With some extra days off and not wanting to sit at home and waste the days away, what else will you do if you have the possibilities to go somewhere? Think of a way to go out and explore.
Though we had a few bumps in the road, with the upcoming travelling trip in September 2019, we needed to think about the saving. So, we thought and discussed and came up with a plan. Skyscanner showed us the cheapest tickets from London airports to anywhere in the world. We agreed we wanted to be outside England but other than that we were game for whatever came along.
Poland was highlighted, personally Poland never featured on places I had thought of going, although my partner has been there twice before and had enjoyed it. We looked a bit closer and it was to Gdansk. At the time I didn’t know that was even a word, nor how to pronounce it and when I had told people I had to say this was not a typo error – as I am more often than not terrible at spelling. But at less than £30 return we were up for the challenge, deciding not to research anything and take it as it came.
With accommodation we decided to continue the theme of saving money and we did hostels, we could have never guessed this would be the most memorable and the worse part of the trip, at least it was not the part of the trip that went against the budget.
Day 0, the day we decided to pack, finding out that Ryanair had cut their baggage size to a small backpack and us standing our ground on not paying for extra, we decided to pack everything we needed for 5 full days into 2 small backpacks. Keep in mind I like to take photographs and that alone with the lenses took up one back pack, so the fun and games had begun, but we did it amazingly and we had no problems along the way, even with Poland’s weather playing along and being nicer than the UK at an average of 12-18°C and raining only once.
Day 1, we woke up at 3am for a taxi, we had wanted to drive but car problems had prevented that. The cost of this taxi was almost 3 times the flights, but we took it in our stride and kept going with positive thought and only a little chip on our shoulders. The flight went smooth, and what a gorgeous country, as we flew over the autumn colours were incredible, as far as you could see was woodland with burnt oranges and patches of baby yellows that flooded the land. I couldn’t wait to see what more it had to offer.
We spent some time in Gdansk first before heading to our accommodation, walking the streets of a very beautiful town, enjoying what it had to offer stopping for breakfast and drinks along the way in a small little café outside on an old cobbled road, without any knowledge at all, which was rather refreshing. We also decided to start our trip with a Polish escape room, where we did the theme of the lost train full of gold, based on a true legend of Poland. We were proud to have successfully complete the mission with only 6 seconds to go, this is said to be a hard room and we really did feel that in the beginning struggling for at least 10minutes before we managed to get the ball rolling.
We made it to the hostel via public transport that was really easy to understand and very accessible which was a great start. The hostel we stayed at was called (hostel mamas&papas) , the staff were genuine people that were welcoming, eager to help and very personalised, knowing you name, remembering your plans, asking how your plans went. Working in 5 star game lodges I never got that part right, so I was very impressed. The evening was lovely with a great atmosphere and a wide set of cultures, Polish, Australian, English, French, South African and Arabic. Though we could not always understand each other with the language barriers, playing cards easily got past and the quickly became the centre of our entertainment.
That night in our twin room we struggled to sleep, the beds were so hard with the wooden bars and incredibly squeaky that you even feared breathing at times in case the bed may break, later that night my partner was exhausted and fed up with the bed, I hitched a plan to take the mattresses of the bed and sleep on the floor, this was heavenly after a few hours of a extremely uncomfortable bed.
Day 2, I found out that the Polish enjoy cold meats, cheese and cucumber for breakfast, this was very strange combination at 9am but was still tasty. Plan for the day was doing the walkative tour[link]. This was fabulous, we had an enthusiastic guide who took us all over Gdansk showing us all the important building and the overall history of the city. I was shocked to have figured out the town was bombed almost to the ground in WW2, and 2 streets were completely rebuilt for the feel of what the town once was, the building outside this area are quite modern and built up compared.
After a short meal break with our new-found friends from the hostel, we decided to do the second and more in-depth walkative tour available, this was very specific around the war and moved from being a communistic country to a more democratic one, again it was a great tour but after a long day the level of detail became hard to absorb.
I would highly recommend looking into a free walking tours near you, they are quite common and, in several languages, the tours are for free but a tip at the end is expected, though not required. They are very knowledgeable and give a great sense of the area. The walks are often not very strained, with many stops where explanations are given.
