Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gdansk: where all the tourists go

I'm having a little trouble finding inspiration in Gdansk and surrounding area. Which is ok. Sometimes places are like that, and it's the contrast that makes other places feel special.
There were so many souvenirs for sale, and the crowds so heavy that it felt like Munich in summer. After the last few months of sparse tourists, I felt claustrophobic navigating the hoards of people moving in slow motion en masse like half-frozen Heinz ketchup. To get away, to breathe, was mostly what I was thinking.

Not that there weren't some pretty sights...

The central train station is one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Yesterday I took a water tram to Hel peninsula. I went an hour early to buy tickets in Sopot but they were already sold out, so I took a train to Gdynia and tried again, and ended up not going to Hel town, but to a neighboring town of Jastarnia. Everyone wanted to go to Hel, and the tickets were again sold out.

The ferry was crowded with screaming and running kids, and I couldn't help but feel happy I didn't have one of my own. I sat and wrote and stared at the sea. Arrival on Hel, I expected it to be tourist central, but I was surprised to find it felt quiet and peaceful. So I continued my pilgrimage to Hel, walking to the tip of the Hel peninsula and then catching a train back to my hostel later in the day. The price to go to Hel and Back: 45zl (approx 11 Euros).

There were multiple bunkers on the Hel peninsula, installed mostly by the Germans. Poland gets the award for most bunkers seen after Albania on this trip.
The Hel peninsula was aptly named, covered in billboards (WTF?) and sun-worshipers.

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