Earlier this week, after canceling a plane ticket I’d already booked to the Canary Islands, I opted to stay home in Berlin and focus on more everyday adventures in and around my adopted home. So when my friend Cheryl (check out her blog, fyi) suggested a day trip to Szczecin, Poland, it was hard to turn it down. Especially considering my new “Fuck it!” attitude to blogging and travel.
The day started early—well, early for a Saturday, especially a Berlin Saturday. From Hauptbahnhof, with a Brandenburg 5-person day ticket, we hopped on a train and in about two hours later, we were already in Szczecin. Sure, the weather wasn’t super, but hey—this is northern Europe in January. What more could you expect?
Priority #1 upon arriving in Szczecin was pierogies. Actually, that’s essentially 100% of my reason for coming to Poland in the first place. Ever since visiting Poznan last summer, I’ve had a slight obsession with the popular Polish food. So much so that I just booked an entire day trip around the idea of eating pierogies in Poland. Too bad about that whole 2015 resolution to get fit. Ha.
Wandering around the city, and after picking up a tourist map (€1.50) from the main tourist office at the train station, Cheryl guided us around the city. She’s been a few times before and since we had no real goals (save for the food and the beer), it didn’t really matter what we would do. We ended up finding a cute café, an empty restaurant with plenty of pierogies (we literally ordered every single pierogi on the menu), a museum by the port and a restaurant at the top of one of Szczecin’s tallest towers. All-in-all, it was an easy day trip that wasn’t complicated and provided just enough distraction for a lazy Saturday. Plus it made for some great Instagram photos, and that’s all we ever need, right??
The Great Escape
This trip to Szczecin was just as much about pierogies as it was about the adventure of getting out and doing something. Anything. Anywhere. Traveling two hours by train just for an authentic Polish meal? No problem. Something I learned recently, after re-evaluating my life and travel goals (yes, it’s that time of year again), is the importance of taking time out for yourself. I cancelled a trip to the Canary Islands because I didn’t want to stress. Instead, I wanted to be with friends, to stay close to home, to enjoy the simpler things. Hopping on a train for a day out of the city? Easy decision.
The day was full of silly conversations, gossip, plum-flavored beer and meat-filled pierogies. There was Black Forest Cake and teatime with a panoramic view. Shopping at H&M and sampling vodka varieties at a grocery store. Just my kind of day. And one I could probably recreate in Berlin, too. But sometimes you have to take a step out of the ordinary to come back with a clear mind and a willingness to explore. And now I feel like I’m finally ready to take on 2015.
What I Learned on a Day Trip to Poland
- You don’t need to travel with local currency. Poland is on the złoty and we never once saw what one looked like. Some places, especially around the train station, accepted Euros and if they didn’t, everyone took credit cards—even for small purchases like coffee or chocolates.
- Train travel is easy. Really easy. The Bahn’s “Brandenburg” ticket allows you to travel the entire state of Brandenburg with up to 5 people all day (but only on regional trains). It’s only 31€ and even if you don’t have 5 friends to travel with, you can usually meet other people on the train platforms looking for seats.
- Poland is awesome. Seriously. Cafés accept credit cards for small purchases, Topshop/Topman exists in Polish malls, beer is cheap, the food is deliciously unhealthy and the old town squares are full of colorful row houses. So even when it’s grey, cold and/or wet outside (yesterday in Szczecin it was all three), the architecture is enough to keep you cheery.
- Anything can be pretty. It’s easy to find beauty in just about anything these days. Thank you, Instagram! In Szczecin, we climbed over a fence into a deserted lot trying to find a shortcut on the way to the city’s castle. Sure, it may have been grey and gross outside, but the deserted courtyard with overgrown bushes and bits of stenciled street art wasn’t ugly. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it.
- Don’t be afraid to get lost. With little to no objective for the day, we explored aimlessly. Szczecin is a small enough city that getting around by foot was easy enough. Wandering aimlessly, we stumbled into the Philharmonie symphony hall with a cute indoor café and a simple, but stunning, architecture. It was probably my favorite highlight of the day, just enjoying the empty calmness inside the Philharmonie with my friends.