Waking up in a quiet spot surrounded by silver birch trees, leaves still crispy from the cold night despite the morning dew. Bleary eyes open and try to adjust to the unexpected golden carpet of autumn leaves laid out before us. Bound for the Baltic coast, we hit the road and the first stop on our journey together was Marlbork; the largest castle in the world by land mass. After a wander around the 13th century Teutonic fortress we hit the road again only to witness the most spectacular of sunsets.
Despite the cold, it was a warm and cosy night’s sleep tucked up in the van. Early to bed so early to rise, by 07:30 we were ambling along the beach as the sun rose to its 45° position in the pastel sky. We were surprised to see a few brave characters working out on the sand in nothing but trunks, Then, watching a man going for a brisk dip in the Baltic Sea was enough to give us goosebumps! A quick visit to The Bunker, Westerplatte (where the German invasion of September 1939 began the Battle of Westerplatte and consequently the Second World War) was damp, eerie and grey. However every single memorial, just as every last grave in the cemeteries, was adorn with candles lit in memory of those passed.
Gdańsk welcomed us with its charming architecture just as the skies were beginning to clear. By the time we’d climbed to the top of Bazylika Mariacka our legs had turned to jelly and our pulses were racing. We were met with a 360 panoramic view, our eyes taking some time to adjust from the gloomy tower to the bright, white clouds above our heads. After the exertion of the church tower climb we stopped for a bite to eat along Utica Piwna (“Beer Street”), enjoying the fresh northern breeze as we sat outside and tasted some typical ‘pierogi’, washed down with a half pint of Tyskie.
Back in the van for just 20 minutes to reach Sopot and then Gdynia, completing our tour of the Baltic Tri-city. A glorious blue sky welcome us to Sopot where we managed a picnic on the beach and pleasant stroll on one of the biggest piers of Europe. Gdynia was a charming surprise, gentle hike before dusk through a thick, golden forest led us to a sandy beach where gentle waters dissolved into pastel shades on the horizon. Losing track of the time we pulled each other along, meandering through the trees on our way back to the van.
The road to Warsaw was long and thick with fog, but choosing to enjoy the journey and not solely focus on the destination made for a memorable ride. By morning the fog still hadn’t lifted. Monochrome and industrial, Warsaw was a spectrum of grey. We saw the Old Town Market Place; deserted first thing on a Sunday morning and later fill up with tourists. By lunchtime our bellies were rumbling finding refuge from the damp cold, we sat down in a cosy and traditional restaurant to enjoy some Polish dishes: more ‘pierogi jarskie’ and ‘grzane wina’.
Before we knew it, it was already time to head to Modlin airport and part company. 3 days 800km and hundreds of new memories lining our pockets.
PHOTO: Diogo Baptista
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