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Published: December 13th 2017
Hello my fellow travellers!
Me and Joanna started the day with a steady breakfast of scrambled eggs and bread before she drove us to Gdynia. The first stop on our way was the Orłowski Cliff, which is a really beautiful cliff that are still being eroded by the sea by roughly one metre every year. It's located on the beautiful sandy beach in the Kępa Redłowska Nature Reserve which was founded in 1938, making it one of the oldest nature reserves in Poland. It was founded in order to preserve the natural beach forests and the Swedish Whitebeam trees that stand along the shores. We began by taking a walk up to the top of the cliff and then we walked across it in it's entirety and came down on the other side so that we could return to where we first began by walking along the beach.
The walk is absolutely wonderful, it's an easy climb with a good track to follow and the nature is absolutely splendid, I stopped a lot to take pictures and asked Joanna to take several pictures of me. I apologised for asking so much but she was wonderful and just said that
she was happy to help out as it made her a part of my journey! She is a really nice and sweet person and is easy to talk to. I enjoyed our walk a lot and I learned a lot about the region from her. Up on the cliff there's also a lot of trees with inscriptions on them inscribed by the people visiting, similar to what can be seen at many romantic viewpoints, some of them are actually quite beautiful.
As we came down to the beach on the other side of the cliff we followed the beach by the foot of the cliff to return back to where we started. On our way there we picked up a lot of sea glass, nicely shaped by the rolling waters. Joanna use them a lot in her artwork. Any piece of glass that we found that wasn't quite completed we threw back far into the sea to let nature keep working on it.
We also found the remains of a party held the night before and decided to bring the trash from it with us and get it away from the beach, because there was a lot of
plastic bags still remaining there. We continued to pick all the trash we found along our walk and by the end of the beach we had collected several bags of trash that we threw into the garbage bin. It felt good to clean this place up and let it retain it's natural beauty.
At the end of the walk we went out on the lovely pier from 1934 which gives you a lovely view of the cliff and the beach. Sitting by the start of the pier is a statue of the local artist Antoni Suchanek, overlooking the area and painting one more of his award winning creations, it's a beautiful little monument to an important local figure. I also took a quick peek at the School of Arts which is situated picturesquely next to the beach.
With that we continued to Gdynia centre we started by visiting the impressive destroyer ORP Błyskawica
which, together with her sister ship ORP Grom
, was one of the strongest destroyers of World War II. Their names mean "lightning flash" and "thunderbolt" and both of them saw action during the war. ORP Grom
was sunk 1940 in Ofotfjord near Narvik while ORP
Błyskawica survived to become the museum ship that she is today.
is open to visitors, although normally for a fee I think, because there was a ticket office. Today, however, the ticket office was closed but it was still possible to go aboard which we did. We were shown around, together with a group of school kids, by a nice and enthusiastic guide. Unfortunately almost all the information was in Polish with next to nothing in English but Joanna translated parts of it for me. Joanna was happy to be aboard as well as this was her first time on board the ship as well.
There is a plaque sitting on deck with an expression of gratitude from the people of Cowes, a town on Isle of Wight, which ORP Błyskawica
defended from an air raid by no less than 160 German bombers on the night between May 4 and May 5, 1942. ORP Błyskawica
laid out a smoke screen to cover the town and fired so heavily against the bombers that her guns became so hot that they had to be cooled by water from the river. They even had to ferry over additional ammunition
from Portsmouth just to be able to keep firing, but it worked, her stoic defence forced the bombers to stay at a high altitude which significantly lessened the damage they were able to cause.
Cowen have since held several celebrations in her honour and ORP Błyskawica
returned to the town in 2012 for the 70th anniversary of the battle. They have also renamed one of the town's squares in honour of her commander.
Inside the ship there's also a small exhibition in memory of the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 Crash in which the president of Poland, his wife and several senior members of the various branches of the Polish armed forces died. In total 96 people lost their lives in the crash and it sent a wave of shock through Poland, one of the victims was vice admiral Andrzej Karweta who was the commander-in-chief of the Polish navy. The uniform that he worn at the time of the crash was donated to ORP Błyskawica
by his wife and is on display in the exhibition.
Next to ORP Błyskawica
lies another beautiful ship at anchor, the Dar Pomorza
, Joanna told me that the name means gift of
Pomerania and it was named so because it was a donation to the navy from the people of Pomerania. Today it's a museum ship but it used to be a training vessel and Joanna told me a story of when she was young and her brother sailed out on it. She told me how she, their mother and her brother's new girlfriend was standing among the crowds, cheering and waiving him off.
Unfortunately Dar Pomorza
was closed so we couldn't go aboard it so we kept walking along the docks passing another large ship laying at anchor, the Dar Młodzieży
, the name means gift of the youth
and it replaced the Dar Pomorza
as a training ship in 1982 and is still used as such to this day.
Further down at the end of the harbour stands two proud monuments, the Sails Monument (Pomnik Żagle
), which honours the sailing history of Gdynia, and the Joseph Conrad Monument. He's one of the most famous Polish authors and he wrote a lot about life as a sailor as well as about modernism and colonialism. He served in the Merchant Navy and he became a British citizen in 1886.
we reached the end of the harbour it was raining quite a bit so we went back and decided to go and grab a bite to eat at a restaurant that Joanna recommended. On our way there we stopped by another couple of nice monuments. The first one, Monument to the Home Army, is dedicated to the Home Army which was one of the largest resistance movements of World War II with some 400,000 members. The second one, Monument to the Polish Sailor, is dedicated to the sailors of Poland who fought during World War II.
The restaurant was very nice, it had friendly staff, delicious food and just like yesterday it was really inexpensive, by Swedish standards at least. As a token of my gratitude to Joanna for inviting me for three nights I paid for her meal as well. Both our meals combined along with my bear only cost me PLN 34, less than a discounted lunch special for one person in Sweden, and that lunch most definitely wouldn't include a beer.
After the meal we braved the rain again to take a free funicular ride up the Kamienna Góra (lit. "Stone Mountain"), a 53 metre
high hill that provides a good vantage point of Gdynia. On top of it stands a tall cross that functions as a shining beacon to the fishermen coming into port. Joanna told me that she had wondered why the cross was built there until she took a ferry between Poland and Sweden, upon her return she could see the cross shining in the distant and then she understood it's true purpose.
Before we went up the hill though we made a short visit to the Church of Virgin Mary Queen of Poland. It's a beautiful church that was built at the same time as Gdynia was founded as a port by a state decree in the 1920s. This entire town was built in a very rapid pace as the Polish government knew that they needed a port town after they gained their independence. Gdynia, by then a small fishing village, was chosen for the task and the entire town was built in just a couple of years.
As we came down from the hill we talked about what to do next and Joanna preferred we return back to her home and, honestly, with the rain I was inclined
to agree. However, it was still quite early so we decided to visit the nearby Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which, with it's tall bell tower, stands as a real eye catcher in the centre of town. It was open but really dark and cold so we didn't linger there for long.
We were quite wet and frozen so we just did a quick pit stop for a toilet break at a mall before we drove back to Joanna's home where we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening just relaxing and chatting a bit. We also ate some soup and drank some tea while we made our plans for tomorrow.
Tomorrow we will drive to the town of Hel (I love that name) where we will visit a seal sanctuary that Joanna told me about today when I saw a sign for seals down by the pier in the Kępa Redłowska Nature Reserve.
Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!
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