Sopot, Gdansk and Hel! – September 2018

We decided to have a ladies short break away in September and knowing how much we all enjoyed Krakow for the sights, food and affordability we decided to have another trip away in Poland, this time heading to the Gdansk region.  There was some planning involved but we decided that a Wednesday to Saturday trip was more affordable and convenient for us all.  With flights and accommodation costing just over £100 each for a 3 night trip for 7 of us we decided to go for it!

It was an early start as we had booked with Wizz Air from Luton to Gdansk departing at 8.20am which meant leaving at 5am which was rather an effort for us all; however we drove and used Airparks for a reasonable fee and made it to the airport in plenty of time.   Wizz air have again changed their baggage rules with smaller sized bags and therefore one of our party did have to pay extra at the boarding gate which was a pain; however all loaded up and ready to go, our flight left on time and we arrived at Gdansk Lech Walesa on time at 11:40am.

Upon arriving at the airport we had a pretty quick transit through to the other side where some of us went in the pre booked airport transfer and the others in a taxi and we met up at our apartment.  We had some issues booking accommodation with our first choice cancelled at late notice through Booking.com.  They did however assist me in booking a different apartment and rather than staying in Gdansk we decided on Sopot which is more lively and the accommodation looked lovely.  Upon arrival we were not disappointed; the apartment we booked The Palazzo was amazing and completely exceeded our expectations; it was modern had a lovely lounge and kitchen and plenty of beds and was of a really high spec!

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After deciding on bed allocation and then unpacking a bit we decided to head out to for lunch and an explore! The apartment was located really quite close to the train station and the town centre so it was only a short distance until we reached the Church of St George located on the main street Heroes of the Monte Cassino; the pedestrian area which leads through Sopot right down to the sea and is the oldest street in Sopot.

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We spotted a nice looking bar/restaurant just to the left of the church called Browar Miejski Sopot where we stopped for some shared food and some drinks to celebrate the start of our trip.  We had a lovely chill out here and enjoyed the food and drink and laughs.

With full stomachs and a little bit of cheer from our drinks we headed down the street taking in the different shops on the way.  One of our party who shall remain nameless (Kirsty lol) decided to have a close encounter with the pavement when leaving.  It was a slippery step nothing to do with the drinks honest!  We came across the famous ‘Crooked House’ which is really funky from the outside but a little underwhelming inside.

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Heading further down into the Dolny area we made it to the Molo Pier and Joy and Claire particularly enjoyed the amber jewellery stalls here.  After some window shopping we decided to have a walk along the pier; it cost 5 PLN to enter which was about a £1 and although very windy as you can see we had a great laugh!

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We headed back up the main road and stopped at Costa at the Crooked House to warm up.  Afterwards we headed back to the apartment stopping off on the way at the local supermarket to stock up on supplies for the apartment and some pizza and snacks for the evening.  We were quite exhausted from the early start so we had a lovely evening in at our apartment before retiring to bed.

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The next day we planned to have a trip to Hel; as I had been before I highly recommended it but before I went by train and from some research online I found a boat went from the Molo direct to Hel.  After a very tasty breakfast cooked by the lovely Laura we headed to the Molo to buy our tickets for our boat trip to Hel!  We had checked this out previously the day before as to how and when to buy our tickets so we could be organised.  We bought the tickets on the pier for 80 PLM (approx £16 return) and boarded the Onyx and  found some seats up on the top deck.

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Hel is situated in the Pomeranian Voivodship in northern part of Poland, on the tip of the Hel Peninsula and some 34 kilometres from the Polish mainland.  It has been owned by several countries over the years but became part of Poland after WW1 and is most known as a fishing port but is a very popular holiday destination due to the lovely beach there.    The boat to Hel took an hour and a half and it was a smooth crossing much to my relief as I don’t always have the greatest sea legs.  We arrived in Hel Port and strolled down into the town.  We had a lovely day for a visit and there were copious food and ice cream stalls and souvenier shops as well for us to peruse.

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We looked around for somewhere to eat lunch and found a place called Captain Morgans; an authentic pirate style pub with great decoration.  We loved it here and of course some of us had to have a Captain Morgans.  We had a really tasty lunch here and enjoyed our visit.  You can find their facebook page here.

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Quite full up it was time to do a bit of souvenier shopping and to check out the beach.  Laura and Claire particularly enjoyed the selfie opportunities on the beach!!  We also decided to get some ice cream which was really lovely as well.  Alas our time in Hel was coming to an end and we were sad to leave but decided to get a little rum to have a drink on the way back on the boat.   We caught the 16:00 boat arriving back at 17:30.

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After we arrived back we didnt quite feel ready to head back and discovered a lovely cocktail bar and restaurant above the Sopot Tourist Information Centre.  There was a balcony overlooking the Molo and the beach area.  We had a lovely view from a little balcony here although unfortunately can’t remember the name!

After leaving here we were accosted by a lady who was trying to get us into a new bar called Kongo Bar Hula Hula.  The bar was in the final stages of being completed when we were there however we were offered a free bottle of fizz and therefore thought why not!  We tried some interesting drinks here including nutella shots which were lovely but very difficult to drink!  A little merry and excitable we headed back to our apartment for a chilled out rest of the evening via the Carrefour.  We attempted our own choc vodka shots which were actually very successful!

The next day after a leisurely morning and another lovely breakfast by Laura we decided to get the train into Gdansk.  This was relatively easy once we managed to figure out the ticket machines and the train took 20 minutes costing just over 6 PLN (approx £1.25).  When we arrived we managed to wander near the Catholic Church Kosciol Rektorski where we managed to pick up an electric city tour for us all.

The tour took us to Dwor Mlynarzy or Manor of Millers which is spectacular half timbered building located on the fork of the Radunia Channel.  It was built in 1831 but was demolished at the end of the 19th century due to poor structure.  It was then destroyed in the war  in 1945 and recreated in 1997 thanks to documents outlining the structure.

Also right near to this was the Johannes Hevelius Monument; unvieled in the gardens dedicated to him opposite the Old Town Hall in 2005.  Hevelius was a famous astronomer regarded as the last one who did not use lenses but instead used quadrant and alilade tools.  There was also a wall dedicated to him which he is staring up.

The garden was actually very pretty and we enjoyed our walk along here albeit for a brief period of time before we had to rejoin our tour bus.

Next stop on our tour was the Church of Saint Bridget, which was nearly destroyed in WWII but rebuilt again in 1973.  The stand out feature of this church is the amber altar which was pretty spectacular.   The altar is still a work in progress.

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We visited the Polish Post Office next; a site which is said to represent heroism in Gdansk due to the Poles who defended against the german attack at the beginning of WWII in 1939.  Despite the limited amount of Poles and weaponary defending it took the Germans an unexpectantly long 15 hours to overcome the Polish resistance.  To the side of the Post office is a fingerprint wall, a mosaic and also a Monument to the defenders of the Post Office outside.

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The last stop on our tour was the Solidarity Museum.  The Museum has the aim of being a symbol of the Solidarity movement thanks to the power of people uniting with each other and the permanent exhibition is dedicated to the history of Solidarity and the opposition, which led to the democratic transformation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Our tour guide dropped us back to the Cathedral and we decided to wander and find something for lunch.  We decided on Restauracja Gdańska, a traditional Polish restaurant but with very unique decor! The chairs resembled thrones and it felt like we had gone back in time.  We had a lovely meal here and enjoyed ourselves as you can see from the pictures!

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Alas our time in Gdansk was coming to an end and after a little stroll round a few shops we found ourselves at a bakery where we got some tea and cake Yum! Joy for whatever reason managed to upset someone in the shop and they refused to serve her; still don’t know what she did! We sat and had a drink and cakes before heading back to the train station to Sopot.  Somehow Claire and I managed to get off a stop early in Sopot so had to wait for the next train…we were so busy gassing we saw Sopot and got off only to realise the others were still on there! We headed back to our apartment around 8pm to chill out.  Claire and Laura decided to go out and explore the nightlife and go for a boogie and from the evidence appeared to be enjoying espresso martinis!

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The next day was our last; we had a late flight departing at 8pm so after a leisurely morning and breakfast we packed our stuff and headed back out into Sopot for some last minute shopping.  We were able to leave our bags at the apartment which was handy and so we headed back down the main street wandering in the shops.  It was very busy with a vintage car fair on down by the Molo and at one point we did manage to lose Ginny!  One Ginny located and we headed back to the apartment to collect our bags and chill out at the Browar Miejski Sopot where we started our break!

Kirsty decided she fancied a large Strawberry Daquiri cocktail however when it arrived even she was quite shocked at exactly how large it was! Despite the size of it she did manage to finish it all on her own much to our amazement… and was still standing lol.

Alas it was time to leave…. we got  taxis and headed to the airport for our flight home.  We were all sad to be leaving after such a great break and all particularly enjoyed Hel.  It was a really sociable and enjoyable weekend with great company and lots of laughs –  bring on the next one!

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