Here's my trip report so far.
I flew from SF to Gdansk on Thursday afternoon and got there Friday afternoon. The weather wasn't the greatest and departures were delayed on both the long haul and the connection so I was worried I wasn't going to make it. But the line through customs was short and fast and I didn't have to go through security to have my stuff scanned again. (I had to do that on my way to Amsterdam, not sure why I didn't have to this time). It was raining quite heavily when we landed and I used Uber to take me to my hotel.
I stayed at the Radisson Blu which is a nice little hotel right by the Green Gate end of Long Market. I had a small room on the top floor with a twin bed and windows that actually opened so I could open them when things got stuffy. Breakfast was already included with the room so I didn't have to worry about that in the morning. After getting settled, I took a stroll down the water in search for a good place to have my first Polish meal. Right before the medieval crane is Pod Bandera and it seemed pretty lively with its heated seating by the water. I chose to sit inside because I was cold and I was getting self-conscious from all the staring I got. My hunger made me forget about that though and I had my first plate of pierogis with a pot of tea. Delicious!
https://www.instagram.com/p/BMH4lZ0AIqe/?taken-by=cebuana75 (I guess we can't post pics on the forum. Here's a pic I posted on Instagram. You never forget your first plate!)
Saturday morning, I joined the free walking tour of Old Town that started at the Amber Museum. It took 2 hours and it ended at the monument for the defense of the Polish Post Office. I loved our guide, but unfortunately, I forgot his name! He knew the city quite well and had a wry sense of humor. When a bunch of us asked where a good place to have lunch would be, he said to follow him since he was on his way to the train station and he'd point us to a place along the way. This place is called Pierogarnia Mandu and you can watch the staff make pierogis from the window! I tried the borscht and actually liked it. Anyway, as we walked, our guide continued to give us little bits of trivia about the city, so it felt like we were on an extended tour.
I was thinking of joining the free walking tour about the Solidarity movement later that afternoon, but after lunch, I was feeling pretty jet-lagged. I went back to the hotel and took an extended nap. Woke up, found some dinner at a nice Italian place (San Marco) near the Golden Gate. They have one of the best carbonara I've ever had! And I had the pasta, a large bottle of sparkling water, dessert and a cappuccino for far less than I thought it would be. The dollar does go a long way in Poland! I did find out that the service charge isn't included and the custom is to tip 10%. I wasn't tipping in Gdansk and I felt bad about it, but I made up for it in Warszawa.
It rained again on Sunday, so instead of heading to Malbork castle, I went to the Solidarity museum. The museum is fairly new and the information is presented chronologically on 2 levels with different medias (photos, videos, art). There is a wall with photos too graphic to be displayed in the open so they are covered up. The jacket worn by one of the victims is also there. There's a video of a truck mowing down a protestor. The last room you enter is almost bare save for a couple of long benches and a video that plays on a loop on the walls. I was alone in that room for a few minutes and I was able to collect my thoughts, process what I'd seen, listen to the haunting music and stared out towards the Solidarity Monument. I knew I wanted to come to Poland because of its fascinating history and now that I'm here, it just got very real.
Anyway, it was too short a stay in Gdansk. On Monday, I was on a train to Warszawa. (Will be on a separate post. Hope this wasn't too long!)