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A Solo Trip To Gdańsk

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It seems bizarre to be writing about a trip and not having Vicky involved. All the places I have visited, and this is the first time I have ever done it solo. So, here we are, on a solo trip to Gdańsk.

I had the first two weeks of January off work. I was originally planning on booking a trip over to Poznań. However, there was still a bit of uncertainty regarding testing and quarantine.

Originally, the rules included doing a PCR test on day two of the return journey, which included a period of isolation. I had no issue with this, but the isolation meant I wouldn’t be able to fit it in around work. This switched back to doing a rapid antigen test with no isolation period when they revised the rules a few days later.

This was perfect. I had another week off work at the end of the month, so could I sneak in a cheeky trip? My original plan, as stated above, was to fly to Poznań, with Wizz Air from Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, all three would be firsts.

It appeared flights to Poznań stopped in the middle of the month and would resume again in February. However, weekly flights to Gdańsk were still running. So, after a little research, I made my mind up. A second trip to Poland, in almost as many months.

Preparing For My Solo Trip To Gdańsk

Travelling by myself, I wanted to do this trip as cheap as possible. We usually have suitcases and backpacks in tow. However, this time I would just be taking a small carry-on backpack with no checked-in luggage. Having never done a solo trip before, I did a practise run on packing with limited clothes, etc.

Flying With Wizz Air

The day of my flight, Vicky dropped me off at Doncaster Airport. Having never travelled from here before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I remember when it used to be an RAF airbase, and it held regular air shows I visited as a child.

Check-in was quick and easy as I already did this online. Security was also quick. The airport was small, smaller than Leeds-Bradford. There was only a handful of shops and places for refreshments airside.

The flight over to Gdańsk was great. The inflight service and the stewards were also great and friendly. I arrived in Poland just after 1am, and by the time I had got through the airport and grabbed my taxi to the centre of the city, it was well into 2am.

Look at My Review Of Liberum Residence, Gdańsk, this hotel is incredible, and I would highly recommend it for your stay in Gdańsk.

When I arrived, it surprised me to see all the Christmas lights still hung in the streets. It gave it a pleasant touch, and even though it was the middle of January, it still felt very festive. It made me want to look into visiting a European Christmas market, so watch this space!

What To Do In Gdańsk

The city of Gdańsk, next to the Baltic Sea, doesn’t appear to be as popular as the Polish cities Wrocław and Kraków, but it certainly rivals them.

Before my trip, I had already pinned many places to Google Maps I wanted to visit. I am great at finding my way around just from looking at a map, so it didn’t take me long to get my bearings.

First up though, breakfast. Up early, I was out ready to explore. During our time in Kraków, we found a donut shop called Dobra Pączkarnia, a chain found all over Poland. There was one here in Gdańsk, so how could I resist? I ate these pretty much every morning, along with coffee from a small place just around the corner from my hotel. The donuts here are incredible and are a perfect sugary treat to start the day.

Admire The Architecture

In 1938, Adolf Hitler demanded the city should be handed over to Germany. Poland refused, and it was this refusal that was used as provocation to start an invasion. He had aspirations of taking over the whole of Europe. On the 1st of September, 1939, Germany attacked the city of ‘Danzig’, and this was the beginning of World War II.

Bombs rained down on the city for months, tanks rolled through the streets, fighting took place and important positions taken. Westerplatte and the Polish Post Office all played an important part here, and you can read about these further on.

90% of the city was destroyed during this time. The people of Gdańsk, over many years, rebuilt and restored the city, and what an incredible job of it they did. The architecture is remarkable.

There is plenty to do during your solo trip to Gdańsk.

Długa (Long Street) and Długi Targ (Long Market)

Gdańsk doesn’t have a traditional market square like most towns and cities. The long market in the Old Town is basically a wider street adorned with cafes, bars, restaurants, and shops. Long Street emerges from the top of the market towards the Golden Gate (Złota Brama) and it is close to here where my hotel was located.

At the opposite end lies the Green Gate (Zielona Brama). Originally built in the 1500s, it is the largest gate in the city.

