Notes From The Road: Poland

I’m spending six weeks poking around Ireland/Sweden/Poland/Iceland/NYC, meeting up with friends, clients, and
pastries. You can read about previous travel adventures here.


A moment of honesty, friends.  The only reason I included Gdansk, Poland in my travel itinerary was that a good friend was going to be there for two weeks. 

I certainly wasn’t anti Poland, but it just wasn’t one of those countries I was aching to visit.  I was fairly sure that it would be full of terrible architecture and grumpy old women in dumpy grey dresses and chunky shoes.

Apparently I really absorbed all that anti-Communist propaganda that came out when I was in primary school.

Well, be ye not so stupid as me.  Poland is awesome and you should go there. 

Here’s why:

* Fantastic beaches and good weather.  As we’ve established, I love me some Sweden.  But their summer ends mid-August!  When I arrived in Gdansk, summer was still going strong and there were still people hitting up gorgeous beaches.

* The food. Oh my God, the food.  In four days I ate: Belgian waffles with whipped cream and raspberries, Russian pierogis with borscht, tons of great vegetarian food (from a cheap, chain restaurant!), vodka + pickles, vodka + black current syrup + Tabasco sauce, cherry vodka + hot fruit tea.  Annnnd a million other lovely things.  I will be rolling my way to Iceland rather than flying.

* The people.  Helpful, sweet, and wonderful number of middle aged med with big, bushy mustaches.

* The history.  Did you know that The Solidarity Movement – which eventually help end communism’s grip on Eastern Europe – started at a shipyard in Gdansk?  There’s a great interactive tour you can take, lead by people who actually worked in the shipyards and took part in the movement.  I’m not usually one for history, but it’s amazing to realize that these changes took place within my own lifetime.  My Polish friends talked about standing in line for hours for bread or being stranded out in the countryside at relatives’ houses because martial law and curfews were in effect and their parents couldn’t come out and get them.  Mind blowing, right?

* The prices. Poland isn’t cheap cheap, but it’s much, much, much cheaper than Sweden and just as lovely.   My friends and I had shared two appetizers, three cocktails, one main, and two soups at a nice-ish restaurant to the tune of $40 US total.  Pretty good, eh?

Have you ever traveled to a country or city you were pleasantly surprised by?  Or surprisingly disappointed by?

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  1. Joyce Ann Underwood

    Having not yet traveled outside of America, I must say that my most startling experience to date was Los Angeles. I thought I would hate everything about it, and that was so not the case. I find it to be a lovely place and I now wish that I could find a way to visit more often. I have always thought I was more of a New York kind of person, which may be true in a way – I have a New York perspective with an LA aesthetic. I love the way everything and everyone looks in LA! Love it!

  2. Morgan

    that food sounds amazing!

  3. auroralapetite

    Glad you liked Poland, I loved Kraków when I lived there. Needless to say, I don't quite see vodka in the same light as I did after drinking far too many shots of Maddog there (vodka, raspberry juice and Tabasco).

  4. Maria

    Hey Sarah,

    great to hear you enjoyed my homeland 🙂 You should try the food in a home-made edition, so much better than restaurant variant 🙂


  5. London + Grey

    I've never been to Poland but am from a part of Pennsylvania that is steeped in its traditions. I looooved going to the food festivals. So. Freaking. Good. And most people aren't aware of how good it is! More for us, right?

  6. Jenny

    Poland's been on my life needs list for some time now, but I honestly don't know anything about it! Your post has inspired me to new levels – I had no idea it had so much variety to offer. I wonder if I have some ancestral magnet pulling me there…

  7. loulou

    Your pictures are terrific. It really looks and sounds like a great place to visit, though like you, it wouldn't have been top of my list, but after reading this, it has jumped up a few spots on said list!

  8. Kaitlin Johnson

    I didn't expect the Czech Republic to be as lovely as it was. Not only Prague but all the smaller towns too! I think I had.similar "behind the iron curtain" images in my head.

  9. Mandy

    I'm dying to go to Poland! That may be because every city I've gone to in Central Europe has been so much more amazing than I thought it would be. The two examples that come to mind are Cesky Krumlov, a small town in the Czech Republic, and Budapest. Cesky Krumlov just stole my heart. It was as though it was straight out of a storybook! And Budapest has such fantastic history and gorgeous views, parks, buildings, rivers, TURKISH BATHS, etc. Loved both!

    And I'm so glad that commenter Joyce Ann said Los Angeles! I lived there for 9 years, loved it for the most part, but people always act as though I must have lived in the worst, smoggiest, traffic-filled, crime-ridden place on earth. No! LA is amazing! You just need to go and see it for yourself!

  10. ilovemyvintage

    i would love to go to Poland one day!its actually is on me top 5 places to go in 2013.after reading this, i must get there asap!i know what you mean about being pleasantly surprised, i felt the same way about Belgium, till i got there,and visited amazing Brussels and magical Ghent!

  11. Hannah

    Do you have a hard time eating vegetarian when you visit other countries?

  12. Confused Twenty-Something

    I was in Gdansk when I went on a Baltic cruise with my family a few years ago – it's a cute city! It's known by a more familiar name in German – Danzig. I had no idea until I went there that they were the same city. Tallin, Estonia is also such a super cute city to visit! We found a Texas-themed restaurant there, which was hilarious since we are from Texas! I'm so jealous of your trip. I can't wait to travel again! I really want to travel around Europe for a month or so and focus on Eastern Europe. I've never been to Germany and I've always wanted to go. Romania, too, because one of my former best friends is Romanian! Greece would be great, too!

  13. Sarah Von Bargen


    I'm a pretty pragmatic vegetarian – I'll just pick meat out of/off of stuff and eat lots of soups/salads if that's all that's available. Pretty much anywhere you go you can get eggs or french fries or pasta. Not always super healthy, but not toooo bad 🙂

  14. nestrella

    yesss, it was Poland for me as well :-))
    I spent 4 days on the south of Poland (Krakow, Czestochowa, Wielczka)with my family, and I really hadn't expected such a nice landscape and – what's even more important)such tasty food:-)And surely there is so much more to see there…

  15. whitbnimble

    Beautiful photos!

  16. stacey*

    poland has the BEST ice cream! eat some, STAT! heavenly.

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