Friday 26th – Monday 29th May – Gdansk, Poland
There were heaps of roadworks on the new motorways so took us a little longer than expected to get to Gdansk. The countryside changed from farm houses and lush green paddocks to more sandy soils and more industrial and commercial buildings popping up everywhere. The towns were getting larger so we certainly knew we were heading for a tourist destination.
Another perfect day of sunshine when we arrived at Przy Wydmach campground. A beautifully set out campground amongst tall trees and spring flowers in full bloom. A massive campground with cabins and tons of room for everybody. We had a bit of a heart start when we arrived and the gates were locked but within a minute or so they opened. Reception staff spoke English and they were so helpful – so the rest was easy.
Located about 20 minutes by tram from Gadansk Old Town and the trams ran every twenty minutes and for around $4 each we had a 24 hour ticket to get on and off as many times as we wanted. The campsite is also located about 150 metres from the beach (and the Baltic Sea) so that was a plus that we would explore later.
We followed the directions given to us and after crossing a bridge over the river Motlawa – there we were at the gates to Old Town. Wow, Wow and double wow. We thought Old Town in Kraków was just the best but this place was more than special. It was Friday late afternoon and the place was alive. The whole area of Old Town runs about six blocks in all directions. The old buildings were unbelievable. Each at least three storeys high and everyone a different colour and each with statues carved into stone and some high above the roof lines. Hundreds of gargoyles are featured in Dluga Street (the Main Street) and all other streets.
Buskers were scattered all down Dluga Street. From three piece rock groups to a string quartet, pan flutes and saxophones, clowns, snake men, painters – you name it – they were all there. Both sides of Dluga Street offered every kind of restaurant and food you could want. In the middle of the street is Neptune’s Fountain a favourite background for tourists to pose for photos. We sat in a restaurant just opposite to Neptune’s Fountain and were entertained by people and buskers for hours while we had dinner. Sadly there was also a gentlemen’s club opposite as well and we watched the ladies trying to entice men into the club. Quite amusing to watch.
We headed back to the tram stop after dinner and went to check out the beach before heading back to camp. Although it was around 9pm it was still light for a short while and there were still some people on the beach.
Next day we set off again as there was so much to see.
We walked along the boardwalk of the river where there were all sorts of water craft including rowers, speed boats, day cruise boats and of course a couple of pirate ships. Again restaurants and shops all along the way and of course the mandatory ice cream shops.
Today we spent more time exploring all the streets – so many wonderful buildings to see some including the Main Town Hall (built before mid 16th century) . The Crane (on the boardwalk of the Motlawa River – is the largest medieval port crane in Europe). St Mary’s Basilica (a Gothic building which is the largest European church). Mariacka Street (richly decorated tenement houses and famous for its Amber collections and paintings). I was so lucky to receive a beautiful gift from Barbara and Piotr before leaving Biala Podlaska, which included an amber bracelet and necklace. It is so beautiful, I wanted to share it with everybody. Thank you so much, it is really special.
We had heard about the new and controversial museum “the World War II Muzeum” and walked about fifteen minutes outside of Old Town to see it. Like everything else we have tried to book in Poland, it is virtually impossible to get into some place special immediately. We were told that we could get in in about 4 hours time. We were already tired from all the walking – think we have worn out the tread on one pair of shoes so decided to stay on in Gdansk for another day and see the Muzeum. We booked in for 10am Sunday.
Sunday was solely planned to see the Muzeum only as we had heard it can take several hours to see everything.
One of our prime reasons for this trip was to find out more about my parents lives during the war years as they refused to speak of it to us. I now understand why. Those years were horrific and it is only now through some of the museums we have visited and the information given to us by my family here, that we understand how badly Polish people were treated during those years.
It took us 5 hours plus to go through the museum and we didn’t see everything. Really worth visiting by all who are interested in the history of this era.
So much to see in Gdansk, we didn’t have time to see everything but strongly recommend a visit of at least three days. We have really enjoyed our stay and will leave reluctantly.
The travel bug has really hit us now and we are really looking forward to getting to Scandanavia in the next few days.
Tuesday 30th May Mielno, Poland
It was a long but easy drive and Ziggy and her driver were very grateful for the smooth roads. We picked Mielno because it was on the Baltic Sea. It is a town that has tried to become a tourist destination but has not made it. Maybe when the summer holidays in July and August arrive, it may become alive but now not much is open – even the WC’s in town (if you could call it that) were closed. Couldn’t even find one that you had to pay for, let alone one that was free.
The beach itself is really great and there are a couple of nice restaurants on the waterfront.
Camping Rodzinny itself was set at the back of a house and was quite okay, though I did not take to the owners at all. Money hungry and everything was a problem. Bathrooms were good, though the showers turned off about every minute which was an inconvenience.
Think we were a bit spoiled at Gdansk so we’re not looking through rose coloured glasses here.