The Long Market.

Visit The Many Museums

Town Hall Museum – Museum Of Gdańsk

This Gothic Style, Renaissance town hall is on Długa, (Long Street). It is the home of local exhibitions and holds many events. The clock tower holds a 37-bell carillon and chimes the most beautiful tune every hour. Entry price on the day of my visit was free, but charges apply on certain days.

You can also find Fahrenheits Thermometer and Neptunes Fountain within Długi Targ.

Museum Of The Second World War

This vast museum sits next to the Motława river. The Muzeum II Wojny Światowej w Gdańsku is dedicated to the Polish experience and efforts of this time. There are many wonderful exhibitions here, including two mock-streets with shops and a tank. There are exhibits from Auschwitz, Nazi Germany and some interactive activities.

The museum tells the story of the war in chronological order, starting with the invasion of Poland. There are propaganda posters, weapons, many pieces of Nazi memorabilia, some items I couldn’t quite believe existed, like Christmas baubles bearing the Swastica.

I spent a good three hours in the museum, so if you are after a good look around, make sure you allow plenty of time for this experience. The ticket price was 25zł, which was around £4 at the time of my visit.

Museum Of The Polish Post

Another important museum to do with the Second World War and the invasion of Poland is the Museum of the Polish Post (Muzeum Poczty Polskiej w Gdańsku). It was at Westerplatte on the coast where the invasion began, but it was here, on the same day, where around 50 postal workers defended the building in the city for almost a day.

The building wasn’t just used for postal delivery; it was thought to be a base for Polish intelligence services, hence the reason the German soldiers wanted to seize control.

Eventually, they took over the building, and those who hadn’t already been killed in the battle were lined up around the back and were taken away. Just over a month later, those who had been captured were executed.

Memorial to the defenders of the Polish Post. Gdansk.
Memorial to the defenders of the Polish Post.

The building was heavily destroyed and partially collapsed. You can see evidence of the reconstruction on the outside.

Out front is a memorial to the defenders, featuring a dying post office worker being handed a rifle by Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, with a burst of doves. Around the back is another memorial. This one commemorates the workers who were lined up against the wall behind the building after they were captured. Very moving.

Amber Museum

This museum is based in an old prison. It has some incredible exhibits from the prehistoric period up to the present day. The whole of the Baltic region is famous for its amber. Here you can find out how this resin is farmed and then made into beautiful objects like display pieces and jewelry. Admission is 20zł. I actually enjoyed this museum more than I thought I would, especially seeing all the prehistoric insects, animals and plantlife trapped in these tiny amber capsules for all eternity.

Most Chlebowy (Most Miłości)

Behind the amber museum is a small medieval canal bridge over the Kanał Raduni. It makes for a great photo, overlooking a small medieval looking building.

Uphagen’s House (Dom Uphagena)

Uphagen’s is an old merchant’s house that was built in the 1800s. It was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt afterwards. It features many opulent pieces of furniture and designs. When you enter the building, you are met by a lovely staircase that takes you up to sitting rooms, a music room, a dining room and even an art gallery.

This gives you an idea of what it was like to live in Gdańsk during this time period.

The Old Toy Gallery

The Old Toy Gallery (Galeria Starych Zabawek) is a personal collection of Polish toys made from 1920 to 1989. It’s a small shop sized museum and costs 10zł. It is very quirky, but worth a visit if you have half an hour to spare. Photographs are not allowed here sadly.

Mariacka

Mariacka is a famous little lane in Gdańsk known for its Amber shops. At one end is St Marys Gate (Brama Mariacka) first built in the 15th century, and restored after the war. At the other end is the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, complete with its own Royal Chapel. A beautiful church if you fancy a quick visit, more on this below.

Visit The Churches

There are many beautiful churches here in Gdańsk, and as I’m sure you are aware by now, whenever we visit a new city, we love to visit them.

Church Of St. Bridget (Amber Church)

I had already researched this church prior to my trip. I had wanted to look at the beautiful altar made of amber. Admission to the church was only 5zł. Seeing the altar as I entered, I was blown away at just how beautiful it was. I made my way towards the back of the church, and something else caught my eye.

