“We got stars directing our fate, and we’re praying it’s not too late, because we know we’re falling from grace, Gdynia” – Robbiego Williamowski.
Well my friends, it was a long and emotional return to the city of Gdynia in July 2017. You’ll hear it again, but Gdynia changed my life. I still cannot quite fathom it. It’s a life drenched in emotion.
This was the place where I arrived back on Polish soil a year before, July 2016 (ready for my next adventure) doing a food tour with Eat Polska before settling in Gdansk and writing about Pomorskie and specifically the Kociewie region. My heart kept beating out a pulse to ghost dancers though and gorgeous Gdynia couldn’t wait any longer. I had to come back and my timing was superb, some might say inspired. I was praying it wasn’t too late for a textbook top six, and it took me ages to get this finally typed up, though I did cover a cool top 20 sights in Gdynia on Culture Trip.
My June 2017 reader vote sent me to the seaside resort of Miedzyzdroje (for a nudist beach experience), and so on the way, I gathered it might be a good idea to spend a sentimental night in Gdynia on route to continue my travel research and writing of Pomorskie. I homed in on a top class hostel – the Green House Hostel that was my cup of tea, right up my street and for sure would give me an insight into how Gdynians live here, in this metropolis that pumps us more Bangor or Bournemouth than a communist dictatorship your fake German friends thought up during a heavy lager session down a pub they didn’t pay for. This was never the free port of Danzig, don’t let history kid you. The city swallowed within it Kashubian culture was never really Germanic.
When the sun sank on this anniversary, I realised I was in love again. With Gdynia. It was pure and from my depressive heart. How could we not fall in love with this over a cold beer?
It was officially my third visit to the city and yet I had never covered the city on my own blogs before in the mind of a backpacking tourist. I had only reviewed the food tour and that was it. I was now being paid to write about it, my work and media outreach had a new niche – Poland. So back to Gdynia – it was time. These are my pure fire top 6 sights to check out as I have to be quick tonight.
“I can’t sleep cos the world won’t wait” – Noel Gallagher.
1.Kamienna Gora (Rock Mountain)
Sitting high and mighty as Gdynia’s “mountain in the city”, climb the steps to the top for fantastic views, pretty gardens and sunsets glorious enough to Instagram about. With the meaning Rock Mountain, and a huge cross at the top, this is one of Gdynia’s iconic showpoints.
I was staying just one minute away at the Green House Hostel, so I could go here at my leisure, day or night. There is also a cable car/train that takes you up and down, though I admit I didn’t use it. The cheap backpacker in me still prefers the steps!
2.Stadion GOSiR. Stadion Miejski w Gdyni (Arka Gdynia Stadium)
As a football fan and one who has now visited 7 stadiums in Pomorskie, I had to head to the Stadion Miejski, home of Arka Gdynia. If you haven’t yet heard of Arka – you could have seen them in the Europa League this season, had they not squandered a 4-2 aggregate lead over Danish Mittyjland. The club were double winners in 2017, having won the Polish Cup (2-1 in Warszawa v. Lech Poznan) and the Polish Super Cup (winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Legia Warszawa). Arka also finished runner up in the 2018 Polish Cup and retained the Polish Super Cup (beating Legia Warszawa 3-2 away)
2017 was therefore the most successful year in the club’s history in their first season back in the top flight. On your visit to the stadium, check out the bar and be aware that they don’t like Lechia Gdansk – their huge local rivals. So these are good times for Arka – 2 trophies and in Europe while Lechia Gdansk, despite being one goal away from winning the league in the season’s 90th minute, ended up not even with a European spot! With their yellow and blue kit, seaside town appeal, they are not far off being the Polish Torquay United (England) or Bangor FC (Northern Ireland), albeit with a bigger stadium.
Arka play in yellow and blue and you can get to the stadium by taking the SKM local train to Gdynia Orlowo station. As a fact the Polish national rugby team play in the adjacent stadium.
3.Kaszubzki Plac (Kashubia Square)
You can add another country to your backpacking repertoire here in pretty Gdynia by backpacking your way to Kashubian Square. Although it’s technically part of Poland, an interesting fact is that many people from Kashubian backgrounds live in this area, with some even claiming that Kashubia (Kaszuby in Polish) is a separate country. There is a Kashubian Square in the city with a yellow and black Kashubian flag and a monument dedicated to Kashubian activist Anthony Abraham.
Right in the heart of downtown Gdynia sits a fantastic beach. The sea is clean and peaceful, there’s a large stretch of sand and it’s a popular place to be on a hot summer’s day though I plan to return in the winter. Located just a few minutes from the city centre and a short walk from the main pier, there’s no shortage of summer activities nearby, with plentiful ice cream stalls to get your fix and a few scattered bars too.
5.Gdynia Pier and Promenade
When my wandering soul led me to Gdynia in July 2016, it was the fresh sea air on Gdynia’s pier and promenade that led me to fall in love with Poland yet again, with the surprise longer term plan eventually leading to this blog eminating, learning Polish in both Gdansk and Warszawa and securing some great writing jobs in and around Poland.
In fact, it was my travel writing about Gdynia and nearby Starogard Gdanski that guaranteed my contracts. An unexpected Polish newspaper appearance in August 2016 was probably the catalyst that I should officially stay in Poland and so I found a flat.
The weird thing is, I was meant to be touring those places with a friend. Had I have done that, I may not have got the latest contracts that arose. It is a funny world and I still feel blessed by God from the moment I first stepped foot in Gdynia in 2016.
As you can tell from the photos, Gdynia pier and promenade are gorgeous. There are boats a plenty, bars, cafes, shops, amusements, ice cream stalls, museums, monuments. It’s a hive of positive activity.
6.Cat Cafe – Biały Kot Kocia Kawiarnia
I simply couldn’t resist a trip to the Biały Kot Kocia Kawiarnia, already covered on my Piatkowe Picie series in detail and because this was the first of these I ever visited and such a novelty, it’s a must see when in Gdynia.
I’ve been so busy lately to do my normal top 23 etc. sights so just a quick top 6 today, which I felt was better than nothing. I admit this is photo heavy and could be more detailed, perhaps one day I’ll write a longer piece on gorgeous Gdynia, the city which basically led to me staying in Poland…this top 6 even neglects all the places on my food tour, plus the rarely recognised nation of Krolestwo Dreamlandu.
Here are some videos from my time backpacking in Gdynia: