What is this 'Bison-Piss-Vodka' ?
Four day weekends come but once a month for me. In my quest to visit one country a month, I went on a RyanAir search for a new country to visit during my 4-day weekend in April.
It came down to Pula Croatia or Gdansk Poland for the cheapest flights. Switzer was planning to join me so we both researched these places. We decided on Gdansk, due to the fact that we really want to visit Croatia when it's a bit warmer and possibly have a little more time in order to see Dubrovnik as well. At the last minute, Claire (one of the LT's at work) decided to join us.
Our RyanAir flight was uneventful and we arrived in Poland nearing 2100. Our hosts, The Happy Seven Hostel were right on time to pick us up at the airport.
After dropping our bags at the hostel, we inquired about a place close to find some grub. One of our hosts actually walked with us down the boardwalk to the central part of the Old Town, through the Green Gate and left us there to find something warm to fill our stomachs. Along the way we were given a bit of history on Gdansk and passed the Crane. The Crane is one of the symbols of Gdansk and was built in 1442. It's said to be the largest Medieval Port Crane in all of Europe. I had hoped to get to the other side of the river in order to get a good pic but it never happened.
After one failed attempt at a restaurant (it was closed), we found a quaint place to warm up and eat, right next to the Monument to Neptune. The food was great and our waiter was certainly pleased with the ginormous tip that we left!
The next morning, Switzer was on top of her game at about 0745 and got myself and Claire motivated and moving. I really wanted to throw something at her in my morning grogginess with her chipper attitude. It was actually a good thing that one of us was motivated or I think I would have slept til noon. I am just not a morning person. We cleaned up and got ready for the day and enjoyed coffee and breakfast (for free) at the hostel. After a little deliberation, we headed out for the day.
We had all be impressed the night before with the quaint little city but even more impressed with the morning light. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy and none of us had really dressed for the cold weather. Switzer ended up buying a scarf and I wished later that I had gotten one too. Due to the cold, coffee with Bailey's became a theme for the trip and lots of coffee stops were made.
The Monument of Neptune was one of my favorites. It sits in the Old Town area and it's considered the symbol of the city of Gdansk. It was created in 1615 and is a beautiful statue with the backdrop of old buildings sitting behind and all around.
The Gothic-Renaissance Main City Hall is an imposing building in the old town area. Late in the afternoon, we climbed to the top and got a great panoramic view of the city. Switzer and I wandered into the museum (housed in the same building), while waiting for Claire and got verbally 'spanked' for taking pictures without paying for a ticket to the museum. With our non-existent Polish, we apologized and headed out of the museum.
The Executioner's House and Prison Tower was an interesting stop. It houses The Amber Museum and gives a good overview of the element that is an important part of the local economy. Amber can be found everywhere in Gdansk and the surrounding Tri-city area as the majority of the world's amber deposits lie along the Baltic Coast. What I found most interesting was the fact that Amber was used for everything from pheasants decorating their homes to elaborate clothing and jewelry, furniture, and even pharmacological uses.
The displays in the Executioner's house were quite disturbing in the methods of torture that were used. But....as weird as I am, I enjoyed the information and took lots of pictures!
We stopped in a candy shop (imagine that) and watched as they constructed flowers out of the softened candy. One of the workers presented the rose he was working on to Claire! I think he was flirting a bit....
A great tragedy fell on Poland during our visit. The President as well as many other high ranking officials were killed in a plane crash. The news was all over....a very sad day for Poland. Over the remainder of the trip, this was an issue that we were reminded of with memorials set up like this one we came across in Sopot.
The afternoon found us at the train station with intentions of heading to Gdynia. Looking like lost Americans. A group with the lead man being from Poland and the rest from Africa, UK, etc. were spotted and Switzer made the move to ask for assistance. The Polish guy was wonderful and guided us to the ticket machine and helped us figure out how to get tickets as well as which train to take. We arrived in Gdynia and due to the aforementioned tragedy....most things were closed. There would be no shopping for us today!
It was still cold and rainy and we ducked into the first bar that we found to warm up. The bartender was a stately older woman who didn't appear to be pleased with the American invasion to her bar. We were definitely the oddity as we walked in, I think everyone in the bar stopped what they were doing and stared us down. It turned out to be a great experience. The bartender/owner finally warmed up to us and even ended up grabbing my hand and dragging me into the street to show me a building that we should visit....she seemed very proud of this building.
After warming up we headed to the port in order to at least say that we had seen the Baltic Sea! It was shrouded with fog when we arrived. The fishermen were still out and made a nice photo op. On our walk to the port, we found a Pirate Ship Bar that we vowed to come back to. The rest of our time in Gdynia was spent eating then a couple drinks at the Priate Ship Bar then a taxi back to the train station.
We arrived back to the hostel in time for a couple of drinks at the bar downstairs.
When we headed up to the hostel, we were greeted with Miron (one of our hosts) stating 'It is late....I was worried about you'. We all got quite a chuckle out of this. We ended the night enjoying some Polish and Danish Vodka with the hostel owners/hosts. It was mentioned that I needed to try the 'bison-piss-vodka' that I had heard about prior to arrival and one of the owners actually left (in the late hours of the night) and got some from somewhere and we toasted yet another shot of Polish vodka!! I can't tell you if it was good or not....too many previous shots were had!
The last day we took a trip into the third of the Tri-Cities, Sopot. We enjoyed chocolate, a walk on pier, and the most amazing coffee shop ever! This blog has some great info and photos. I would love to return to this spot, it was very relaxing.
An interesting treat was found on the boardwalk. Some sort of dumpling made with Oscypek, which is a sort of cheese made in Poland....divine in taste!!
What an amazing full trip!! Thank you Claire and Switzer for joining me....