How I Spent 48 Hours in Gdansk

Cake.  A cabinet full of cake and the smell of coffee filling the warm, bright cafe.  It was almost impossible to choose what I wanted. Eventually I opted for the cheesecake with a green tea and Brenna and I found a seat in the warmth of the back room.

Had we really only been here a few hours?

48 hours in Gdansk

We’d arrived in the afternoon, the sun already setting on a wintery day in Poland, our breath like fog in front of our faces, cold ears stuffed underneath woolly hats.  Waking up in London that day I’d looked forward to proving to myself that I could easily have weekends away in Europe despite living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and as I walked around the quiet streets of Gdansk I felt excited.

Gdansk at night

Excited and hungry.  We needed to find somewhere to eat.

Despite it being Valentine’s weekend, many of the restaurants were seemingly empty, unless we were just looking in the wrong places which was likely.  I never expect to find the best restaurant in town on my first night.

This is all I’ll say about the place we ended up in: it was called Restaurant Jacobsen.  It had bizarre faces plastered into the walls, a startlingly large collection of statues decorating every available space and we’ll probably never know what was actually in the fried pierogi we ordered.  But hey, the beer was good and the cake we went for afterwards was even better.

Polish desserts

Our agenda for the next day was simple; go for coffee in a cafe we’d been recommended, go on a free walking tour and, maybe most importantly, find somewhere to have some decent pierogi (traditional Polish dumplings usually filled with meat or sauerkraut).

Retro Cafe (Piwna 6/7) was one of those places I know if I lived in Gdansk I’d spend a lot of time writing in but we had the Old Town to explore so we finished our coffees, closed our books and headed out into the cold.

Retro Cafe Gdansk

We’d read about a free walking tour that started a St Mary’s Church but after waiting around at the entrance for a while and realising that maybe it wouldn’t be on out of season we decided to just walk around ourselves.

I don’t need to plan a lot when I travel.  Often I’m more than happy to just walk around and Gdansk was one of those places that was such a treat to explore on foot.  I instantly fell in love with the candy coloured buildings and quaint little cafes lining the streets.

Statues and cobbled streets, GdanskGdansk

Polish post box

Lunch was a huge plate of (seriously good) boiled pierogi, soup and beers in a restaurant called Zuraw (Długie Pobrzeże 32) overlooking the water followed by some shopping and photo taking.

Zuraw, Gdansk

Later on we filled up on a traditional Polish dinner before beers at possibly the cheapest bar in town No To Cyk (Chlebnicka 2) and drinks at what would become our favourite bar of the weekend: Józef K (ul. Piwna 1/2), a delightfully quirky hipster bar where books stood high on makeshift shelves and mismatched furniture created a homely feel.  We ordered Zubrowka vodka and apple juice and toasted what had been a spontaneous decision to come to Gdansk, the city where the Solidarity Movement had started in 1980.

 Coffee at Retro Cafe, Gdansk

Our last day in Gdansk began much like the previous with a visit to Retro Cafe, this time staying a little longer for breakfast and numerous coffees before  a frustrating 15 minutes attempting to find the right platform for a train to Sopot, a beach-side city 30 minutes away.

Sopot was small but just as charming as Gdansk, definitely worth a visit despite it being February.  The wind coming off the Baltic Sea whipped around our faces but we couldn’t visit without a walk on the beach.  I was grateful when the sun made an appearance, bathing the pier in streams of warmth before disappearing and prompting us to settle into a cafe inside Krzywy Domek (Jana Jerzego Haffnera 6, Sopot) for coffee and cake.

Krzywy Domek, Crooked House

Sopot Beach, Poland

Walking along Sopot Beach

Sopot Pier

Back in Gdansk it was almost time for us to head back to the airport but we couldn’t leave without another traditional Polish meal of crumbed pork, venison and roast potatoes with a side of salad.

Had we rushed around Gdansk, jumping from one tourist attraction to the next, desperate to see everything we could?  No, because not everyone travels that way.  You can spend 48 hours in Gdansk and be busy, or you can walk and get coffee, eat and take photos, drink and talk to strangers.  We did, and it was perfect.

 Have you spent 48 hours in Gdansk?  Or would you like to?

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ve never heard of Gdansk so this is an interesting read! I’ve seen lots of posts about Krakow and Warsaw so it’s nice to read about some of the other parts of Poland,as I’ve never visited any of them. I completely agree that sometimes, the best way to travel is just walk around and take things in at your own pace rather than being on a mission to tick sights off a checklist. I can’t capture the essence of a place unless I can spend time just absorbing it!
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted..A Sunday in San Telmo Market, Buenos AiresMy Profile

    • says

      I absolutely agree, Shikha – walking around and absorbing a new place is sometimes so much better than, like you say, ticking off a checklist of things to see and do. And I’d definitely recommend Gdansk if you’re thinking of exploring somewhere in Poland :)

  2. says

    Riveting read, Beverley. Sometimes you see these 48-Hours articles in newspapers where they recommend places. You wonder if the journalists have ever set foot in the city. As is immediately obvious, you had a great time in Gdansk.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted..Las RosasMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you! :) You’re totally right; sometimes you’ll find 48 hour guides to cities in various publications and wonder if the writer had ever even travelled there. However, like you say, I really did go to Gdansk and it was fantastic. I’d definitely recommend it, it’s perfect for a weekend away.

  3. says

    Well you’ve got me sold! Poland always sounds interesting and this seems like a great way to get a feel for the city and culture!

  4. says

    This is the reason why I want to go back to Poland! I’ve only been to Krakow but I heard such good things from Northern Poland. Must visit again!

    • says

      I didn’t try the goldwasser Richard, unfortunately, although I’ve heard about it. I was probably too busy drinking vodka and eating pierogi :)

    • says

      It is SO pretty! I think a lot of the cities in Poland are, from what I’ve heard. Can’t wait to maybe explore more of the country next year :)

  5. says

    Sounds like a lovely weekend! I’m more of a planner, but I think part of that comes down to the fact that I often travel alone. Cafe hopping and just wandering aimlessly are not so much fun when you haven’t got someone to talk to, so I need the focus of a few sights of interest :)
    Arianwen recently posted..Melbourne’s Official Neighbours TourMy Profile

    • says

      You’re right, Arianwen, I think if I’d have been on my own there I’d have planned a few more things to do so that I had some sort of focus for the trip :)