Gdansk and Final Farewell

We arrived in Gdansk Airport and collected my bag from the luggage carriers. We then booked an Uber to take us into Gdansk centre to meet up with 2 of Alfie’s friends. The Uber taxi met us outside the arrivals area and only cost £6 equivalent between us for a 25 minute journey which was cheap compared to Uber in the UK! Alfie’s friends had told us they were sat at a café on ‘Long Street’ in Gdansk centre. We soon found them and joined for a drink before going to check in to our apartment.

We all had our bags with us, and walked the long distance to the address we had been given for the apartment. We had agreed with the owner to have a 1pm check in (due to some great ‘Genius’ bonuses on Alfie’s account), however when we arrived at the given address it was already 1:15pm and no one was around. We went into what we thought was the building, and found it to be slightly derelict so hoped it wasn’t there! We called and realised that the owner had forgotten, and thought we were checking in at 3pm. Within 15 minutes, someone came over with the keys and led us to the correct entrance and building next door. This one had a security code on the main door to the flats, making us feel a lot safer! When we entered the apartment, it was big in size and was beautiful. It was made up of 4 rooms: an entrance hall/kitchen (with sofa bed), the bathroom, a lounge area with sofa beds, and a double bedroom.

They decided to put the TV on for a bit, and as Alfie and I hadn’t slept properly in nearly 48 hours, I fell asleep sat on one of the sofas, for quite a long time! When I woke up, they told me that we were going back into the main city to get some food, as we hadn’t eaten for nearly 24 hours either. We ended up eating pizzas in a restaurant called ‘Long Street 52’ which was really nice and so much cheaper than what we’d got used to in Scandinavia and Malta!

We then went and found a bar along the canal side, which had a live DJ (who looked so happy to be doing his job…)! I ordered a ‘strawberry woo woo’, which unexpectedly came in a margarita glass, whilst the 3 lads ordered a beer each!

After a drink, we headed back to the apartment, only stopping along the way to buy some coffee, milk and cereal for the apartment from a store, as well as stopping by a pharmacy for me to buy some antihistamine tablets. When we got back, the lads watched the TV and went to buy beer, crisps and Tetley tea whilst I ended up falling asleep on the double bed (which Alfie and I had claimed), not even waking up when Alfie’s other friend arrived at the apartment!

When I woke up, we decided to head into Gdansk to a couple of bars whilst we waited for my friend’s delayed plain to arrive. We started off in a bar with heaters and blankets; however, the waitress told us we only had time for one drink, as they were due to be closing. We then headed to an underground bar which specialised in ales. After a couple of drinks each (or none in my case), we then headed back to the apartment, especially as I was starting to fall asleep again.

We sat watching the TV waiting for my friend to arrive…However, her RyanAir flight from Birmingham Airport was delayed by nearly 3 hours. This meant staying awake until after 2am, although it was really great to see her when she finally arrived, although she was very tired like the rest of us! We all decided to call it a night!

The next day, we all had a slight lie in, however, we wanted to go and explore. We decided to head out for a late breakfast (AKA brunch). We found a restaurant with an extensive menu of breakfasts and pastas. Two of Alfie’s friends ate a dish called “Good morning Gdansk” whilst the rest of us opted for their pasta dishes. We finished there just in time for the Gdansk Free Walking Tour.

The walking tour guide (who we all found to be a great woman) focussed on the history of Gdansk, including a tour of the old town, as well as visiting St.Mary’s church (which is the largest brick church in the world) and the largest medieval crane in Europe, along with the war events in Gdansk and the events during the communist time, ending at the Old Post Office (the location of one of the first acts in World War II).

We then went back to the apartment, and headed out on an adventure to find a hill. On the way, we weren’t entirely sure where we were going, however a kind man stopped and gave us directions which was helpful! The hill had a statue on it, and opened up some good views over Gdansk (depending on which way you looked – look the wrong way and all you see is cranes). The view was made better due to a rainbow lighting up the sky!

After a short while exploring, we all decided we were getting hungry, so we headed back into Gdansk to find somewhere for dinner. We ended up in a restaurant called ‘Kos’. I ordered the most beautiful Pork tenderloin which came with baked potatoes (or what we call roast potatoes), whilst some of the others had a Polish traditional dish of pierogi (Polish dumplings).

After our food, we ended up in an unusual cocktail bar/microbrewery called Cooltura. I ordered a ‘sex on the beach’ cocktail, and everyone else had a beer. We then decided to head back to the apartment, drink canned beers and play Scattergories (if you’ve never played, I highly recommend), before calling it a day!

