Left for Poland on Thanksgiving Day flying United Airlines from SFO to Munich, then Lufthansa to Gdansk, Poland. In my family we primarily travel in basic economy with no extras. I had not paid for seats in advance, leaving it to chance and United’s goodwill for this Star Alliane Gold member. The worst that could happen would be two middle seats in the 4-seat middle section. Checked in at 24 hours to see we were assigned 50 E-F, the two middle seats in the middle section. So much for United goodwill. Oh well, it is in the Basic Economy terms that elite status means shit for seat assignments.
Kelley wanted a window seat and I paid $32 for her window seat from the two window seats still available for the flight. I attempted to book the aisle seat in the same 3-seat section for $37, but only her seat purchase went through. Then there were no more seats available for purchase, except a few middle seats.
At least we had Boarding Group 1.
SFO United International Club lounge
Normally the United Club lounge at SFO International terminal is underwhelming and crowded. I have never been inside the SFO United Polaris lounge since it has been years since I sat in the front sections of airplanes for international flights.
Thanksgiving Day was a a special treat at United Club lounge with turkey meatballs, mashed potatoes, clam soup and Thanksgiving themed cookies.
A little bit of Americana before heading into the skies for Europe.
On the flight I enjoyed 3 different films with about an hour of sleep while listening to Lana Del Rey. I love listening to Chemtrails Over the Country Club and Norman Fucking Rockwell when flying over the Atlantic to chill out with a nap.
Explorer (2022) was a fascinating documentary look at British explorer Ranulph Fiennes expeditions around the world as the first person to circumnavigate the globe longitudinally pole to pole. Nomadland (2020), the Academy Award Best Picture for 2021, reminded me of our personal hardships during the Great Recession in the USA and made me thankful for coming out the other side to find ourselves now living in middle class retirement. Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022) entertained, but I prefer his two previous films Get Out and Us.
Thought we would have an hour or so in a Lufthansa Business lounge, but it turned out to only be 15 minutes for a bathroom break.
The train from GDN airport to Gdansk city is 5.50 pln ($1.25). The line at the ticket kiosk while standing outside on the elevated platform in freezing weather meant we missed the first train and had to wait 30 minutes for the next train. When I tried to buy our tickets I realized why the line moved so slowly. The touchscreen was very temperamental and unresponsive.
I learned Gdansk Glowny train station is undergoing a multi-year renovation expected to be completed in 2023. The airport train went as far as Gdansk Wrzeszcz. When in Poland you get used to seeing a lot of z’s in names and words.
That also explained why Google Maps was showing bus routes as the fastest option to the hotel.
At Gdansk Wrzeszcz we exited the train platform going down into Gdansk Metropolia shopping mall.
An interesting aspect of train stations in Poland is many of the urban stations, like Krakow Glowny, are connected to shopping centers. We then booked Uber for 25pln + 5pln tip ($6.73) to Holiday Inn Gdansk.
I checked Uber after buying our train tickets at the airport to see I could have booked a direct ride to Holiday Inn Gdansk for 43 PLN ($9.65) straight from the airport. The airport experience persuaded me to simply book Uber for our transportation needs over this past week.
Holiday Inn Gdansk
Holiday Inn Gdansk is located on Granary Island in the Old Town section of the city. Gdansk has had more development in the past six years of any city I have revisited in Europe. I first went to Gdansk in January 2017 and stayed at Best Western Bonum in a lovely suite for $39 cash rate. That BW hotel rebranded later that same year.
In early 2017 there were only two upscale major US chain hotels in Old Town Gdansk with Hilton Gdansk and Radisson Blu Gdansk. Granary Island was still a place covered in shrubs and debris. In late 2022 there is a Radisson Suites, Radisson Red and Holiday Inn Gdansk on Granary Island along with numerous restaurants and other lodging. There is a Hampton Inn on the main historic street of Gdansk Old Town in an ideal location for a tourist. Accor has several hotels in the area just outside of the Old Town district. Marriott has two resort properties in the historic beach resort town of Sopot, about 7 miles from Gdansk Old Town.
The pedestrian bridge seen in photo was built since my last trip in 2018, along with several hotels, restaurants and about half the businesses opened along the riverside boardwalk of Granary Island. There is only one road running a few hundred meters through the center of this small river island section that is still congested with taxis and trucks due to ongoing construction.
Our room at the Holiday Inn Gdansk offered a marina view of sailboats from the other side of the 150 meter or so wide Granary Island.
Gdansk Christmas Market – Jarmark Bozonarodzeniowy Gdańsk
The timing of our trip was planned for Christmas Market season.
There were about 100 or so booths in the Gdansk Christmas Market, although food booths seemed to outnumber booths selling other products.
One of the convenient aspects of returning to a city is knowing where some of our favorite restaurants and pubs are located. Christmas Market food is fun, yet looked to be more expensive than many nearby restaurants offering better food.
Pyra Bar Gdansk is one of the highest rated and least expensive restaurants in Old Town Gdansk for simple and tasty potato dishes. We knew from past experience to go early for lunch since finding vacant table space is the biggest challenge to eating there. That one casserole fed both of us for lunch and dinner.
Bazylika Mariacka Gdansk
My father has asked me why I don’t photograph the inside of churches while traveling around Europe. Simple answer is most Catholic churches I have been inside have signs prohibiting photography. The 15th century Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Gdańsk had ‘no cell phone’ signs, yet there were dozens of tourists inside using their phone cameras. I snapped some photos too.
Workers were installing pieces of stained glass while we were inside the Basilica. Lutheranism swept through the majority German population of Gdansk, then known as Danzig, a couple of decades after the church was constructed in the late 1400s. The church primarily functioned as a Lutheran service church for most of the past 500 years, although Catholic services were also permitted during much of that time. Post-WW2 the ethnic Germans were sent to the west or forcibly relocated east to Soviet labor camps and Gdansk was repopulated with ethnic Poles. Gdansk has a complicated history.
We also stayed in Sopot, Poland for one night at Hotel Rezydent, an Accor Mgallery Hotel. My points earned in January 2020 were set to expire December 15, 2022 after an extended life due to the covid pandemic. I was able to book a suite for about $155 and redeemed 6,000 Accor points for a 120 EUR credit. Our one night cost $31 out of pocket. I’ll post hotel reviews and photos in separate articles.
Sopot is a place we had only been to during summer months when the town is an expensive beach resort for hotel prices. Visiting in off-season provided far cheaper hotel rates and the chance to walk on Sopot Pier without an admission ticket. Sopot Pier is the longest wooden pier in Europe.
I’ll have much more to write about Gdansk, Sopot and more aspects of these cities and our Poland trip in the coming weeks of December and January. World Cup Football 2022 matches, city walks, restaurants and pub crawls have kept me away from the computer this past week.
Search Loyalty Traveler for Gdansk or Sopot and you will find several more articles I have written from three previous trips to this area of Poland. I have also visited Krakow at least half a dozen times, Warsaw a few times and Wroclaw since 2017.
Loyalty Traveler Gdansk articles.
Loyalty Traveler Sopot articles.
Loyalty Traveler Krakow articles.
Loyalty Traveler Warsaw articles.
Loyalty Traveler Wroclaw articles.