”, also known as Mariacka Street. Amber is big business in Gdansk and you’ll find lots of galleries selling amber as you wander the streets of the old town.

I loved walking through Długi Targ; the buildings were stunning.

The main focal point of Długi Targ is the Neptune’s Fountain which is a bronze statue of the sea god erected in 1549 and converted to a fountain in 1633. It was restored in 2011.

Dinner was at a restaurant in between the Hilton Gdansk and Długi Targ, next to the Motława river called Tawerna Dominikańska. Lloyd and I both took this opportunity to try some local food and we both had the famous ‘piergoi’ which are also known as Polish dumplings. Ours were filled with meat in a mushroom sauce. We ordered a side of roast potatoes each as we didn’t realise how big the portion sizes would be! The meal was very tasty, and very reasonably priced = very cheap compared to England.

The evening was spent walking around the Old Town and Christmas market. I had a mulled wine in a souvenir mug, and Lloyd had a hot chocolate.

On Saturday morning, I took a train from Gdansk to Malbork to visit Malbork Castle. The train journey took about 50 minutes, and then it was a 15 minute walk from the train station to the castle. I spent a couple of hours walking round, listening to the audio guide.

Malbork Castle was spectacular. The castle is a classic example of a medieval fortress and on it’s completion in 1406, was the world’s largest brick castle.

I returned back to the city, and researched the best place to try famous ‘bigos’ for dinner. Luckily, Velevetka had a table free. Velevetka restaurant is located in the cellar of one of most beautiful houses in the old town of Gdansk. The bigos was delicious, and we even had room for dessert!

My return flight back to Stansted on Sunday wasn’t until the evening, so I checked out of the hotel and left my suitcase in the luggage room at the Hilton Gdansk. The hotel even let me borrow an umbrella as it was raining! I walked over to the other side of Motlawa River for a good view of the Crane and other buildings sitting pretty along the river.

I walked through the Old Town to the Momument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970 in Lenin Shipyard. It commemorates the 42 or more people killed during the Coastal cities events in December 1970. It was created in the aftermath of the Gdańsk Agreement and is the first monument to the victims of communist oppression to be erected in a communist country.

It was then time for some lunch at Familia Bistro in the Old Town. I had the traditional Lithuanian dumplings stuffed with beef served in homemade chicken soup, and Lloyd tried kibins which were shortcrust pastry dumplings baked in the oven and served with a sauce. The food was lovely, and we were lucky to get a table without booking as it gets very busy in there.

I decided to burn my lunch off by walking the 405 steps to the top of St. Mary’s Basilica.

The climb was well worth the view, and luckily the rain had stopped.

But not for long – the rain started again, and it was getting dark so Lloyd and I went to Restauracja Republika for cocktails, beer, warmth and football! Once the football had finished, we had dinner at the Original Burger restaurant. I had the Gorgonzola burger and it was delicious!

It was then time to make my way back to Gdansk airport for my flight back home.

Did you enjoy Gdansk as much as I did? Please leave any comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *