Poland was a goal that I had long in my mind. Poland is an unusual destination that had always fascinated me and did not disappoint our expectations from north to south, from Gdansk to Krakow. Our trip to Poland was divided in the north in Gdansk, with its three cities Gdansk, Sopot, and Gdynia, and the beautiful Krakow. All this in August and accompanied by our faithful guide.
We also visited the Hel Peninsula is a small strip of land jutting into the sea, the medieval city of Torun, the extraordinary Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, Chelmon, the city of lovers, Elblag and its channel, Leba and its immense sand dunes. We arrived at the Russian border in Kaliningrad, where we have gone up to Olsztyn, the lakes of the Mazury and visited many other towns and rare villages, asking directions with gestures and showing pictures, our only possible way to communicate.
Once in Gdansk in the middle of August, we knew that the weather would not be ours. In fact, rain and cold have often given us company. Certainly, it cannot be decadent as Gdansk is a vibrant city full of life, and trade, as it is an important port of the Baltic and is a major international tourist destination.
Gdansk is a very pretty and colorful town with excellent views and lots to see. The centerpiece is the mammoth wooden medieval crane overlooking the Vistula. From the point of view of the food, Poland satisfied us with good portions, affordable prices, especially in communist dairies where with a few euro you can have a dish that is more than sufficient.
We do not stop only in Gdansk, but take a ride on the picturesque boat and is impossible to miss going up and down the Vistula until Westerplatte (where the World War II began officially on August 25, 1939, with the first cannon launched). Then by train, we go through the Baltic Sea to Sopot, where we felt the summer and the famous Casa Drunk (Krzywy Domek).
Not far from Sopot but always reachable by train, Gdynia is an industrial city and therefore not so beautiful but certainly the pier, which has gigantic boats moored is remarkable in size, features, and history.
We once again board the train to Castello Teutonic Malbork, which was almost entirely rebuilt after World War II, but is still majestic and fascinating.
With the long night journey that took us to southern Poland was hallucinating as the train for the first few hours was crowded with people. With the glacial temperature, after the morning we arrive in Krakow, we just fall in love with it.
All but I never imagined of what I saw in Krakow, which was elegant, majestic, proud and green! I can only say that Krakow will capture your imagination. Krakow is the liveliest city in Poland, thanks also to a large number of university students. It's a very beautiful city and its beauty has even been recognized by UNESCO, which in 1978 declared it a World Heritage Site. You will enjoy its vitality with a cocktail at one of the many bars and restaurants in the Market Square. Explore the Wawel Hill where there are the Cathedral and the Royal Castle, or visit the various synagogues of the Jewish Quarter, with the possibility to book a visit to what was the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
We stayed in a Jewish quarter, which was full of life with local and delicious kosher restaurants, that is twenty minutes hearty walk from the center, perhaps logistically inconvenient but it certainly made me feel more involved in the soul of this city.
There are mainly two aspects that should not be missed of the very deep Wieliczka Salt Mines and of course, Auschwitz, which really was an experience to do that leaves an indelible mark and deeply especially Birkenau.
Then we embark on an 1850 km journey from north to look for the periphery, that is undisturbed by tourists stream or the economic well-being of the rich merchants. We travel through endless fields and dense woods, unknown villages, many unmarked on paper but with an only recognizable sign at the beginning and end of the town, but where we see, to our surprise, the same characteristics of the big city with perfect roads, manicured gardens, large fenced schools, bus stops with intact and perfect directions, playgrounds for children, decent and well maintained homes, no advertisements to deface walls, facades, monuments or public means.
People of Burberi, no doubt, do not understand a word of English except in the restaurants of the city. Here also the food portions are plentiful, where only one plate is sufficient, with and without contour including bread (Chelb) that must be ordered separately and is taken into account.
Golonka, a stewed, roasted or boiled pork knuckle or hock is present in almost all restaurants along with beef, salmon, duck, and everything with potatoes and salad in plenty with the inevitable cucumber, and a kind of ravioli with various fillings called pierogi, soups, made with vegetable or meat or fish, and different kinds of sweet that are not too sugary. There are common dishes everywhere. For something more refined you have to go at the port of Gdansk and spend a little more. In these places, restaurants accept customers course until late evening.
And if before setting foot we were already in love of Poland, after visiting extraordinary cities and seas and gigantic sand dunes, we arrived in Mazury where our heart was permanently trapped, tight inside that enchanted veil that makes you go from place to place with dreamy eyes of those who have lost inside a country that is able to keep you glued to the scene from beginning to end, with a thousand different depths, one more magical than the other.
so if you do not have enough, here are reasons for choosing this beautiful country as a destination for your next vacation.
The Polish cities seem made for a visit with the children to enjoy together hunting for statues, going up on pirate galleons or playing to defeat dragons spitting fire.
There is a vast national park lying on the Polish coast with trails to explore the gigantic sand dunes, deserts to cross, and eventually, the sea.
There are kilometers and kilometers of unspoiled nature in the Bialowieza Forest. Discover untouched nature and magic along with a guide who will tell you the secrets of each bark, leaf, mushroom, and songs. And maybe, if you're lucky, you can see the bison. And where else it is perfect for an adventure in the saddle of a country with four lakes surrounded by walking paths and primeval forests?
Stay in a suspended wooden deck on an enchanted lake. You can get breakfast in the morning and take refuge in the evening, to hear stories in the light of a lantern.
Discover the customs and traditions of a region that have maintained a strong ethnic identity, Cassubia.
There is a sixteenth-century bakery where Pierniki masters improvise. You can learn to cook gingerbread as they did in the Middle Ages, where bakers began with a solemn oath and end with the preparation of delicious cookies.
Hidden among the thousands of lakes in the Mazury is a village that is worth a visit and where you can also sleep, to live again for one or more days in Galindia, the Viking Poles.
Poland Travel Tips
I will only say that Gdansk and Krakow can easily be organized by you. The conducted tours to Krakow are expensive than by public bus or by the train through which you can arrive safely and economically to the destinations.
Poland was the first to break free from the Soviet Union. There are many impressive ruins in various parts of Poland. Hel Peninsula is a vast fortified garrison with exhibits of the everyday life of the soldiers and with an impressive super cannon, and Tana del Lupo (Wolf's Lair) in a remote village to the east, the headquarters of Hitler until 1945 where there was the famous failed assassination attempt on July 20, 1944.
This episode was made into a 2008 film Valkyrie, in which a group of Wehrmacht officers, headed by Colonel Klaus von Stauffenberg, a war hero, tried with a bomb to kill Fuhrer but was only wounded. Here are the remains of the destroyed bunker that housed the leaders of the party, perfectly camouflaged in a dense forest. They were never discovered or bombed but blown up with explosives by Russian soldiers on their arrival.
Warsaw, the capital is a city rich in history, charm, and culture. Discover it and lose in the romantic narrow streets of its old town, admiring the opulent architecture of the Palace of Culture and Science and the modernity of the skyscrapers in the city. If you are science enthusiasts, I strongly suggest you visit the Copernicus Science Center where you can find many interesting insights thanks to the various performances and exhibitions present inside.