It's been harder to keep the blog updated consistently on this trip. Our days have been full and we seem to get to bed later and later every night. The kids are starting to bicker more and are definitely a little sick of each other. We are making an effort to balance our days with fun activities for kids and adults. In Warsaw, we spent our last day at an aqua park and indoor playground. Yes, we are missing out on museums and adult experiences. The Warsaw Uprising Museum would have been great. But I also know that these years are fleeting and in ten years or so, finding parks and pools won't be a priority. In other words, I can go to lots of "boring" museums in coming decades. For now, racing down waterslides in Warsaw is pretty fun in its own right. (I have some crazy scrapes on my back to prove it!)
We had a leisurely breakast at our place before walking down to a park en route to the center of Gdansk. Our agenda was pretty simple today - play at a park or two and wander the city.
Here is our apartment in Gdansk:
We found another scenic park just down the hill.
Of course I was happy to have not one but two towers to potentially climb! We chose the town hall tower with a great view of the largest brick church in the world. It can hold 25,000 people!
While climbing the tower, we heard some amazing music. These two were the best accordian players I have ever heard!
Why not have cotton candy made right on the street?
We wandered around more, stopping wherever we wanted. I bought a pretty amber pendant. Amber is very popular all over Poland.
We headed back to the apartment to relax and transition to the beach. It was Saturday and the buses were not running to the beach. We weren't motivated enough to drive. Traffic can be messy around here on weekends. We opted to relax for a couple of hours before dinner reservations. We ate at a delicious seafood restaurant. My favorite meal so far!
After dinner, we strolled around a bit more and found what we all thought was the most scenic street in Gdansk.
All and all, a great day exploring a neat city with friends.
Day 20 - Solidarity Shipyard, Gdansk Beach, Malbork Castle
We checked out of the apartment and headed to the solidarity shipyards which witnessed both the beginning and the ending of communism in Poland. A very powerful monument for those who lost their lives attempting to fight an evil government. We did not explore the area in depth but got an impression of the importance of these somewhat recent events.
We found a nearby mall for a quick breakfast. The area around the old shipyard is being redeveloped into a somewhat trendy area.
We drove to the beach in Gdansk and walked through the lovely Ronald Reagan Park to get there. The beach was very popular on this lovely Sunday. The beach was colder and had bigger waves than the one in nearby Sopot.
Of course there was a great playground on our way back to the car.
We drove about 45 minutes toward Warsaw and stopped at Malbork to see the largest brick castle in the world. Like many sights in Poland, the castle had been rebuilt after being bombed in WWII. Many sights have pictures posted of the devastation in 1945. The castle was definitely worth seeing.
Our children were tortured at the castle!
Our ambitious day had us heading back to Warsaw later than we had planned. Oops. It didn't help that the new speedy toll road had a 45 + minute wait just to pay the stupid toll! This put all of us in a bad mood. We were especially irritated that we had to eat at this weird high-tech McDonalds. You had to order at a machine and wait for your number to appear. It would have been kind of neat if it hadn't taken 20+ minutes for our number to appear! Oh well. We rolled into Warsaw after 11pm. Our friends were so nice to stay so long. We are on vacation and they had to wake up for work the next morning. Ouch!
Day 21 - last day in Warsaw
We began our day at the nearby coffee shop before heading back to Wodny Park for more water fun. Big J was able to join us. We must have gone down the slides 40-50 times! It was really fun. To top that off, we headed next door to an indoor playground. Those slides were painful! The kids had a great time, of course.
We took a bus back to the main part of town and found a delicious Hungarian restaurant. It reminded me to buy some paprika before I come home. I need to learn some basic Hungarian recipes. So delicious!
Many stops for ice cream (lody in Polish) on these hot days.
The kids were tired so DH took them back to the apartment to cool off and relax. I spent the next couple of hours wandering around Warsaw. I bought myself a new shirt, saw the Tomb for Unknown Soldiers, Palace of Fine Arts, and the modern Warsaw architecture. It was a good walk but reminded me of the giant size of this city! I had some tired feet.
Our friends made us a great American hamburger BBQ for dinner. A perfect way to end our time in Warsaw. Luckily, we didn't have to say a long and dramatic goodbye because our friends will be joining us in Belgium next weekend!
Day 21 - Drive to Berlin
This will be the shortest entry yet. We left mid morning after DH skillfully loaded the trunk. I haven't been cut off from shopping yet! We braved the Polish autostradas one last time. DH will post a section soon about his experience driving in Poland. I refused to even try. We were stopped by the Polish police today after going through a toll plaza. DH thought he might have been speeding. They just wanted to see our car registration and passports. It made me nervous but they waved us on through after checking documents. We saw the aftermath of one bad accident on our way west. I had a hard time relaxing during this speedy 5 hour drive.
We arrived at our hotel in West Berlin around 4pm. Once we unpacked a bit and got our bearings, we found a recommended place for dinner. The food was delicious! It was our only real meal of the day so we were especially grateful to sit outside and relax. Prices were higher than Poland but we didn't really care after this long day in the car. The kids were great in the car. They had a hard time settling into our new place and getting to sleep. Moving place to place can be hard on them. It's also hot in Berlin and our budget accommodations is without AC or fans. We're on a mission to procure a fan for tomorrow night.
It's nearly midnight and I'm caught up! We are looking forward to exploring Berlin for the next couple of days.