If you’re lucky to be PURO guests, joining me on this winter trip will come easily. The starting point is located right in front of the hotel, but this time we will be turning left, not right! This means I won’t be of much help to those of you who haven’t seen Neptune’s Fountain or the Artus Court, but you can always go there on your own.
Our first stop is just a few steps from the hotel. From across the street, the Bolesławiec pottery shop (1) is tempting the passers-by with its ceramic gems that are the envy of the world. I am not a frequent visitor out of respect for my finances - I’d gladly buy everything up. After passing the bridge on the Motłata River, we turn left onto Szafarnia, a tiny street stretching along the marina. In summer, the atmosphere of the place is truly Croatian - water, yachts, and elegant ladies in bathing suits sipping Martinis. I, however, prefer the place’s wintry, much calmer, version. I always go to UM AM (2) - a patisserie and a unique concept in one. Yes, here you’ll find pastries and ice cream, and yes, it serves delicious coffee as well. The pastries, mind you, are works of art in the way they look and taste - which isn’t that common. I’d do anything for a piece of light cream cake with sea-buckthorns or a coffee cake with wonderful espresso jelly filling (no longer on the menu, still in my dreams). The bottom line is you need to try everything.
With sea-buckthorn cake in my heart and stomach, I continue the trip. Having turned onto Angielska Grobla, I walk a few meters and take Na Stępce - a street alongside the canal. At its beginning, there is a beautiful, time-worn house made of brick. Located in close proximity to the water, the house seems to be floating. In the past, it used to have a companion - an old, shrinking apple tree. Even though the tree is no longer there, the house still stands and has been finally renovated! I walk past the house; the vicinity is usually empty despite the swarming center of Gdańsk being only a few streets away. On this side of the river, the banks are covered with perennial grasses - an unusual view in the heart of the city - a hint of wilderness in an otherwise organized, concrete world. I like listening to the grass humming and always find solace in watching the tall leaves blow in the wind. A couple of beautiful red-brick buildings stand on the opposite side of the river. Winter is the best time to grasp their beauty in its entirety because the leafless trees expose all the details that would otherwise drown in the greenery of leaves.
Continuing your walk down Na Stępce, you’ll see the ruins of a 19th-century meat factory. I would come here to take pictures, but today you’re not allowed to go behind the walls, for the fire-stricken buildings are on the brink of collapsing. Their days seem to be numbered, however, which is why they deserve a look.
If you still feel like it, and I assume that you do - after all, you’ve just been to UM AM - turn onto Sienna Grobla. But let me warn you - ruins and an anecdote are all that’s to come. Walking this tiny street you get an impression of being on your way to the end of the world. You find yourself anticipating everything suddenly coming to a halt. This feeling is partially justified, for we end up facing a closed gate with a “Private property. No trespassing.” sign on it. Several hundred meters earlier, however, you can see the (still standing!) rare tiny houses. A group of wooden huts seems to belong to a different epoch, like a tiny, forgotten village in the center of the city. I remember coming here for the first time. An old woman was sitting on a stool in front of one of the huts among hens lazily poking around. I felt like a time-traveller: just a half an hour ago I was walking along the crowded Długie Pobrzeże and here I am now, standing in front of a wooden hut resembling the ones I know from the Podlasie region, a stranger in the curious eyes of grubby kids looking at me from behind the fence. Today, all you can see are sad, boarded windows of empty houses patiently awaiting demolition. Another house, grander - built on columns - but equally desolate, stands in the vicinity and is also worth a look.
A walk like this does whet one’s appetite. A pastry from UM AM is, by now, just a dim recollection. I take the same route back, but find my way to Izakaya Sushi Bar (3) - a place serving sushi of really good quality. After a winter walk, however, I recommend you try their delicious and warming ramen as well as muslin gyoza dumplings (my two-year-old son loves them). If you fancy something more Polish, go to Nova Pierogova (4) and order “pierogi” with salmon, but remember to spare some room in your stomach because… Unfolding in front of your eyes is Brovarnia (5) with its wide range of local craft beer. Wheat, delicate and sweetish - that’s my type. Also, please pay attention to architecture - you’re now in a 17th-century granary - one of the few buildings of this sort to make it through WW2.
Our walk is coming to an end which means it’s time for an icing on the cake...or is it watermelon? With bacon! They serve it in Dancing Anchor (6) located in PURO Gdańsk. Exotic as it may sound… it’s magic! Certainly one of the most delicious things to eat in Tricity.
For the time being, brace yourselves for the next trip around the center of Gdańsk. In spring, I am going to show you my favorite, but hidden from the tourists’ eyes, spots in the vicinity of Długi Targ.
1. Boleslawiec pottery shop, ul. Stągiewna 18, Gdańsk,
2. UM AM Marina, ul. Szafarnia 11, Gdańsk,
3. Izakaya Sushi Bar, ul. Szafarnia 11, Gdańsk
4. Nova Pierogova, ul. Szafarnia 6, lok. 2, Gdańsk
5. Brovarnia, ul. Szafarnia 9, Gdańsk,
6. Dancing Anchor, ul. Stągiewna 26, Gdańsk,
Text and photos:
Ania Włodarczyk - Gdańsk citizen by choice – since 2007 sharing her passion for writing, cooking, and photography on her blog Strawberries from Poland. Her articles about cooking are featured in magazines and on websites. She is a collector of old cookbooks actively engaged in food photography. Her second book – Kuchnia retro – was published this autumn.