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Yesterday, “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I returned from Poland and we had a fabulous and rather relaxing time.
However, the fact remains that when I say that I’m going to Poland, people laugh. The fact remains that travellers and tourists see a million reasons why Poland isn’t on the radar. Yes, it’s true that transport can be a bit of a problem if you’re not familiar with the language, and so I explained how easy it is to use the train and why once you get there, Oh-my-god-Polish-food-is-going-to-kill-you!
I’m here to let you know that if you’re looking for a cheap holiday then the Polish Baltic Sea is indeed, pretty alright! Let’s start with the basics:
WHY GO TO THE POLISH BALTIC SEA?
As you know, I am The British Berliner therefore, logic demands that I live in Berlin. That being the case, it’s enormously easy to travel anywhere in Europe and one of the countries nearby, is Poland. In fact, the German-Polish border is less than two hours away. Yes, just two hours, so if you’re coming to Berlin in the summer (and you should), why not add a couple of days to Poland while you are here, and cross off that East European bucket-list!
HOW DO I GET THERE?
It’s really quite simple. If you’re flying, international airports in Poland are in Warszawa (Warsaw), Kraków, Wrocław, and Poznań. If you’re taking the international train, they generally connect to Warsaw. However, if you’re coming from Berlin like I did, then Szczecin (Stettin) on the German-Polish border is your best bet.
There are discount prices from the German Railway Service known as Deutsche Bahn or DB. You can get a one-way single ticket from Berlin to Stettin for €10.00. Reduced tickets for €7.50. If you want to make a day of it, a day ticket would be €20.00 and €15.00 respectively. You could use it for every local transport in Stettin and the ticket is valid until 03:00 the next day! For more information about how to use the trains in Poland check here.
We paid €72.60 or $100.80 on the outward journey for a seaside trip between two countries, and we paid a rather wonderful €41.50 or $57.45 on the way home. This is how we did it:
€4.00 or $5.20 from Leba to Lebork. €20.00 or $27.00 from Lebork to Szczecin (Stettin), and €17.50 or $24.20 from Szczecin (Stettin) to Berlin.
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
OMG. You have got to be joking. There was hardly anyone there! I’m used to going to Leba in June or July and for the first time, we decided to go in April. In fact, apart from a German family and a young American couple, we were the only tourists in town!
It took us a bit by surprise at first but it was rather nice, and everyone got to know us.
It was enormously quiet except for the church bells, and more of the church bells!! Leba is a small town so when we went to the “centrum” it took all of 10 minutes. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, then Leba in the Spring is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for a bit more “action” then the summer season is probably better.
WHAT IS THE BEACH LIKE?
The beach is lovely and white. As much as I love my new adopted country, I prefer the Baltic Sea in Poland rather than in Germany. It’s quieter, it’s less crowded, and it’s totally undeveloped! “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I went on a 7 km walk on the beach and apart from an old couple, and a middle-aged couple with a grandmother and a baby, THERE WAS NOBODY ON THE BEACH. We were completely and totally alone.
On our own.
It was marvellous.
We ran around. We made shapes in the sand. We jumped and screamed. Then we got really cold because even though the sun was shining, we were grossly under-dressed as the wind was bitingly sharp and there was no cover. At one point, I got a little worried as we seemed to be walking for miles.
We were, and there were no “land dividers” so that we could go inland and it can be dangerous, as inland is the Slowinski National Park forest, and huge moving sand dunes!
I DONT SPEAK POLISH.
I’m not going to lie. Most people only speak Polish but there will always be someone around who can help. If you can speak English, German or Russian. You’re in!
When we tried to buy our train ticket to Malbork, the sales assistant didn’t speak English or German and neither did most people around us, except for one lady who spoke pretty good English. Not only did she translate things for us but I found myself needing 30 zlotys more than I actually had, as that particular train station in Lebork didn’t take EC or credit cards. This wonderful lady who didn’t know me from Adam or Eve, actually paid the extra 30 zlotys that I needed.
Thank you so much Ms. Iwona Wolocznik!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
In the past, we have always been to the same family hotel. We used to stay with a local family that owned 3 houses, restaurants and the gingerbread house that quite aptly sold Paczki, which is a type of doughnut-like sticky bun and Sernik or cheesecake. This time around, I decided to use the services of booking.com and found this wonderful little family run bed and breakfast/pension/hotel.
This lovely place is called Villa Akacja.
The Villa was lovely. I didn’t know what to expect and was surprised at what we received. We had:
An en-suite double room with a quaint dining table and two chairs. A flat screen TV. A fridge. A hot water boiler/kettle so that you could make your own tea or coffee in your room, free fast WiFi and OMG underfloor-heating in the bathroom!
All this for €22.00 per night!
We also had a delicious home-made breakfast that varied daily from pancakes, omelette, different types of bread, salads, yoghurt, juice and slices of cake. At €5.00 or $7.00 per day, they were virtually giving it away!
We weren’t sure if we wanted to have breakfast included but we were so glad that we chose that option. You can also choose not to have an inclusive breakfast as there is also a fully equipped guest kitchen, so that you can make your own meals, which we utilised one night when we had pot-noodles for dinner!
I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
No Problem. Pretty much any Eastern European country is quite cheap and is never going to break the bank. If you’re on a budget, you could do worse. Beer is under €1.00 or $1.00. Meals including a starter are about €6.00 or $8.00 and that was for both of us. Not including drinks!
If you’re making your own meals there are a few local supermarkets around and they are very helpful. We should probably have asked them about the milk situation as I ended up buying a carton of yoghurt instead. It made for quite an interesting cup of hot chocolate I can tell you!
I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?
Yep! There is a historical castle on the beach in Leba called the Hotel Neptun. This castle was built in 1903 and retaining it’s style and elegance of times gone by, has become a charming 100-year-old castle-like hotel.
It’s actually on the beach and in the summer has it’s own private beach section for guests as well as a heated swimming pool. The dining room has a sort of English sea-side style with a fire-place, candles and a huge chess-set in the very simple lounge area.
I had previously contacted the hotel for a reservation and they very generously offered a complimentary dinner (excluding drinks) for “The Tall Young Gentleman” and myself.
We had been there a few times before, for yummy cake, but let me tell you that our dinner was fantastic. It’s not easy satisfying a demanding, fussy, 12-year old boy, but the Hotel Neptun did pretty well. We had:
A lovely salad of ham, peppers, white cheese and figs, and a traditional Żurek Polish sour soup with horseradish, combined with egg and white sausage, for our starter course.
We both had guinea fowl breast with French beans and pureed carrots in red-current sauce, for our main course.
For dessert we had, Crêpes Suzette – pancakes flambéd in orange liqueur, served with vanilla ice–cream and Szarlotka – warm apple pie with vanilla ice– cream covered in anglaise.
The meal was delicious and the service was attentive. Drinks were extra and a glass of wine and a soft drink was €5.00 or $7.00.
Thank you Hotel Neptun!
WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO LEBA?
There is plenty to do in the high/full season. You can:
Learn a few words of Polish such as:
Most importantly, have fun!
This article isn’t sponsored and even though we received a simply splendid complimentary meal, absolutely all opinions are my very own!
For the months of May and June, I’ll be writing about summer time in Berlin, and what to do when you get here.
Watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
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Thanks a million!
See you in Berlin.
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