On Tuesday, we woke up early with the aim of going to the World War Two museum, as on a Tuesday the museum has free entry. However, when we got to the museum, the queue weaved around the museum and up the stairs, and someone informed us that once the maximum capacity is fulfilled, it works as a “one in one out” system, meaning we could be stood there for up to 4 hours in the queue. Thus, we decided to not bother, otherwise we would be using up 4 hours of our day just stood in a queue. Instead, we went back to the apartment to grab some things, before ordering Uber’s to take us to the beach.

When we arrived at the beach it started to rain which was not ideal at all. When it cleared we walked over the sand to the water (the Baltic Sea), where one of Alfie’s friends decided he would go for a very cold swim, whilst the rest of us just decided to watch. For lunch, we sat in a bar (inside a large gazebo) and ordered various food items. Alfie and I shared a rather disgusting, ketchup dominated pizza…all I can say is I’m glad it was only cheap. We decided to leave the beach and order taxis back to the apartment.

In the afternoon, we went to the Amber Museum (which was linked with a torture museum/prison tower) and then went to the Golden Wasser restaurant/café. I had a baileys hot chocolate and wow it was good. 

From there we walked 405 steps up the tower in St Mary’s Church; however, the lads walked so fast that when we reached the top, my friend and I felt like we’d run a marathon! Despite this, the views from the top were pretty amazing…until it started absolutely bucketing it down with rain!

After this, one of Alfie’s friends led us to a cocktail bar, which advertised on the window that it had board games. I ordered a cosmopolitan cocktail, and one of Alfie’s friends requested the pack of UNO cards. We all enjoyed a couple of cocktails and a few games of UNO I think! We decided though, it was definitely time for dinner!

We went to another restaurant, where once again I had an amazing meal…however, all of our chosen dishes were covered in cress. Their chef clearly has a thing for a bit of cress! Once we’d all finished eating, I called my mum…or at least I tried. Unfortunately, at the end of Malta I gained a sore throat, so by Tuesday in Gdansk, I had no voice at all. For the people stuck with me in Gdansk, this was probably a blessing; however, my mum definitely struggled to hear what I was saying!

After dinner, we headed back to the same cocktail bar again…but this time we played Scrabble instead. However, the game they had was Polish scrabble, so we had to use slight artistic licence on English words and Polish letters…it was a very interesting but fun game! We then headed back to the apartment, watched TV and the others drank beers, before we all headed to bed.

On Wednesday morning, we all woke up reasonably early, in order to pack, tidy and clean ready to depart the apartment before check-out time. Once again, we went out for breakfast/brunch, this time back at ‘Long Street 52’ where a few of us had eaten previously. They had a good range of breakfast choices, but in the end we all chose the same meal which was: 2 fried eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, 2 white sausages, 2 pieces of toast, a pot of beans, and slices of cheese and ham (I asked for it without the beans…).  However, what made the dish even better value for money, was that the price included a choice of either coffee, beer or a shot of vodka!

After eating breakfast, we decided to go on the big wheel. We must have gone around it about 4 times before they stopped the wheel! There were some amazing views over Gdansk in some directions, however in other directions all that could be seen were cranes and building work!

We then headed for more drinks at the Golden Wasser café again. This time I opted for a plain hot chocolate, but it was still as good as the time before. The only thing that ruined the experience this time round, was the waitress: she was extremely rude to everyone she was serving. I understand we all have bad days, but there’s no need to take it out on polite customers!

After a short while hanging around in Gdansk, we all walked one of Alfie’s friends to the bus station ready for his bus to Krakow! When we said goodbye to him, we booked Uber’s to take the rest of us to the airport. When we arrived at the airport we were too early for check-in, so we found some chairs for a couple of hours. Usually check-in is supposed to open 2-3 hours before your flight, however ours was the last flight out for that day and they didn’t open our check in until nearly 90 minutes before departure time. Myself and my friend checked in my bag and then we swiftly worked through security before finding a shop to buy some food for the plane.

Once on the plane, we all found our chairs (mine in the middle of the plane compared to everyone else’s at the front…thank you RyanAir)! However, I was not on my own for long…The window seat next to me was supposed to be occupied by a woman with her baby, however children are not allowed in the emergency exit chairs. Luckily, the flight attendant swapped her with Alfie so I had some good company! Eventually, we arrived at Stanstead Airport, thus indicating the end of our travels.

I am very sad to be home and back in the real world doing University work and realising my bank hates me. I also walk around now in England expecting to hear lots of languages; it’s disappointing only getting to hear mainly the English language when I’d got so used to a good variety! However, I have had the most amazing Summer travelling with Alfie, seeing new places, meeting new people, and exploring Poland with some amazing friends.  Alfie and I were both in agreement that Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen were 3 of our favourite places in Scandinavia, each having so many different things to see but also being pretty at the same time! I would also definitely go back to Malta and Poland, and would recommend anyone to give them a visit if they get the chance!

