When I was touring Pomerania in Summer 2016, I ended up in some truly obscure spots that other tourists simply were not going to. Life was up and down and I was settling into Poland with some confusion. I was let down by some friends initially in this region but it didn’t really affect my normal tours – I still toured Rywałd, Pelplin, Kokoszkowy, Tczew and Starogard Gdański on my own to write about them.
However, I opted to use Couchsurfing to start with as a way to meet locals in the absence of my local friends. I got in touch with Jacek who agreed to meet me in central Starogard Gdański and have a beer with me in the trendy and hip Socialist Bar Projeckt PRL, one of the first PRL bars I visited. After that, Jacek invited me to spend a night in his village Rywałd!!
Ask me if I had heard of the village of Rywałd before that trip and I’d have said no way, where is it? But the travel lifestyle is an odd, unpredictable one so I ended up here. Rywałd has a population of around 603, and for one night 604 as a nonchalant Northern Irish backpacker arrived in “town”! This was another obscure night from my journeys while based in the unknown town of Starogard Gdański.
I arrived by bus from Gdańsk and you might already have read about my favourite bars in the town, and my stay in the lovely Hotel Noclegi Rekord. As well as touring Starogard Gdański, I met up with two local lads to show me around – Jacek and Bartek. Jacek runs his own business here and had time to meet for a coffee in central Starogard Gdański – we met in the trendy Klubokawiarnia Szafa (Wardrobe Cafe) for a coffee, one of my favourite cafes in town.
As well as having a beer in the socialist themed Projekt PRL (one of the best bars in Starogard Gdański), we got a carryout and headed by car to Jacek’s place here in Rywałd. This turned out to be my last time in Projekt PRL as it closed shortly after. The bar had all sorts of communism memorabilia inside and reminded me of PRL Bar in Bydgoszcz and Jozef K or No to CYK in Gdansk.
I was able to speak some Polish to Jacek, his girlfriend Renia and Bartek. I got a full tour of their awesome country house in a quiet street opposite the forest. The sun went down, we had some beer, some snacks and we chatted. We played pool, listened to music and Jacek told me he was a Nottingham Forest fan, which was crazy as my mate Lock in Lee is a huge Forest fan.
It was great to meet Jacek, Renia and Bartek here in this tranquil village. My whole travel lifestyle has been too barmy and this was another moment. I have needed some friends and new people in my life recently to help get me through some hard times. I made some mistakes this year and it took the tranquility of Starogard Gdański and Rywałd to give me a sense of freedom and short term happiness again.
I wrote some poems here in this town as well and Bartek, Jacek and I talked politics. When I told them Poland was easily in my top 5 countries in Europe, they didn’t believe me. I hope now they will.
As for adventure, as well as learning Polish in Gdańsk and doing a food tour in seaside Gdynia, Sopot and Leba, I visited Tczew, Pelplin, Malbork and Touring the German Concentration Camp at Stutthof. Stay tuned to my social media and follow my journey!
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Thanks to Jacek, Renia and Bartek for a great time in little Rywałd!!
Here are some videos from my short but memorable time in little Rywałd: