When brainstorming Christmas present ideas for my boyfriend, I felt somewhat uninspired. After all, there are only so many t-shirts a man can own. I wanted to surprise him with something outrageously special because, obviously, I am quite fond of him but, most importantly, he had treated me to an iPad the previous year and I hate to be outdone. However, after much research I realised that sensational gifts and a student’s budget were not harmonious and consequently, I opted for a present that would provide us with a wealth of memories over a watch that would place me in a wealth of debt.
I booked a four day trip to Gdansk, Poland after some great recommendations (and even better flight deals). I was so excited and immediately began planning every second of our trip. As we were to visit the Baltic port city in January, I zealously checked the Polish weather forecast for apocalyptic storms before deciding to place a woolly hat at the top of my Christmas list. The former proved to be completely unnecessary whilst the latter was a grand idea. Poland surpassed my expectations in every possible way. We had the perfect trip and were fortunate enough to experience fine people, fine dining and even finer wine. If you are thinking about visiting Gdansk yourself, or like me, you just love having a nose, please keep reading!
Where did we stay?
We were fortunate enough to stay in the Sailor’s Old Town Apartment, located in the centre of the historic Old Town. I found this gem on Airbnb for a reasonable price and it was my favourite part of the stay. Its nautical theme was so romantic and the views of the city were breathtaking. With beautiful décor, helpful hosts and a location to die for, I couldn’t recommend it enough! Thank you so much Adriana and Przemek, I cannot wait to return. Check out the apartment here.
Where did we eat?
When planning a visit to Poland, history, cheap alcohol and cold weather dominated my thoughts. I severely underestimated the quality of their restaurants, half-expecting to survive on margherita pizza for the duration of the trip. I was therefore surprised to experience culinary milestones in Gdansk, sampling ingredients such as truffle for the very first time (background knowledge: I epitomise picky-eating). The food was phenomenal, although this might have been something to do with the five star establishments that we visited for breakfast, lunch and dinner each and every day. The exchange rate even meant that my student loan was able to cover copious glasses of champagne alongside a three course meal- a rare luxury! I’d recommend Buddha Lounge for a fancy authentic Indians (with The World’s Best naan bread) and Rada Miasta for the ultimate fine dining experience. Amazing food for the price of a McDonald’s- what more could you want?
Where did we visit?
My boyfriend and I love to explore our new surroundings when travelling- after all, attempting to translate a bus timetable is part of the fun, right? Not only is it the best way to experience the culture, you also have the opportunity to interact with the locals (who, in this instance, were exceptionally accommodating). We decided to visit the Gdansk Zoo which is based in Oliwa, a twenty-five minute car ride from the Old Town. The public transport in Poland was easy to use, with trains, trams and buses all running regularly. So after scouring TripAdvisor for the correct route, we took a tram to a nearby village and then decided to walk the remaining miles to the zoo. There was a bus running but we wanted to experience the winter wonderland that the snow had left behind. The zoo costs around £2 each and has some beautiful landscapes so it is well worth the visit.
The following day we took a coach to the Stutthof Museum, a concentration camp where it is estimated that 85,000 people were killed. As a history student, I was appreciative of the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the atrocities that were committed during World War Two. However, as a human being, I walked around the museum with a heavy heart, harrowed by the pain that was inflicted upon so many. By spreading awareness of the Holocaust and educating people on the consequences of hatred, we are able to remember those who were unjustly oppressed. I wholeheartedly recommend a visit to this museum which charges no admission fees, relying upon the donations of visitors. It provides a perspective that far surpasses that of a textbook and for that, the experience was invaluable.
Gdansk is one of my favourite cities. It is a lively social hub, bursting with history and steeped in culture. If you are planning a trip there yourself, be sure to check out inyourpocket.com/go-poland for some great recommendations. I am already excited to return!