A weekend at sea – Sopot and Hel [POLAND]

Vacation at Polish sea is a debatable matter. I never experienced such, even being Polish and living four hours away by car, as I think it’s overpriced, not that attractive (rather cold water all year-long if you ask me) and so much less appealing than simply flying to Croatia and enjoying perfect beaches with even more ideal weather.

This year though, my future in-laws moved to Gdynia, a harbour town on the north of Poland, and I visited them twice already. Since being a blogger is all about sharing and, as a classic put it, sharing is carrying, let me share with you some beautiful places I’ve visited while on those trips.

Gdynia

Most of the time seen as the least appealing city out of entire tricity area. It’s a home of fisherman and harbour, most well known for riots that ended Communism in Poland. I really grew to love the city. It’s a part of a rather large complex, but in the same time, still a rather small town, mostly modern, due to it’s complicated history. Gdynia is a great place to visit, with the biggest, natural cliff (on the Orłowo beach), museum ships in the harbour (including a destroyer and a frigate) and a great “old town”.

Hint: if you ever find yourself venturing to the Tricity area, remember to stay in Gdynia for the night, as it’s perfectly communicated with Gdańsk and Sopot and in the same time prices are way lower!

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Gdynia is quite famous for great examples of modern architecture, such as monumentalism and early functionalism. In the same time, you can quite effortlessly find great views of the sea, long promenades, cute marinas, yacht clubs, sandy beaches and beautiful waterfronts. Let’s not forget about the most important aspect of travelling: food. I visited several restaurants and I love all of these, offering exquisite dishes in an acceptable price.

Welcome to Hel

Hel is a rather small town just at the top of the Hel Peninsula. Engulfed from both sides with the Sea, it’s one of the most climatic and enchanting places in northern Poland. It was my first time visiting Hel, and the Peninsula as a whole. Absolutely loved it. Especially for the fresh air, great views and very few tourists.

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You can take a rather long walk along the tip of the peninsula, look at the sea hitting the shore from three sides and even visit a seal center, located not far from the walking trail. It’s best to stop by the center during the feeding time, so you can see all nine to ten seals perfectly. Also, who doesn’t love those cute animals?

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You can also travel to the marina and see fisherman’s’ boats and even war ships!

Sopot

Sopot is a resort city and one of the most popular touristic destinations in Poland. The town is enchanting, sheltered from an open sea by the Hel Peninsula, which makes water in the sea a lot warmer. Clean, spotless sand of rather white gold colour creates a beautiful scenery, even in rather autumn/winter conditions.

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It’s probably most well-known feature is the longest wooden pier in the old continent (over 500 meters), which happens to be a great venue for recreational and health walks.

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Concentration of iodine in the air at the sea is doubled compared to the land, which makes it a perfect spot for health walks as well. If you are quite rich, you can always stay at the Grand Hotel in Sopot. That is a rather long-term dream of mine to stay there for a night or two. As it would probably be a financial equivalent of going to Croatia for two weeks, I never fulfilled my childhood dream, but just imagine: what an amazing feeling it must be to wake up, open the curtains and see only the sea.

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Oh, and can you imagine, sipping champagne from one of these fancy, tall glasses at the pool in a place like this? One day, Grand Hotel, one day!

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I don’t think I’m going to visit Polish sea for summer holidays anytime soon, but I do think that it’s a great destination for a weekend trip, especially with the airport in Gdańsk. So, if you’ve never had a chance, check Gdynia, Sopot and Hel out!

Dorota

 

 

 

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My 2018 wrapped

2018 has been quite a year for me.  As a classic once said; I’ve been down for so long it looked like up to me, and when I finally conquered all of my demons I have discovered many new shades of myself, my friends, family and loved ones and finally reached a point in my life when I can honestly say I am happy with where I am.

It didn’t come without an adventure, of course, so let me tell you a story, of how I survived 2018 and how it’s been the most hectic and wonderful year of my life.

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2018 started exactly the same as any other year for the last decade. I made many plans, more or less unrealistic, from which only one withstood the test of time and only for a simple reason it was the most effortless and smooth one from all the rest. In the middle of January I already forgot about my “bikini body” and how I should take better care of my hair, skin and mind. I worked full-time (still am) and as I usually returned home I was drained. Quite literally exhausted, didn’t feel like doing anything really. In February, I applied for a two-part exam, that would enable me to get promotion and earn more. I blew it and the fact that 90% of other people also failed that particular day did not make me feel any better.

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Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

It was my first failure of that sort in a long time and I felt completely crushed. What saved me from dwelling and whining was… lack of time, really. I had so much work, with my full-time job and my side business (oh yeah, I forgot to mention launching my own company) that I completely forgot about the exam. I jumped right into normal flow of the day; waking up, going to work, eating junk (most of the time, really), returning home, lazing around watching YouTube and finally going to sleep. There was no activity whatsoever, I didn’t even like going out.

In August my boyfriend Floret and I went to Croatia for summer holidays. While enjoying the country (and people) I realized how amazing my life is and how much I should focus on fulfilling my dreams, rather than focusing on all the obstacles. My holidays made me grateful for what I have and who I’ve become. Upon my return I received a rather substantial raise, which might have been additional factor for realising my life doesn’t suck that much!

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In November I decided to perform several medical tests. I felt constantly exhausted (which didn’t escape Floret’s attention, his questions about my wellbeing motivated me to check what’s been going on with my body lately), I suffered from extensive hair loss, mood swings and, which hurt me the most, memory lapses. You know the feeling when you call someone and they say you just talked? Or that you get something delivered and it turned out you ordered it yourself but don’t remember a thing? Yep, that’s me. When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease I wasn’t very shocked. A close relative suffered from it for years and as it might be hereditary I suspected I might have the same issue in the future, but now when I’m 28.

