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Who knew Poland had beaches? Not us.
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in Gdynia and made our way over to the water. With a large stretch of golden sand, sparkling blue water, and shady cafes and bars by the boardwalk, this didn’t seem like a bad place to spend the day. It seems the Poles were in agreement, as tons of people were out with their families frolicking in the water, catching some sun, or just enjoying a cold beer.
We parked ourselves by the bar; a cold drink, shade and wifi, what more do we need?
The weather was just cool enough to enjoy the shade but not hot enough to entice us for a swim, so we left the swimming to the locals and just enjoyed the view.
I never heard anything about Polish beaches, and sure the water might be cold, but this certainly looked a lot better than the Cape (Cape Cod in Massachusetts for those who didn’t get the reference).
Our day only got better as we met our Polish couchsurfer, Oscar that night.
He took us on a walking tour of the small port city, showing us the various ships on display (ORP Błyskawica destroyer and the Dar Pomorza Tall Ship frigate ) and the various boats in the harbor.
And we finally got to try the super tall mysterious Polish ice cream. Not quite as creamy as ice cream, but not icy enough for a water ice, we’re still not sure how they make this or get it stand up so nicely on the cone.
From there Oscar took us on a tour of Sopot, a nearby city better known as a seaside spa resort that attracts the rich and famous from nearby and from other European countries. Sopot instantly felt more crowded but still seems to have maintained its small town charm.
The highlight of our night though was the makeshift barbecue Oscar set up for us on top of one of Gdynia’s seaside cliffs. We stopped by a local store for some Polish sausages, red wine and a one time use grill (who knew they even made these?) and Oscar led us down a dark path across the beach up to the cliffs.
For half a second the whole situation seemed a bit sketchy, but sometimes you just have to go with it; and so we did. We climbed up to the top and set up shop.
Drinking red wine straight out of the bottle, using small sticks as utensils for the sausages, sharing stories and admiring the beach below under the moonlight made for a great evening.
The experiences you can have with couch surfers truly are unforgettable.
The following morning Oscar dropped us off at the train station and we were off to our final stop in Poland – Leba.
I was plenty surprised to see that Poland had awesome beaches, but even more surprised to learn of the sand dunes in Leba.
Slowinski National Park, which is right next to the Baltic Sea features unique shifting sand dunes, woods, lakes and a long coastline with a beach. The entrance to the park is only 3 kilometers away from Leba so we rented bikes and set off.
As you reach the sand dunes (a full 10 km bike ride later) it’s hard to believe you’re still in Poland.
The lake is to your left and the sea to your right but right in front of you, if you just look straight ahead, you could honestly believe you’re in the middle of the desert.
Quite a peculiar feeling, if you ask me.
After the long bike ride, and grueling walk through the sand having the cool sea to run into is simply perfect.
And that Baltic Sea water is not warm by any means. Talk about refreshing. Not like those Cambodian beaches for sure.
If you ask me though, I prefer cooler water temperature, even if it is a few degrees too cold. To me that’s better than ocean water that feels like warm bath water. Who’s with me?
Overall we had a great time exploring the various places on the Polish coast. If you’re heading to Poland take some time to explore Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot and Leba. You won’t be disappointed!