We landed in Gdansk on Saturday evening. The first slightly disconcerting moment came when we went to Avis car hire and found an empty desk. Fears of a long session of negotiation with another company, or finding ourselves stranded in northern Poland with no means of proceeding to our accommodation were soon dispersed when we lifted the red phone receiver and the attendant explained that she had just nipped home for dinner, but would be back in fifteen minutes.
Half-an-hour later, safely ensconced in a Ford Focus, we found ourselves rattling along a very rough road. When landing in a new country, there’s always a charged moment when you discover whether your 100 km journey will take one hour or ten. Happily within a few minutes, we found ourselves on a very efficient motorway. There were a few giggles elicited in the intervening period however, as the nicely spoken man in the GPS machine tried to get his tongue round ‘ Ulica Juliusza Slowackiego’ and ‘Ulica Jana Wojnarskiago’.
Slipping quietly through the outskirts of Tricity, I was interested to see the beautiful classical northern European architecture admixed with starkly contrasting utilitarian Eastern Bloc high-rises. I was also struck by the shops which included Tesco hypermarkets and a plethora of Lidls. It is easy to forget, when I so rarely leave Norway, just what a closed shop my adopted home country is to external supermarket chains. It was also disconcerting to see so many signs and not understand a word. With a smattering of French, German and Latin (as well as Norwegian) it is rare to find myself so much at a loss. Still, for me it only added to the frisson of discovery. I love new places.
And so, after a couple of hours, we arrived at our hotel. The Poraj Palac is a substantial country house hotel surrounded by gentle rolling countryside. The grounds and surrounding area team with wildlife. The evening air is filled with the singing of frogs from the nearby pond, the night brings the screeching of barn owls and in the morning, the cuckoos begin calling. The staff are friendly and the food is wonderful and fresh. English speaking travellers are few and far between. I feel very lucky to be here.
Artwork in the grounds.
And, just for Jan-Arne, some photographs of the very colourful food.