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13 MAY 2019
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ON TOUR this week visits Gdańsk, one of the destinations featured by Wizz Air in its monthly ‘Wizz You Were Here’ spotlight on things to see and do in the many places around its network.
Gdańsk is a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland. Wizz Air, which boasts of being one of Europe's fastest growing airlines and the largest low-cost carrier in Central and Eastern Europe, operates flights to the city from Luton, Liverpool, Doncaster Sheffield and Aberdeen, and, from 15 June, Gatwick.
The city is awash with bourgeois architecture, influenced by wealthy merchants who shaped its past, with beautiful houses nestled among cosy streets and historical churches. A perfect introduction is to walk the length of the Dlugi Targ (Long Market), the main thoroughfare, lined by the city’s grandest facades. Also known as “The Royal Way”, it once served as a path for parades, ceremonies and royal processions.
The Golden Gate sits at the western end of the street, and as visitors look down Dlugi Targ they can see quaint cafés and shops which draw the eye towards the iconic Town Hall tower. There are opportunities to sample tasty food treats galore or relax with a beer at an outdoor table while partaking in a spot of people watching. One famous sight nearby is the Neptune Statue, dating from the 17th century; the Roman god of the sea has become one of Gdańsk’s most recognisable symbols.
Water trams licensed by the Public Transport Authority (ZTM Gdańsk) provide an efficient and enjoyable way for visitors to get the lay of the land. The 2019 season began on 1 May and runs to 30 September and there are two routes to choose from. Services are operated by two passenger ships owned by the Gdańsk Shipping Company (Żegluga Gdańska), Sonica and Sonica I. They can carry 50 people and five bicycles at a time – the city is highly bike-friendly. In case of rain or wind, each tram has seats available for passengers in a sheltered and fully-glazed lounge.
Visitors should also take the time to visit some of Gdańsk’s quirky cafés. The city offers many unusual venues in which to sit back and relax. Das Josef K, named after the hero of a novel of Franz Kafka is a must-see; the décor is a sight to behold, with trees growing around tables and the ceiling patched together with a mixture of old books, dance floor tiles from the 1980s and Van Gogh paintings. It’s a place to settle down in one of the comfy armchairs and enjoy the carefully curated atmosphere surrounded by a lot of kitsch and bric-à-brac.
To learn about Poland’s role in the 1939-45 conflict, a visit to the Museum of the Second World War is essential. The building itself is visually striking, pointing out of the earth at an angle, with the exhibitions positioned 14m below the ground. The museum is split into three distinct sections to represent the past, present and future, with visitors having the opportunity to view more than 2,000 objects on display – including letters, photographs and personal mementos.
By contrast, and after a busy day sightseeing, visitors to Gdańsk can party till dawn at Café Absinthe, a renowned Mediterranean fusion restaurant and bar situated near Triangle Park. It is renowned for its food, cocktails, shisha or hookah pipes and extensive collection of absinthe, and is popular with locals and tourists alike. During the weekends, DJs and live bands perform a range of genres, from jazz to funk, upstairs in the café and downstairs in Wormwood, an underground VIP lounge. Café Absinthe is also a popular exhibition space for artists, and every month visitors can enjoy the work of a different artist displayed in the café.
The best overview of Gdańsk involves climbing the 408 steps to the top of the bell tower of St Mary’s Church. The building dominates the old town, and is thought to be the largest brick church in the world. Its best-known feature is the enormous astronomical clock dating from 1464 and made almost entirely of wood, adorned by complex dials which display the time and date as well as the phases of the moon in relation to the zodiac signs.
There is also a grisly side to the story – according to legend, the clock's creator, one Hans Duringer, had his eyes gouged out so he would never be able to make a clock more beautiful and intricate than this one.
• Wizz Air operates a fleet of 112 Airbus A320 and Airbus A321 aircraft and offers more than 650 routes from 25 bases, connecting 146 destinations across 44 countries. The airline flew 34m passengers in 2018.
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