I saw a small staircase heading down. Normally, in a church, this means there is something good to see. I did not know this even existed. I didn’t even see it in my research. The sign above the steps said ‘Kaplica św Brygidy’ (St Bridget’s Chapel). A few more steps down and there was something else, above, on a small vaulted ceiling. A skull and crossbones with ‘Memento mori’. I carried on a few more steps, and WOW!

A small crypt suddenly lit up, a small sensor triggered and illuminated the room. A small coffin, relics in a large silver cross and skulls behind iron bars. I had found the incredible skull crypt. When I had finished here, I made my way back into the main church and spent more time looking around.

If you love this kind of thing, then you really must visit. I was so happy with my visit that I felt awful only paying a small fee for entry. I found a donation box and placed an extra 20zł inside. It was well worth it.

The Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Another church worth visiting is in the center of town. This Gothic style building was originally finished in the 1500s. It is the largest brick-built church in Europe and is also known as the ‘Crown of Gdańsk’. It is home to a beautiful astronomical clock, royal chapel and the tomb of Paweł Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdańsk, who was assassinated in 2019.

As with many of the buildings in the city, the church took heavy damage during World War II. Most of what you see has been rebuilt or reconstructed, including things like the astronomical clock, and some sections to the original designs.

The church is free to enter, so do as I did, leave a donation.

Bonus Photographs Of The City

This being my first ever solo trip, I really wanted this post to stand out. I took so many photos. Even when we travel as a couple, we take hundreds of images, some get shared and some just get filed. Please enjoy these bonus pictures. I didn’t really know where to fit them in, so I thought it would be nice to give them a little section of their own. Gdańsk is such a beautiful place.

A Walk By The River

The Motława river runs through the center of Gdańsk. Its banks lined with shops, restaurants and museums. At one end lies the Kamienna Śluza, a historic water gate, and at the other end the Footbridge to Ołowianka (Kładka na Ołowiankę – most zwodzony). A draw-footbridge that rises to let through river traffic.

The Gdańsk neon sign is opposite this bridge and is a great photographic opportunity, both day and night.

Along the waterfront you will also find the large medieval crane, Brama Żuraw. Another striking emblem of the city, destroyed during the war and rebuilt. It was made to load and unload heavy cargo and was also used to install ship’s masts. Powered by humans, it could hoist loads of up to 2000kg, making it the largest medieval crane in Europe.

Also along the river you will find the Polish Baltic Frédéric Chopin Philharmonic, a large music and concert hall that features the Polish Baltic Philharmonic. The Sołdek, an old ship turned museum, is full of exhibits that belong to the National Maritime Museum.

The Black Pearl pirate ship also docks here and is available for trips to Westerplatte.

Places To Eat In Gdansk

The one thing I really enjoyed when we visited Kraków, was the food, the Pierogies especially. So, I knew I had to eat them once again! Two wonderful places to fill your face with dumplings are Pierogarnia Stary Młyn and Pierogarnia Mandu Both had a full range of Pierogi, including sweet ones, and both were superb value for money.

Another great place I found to eat was Pyra Bar. A little place that specialises in potatoes and soups. I can highly recommend the potato pancakes, they have both savoury and sweet options. I chose the ‘OCB’ pancakes with smoked bacon, pickled cucumber, onion, mayonnaise, and yogurt. Absolutely delicious, and washed down with a small beer.

More Things To Do In Gdańsk

I really enjoyed my solo trip to Gdańsk, I only wish I had more time, and the weather was a little better on certain days so I could have visited more outdoor attractions.

Stutthof concentration camp tour. I really wanted to visit this place while in Gdańsk. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get tickets. One of the first concentration camps in Poland.

Gdańsk private walking tour: Legends and facts. On this tour, you will get to know more about the history and culture of Gdańsk.

Gdańsk: Malbork Castle. A guided tour of the largest castle in the world.


JustUsTwoTravel

Beach Bums, City Explorers, Culture Vultures.

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