With the new issue of Gdansk In Your Pocket out alongside the snazzy, re-designed Mini-Guide, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the places that caught our attention in the build-up to publishing the new issue.
Unquestionably the most important opening of a new place in recent months has been that of the Museum of World War II. The museum was nearly a decade in the making and finally opened its doors on March 23rd. During the first few weeks the crowds trying to get in were huge encouraged no doubt by the coverage the museum was receiving in the Polish and the international media. The focus was not just on the opening of what is a fabulous exhibition, but also on the controversy and conflict the museum and its creation have caused in Polish politics. In a nutshell, the current government felt that the museum and exhibition, initiated by their rivals when they were in power, focused too little on the suffering of Poland and Poland’s story in WWII. The last 18 months of construction were dogged by legal battles as the government tried to find ways of changing the exhibition before it opened. The exhibition had been the work of a mixture of Polish and internationally renowned historians yet this cut no ice with the government from the Law & Justice party who eventually hatched a plan to circumvent the rules that allow museum directors independence from political interference. Unable to dislodge the museum’s director, the government created a new museum called the Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939 and then attempted to merge the existing Museum of the Second World War into this, as yet, non-existent museum. Having been blocked by the courts, on April 5th 2017, the decision of the Minister of Culture and National Identity, Prof. Piotr Glinski, was finally accepted by the Supreme Administrative Court in Warsaw and the merger took place. This allowed the government to replace the director, but not before he and his staff had worked around the clock for months to get the exhibition finished and opened to the public. What happens now is of huge interest, although the new director has already stated he has not been appointed to change the exhibition. We will wait and see and urge you in the meantime to take the opportunity to visit – it really is a quite remarkable achievement.
SZTUCZKA BISTRO @Sopot
Our favourite new place of this cycle has been Sztuczka Bistro in Sopot. Regular readers will know of our admiration for Restauracja Sztuczka in Gdynia and its chef Mr. Wałęsa (no not that one – this one’s called Rafał), a restaurant that if we were pretentious enough to dish out awards for ‘The Best of…’ would undoubtedly be on our short-list. The Gdynia location, though, is a place where we go on special occasions. The opening of this ‘Bistro’ version of Sztuczka is welcome as it is a way more informal and the menu and the design seem to have been created with the intention of offering a more relaxed way of enjoying Sztuczka. There’s a regularly changing menu which on our last visit saw us enjoy a beautiful piece of herring and a main of a fillet of cod with chorizo and chickpeas washed down by a glass of orange lemonade. It was absolutely delicious and probably the best lunch we’ve eaten in ages. There is a very unpretentious atmosphere and we now have to revisit in the evening to get a chance to try out one of the cocktail list, which like the food, is highly original. A final nod to the wine list which kicks off with a bottle at 59zł and glasses at less than 10zł. Wine is an area where many restaurants in Poland will often ‘get you’ so it is really encouraging to see a place which already has a great reputation trying to make itself more accessible. On a final note, friends of ours held a family celebration there recently and were absolutely delighted with the quality and price. Check it out.
Elsewhere in the new guide, which you can download a PDF of for free here, we’ve got a bunch of new places which we think are worth your consideration. You can find the ‘new’ places listed together here in Gdansk, here in Sopot and here in Gdynia, so if you’re a regular reader you can keep these links to see quickly what places we’re adding all the time. As well as that, the guide is bang up to date with all the factual info you might need including the timetables for the ferries this summer and all the summer opening hours to museums, galleries and exhibitions.
MORZE PIWA @Gdynia
The quality and choice of the new bars, cafes and particularly restaurants continue to impress us. Not so long ago, simply opening a new venue would have seen you added to the guide but these days that simply isn’t the case. The choice is now so large (there are rumoured to now be over 400 restaurants in Gdansk alone) that it serves neither you nor we to be writing up and listing all of them. Our aim in recent years has been to check everything out and to ‘curate’ a list of the best places for you to choose from. The result of that is many long-standing places have disappeared from the guide in recent times and newer places have a much higher mark to reach just to justify their inclusion.
There were quite a few places which got our attention this spring, a time when there always seems to be a flood of new places ahead of the warm season. We liked Motlava in the Brabank district close to the Motlawa, an area that was once desolate but is now the subject of new development. Not only did we like Motlava for its tasty renditions of seemingly simple Polish dishes, but it’s also worth a recommend while the Museum of the Second World War has no operational on-site café or restaurant – Motlava is right across the road. The whole area will shortly be easier to reach from the Olowianka island and Szafarnia side of the Motlawa river thanks to the construction of a new footbridge.
GARNIZON – @Gdansk
Another area which is on the up is Wrzeszcz and while the old district continues to recover from years of under-investment and is seeing a whole new generation of cafes, bars and small restaurants open, it’s the Garnizon district which has really grabbed our attention over the past few months. We’ve been to a couple of great concerts and a food market at the Stary Manez concert venue, but it’s the restaurants and bars which have seen us return regularly. With construction of the predominantly residential area continuing, there are a whole bunch of recommendable places to eat and drink and an evening here is well worth considering if you have more than the typical couple of days to spare. We particularly like Pobite Gary for food, Eliksir for cocktails and Browar Spoldzielcy for beers.
We’re already hard at work on the next cycle and first up is the publication of a new map which we hope to have in hotels as early as the end of next week. If you’re going to be in town please keep your eyes open for it and ask your hotel concierge or receptionist for a map, mini-guide, a copy of the full 156-page issue #52 or check out our dynamic website or download the new version of the app. We’re adding new places, new ideas and new events all the time, so please keep checking back and don’t forget about our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts where we’d love to hear what you think of the city. Enjoy the rest of spring.