Gdynia – How is life in the happiest city in Poland? Excerpt from Olga Dębicka’s book “Traveling means Living”

Gdynia is recognized as the happiest city in Poland according to a social diagnosis and a report on Poland and Poland. Can it be contagious? Of course, because the city is exploding with energy! You can feel the comfort, youthful spirit and freedom of the port in your brain. In what other city, in the center, do you walk the streets and smell the sea, do you hear the seagulls? It’s the perfect place to recharge your batteries!

Recently, on her Facebook profile “Gdynia awesome”, a girl who had just arrived in Gdynia wrote a few bad sentences about the city. He couldn’t find himself here, the traffic jams and Morska Street were gray. A rich guide to Gdynia’s favorite places and their personal discoveries will be created from more than 350 comments. The main thing is that no one returned her to where she came from, because the people of Gdynia are very hospitable. They feel that Gdynia is their place on earth. I know one thing: when I moved from Gdansk to Gdynia fifteen years ago, I felt younger and happier.

You will not find typical monuments here: Gothic or Baroque, some of which may be missing a thousand-year-old red brick, Gdynia is one of the youngest cities in Poland, it is only 95 years old. But here you will see modernist architecture and ships from the 1930s. It was called the White City. But nature enters the city: the sea and the forest, the hilly landscape are the remnants of the glacial ice-marginal valley.

Rich Gdynia grew up in a small fishing village lost among peat bogs and sands. Almost half of the city is covered with forest, which forms the Tri-City Landscape Park, and in each area there is a garden at the fingertips of residents. Whomever you don’t talk to, he “lives on the edge of the forest,” and uninvited guests come out – wild boars and a squirrel in a tree through the window. You will even cross the train tracks at Śródmieście, and you are in the Nowe Działki Leśne district, and two blocks away you will find yourself in the middle of the forest.

On the other hand, life here is slower. After all, the endorphins of happiness come not from money, but from activities in nature: roller skating on the seaside boulevard, numerous bike paths and sights, hiking or jogging on the rocks on the beach and in the woods. , Sea sailing, sailing schools in the Gdynia marina. It is a perfect place for active travelers.

What to see? If you want, you can enter Gdynia, Kościuszko Square, Nadmorski Boulevard, South Pier, ORP “Błyskawica” and “Narrow Pomorza”, the aquarium and the canon of the French pier. There is so much to see during the season, as large cruise ships stop here. You can also take a boat trip in the Gulf or Hel, the atmosphere of the cruise movie.

Phenomenal “Lightning” is a zero-grade monument between ships. It is the world’s oldest surviving destroyer, famous during the Second World War at the Battle of Narvik, Dunkirk and the occupation of Normandy. But the hearts of the people of Gdynia are especially touched by another legendary ship. “Dar Pomorza” – A three-pole sailing ship donated to the State Maritime School in 1929 was the cradle of Polish navigators. His successor, Dar Młodzieży, who has been in service since 1981, is always happy and celebrating in Gdynia every time he returns from a cruise.

For tourist information, it is good to refer to InfoBox, which has a twenty-meter observation tower, panoramic elevator and a model of the city. For shopping, in turn, the Gdynia market hall with the products of sailors now has an atmosphere reminiscent of Arab markets or Turkish markets.

Walking around modernist Śródmieście It is worth discovering at least a few stones with historic dwellings that are candidates for the UNESCO World Heritage List. For starters, I recommend watching this flagship – the largest residential building in pre-war Gdynia – Located at the corner of 10 Lutego and 3 Maja streets is called Bankkowiec, full name Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego Pension Fund House. Inside, you can visit the mini-museum created by the residents, which collects the remains of the original items of the luxurious house from the 1930s. \

At Bankkowiec, I admire the magnificent stairs and the corseted entrance floor. I’m interested in the stup at the entrance. Some say that once a year, the priest used to go after the carol and sprinkle holy water without going to the apartments. Others explain that the inhabitants of Gdynia before the war were Kashubians, deeply religious, attached to tradition, so when they left the house, God said goodbye to them with water from the stup with a sign of the cross to see them off.

It is also worth seeing the beautiful decorations Hunsdorff’s house for rent Starowiejska street about Abraham’s corner. The house of the Israeli Reich and Wolf Birnbaum on the same street is a luxurious finished staircase with a spirit, the so-called skylight. Makes a special impression on designers Stanisław Pręczkowski’s house Kościuszko Squarethe architectural reference to the ship impresses even with its cylindrical shape reminiscent of a captain’s bridge.

Being in the square, I must say that the most famous pastry shop in Gdynia before the war used to be nearby – After the service on Sunday, residents went to Fangrat for excellent creamy pipes. And he married a real Gdynia woman and ordered a wedding cake there. I remember a conversation with a woman from Gdynia, late memory Łucja ToczyskaWhile writing a chapter for my book “Background Photos”. I visited him in a villa on Wojewódzka Street in Gdynia (formerly Focha Hill, then Nowotki, now St. Maximilian).

The old woman with shining eyes remembered the inter-war Gdynia: – And a while ago we went to the “fafs” in the restaurant Bodega in Kościuszko Square in Gdynia. I first heard Mieczysław Fogg live there. I learned Foxtrot and Charleston dances, tango and waltz. We danced at the Alhambra nightclub and went to the Fangrat cafe for an apple pie. Today, seniors enjoy dancing at Captain Cook’s.