I want to thank the friends who joined us in Poland and ended our travels in the best way possible, making some amazing memories! Another thank you goes to my parents for supporting our travels, but also for helping me fund them…! And my final thank you: I can’t thank Alfie enough for putting up with me, looking after me and being amazing company during our time away. It definitely would not have been the same without him!

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”  Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

This is not goodbye…it’s see you later!

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Helsinki and Oulu = More coffee!☕️

On Wednesday, we woke up, showered and headed out into Helsinki once again. The first place we visited was the Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral – it was absoluetely beautiful! The inside didn’t have any pews, but it was covered in candles and religious artwork!

We left there and wondered around by the waters edge into a different area of Helsinki…although we’re not really sure where we were. All we know is that there was nothing of interest there! We then walked back through the outdoor market and explored more of Helsinki. It started to rain, so just off Senate Square, we found a cute little cafe tucked away, that was reasonably cheap; I ordered a hot chocolate and Alfie ordered an Argentinian Mocha…It’s safe to say we both thoroughly enjoyed them and they’d disappeared in no time at all! 

Once we’d left the cafe, we headed to a supermarket and bought finnish pastries to snack on then, and snakcs for later on with dinner. When we got back to the apartment, we chilled watching the TV (notice a pattern here through these posts?), had dinner and decided to sleep. 

On our final day in Helsinki, we started the day off by visiting the ‘Temppeliaukio Church’ (aka the Rock Church). This is a round church that has been built into the ground, and it was absolutely beautiful! The atmosphere was also added to as there was a pianist playing during our time in the church! 

We left here and once again it decided to rain…Despite this, we carried on and decided to head back to the same cafe as the day before (we just liked it that much!). Once again I ordered a hot chocolate because it was so good, whilst Alfie ordered a standard mocha. Once again, they were delicious! After leaving there, we headed to the supermarket and bought more food for our overnight bus journey, and then went back to the apartment to pack. The host had been kind enough to let us have a 5pm checkout because of our late departure from Helsinki; this meant we didn’t have to carry our bags around with us all day!

We went and packed up, made sure we had everything (we really are trying to avoid leaving anymore folders or shampoo anywhere) and ‘checked out’, before heading to Espresso House (another coffee shop…) to pass the time before finding dinner.  

After spending a good hour or two in Espresso House, we went to McDonalds and had dinner there…It was the cheapest option! We managed to kill a good few hours in there, which meant we had less time to then wait around outside. However, we then had to find where our bus was due in the bus station. We must have walked up and down the bus station’s different floors about 4 times, until eventually we found the correct place!

Our bus turned up, and at 11:59 we started our long over night journey to Oulu…a place we knew nothing about!

When we arrived in Oulu at 8 something in the morning, we then had the difficult task of finding our next AirBnb…however it was further out of the city than we thought! After a 30 minute walk we finally found it! When we arrived, our host met us out the front of his ground floor apartment and showed us around his place. However, there was a slight language barrier, as he didn’t speak or understand much English!

We napped for a few hours and then our host brought us in our clean bedding that he had provided…Children’s football and cat bedding…! We watched some Catfish (we clearly love our American TV) and then walked to the local supermarket to get dinner. When we got back, we wanted to cook our pizza and garlic bread, however the host had a friend round so we waited for them to finish in the kitchen rather than interrupting them!

We finally made dinner, and realised, that although the host lives in this house, his kitchen is absolutely bare, with only the bare minimum utensils available! After eating our food (which luckily didn’t need to be eaten with knives and forks), we watched ‘Death in Paradise’ before having a long sleep! 

We woke up this morning, and went into Oulu…which much to our delight was a 40 minute long walk! The first thing we did was head to a market and an indoor food market where we we went to a cafe (once again), where I ordered another hot chocolate and Alfie ordered an espresso macchiato…once again they were delightful! On the way here, we got a message from our AirBnb host saying that he had gone to his native home in Russia so we would have the place to ourselves…Needless to say we were a bit shocked as we’d seen him that morning and he had not said a word! After our coffee we did some exploring, and managed to get ourselves onto another island which featured a castle ruin and a stadium. 

We chilled for a while and then decide to head to Lidl and pick up dinner and some finnish pastries, and then to head back to the flat! 

We are now about to eat a Macaroni al forno dish with garlic bread…Hopefully we have enough utensils for this one! 

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Stockholm, Turku and Helsinki: Non-stop Adventure!

