Some much needed Rest & Relaxation
22.08.2013 - 26.08.2013 22 °C
We knew that 10 hours on a train was not going to be the most exciting way to spend a day, but it was that or another overnight train (NO!!), so we settled into our compartment and tried to keep ourselves entertained. Luckily after the first 4 hours it emptied out and we had it to ourselves meaning we could stretch our legs. By the time we arrived it was almost 19.00, but our hostel was fairly easy to find and seemed to be centrally located. Stay Inn was part hotel, part hostel and had only been open for 3 months when we checked in http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/poland/gdansk/96321/. We were shown around and were amazed and how swanky it was! For our first night we had opted for a private double as we knew we were likely to crash and burn after our epic train journey and after a quick wander and a couple of pizzas at a nice restaurant, that is exactly what we did!
Next morning feeling rested, we were up devouring free breakfast and checking out to check back into our 8 bed dorm, which was huge but slightly noisy as it looked out onto the main street (Piwo Street or Beer Street in English - you can imagine!). As usual we had discovered a free walking tour; The Alternative Gdansk Tour promised a mixture of the tourist sights and some more off the beaten track things you would never come across unless you knew they were there like some amazing graffiti wall art, and the only 3 original houses left standing in the city. Gdansk was actually the starting place of WWII where Germany invaded Poland meaning it was completely destroyed during the war. Everything that you see in the city today is actually a reconstruction built in 1953 of how it would have looked - very impressive when you think Poland was under the Communist regime where everything was matching concrete tower blocks.
The tour lasted about 3 hours and ended in Solidarity Square near the former shipyard where a series of increasingly violent demonstrations, fighting the forces of Soviet Communism took place. What began as protests over the price of meat, became a 10 million member Solidarity Trade Union and would eventually help see the end of Soviet Communist rule. After the tour, our guide asked if anyone would be interested in visiting the Solidarity Museum (as we could get in cheaper in a large group!). He showed us around the museum which explained life in Gdansk during Communism where you would be forced to queue for hours at a time for minute amounts of food, often with no guarantee of actually getting any, The exhibits also explained the rise of the Solidarity movement and how it helped to end Soviet rule. After that, we explored more of the town before settling down for the rest of the evening in a bar to do some much needed research and booking of hostels.
Next morning and in glorious sunshine, we decided to take the 15 minute train ride to Sopot and spend some time on the beach. Some time turned out to be the next two days where we relaxed in the sunshine, ate at a nice restaurant (well within budget!) and caught up on some much needed rest after a hectic few weeks. Nick was even brave enough to go for a swim in the Baltic, commenting they call it the Baltic for a reason as it was bloody freezing! At first we felt a little guilty for spending so much time doing nothing as you always feel you should be out seeing and doing things every day on a trip like this, but that is why we were starting to feel tired as we were not allowing ourselves enough time to actually stop and enjoy it!
So on our final night we went out for a couple of drinks in a local bar, then for a Zapiakana which was 52cm long (Nick was very excited by this having fallen in love with them in Krakow!), before heading to bed for a relatively early night as we had to be up at 05:00 the next morning to catch our train to Berlin to meet my parents.