Going to Gdansk? Remember to bring clothes to wear for the beach, but also a rain coat, an umbrella or whatever that may protect you from the Polish weather!
Gdansk it said all over the city when I arrived to this Polish sea side city in the beginning of June. I had packed my stuff, and was headed to spent a little more than three weeks in this
internationalised Polish city during the month of June and the time of the Euro 2012.
40 minutes away – Worlds apart
To be honest Polish people do not have the best image in Denmark, and when I told people that I was going to visit this country of Vodka people had a similar reaction to it as when I visited Turkey in February, no criticism, but not really any words to say at all. However, being a non-prejudice person, I packed my stuff and headed towards Poland with no fear. However, going to Poland proved to be more difficult than expected. The flight that I went on with Scandinavian Airlines was unfortunately delayed due to technical difficulties, so a journey that should have taken 40-60 minutes ended up taking 12-13 hours.
Polish hospitality – High class!
I have plenty of stories why I loved being in Gdansk, and most of them are due to the first impression that I was given during my first 48 hours in the city. I am terrible at preparing whenever I go somewhere, I complain and give Spanish culture the blame of affecting me when I did my Erasmus there, I have adapted to the “No worries, it’s going to be all right, take a chill pill,” way to think of life, but so far it has been working out for me! Thus not being world class in mastering the English language, I received a lot of help in this great city. At the airport I had to find the bus to the city, and the bus driver did not really speak any international understandable language, but a lady in the bus did and she assured me that this bus was heading towards the city centre of Gdansk. On our way to the city centre we talked about travelling, about Gdansk, about Scandinavia, and about the fact that she thought that my luggage was big taking in consideration that I was “only” going to be there for three weeks. I used the excuse that I have no other suitcase to pack in but the truth is that I become worse at packing each time I travel, especially going places where I do not know what to expect, so I pack… everything, leaving me in need of a big suitcase.
Oh you’re Danish, so I will just speak Swedish to you
The lady in the bus was the first to make me feel extremely welcome in Gdansk, the second person was a nice taxi driver who reached out to try to help me when I looked like one big question mark trying to figure out how to reach the hostel I was staying at from the central station. The first question was obviously if he could help me, in Polish, then he realised that I did not speak his language so he started speaking… Swedish, because he thought that I was from my neighbouring country. I must still have been with a confused look on my face because he stopped and asked where I was actually from, to which I obviously replied “Denmark”. The taxi-driver seemed to be relieved, and then returned to explaining me the directions in Swedish, which I luckily understood. Again, the nice fact that he took his time to explain me where the hostel was rather than trying to gain some money on a drive with his taxi, really made me enjoy the people of Gdansk.
In my first days of Gdansk I had chosen to stay at a hostel “Happy Seven Hostel” and I found it with the directions given from the taxi driver. First thing I noticed about this hostel was the wish to have visitors take their shoes off before entering. This made me feel like home, before I am a person that does not really like wearing shoes at home and in Spain people found that fact weird about me. Besides the shoes thing, the people working there, the chill-out common area, the location, the price, everything about this hostel is 110 % recommendable!
Attractions of Gdansk
Gdansk stadium: Being in Gdanks for the Euro, one thing I of course really liked was the Gdansk stadium for the Euro. Being a great supporter of football, I have seen numerous stadiums around Europe, and without being too affected about my emotions for Gdansk, I must really say that the stadium in Gdansk is magnificent! The way that it is built, how it looks from the outside, I love it. Furthermore, this was a part of creating history so if you ever get the opportunity to visit Gdansk I would, football fan or not, still 100 % recommend having a look at this stadium.
Old Town: Now while visiting Gdansk I must admit I did not see much because I was busy hanging out with friends or volunteering for the Euro 2012, but what I did see was the Old Town of Gdansk, and I really liked it. The gate to the Old Town is really pretty. There is a Neptun fountain in the Old Town where we spent a lot of fun hours (sober and non-sober), and an interesting fact is that the largest brick church in the world is located in the city of Gdansk, in Old Town.
Night life of Gdansk
Fun thing is that I remember more about my nights in Gdansk than about my days. At least in terms of visiting, because crazy volunteers, loud football fans, and students of Gdansk made one big party, almost all days and all nights. However, what I was told is that parties in Gdansk are only fun on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Thursdays the party is fun, wild and crazy in the city club “Parlament” and on Tuesdays girls and boys gather in a V club, which actually is a club where ladies take their clothes off if you know what I mean, but that does not mean that it is no fun for girls! I went there twice and must say I had the time of my life, with my clothes on all the time!
The party life of Gdansk moves 2o-25 minutes away from the city centre during weekends to the city of Sopot. This is where all the students go and there are numerous of different clubs to chose from! One thing is for sure, you cannot go to Gdansk without going to Sopot!
Food of Gdansk
What furthermore is recommendable about the city of Gdansk is food, I loved it! Now, despite of spending three weeks in Poland I am unfortunately no master of the Polish language. The people that I spent time with can confirm that I spent a great lot of time complaining about the Polish language, about it not being easy to learn, about it not being similar to any language that I know, and despite having friends taking Polish lessons (offered at the volunteer centre) or buying “Polish for dummies” books, I gave up learning anything in that language and stuck with the few words that I knew: How to say hello, no, yes, cheers and Pierogi, which is food that I have grown to love especially at one restaurant (Pierogarnia) that is near Parlament and the brick church. Unfortunately, I did not save the directions, I just followed the crowd.
Another delicious type of food that the Polish manage to do is Kebab, and people claim that the best Kebab in Poland (maybe even in the whole world) is sold right next to the Parlament club. The fact that the Kebab sold there has a high quality is true, but if people are affected about it maybe being the place they visit each Thursday after great times at Parlament I cannot say.
Basically, I could go on and on, listening to reasons why you should visit Gdansk. Maybe the city will not be the same as when I was there, because it was for sure affected by all the EURO 2012 life, but the food will not change, the cheap prices for everything will not change (if anything they will probably be lower), and the attractions will stay there. What you will find as well is probably Spanish Erasmus students, I met numerous there and was actually not that surprised (Spanish guys like Polish girls and vice versa), and in general, there are plenty of students assuring it to be fun for AEGEE people to visit this city.
I tried everything that I could do to extend my stay in Poland, because of the people, because of the city, because of the fun and much more reasons. Tears were rolling down my cheeks when I had to say goodbye to my friends. The reason for that was: number one: I always cry (when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m mad), number two: I had the time of my life there and number three: I was not ready to say goodbye to Gdansk and to my friends. However, I had to, but I returned to Denmark with loads of lovely memories, and though I say this about pretty much everywhere I go, I am quite sure that I will be back there sooner than later! After all, it is only a 40 minutes flight away (as long as there will be no technical difficulties).
Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-København