On Sunday morning we woke up and headed down for breakfast on the boat; it was extremely busy! We managed to queue up and toast our bread, before I spread mine with butter and jam and Alfie covered his with cheese, and (what he thought was) pate. We poured glasses of apple juice and sat down on some free chairs with an elderly swedish gentleman who chatted to us about everything and anything (including Princess Diana, World War 2, how he worked on the boat when it was a cruise ship 30 years ago, his brother-in-law being from York, and whether Alfie and I have children of our own, urm…..)! Alfie then poured us some coffee which was way too strong for me to drink! When we got back to our room, we researched ‘Scandinavian breakfasts’ on Google…It turns out, what Alfie thought was pate was actually a fish spread like caviar (only not so posh), and that Scandinavians absolutely love to start their day with a strong coffee…I think I’ll stick to good old ‘Yorkshire Tea’!😂

After a quick shower, we headed into Stockholm and explored properly, noticing all of the building work going on – unfortunately it put us off a bit! A big marching band with an army escort went past us near the Royal Palace, past a lot of coach tours! We decided to try and find somewhere cheap for lunch, however after walking around the Old Town (Gamla Stan) too many times, at nearly 3pm we ended up at McDonalds with a Share Box, a Fanta and a Frozen Strawberry Lemonade (fast food seems to be the cheapest thing to eat in Scandinavia). 

We then decided to head back to the Old Town and bought ice cream’s with fresh hand-made cones (Alfie had salted caramel, whislt I had my favourite mint chocolate ice cream). It then started to rain so we hopped into the ‘Coop’ supermarket and bought some snacks to tide us over in the boat and on the ferry the next day. 

After quickly scouting out where we had to go for the ferry the next day (in the rain), we went back to the boat and had a drink in the sky bar. However, my heavenly cocktail essentially cost £11…no more cocktails for me in Scandinavia! 

By the time we got back to the room, we packed and then fell asleep as we had to be up at 6:15am in the morning.

On Monday morning, we woke up, quickly got ready and headed to breakfast for when it started at 6:30am. We quickly ate, collected our stuff from our room and checked out all before 6:45am ready for our ferry crossing to Turku. 

When we got onto the ferry cruise, our cabin room was so much nicer than the one in the hotel, we didn’t want to leave at the end of the 11 hours! After a few hours nap and showers, we went and found food for lunch. We went to a restaurant where I had a big beef burger with crispy bacon and lots of cheese and salad and some amazing chips (my brother definitely would have ordered the same thing) whilst Alfie ordered a mushroom and chorizo pasta…we both throroughly enjoyed our food!

After a quick walk around the boat, we went back to our cabin and watched some TV (couldn’t miss ‘Gordon Ramseys Kitchen Nightmares’…)! We then checked the entertainment schedule and decided to go to their nightclub bar/lounge and Alfie had a beer whilst I had a chocolate milkshake mocktail which was absolute heaven, whilst watching a live band! 

When it was time to leave the boat, we vacated our cabin and stood on a side deck watching all the islands whilst docking. We then had to get the bus into Turku centre, as instructed by our next AirBnb Host. We easily found his apartment and he met us outside. However, by the time we arrived we were very tired so we went to bed, especially as we’d lost an hour extra of our day (Finland are 2 hours ahead of the UK and 1 hour ahead of the other places we’ve visited), and had to be up at 5:30am!

When we woke up this morning, we met our AirBnb host outside the apartment just before 6am, as he had agreed to walk us to the bus station to catch our bus to Helsinki. When he left us, we carried on walking following his instructions, however, Alfie suddenly realised we’d left our folder in his AirBnb which had all our travel tickets/documents in it, as well as Alfie’s post cards. We finally managed to get through to the host and explained and he said he’d gone out of town on his bike but he would try to get it to us. We showed our ticket to the driver through Alfie’s emails and put our luggage on the bus, with 5 minutes spare before the bus was due to leave, when I saw a guy on a bike speeding towards us…it was our host! The guy had managed to get it to us! We were incredibly grateful!

When we arrived in Helsinki we had a few hours free before check in time, so the first thing we did was find a cafe and have a drink and cake. I ordered myself a hot chocolate, Alfie a salted caramel latte, and then we had a chocolate muffin each. We then went for a short walk and came across a small park, so we sat in the sun. What we’ve noticed though, is that many young girls in Scandinavia like to go to parks and sunbathe in bikinis’s – it’s not even overly warm!

After killing some time, we walked to our new AirBnb where the woman met us outside at check-in time. We dropped our stuff off in the room and waited for a storm to die down before going back into Helsinki. We then explored and found one of their beautiful cathedral’s, a big market, and an outdoor swimming pool with beautiful views out over the sea. We both fell in love with Helsinki, and would put it up there with our favourite places visited so far, along with Copenhagen! 

Before heading back to the AirBnb, we went to Lidl and bought dinner and snacks to cover a few days. We’ve now finished dinner and are watching a film before having a long well-deserved sleep!

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