A weekend at sea – Sopot and Hel [POLAND]

Vacation at Polish sea is a debatable matter. I never experienced such, even being Polish and living four hours away by car, as I think it’s overpriced, not that attractive (rather cold water all year-long if you ask me) and so much less appealing than simply flying to Croatia and enjoying perfect beaches with even more ideal weather.

This year though, my future in-laws moved to Gdynia, a harbour town on the north of Poland, and I visited them twice already. Since being a blogger is all about sharing and, as a classic put it, sharing is carrying, let me share with you some beautiful places I’ve visited while on those trips.

Gdynia

Most of the time seen as the least appealing city out of entire tricity area. It’s a home of fisherman and harbour, most well known for riots that ended Communism in Poland. I really grew to love the city. It’s a part of a rather large complex, but in the same time, still a rather small town, mostly modern, due to it’s complicated history. Gdynia is a great place to visit, with the biggest, natural cliff (on the Orłowo beach), museum ships in the harbour (including a destroyer and a frigate) and a great “old town”.

Hint: if you ever find yourself venturing to the Tricity area, remember to stay in Gdynia for the night, as it’s perfectly communicated with Gdańsk and Sopot and in the same time prices are way lower!

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Gdynia is quite famous for great examples of modern architecture, such as monumentalism and early functionalism. In the same time, you can quite effortlessly find great views of the sea, long promenades, cute marinas, yacht clubs, sandy beaches and beautiful waterfronts. Let’s not forget about the most important aspect of travelling: food. I visited several restaurants and I love all of these, offering exquisite dishes in an acceptable price.

Welcome to Hel

Hel is a rather small town just at the top of the Hel Peninsula. Engulfed from both sides with the Sea, it’s one of the most climatic and enchanting places in northern Poland. It was my first time visiting Hel, and the Peninsula as a whole. Absolutely loved it. Especially for the fresh air, great views and very few tourists.

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You can take a rather long walk along the tip of the peninsula, look at the sea hitting the shore from three sides and even visit a seal center, located not far from the walking trail. It’s best to stop by the center during the feeding time, so you can see all nine to ten seals perfectly. Also, who doesn’t love those cute animals?

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You can also travel to the marina and see fisherman’s’ boats and even war ships!

Sopot

Sopot is a resort city and one of the most popular touristic destinations in Poland. The town is enchanting, sheltered from an open sea by the Hel Peninsula, which makes water in the sea a lot warmer. Clean, spotless sand of rather white gold colour creates a beautiful scenery, even in rather autumn/winter conditions.

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It’s probably most well-known feature is the longest wooden pier in the old continent (over 500 meters), which happens to be a great venue for recreational and health walks.

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Concentration of iodine in the air at the sea is doubled compared to the land, which makes it a perfect spot for health walks as well. If you are quite rich, you can always stay at the Grand Hotel in Sopot. That is a rather long-term dream of mine to stay there for a night or two. As it would probably be a financial equivalent of going to Croatia for two weeks, I never fulfilled my childhood dream, but just imagine: what an amazing feeling it must be to wake up, open the curtains and see only the sea.

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Oh, and can you imagine, sipping champagne from one of these fancy, tall glasses at the pool in a place like this? One day, Grand Hotel, one day!

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I don’t think I’m going to visit Polish sea for summer holidays anytime soon, but I do think that it’s a great destination for a weekend trip, especially with the airport in Gdańsk. So, if you’ve never had a chance, check Gdynia, Sopot and Hel out!

Dorota

 

 

 

A trip to Bieszczady Mountains – for the spirits!

Hello world!

Let me take you along on my last year’s trip to Bieszczady Mountains in Poland, just to show off some of the most amazing places in my country and maybe convince you to visit.

It started off with my best friend M. calling me to ask if I want to tag along with her boyfirend, two other friends and her on a trip for a long weekend. It was in August and my boyfriend Floret and I didn’t have any plans except playing PlayStation all day long (ah, the almighty Uncharted 4).

I immediately agreed and after consulting Floret we packed our stuff and I think the same day (or was it the next day after work, can’t remeber…) we went on a trip. The region of Bieszczady is 7 hours away from where I live in Warsaw, and when we got there it was already around 2 am!

The first thing we did was setting up our tents. At the time it was pitch black and we didn’t see any view nor the surrounding and when we woke up we saw how perfectly we chose a place to stay.

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The tent we chose for this trip, or maybe Floret did, was great. It didn’t let through any moisture, it was rather big for two people, and most importantly easy to assemble. We bought it especially for camping trips since a year earlier we had doubtful pleasure of staying in a tent that was so tiny I had to sleep with my back against the “side”, with moisture all over me. Not to mention we slept in it in the middle of a storm, under olive trees on some Godforsaken Island in Croatia – but that might be a topic for another story.

During the first day we took some time to enjoy Solina Lake.

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It was the first time I ever swam in a like. I know… sounds pathetic, I am 27 years old and I ever swam in a like once almost a year ago. Unfortunately, before… I simply couldn’t swim. Floret tought me how two years ago and it was my first chance to ever try in non-pool conditions.

Later on we went for a campsite, which was one of the most amazing places I’ve seen so far. Full of people, young, very laidback – kind of like a comune.

That day Floret and I decided to skip hiking trip (I didn’t have appropriate shoes so we went to a nearby town Sanok to get some). Fortunately for me, Sanok is a city in which my absolute favourite painter was born – Zdzisław Beksiński – and where his museum is located. After his death – which I might describe along with his work in one of the next posts – he gave all of his paintings to the city and the museum. There I had a pleasure to see my absolute favourite painting of his:

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Which ironically makes me realize I can’t take pictures straight!

When we got back to our camping site we arranged a little celebration. It was the first time I ever was in Bieszczady mountains and Floret (who originally comes from a city nearby) ordered us drinks that nearly killed me. It honestly burnt my throat!

It’s called Bieszczadki Pies (Bieszczady’s dog). It is very similar to a drink called “Mad dog shot” which consists solely of vodka, concentrated raspbetty syrup and tabasco sauce drops. Except in this particular case there is no vodka – because that’s barbarric. There is pure 95% alcohol spirits.

Of course the guys (Floret and Ms boyfriend) did not warn us. Vodka looks exactly the same as spirits so I went for it normally, like a good Polish girl should, and… I lost my breath. I caughted, cried, drank a whole bottle of coke and still had a taste in my mouth. And boy how drunk I got! After one shot I already felt tipsy.

The next day, after my “initiation to Bieszczady Mountains” we went for a 26 km, 9 hour long trip around the Mountains. We chose a trail to Bukowe Berdo and as you can see on pictures below, it was stunning!

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At the end of a trip we reached a road where we waited for a bus that took us back to our camping site. We travelled for many hours and were exhausted. When we reach our tents we took a shower and went for dinner. Let me tell you, everything hurt me. And then, by miracle, I ordered hot wine and the pain just immediately disappeared 🙂 Magic 😉

Sidenote: the main photo of this blog is from there as well:

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Thank you for sharing this trip with me. I hope you feel at least a little bit inspired to visit Bieszczady Mountains and Poland.

Have a great Tuesday!

Dorota