Day 3, impulsively we decide to say goodbye to Gdansk and move in the direction of Warsaw, with a recommended stop in Toruń first. We booked the accommodation at a train station, assuming it would be easy to get a train there, only to find out it had just been a very special long weekend, All saints day. It’s a day very close to their hearts to remember all the people that have passed away, it is also a sight to be seen with thousands of candles being lit and lighting up all areas of importance like cemeteries. The trains were all fully booked, and we couldn’t go anywhere, we wondered around contemplating our next move, finding ourselves at a coach station that had no English (realising we had left the comforts of the tourist part of town). After a very broken conversation we found a coach apparently heading to Toruń in either 10 minutes or 10 hours, 3 hours later we arrived at night in Toruń. It was late, and we found ourselves across town from the accommodation, walking there the atmosphere was fantastic where the light was hitting the damp autumn leaves, cobbled streets and few people around, it all seemed too calm. The hostel soon changed this.
The hostel (Hostel Toruń Główny)had sounded cool when we booked it, a renovated building that was part of the train station, what we didn’t realise was it was surrounded on all sides by train tracks in a busy train station. We spent most the night tossing and turning due to the loud sounds of trains passing, breaking and setting off on the new journey, even ear plugs hardly dampened the noise.
Day 4, keeping positive we had a good laugh at how silly the decision was to sleep at a busy train station and ticked it off as an experience not worth repeating, but still one to remember. With a few hours to wait for our booked train later that afternoon, it was time to head back into town and explore Toruń a little better.
Walking around after breakfast we found the ruins of a Teutonic castle, these were incredible to see. It was still being modified to make it more visitor friendly, but the authentic feel was refreshing, with a sense of history pouring out at every step, your mind could only imagine what all happened in this area. There were also siege weapons used to take down a castle and help protect the warriors, it was very different seeing it all in person than on TV or Age of Empires.
After this exploration we headed back to the station for our train to Warsaw. The train was a great experience being very different to any train I have been on. There was a passage way on one side of the train with small compartments containing two rows of seats, and the luggage rack over your head.
Arriving at Warsaw at night we were eager to find our accommodation and put our feet up for a little while, before we met up with an old friend. After the last few accommodation experiences, we threw around a few ideas and went with an apartment. Once we got inside the apartment (Old Town Kanonia Hostel & Apartments), we were so happy. Comfortable, spacious and everything one may need, what a treat. The evening went well, being exposed to some of the local hangouts around town, with very enjoyable pizza at pizza dominium for our meal out.
Day 5, after a lot of walking the previous day we decided to have a slow morning breakfast in the old town square followed by walking around a city park. When we got bored with this we headed to a market, finding it on google maps to be one of the oldest market, Bazar Różyckiego. The market was very run down, and many shops closed, though we did come across a few antique type stalls that were fascinating to look through. We soon finished exploring this market and headed back to the old town, on the way I spotted a big zoo sign, so we decided to go explore there, I was eager to see it.
The zoo had a very large and obvious sign, and before we even got to it I got distracted taking photos. I was looking forward to seeing the animals with this successful start, to find out it had used to be a zoo and had closed many years ago, being changed to a public park. It was still very tranquil, and we spent plenty of time helping the squirrels find nuts in the leaf litter and tossing it to them. Though wild and very cautious it was great when one got brave and curious enough to see what we had and what the camera was all about. A wonderful end to the day, followed by a relaxing evening out.
Day 6, we had plenty of time before our train to visit the Uprising Museum that had been recommended to us before we left back to Gdansk, the museum was well put together with many ways of getting the information across with videos, words, artefacts and some interactive items.
Though it was teaming with information for a very short period, it was hard for us to take in the full explanations as it was rather personalised and not an overall idea of what happened.
Arriving back in Gdansk, we agreed that we were happy to be back and felt this smaller city had a better atmosphere and was fantastic.
We spent our last evening enjoying hard rock café. What a great trip, not somewhere either of us would have chosen, but definitely something we did not regret and thoroughly enjoyed. On top of that, we were proud of ourselves on a cheap holiday. Beside the taxi there, and on top of it the taxi back was even more expensive. Our taxi fare took up 30% of the total cost of our holiday including everything. Learning many lessons from this we look forward to our next trip.
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