I have to admit, I am struggling with blogging. I feel like I am a toddler making first steps in life. Perhaps if you are a beginner too you are following lots of super interesting and successful blogs and feeling how far are your own attempts from a result like that. I have let myself procrastinate about that for a while but today I have grabbed myself up and think that at some point in the past nearly every blogger was just a beginner too. You have to start somewhere.
I started this blog to share my travel photographs and stories but I have accumulated so many of them I just couldn’t decide what should come first. So I chose the easy way for now – the chronological order. Oh my, it is so hard to write without using all the smiles icons.
Today I invite you for a morning walk along one of the most beautiful streets in the Polish city of Gdansk – Mariacka street. It got its name after a medieval cathedral on one end of the street – St. Mary’s Church or Bazylika Mariacka in Polish. The cathedral definitely dominates the street but also complements its old town atmosphere.
The street like all medieval streets is not very long. If you come here at noon it will be bustling with tourists led by tour guides with microphones. Today we came here in the morning when local vendors are just setting out their stalls filled with precious souvenirs and world famous amber jewellery.
If I were an ordinary tourist I would love to hear the tour guide’s stories. No doubt they are very interesting. I am actually thinking about taking a tour next time I visit! Although I have been to Gdansk a lot of times, it was always on my own. So I didn’t hear a lot of old town legends – just the most famous one. The house at the address 1 Mariacka street is believed to be the oldest house in Gdansk, built in 1451. A lot of beautiful houses in Gdansk Old Town were severely damaged in WW II but many of them were carefully restored after, making Gdansk Old Town one of the most fascinating places in Poland with a truly unique atmosphere.
Fortunately the house at 1 Mariacka street was restored too and now you can stay there because it is a wonderful medieval stylised hotel – Kamienica Gotyk. And you have to hurry up with your booking as there are only 7 rooms which sell out fast especially in summer! Detailed information about the hotel including photographs of rooms is on their website – www.gotykhouse.eu
I have stayed there about 10 times and highly recommend the place for its amazing atmosphere. My favourite things there are waking up to the chiming bells of St. Mary’s Church and a nice breakfast in summer served right on the terrace overlooking the street. I have to stop writing for a few moments as I am dreaming about this wonderful experience.
On the side from the entrance to the hotel you will see steps leading to the basement of the house. There you will find a mini museum also run by the hotel. The museum is to support the legend that famous Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus once stayed in this house and had a long lasting love affair with a lady named Anna Schilling. A travel chest from 1539 that belonged to Anna Schilling according to this legend was found in the basement of the house during restoration works. It is also exhibited in the museum. A part of the basement is a wonderfully decorated shop selling traditional Polish ginger bread in different flavours and a variety of delicate aromatic teas. The ginger bread is made in another Polish city named Torun – the home of Copernicus – by a company also named Copernicus – thus, the link to the House and the museum. You can buy the ginger bread and tea to take home or enjoy a nice hot cup of tea to go on a crisp day.
In the opposite end of the street you will find Gdansk archaeological museum with observation tower. The tower is where we are headed now. To get to the viewing deck you have to go up the stairs on foot but it is pretty easy and you stop very often to see something like this:
When you get up to the very top, open one of the windows and take in some fresh air and the full view.
On the opposite side you will see Motlawa river with the oldest surviving port crane in Europe on the left. It is named Zuraw which means a crane (bird) and is decorated with a figure of the bird itself on the roof. The crane and the ship in the centre of the photo are a part of Gdansk Maritime Museum.
The observation tower of Gdansk archaeological museum is not the only viewing spot in Gdansk Old Town. Other and far more well-known spots are the Town Hall and the tower of St. Mary’s Church. Both towers are accessible on foot only. While the Town Hall tower is of a moderate height, St. Mary’s tower is definitely a challenge with over 400 steps of narrow winding stairs.
My head starts to go round when I’m up there and the reasons are many – the views, fresh sea breeze rich with oxygen, the climb and overwhelming beauty of Old Gdansk. So it’s time to go down and continue our walk…
Once on the ground again let’s throw another look on Mariacka street:
It is about time to relax and refresh with a nice and warming cup of tea. And I can’t think of a better place to do that than the charming Pikawa on Piwna street, just minutes away from Mariacka.
They have a very interesting and original selection of teas – with fresh oranges, ginger, cinnamon or mint – the list is nearly endless. The coffee menu is no runner-up but the star of the place, thus the name Pikawa. “Pi” comes from the name of Piwna street and “kawa” means coffee in Polish. Their dessert menu is simple but delicious. Don’t leave without trying their Szarlotka z lodem – traditional Polish apple cake with vanilla ice-cream, Pikawa style. It is just heavenly. And with carefully designed cosy interior you would not want to leave at all.
Refreshed and energised we finally let ourselves leave this beautiful haven of coffee, tea and loveliness to continue our walk through Old Town. I really enjoy wandering along the narrow lanes looking into windows and souvenir shops’ displays…
For the end of our walk let’s just glimpse one of the numerous cafes on the busy Dlugi Targ – or Long market, the very heart of Gdansk.
Thank you very much for walking with me. I look forward to your comments and advice on blogging. Cheers!