Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…Gdansking the night away

If you drew a line between my previous most easterly European adventures, it would go between Malmo and Zadar, which is pretty much the border of what is classed as Eastern Europe. I don’t class those places as crossing the border, falling more into Northern and Southern Europe, so it was a frontier I was eager to penetrate. I’d been told various stories of the east’s beauty and its cheap prices (especially for drinks) so it was probably about time I saw some of it.


Choosing Poland as my first country to explore, I headed to Gdansk on the north coast so I could make my way south through the country, and take advantage of some ridiculously cheap flights. I should probably apologise now that my keyboard, or my brain, doesn’t know how to do all the fancy flicks and squiggles (technical term) that the Polish language likes, and I’ve already missed one. Still, it’s closer than my pronunciations for most of their ridiculous words. Sometimes they just seem made up to me, so much so that when someone asked me how the ‘syzysjys’ were in an e-mail, Polish sausages he told me, I didn’t realise he was clearly joking. It’s like how every time I walked past a shop selling crossword books, I’d always say ‘just put a Z in every third space and you’re pretty much done’. And I’d always get a huge laugh.

My first impression of Gdansk wasn’t great, which is the sort of thing that often leads to a bad time overall. I arrived around ten at night, it was dark, the streets looked dreary and I was sure I was getting ripped off in my taxi — although this was partly due to conversion error. I’m normally used to working in Australian dollars but having just been in the UK I was getting back into pounds sterling. I thought that I was meant to divide zloty by three to get my English price, but it turns out I’d remembered wrongly and that number was for dollars while I needed to divide by five for pounds. When I remembered, things suddenly got a lot cheaper and a lot more appealing.

My impression of Gdansk turned round dramatically in the morning. I got up early and because it was a Sunday everyone was either in church or sleeping off a hangover (or both). Wherever they were they weren’t in the old town square, so I got to walk around myself and get some brilliant photos because of the bizarre light. When I went back around lunchtime it was completely packed and that’s how it remained throughout the rest of my trip.



The architecture is brilliant, so it’s hard not to take great photos and there are plenty of scenic walks — up hills, by rivers — to take nearby.



I wasn’t sure what the food would be like before I went, fearing that there’d be a lot of syzysjys and big hunks of meat, but I found that there were actually quite a few choices for a hippy like me.

As well as Gdansk itself, there were also lots of suburbs and towns nearby that I visited and enjoyed, most of which will get their own post, and I could easily have spent more than a week there, knowing that there were places (such as Westerplatte, where the first shots of WWII were apparently fired) that I hadn’t got round to seeing. If you want to cram the place into four days and rush around you probably could, but that’s not my favourite way to do things.




Filed under: europe, ,

3 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    I wonder if the point values for letters are reversed in Polish Scrabble.

    Your photos aren’t showing up on this page for me, which is probably an issue with my terrible connection. I’m loading them individually now – looking forward to seeing them in a few weeks.

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