I spent the first half of my day in almost complete silence pondering over the preciousness of life only for the second half to reward me with a short, but forever memorable burst of fun. In fact, I experienced these fifteen minutes of pure enjoyment on my own and therefore without the company of anyone else. Solo travel can be fun too folks and whatever preconceptions you might have, you could do it.
First up then was a visit to Westerplatte – the starting point of World War 2.
Westerplatte is a small peninsula here in Gdansk and is famous for the battle which took place here that was consequently the first clash between Polish and German forces during the Invasion of Poland. When you get dropped off here you first catch a glimpse of the ocean and so I was initially drawn towards this where I would stand in peace for a little while in good-spirit ready for the historic sadness that would soon be upon me. It dawned on me that I was at one of the most northerly points in Poland, only the Hel Peninsular is more northern I believe. Sure enough, here was my view of the mighty ocean and its vast emptiness for as far as the eye could see.
On September 1st 1939, and around the time the German Airforce had started dropping bombs on the city of Wielun, a battleship on a “courtesy visit” opened fire on the Polish garrison. This was followed by a German storm unit attack however soon after crossing the breached brick wall on land, the Germans were ambushed by the Polish defenders and subsequently the Germans suffered unexpectedly high human casualties that day.
They would somehow hold out for 7 days before eventually surrendering.
Below are some pictures of a memorial, the barracks and the monument all in memory of the Polish defenders.
And the meaning of these words?
‘War never again’.
No greater words spoken.
The second half of my day isn’t heavily photo orientated but hopefully you can enjoy the story equally as much…
I left Westerplatte several hours later returning back to my hostel for 3pm wondering how I could occupy myself for the rest of the day. It wasn’t too long after that my mind starting throwing up some rather strange (for me) suggestions, including going to the beach just as I did on my first day. Even then I only last a couple of hours in the heat so I dismissed the idea. Besides, beach time in the late afternoon, honestly… I’m British y’know, not Australian. Perhaps a cup of tea and some cake instead 🙂
Then something in me changed and suddenly I found myself entertaining the idea so began weighing up the pros. I guessed it wouldn’t be as busy as it was previously and also the Sun was not as strong. However the icing on the cake was that I could also sample some local fish whilst around the beach area. Oh bugger it: SOLD – to the unemployed digital nomad. (That’s me by the way).
Within an hour I’d arrived but so had something else; wind! As an appreciator of this force of nature, I had enjoyed the breeze when I exited the tram to arriving on the beach but at that point I’d have preferred it to have calmed down as suddenly the experience I had envisaged this last hour was in danger of being ruined and not happening! I couldn’t lay my towel down without it blowing away and the Wind had made the Sun’s rays seem much weaker so I wouldn’t benefit in topping up my tan. This whole idea was now looking like a pointless one and I’d come all this way for nothing. I stood for a minute or two surveying my surroundings and weighing up my limited options. To my surprise, it was still fairly busy out here but in a good way. A lot of people had remained here seemingly undeterred by the might of nature and a lot of them were actually in the Sea! ‘WTF’, I remember thinking. That’s insane! I was already starting to goose-pimple by just standing here in the sand and so were others close by me grabbing items of clothes to put on to stay warm.
What happens next can only be described as a conversation, no, more like a debate, that takes place in my mind with one side willing the other to do something crazy and join those mad people. (Bare in mind I am still standing, confused and completely unsettled pretty much ready to leave for reasons explained a paragraph or two earlier). But then I’m also thinking well if they’re in there, it can’t actually be that cold, can it…?
Then, just like in life, the naughty side prevails. A wry smile sets in as I start to undress and stuff my belongings into a bag whilst shaking my head not really believing I had convinced myself into doing this and then it happens folks…me and my Speedo’s march on in to the Baltic Sea and despite its name, thankfully it really wasn’t that Baltic after all but how!? Then again, maybe I’d toughed up a little as not much can be labelled cold when compared to water from the glaciers of Switzerland!
And of course what made this the experience it was the strong wind and the powerful waves! Have you ever tackled some pretty big waves? Allowing them to smash into you testing your core strength as to whether you’ll remain standing or be swept aside by the Ocean’s might like the billions of grains of sand. Like a Surfer but without his board, I proceed to ride the crest of the waves for 2 or 3 seconds at a time before they expire. I do this again and again for ten more minutes laughing out loud with a big grin on my face shouting ‘Comon, is that all you’ve got‘. I felt like the late great Patrick Swayze in Point Break but again, without a surf board obviously.
I really loved it out there this afternoon folks and the entire experience really was as short as I have described. Quality over quantity prevailing again. After I got ‘my fix’ I dried off and went in search of some food. Thinking back, these brief moments were close to perfection for me and it only needed any one of you lot to have joined me and for us to have several cold ones with us and I honestly reckon I (we) could have stayed there for hours and hours which would be highly unlikely and unusual for me normally.
I was so buzzing that I did indeed treat myself to some fish and even some dessert but from elsewhere. Feast your eyes on these delights:
I’ll talk more about food/quality/pricing in a future post.
Thanks for reading folks and sharing my most fun, liberating, joyful 15 minutes so far. Coming to Poland has already been worth it…