– Ms. Łucja – I added – I like to meet my friends at the famous Contrast Cafe. Returning to Gdynia modernism, where the modern city was created, its quintessence is a noble, elegant simplicity, that is, a simple, smooth facade, large windows, stripes of “ribbon” windows, rounded corners and stairs with a spirit, often extending along the entire facade. Prestigious, noble colors were in force: gray, white and black everything and the color of wet sand.

When I have no other idea for Sunday, I like to walk the streets of Świętojańska and Starowiejska and discover the details. For example, at the intersection of Świętojanska Street and Żwirki i Wigury Street, the beautiful form of the balconies of Marian Krenski’s luxurious rental house with Kamienna Gora in the background enchants. on the other hand Starowiejska as the oldest street in Gdynia unevenly, the stone has the right to be paved with stones, but thanks to this it is unique. For example, I’m discovering a beautiful detail in house number 21.

Owner Kaszubka Agnieszka Bradtke added embroidered elements to the façade as decoration in the skylight above the entrance and inside the stairs. Kashubian embroidery, gray and black, monochrome, but therefore noble, emphasizes the personality of Gdynia. Kashubyan’s grandson and great-grandson still live in this house.

“Travel Lives” Olga Dębicka, publ. Freedom to travel

The remains of the former village in the center are a small, historic brick building dating back to 1904. Former home of the Skwiercz family, the so-called house of Abraham. He lived there from 1920 until his death Anthony Abraham, a prominent Kashubian activist. Impressive house No. 10a has also been preserved since 1914. I am heading towards the beautifully revived Kaszubski Square in the early 1930s, which still serves as a market and a place of trade.

After descending from Śródmieście, it is nice to drink coffee on a bench on Abrahama Street, part of which has been called woonerf for two years (it has a Dutch prototype) – the place is mainly a “city yard” for pedestrians and a comfortable, neighborhood and social environment for cyclists.

But the best is food on Świętojańska street – You have to go to Gdynia’s famous, oldest pizzeria (it must be done), it existed during the Polish People’s Republic (it has been operating since 1987), when pizza was something inaccessible during the casserole period. . Some people call it pampuch because it has a thick bottom like yeast and a very good tomato sauce, and it will make you addicted.

Definitely visit Kamienna Qora A residential and park area above the bay, 50 meters above sea level, protected by old guest houses with mansion-palace architecture. It is a treasure of modernist villa architecture. You can climb the stairs where the viewing platform and the cross are located, or climb up the cable car for a few minutes. From there there is a beautiful panorama of the city, the port and the bay.

You have to spend an hour and a half to two hours walking around Kamienna Góra to dive into the streets and see the villas with gardens. And each of them is a story about the owner or tenant. In the 1930s, it was a prestigious district and was inhabited by an elite class. For example, I look the villa of Countess Magdalena Losiovasmall femme fatale. Although she is acting honestly, her husband is facing a difficult situation.

Count Andrzej Łoś Jaskółka was the commander and commander of the ORP and Ryś submarines. During the 1939 defense war, he was taken prisoner in a concentration camp. The Countess, using her connections in the European courts, freed her husband thanks to the heir to the Italian throne. The commander, now in England, was considered a traitor because he had left his soldiers in captivity as an officer. The countries emigrated to Brazil and never returned to the home of the Losiówka family.

The commander cleared his name only after the end of the war. Today, this luxury villa houses the Polish Maritime Court. On the way, I was inspired by another beautiful Sokoła villa built for the creator of the summer resort, Ryszard Gajzyński, and passed by the Waterfront Palace in Warsaw or the house of Jerzy Gruza, director of the Musical Theater in Gdynia. .

I look at the building where Captain Carol Olgierd Borchardt, a Navy officer before the war, a naval writer, the author of The Captain Means, and the educator of many generations of sailors, lived. He created the post-war ethos of the Polish Merchant Navy. After the walk, I go to a decent ice cream. What is the best ice cream in Gdynia? Serving in three places, Mariola, their history and recipe date back to 1966. The closest to me is the Cafe-Mariola at the Nadmorsky Hotel.

But I must also mention the oldest ice cream in F. Kwaśniak, I know that not far away – in Grabówek, still in the same building on Vasovich Street, there are still original machines for making them since 1954. Fashionable ice cream with a special recipe with special flavors such as bread-five grains, beer, sour milk is also a real hit here: a mystery with cocoa fruit and roasted sugar cane.

For more information, see the book “Traveling means living”, ed. Freedom to travel.

Olqa Dębicka – journalist, writer, traveler. Author of books, incl. “Whore and Madonna. Marek Hłaski sees the world” and “Photos with the background. Residents of Gdansk after 1945.” , A regular contributor to National Geographic for 17 years, winner of many journalistic awards, including the Polish Journalists’ Association Award (Polish Pulitzer), Distinguished under the auspices of Nowy Dziennik of New York, Pro Libro Legendo, Grand Press, Nominated for the Polish-German Journalists’ Award, he was awarded the 2015 Golden Pen Best Journalist Award.

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