Our winter plans for 2023 included five trips. The travel bonanza started with Susann and me spending a weekend in Budapest, which soon afterward was followed by a solo trip to Kraków. Shortly thereafter we were supposed to go on a family trip to Tirana, but again, I ended up going on my own. Then eventually the three of us went to Bucharest before it was time for the final trip for this winter. On the final trip, I headed alone to Poland and the coastal city of Gdańsk. Here icy winds and a snowstorm greeted me as I explored this old Hanseatic city and its neighbor Gdynia. It turned out a solo trip to Gdańsk could be a quite cold experience.
Departure from Stockholm Skavsta Airport
Waking up early on a Saturday morning in February to go to the airport is actually quite exciting. I love the feeling of knowing that I’m about to go somewhere, especially when the trip includes flying. Heading to Gdańsk also meant a return to a city that we had visited once before, almost a century ago in 2014. That time we spent 24 hours in Gdansk, visiting a friend that we more recently have visited in Malta.
The drive to Stockholm Skavsta Airport was quite uneventful and so was the wait for the flight. This was the only flight this morning, so it was really calm at the airport. As always, waiting was the most boring part, so it was nice to finally board and have that feeling that a new adventure is about to begin. Or is that feeling actually the acceleration as the plane speeds up for takeoff?
Arriving in Poland at Gdańsk Airport
Arriving at Gdańsk Airport meant no hassle. I was soon out from arrivals and looked for the train station. It is actually a short walk outside but within easy reach. The trains go in two directions and I decided to head to nearby Gdynia to start my exploration.
Purchasing a ticket from the ticket machine was a bit of a challenge. The touchscreen seemed to struggle in the cold and the machine itself was really slow to react. It took a few attempts to get a ticket, but I was able to get one prior to the train’s arrival.
Exploring a Stormy Gdynia
The train took me to Gdynia and it was now only a short walk until I was walking along the central streets. I had set my target on the southern pier, where some of the tourist ships and the aquarium are. It really was a grey day with light rainfall. Even worse, the winds increased the closer I got to the coast, and let me tell you, they were not warm. The winds blowing in over Gdynia were freezing, but I kept walking. I wanted to see the pier and its attractions.
The impressive ORB Błyskawica is berthed at the pier. The Błyskawica is a destroyer that was launched in 1936 and took part in the Second World War where she was fighting alongside the British. Next to her at the pier laid the Dar Pomorza, a full-rigged sailing ship that is even more to my liking. She was built in 1909 in Prussia. However, she was taken by the British as war reparations after the First World War. This impressive sailing ship has since been sold to Poland and is now a museum. It does remind me of the even more impressive S/V Pommern in Mariehamn.
It was a short visit to the pier, but I did reach its far end. As mentioned, the winds were really cold and you couldn’t see far out over the Baltic Sea. I soon turned back towards the center of Gdynia. My explorations eventually came to a halt at a shopping mall, I really wanted to take the opportunity to warm up a bit before continuing. Sadly it was a really uninteresting shopping center and I was soon back outside and on my way toward the train station. I had decided to head to Gdańsk before the weather got worse.
A Walk Through the Snowstorm in Gdańsk
Once I reached Gdańsk the light rain in Gdynia had been replaced by snow. The winds continued to be freezing and I had a few hours left until I could check into my accommodation for the night. As I was already cold from exploring Gdynia I headed towards the shopping mall Forum Gdańsk to find some lunch and regain some heat. Once I was done, I had only two hours left and I decided to give my exploration attempts a new chance.
I headed towards the old town and its impressive buildings. Walking along the Długa Street is impressive, but the towers and walls around the Old Town are even more impressive. Once I reached the canals of the Vistula River I was once more greeted by even stronger winds and eventually I turned around. I headed towards the more narrow streets for protection against the wind and there I enjoyed a short moment of tranquility as the wind almost stopped. But it was short-lived. Just soon afterward the wind found a way to reach me and I continued my walk.
With an hour left, I went to a bar and ordered something local that sounded appropriate for the day. It was a heated liqueur made of cherry and it did really help a day like this. It really made the time fly and I could check in and order some food. This was going to be an evening to relax and hope for better weather the next day.
A New Attempt to Explore Gdańsk
Waking up on Sunday morning I noticed that the snowstorm had dissipated and it did look promising. It was still going to be a grey day but I was going to be able to see a bit more of Gdańsk before it was time to head back to the airport. I was actually about to crisscross many of the streets in the Old Town of Gdańsk. It was slightly warmer than the day before, but the most important part was that there was barely any wind.
Exploring Gdansk is actually really interesting. Yes, there are a lot of churches, but those are quite boring. It is the architecture where the city has been able to save parts of its Hanseatic heritage. There are similarities between Gdańsk and other cities around the Baltic Sea like Stockholm, Riga, and Lübeck.
One thing that did come as a shock was that all shops were closed. Did you know that Poland has forbidden their businesses to open on Sundays? This is a law dating back to 2007 that allows shops to be open on only seven Sundays each year. And who decides which those Sundays are? Well, the state. In other words, as a tourist, you can’t really expect to find anything except a few souvenir shops open on Sundays in Poland.
Good Bye Poland!
It was eventually time to return to the airport. This was when I found out that there were not many direct trains from Gdańsk. Instead, I had to take a train to Gdańsk Wrzeszcz from where it would be possible to change trains. Well, my first train was quite late so I missed my connection at Gdańsk Wrzeszcz. I would probably have missed it either way as there were barely any signs of where to go and from where each train was departing. I had been so happy until now with how easy it had been to take the train. However, now I wasn’t so sure about that. Luckily I was able to ask someone and was soon waiting for the train. And this train was on time and I was soon back at the airport.
At the airport, I was able to easily go through security and sit down for a dinner before my flight. A tasteless hamburger later and it was time to board my flight back to Sweden. Good Bye Poland for this time. The plan is to visit Poland this summer but another part of the country. Time will tell if that will happen.