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When I started taking medicine, suddenly I felt so much better. I don’t think I ever felt so energized in my life. I can now work for 9 hours, return home, prepare lunch for the next day, dinner, clean the kitchen, take a walk and even go for fitness classes, which up until this point was unthinkable. Literally impossible. I can spend more quality time with Floret, improve my lifestyle and still have a little bit of time for myself.

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So here I am in December, planning my goals for 2019. This time, unlike all the previous years, I am going to succeed.

And how was your year? Did you struggle the way I did?

 

Flavours of Croatia – Zadar

Summer has ended rather abruptly this year in Europe. I have nearly forgotten that it ends at all, with golden autumn and amazing weather up until the second week of October. With holiday time passing I have realized I have not been blogging for a while and, let me tell you, there were more than 13 reasons why.

As I have mentioned in several of my previous posts (for example here), I have been incredibly fortunate to be offered free accommodation for a two-week trip to South Dalmatia, Croatia. And boy, that was an adventure! Upon my return I have already started planning next summer holidays, and as it is a rather daunting task, I wondered what could help me plan. I went through all the main points of planning a trip and realized that where you want to go sets a goal to work towards. And I couldn’t decide. I researched many travel blogs and looked for tips on which of all the amazing places to visit first and I got stuck. What broke the impasse? A book by John Grisham – no joke – about a football player moving to Parma (Italy). Why it wowed me so much? It showed a side of Italy I have never seen before, thriving, rich in flavour and full of lovely people, but from an entirely subjective point of view. Therefore, after spending two weeks in Dalmatia I decided to share with you my view on this region of Croatia, and maybe convince you it’s really an amazing place to visit.

After this rather long prefix, let’s just jump right into what I have learned about Southern Dalmatia.

ZADAR, the city that stole Hitchcock’s heart

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Zadar is the oldest still inhabited city in Croatia. With amazing Romanesque architecture and original Roman forum it reminded me of Rome, rather than a small town on the coast of Adriatic Sea. Both Floret and I loved every single corner of the city, but what really took my breath away was the sunset on the promenade – once described by Alfred Hitchcock himself as “the most beautiful sunset in the world”. I couldn’t agree more with Mr Hitchcock as I sat down with hundreds of people looking at the sun slowly hiding behind the horizon.

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Relaxing to the sound of waves playing calmly on the Sea Organs built into the promenade we waited for the night to set in and uncover the amazing solar-powered public dance floor – a “Monument to the Sun” created by Nikola Basic. I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like this before in my life and I truly believe that Zadar’s Sunset should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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If you are not the greatest fan of crowds you should definitely pick Southern Dalmatia out of all the other cities in Croatia. We have spent several days with born-and-raised Croatians and they all said the same exect thing to us: “never visit Dubrovnik in the summer” and “Zadar is so much better in summer than all the other cities, as it is not that filled with tourists”. Also, what they didn’t say, but I definitely noticed, was the price difference.

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Promenade, Sea Organs and the sun-powered dance floor are not the only great things to visit in Zadar. We have roamed the city quite thoroughly and seen various interesting sites, tried the amazing food and delicious beverages – including Gresavina – famous white wine from the region. Pro tip I have heard from an amazing artist who also provided us with loads of wine – don’t ever buy Croatian wine that’s more expensive than 30 kunas (5 euro) per 1 liter. I have obeyed by this rule vigorously and have to say, Gresavina (especially served with cooled sparkling water Jamnica) is delicious!

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City of Zadar represents a rather interesting mixture of old and new architecture. Blending effortlessly ultra contemporary installations, such as Sea Organs and the Monument to the Sun, with Roman-era fragments and Romanesque churches results from serious bombing in World War II, which forced officials to fill holes in old architecture with modern touches. Every step you take brings you closer to city’s historical heritage, just like visiting a very old, Romanesque bell tower, which interior seems taken straight from Indiana Jones movies. Neighbouring an original Roman forum it’s an amazing place to see the clash of era’s.

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Getting to know the city is very easy with many informational boards hanging around every corner. I was very pleased to see many signs translated into various languages, sometimes even including my own – Polish. It’s always a nice feeling to see signs of your own country wherever you go.

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What I also loved about Zadar? Its nightlife. Floret and I stationed ten kilometers from the city, so we never truly had a chance to experience the nightlife in its entirety, but we had a taste, while enjoying Gresavina and Aperol Spritz on the promenade. I loved spending time among Croatians (in Dubrovnik meeting Croatians in summer is nearly impossible), simply chilling and enjoying the weather, just like I would where I live. I felt more like part of the community, not a stranger, as I usually do while observing others.

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In terms of food, visiting any Konoba (traditional restaurant) with Pleskavica, Cevapcici and various sea food is a pleasure. With amazing interiors, delicious dishes and cold sparkling water, it is a lovely place to relax and regain energy for even longer sightseeing under the merciless Croatian sun. I loved devouring pizza (very common in Croatia, I don’t think I have ever seen so many pizzerias in one city!), looking at the ships passing us by, observing the regular life of people living in the Old Town.

With three airports nearby (Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar), various accommodation opportunities and great transport (both bus, train and ships), it’s one of the most convenient, beautiful and interesting destinations to visit in Europe. So, if you’re looking for a place to visit next year – make sure to take Zadar, the city of the most beautiful sunset in the world, into account.

Have any of you ever visited Zadar? Did you enjoy it as much as Floret and I did? Let me know in the comments!

Dorota