Gdansk and it’s nearby sister cities of Sopot and Gdynia are collectively known as Tricity, so after breakfast we set off to Gdansk Glowny station to embark on our journey. Trains in Tricity are operated by SKM and have a distinctive blue and yellow livery.
Tickets need to be bought either from the SKM desks or from a machine. If you buy the ticket from a machine then this must be validated in the yellow machines located on platforms. The SKM platforms are to the right as you enter the station and depart from the same part of the station as the airport service. Single tickets to Sopot cost 3.80 zl (80p) each and run approximately every 15 minutes, the journey taking 20 minutes.
On leaving the station it was just a short walk to the centre of town along the tree lined Monte Cassino which begins at the neo-gothic church of St. George continuing down to the sea.
The town has a refined air with beautiful 19th century villas and summer houses dotted along neighbouring streets. It boasts fashionable shops and inviting cafes and I’m certain it’s a very popular resort during the warm, summer months. Walking a little further, we reached Spa Square with its centrepiece 20m high fountain and opulent, art-nouveau Grand Hotel. Where Monte Cassino ends, the pier begins and we enjoyed a stroll along the longest surviving wooden pier in Europe. The pier was originally built in 1829 but has been extended over the years and now stretches 515 m (1690 ft) out into the Baltic Sea.
It’s original function was to serve as a boat harbour but in latter years it has been transformed into a leisure facility. More recently lower and side decks have been added from where we admired the yachts moored alongside the pier. The town is twinned with Southend-on-Sea in the south east of England which is home to the world’s largest pleasure pier constructed of iron which is 2160 m (7086 ft) in length. I’ve not visited Southend but now that I’ve heard about it’s pier, I need to go and see it for myself.
It was lovely strolling along Sopot pier, breathing in the cool, fresh air. Sopot is a well known spa town noted for its effects of high concentrations of iodine in the air, so hopefully we were feeling the benefits. Reaching the far end of the pier, we climbed some steps to a raised platform where a cafe operates in summer. From this viewing platform we had splendid views looking back towards the town and of the sheltered cove and wide, sandy beach stretching along the coast.
Retracing our steps to the station we noticed a very strange building, so strange in fact that it was selected as one of the 50 strangest buildings in the world! It’s called Krzwy Domek (crazy house) and this fairytale inspired building is home to cafes, shops and a local radio station. In my opinion, it looked totally out of place in such a beautiful town and its appearance must certainly divide opinion!
Back at the station, we bought onward tickets to the port city of Gdynia taking a further 15 minutes with tickets again costing 3.80 zl each. Leaving the station in Gdynia it was a 15 minute walk to the marina. Passing the market hall, we glanced inside and found it to be large and functional but lacking in charm. Gdynia is a young city, formerly a sleepy fishing village until construction commenced in the 1920’s to develop the city into a large port. Because of this, there is quite a mix of architectural styles from 1920’s art-deco, post-war Soviet building to modern post-communism style developments.
As we arrived at the marina it started raining and there was a stiff breeze as we strolled along the almost desolate stone jetty. Along here we found two tall ships and some naval vessels. One of the tall ships, the Pomorza acts as a museum ship during the winter months but it was closed as we wandered by.
Gdynia probably looks more appealing during the summer season as during our visit many of the cafes and wooden kiosks overlooking the beach were closed. The marina is also home to the Gemini leisure complex and the national aquarium. On our way back to the railway station we found an attractive cafe where we warmed up with bowls of soup accompanied with slices of delicious rye bread.
We then caught the train back to Gdansk after an interesting day out. I would definitely recommend a visit to Sopot whatever the time of year but unless you have time to spare, I think I would probably only visit Gdynia during the summer months.
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