Grzybowo Revisited

All about the places I visited on my return trip to Grzybowo in September 2011

A town of two styles

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Praskipark on September 30, 2011

Golub-Dobrzyn is somewhere I found by accident. I was driving back from my holiday on the Baltic Coast and suddenly decided to chang the original route home to Warsaw to miss all the traffic around the city of Torun. This small town in Pomerania is split in two and each side of the town has a different character. I don't think we would have stopped to look around if we hadn't ended up stuck in a small traffic jam coming into the town and the fact that high above my head I spotted the most beautiful castle I have ever seen. If I hadn't known I was in Poland I would have thought I was high in the hills in some Spanish town. The sight was truly awesome.

Golub-Dobrzyn was formed in 1951 by joining two settlements on opposite sides of the River Drweca. The new modern side of the town, Dobrzyn, south of the river is nothing special; clean, trendy apartment blocks, wide streets and a plethora of shops. It could be anywhere in Poland but the other side of the town, Golub tells a different story.

The settlement of Golub came together in the 13th century and acted as a border outpost for the Teutonic Knights and this is where the castle comes in - it was their castle and still remains in excellent condition overlooking the town from it's high point on the hill. The base of the castle is substantial and built in the Gothic red brick style. A more refined super structure was added in the 17th century and then the whole structure had to be restored after the Second World War.

Inside there is a small museum housing an ethnographic collection but it isn't stunning. The display is very modest and slightly interesting in the fact that I learnt something about the Pomeranian area of Poland but it would have been nice if the articles had been labelled in different languages apart from Polish and been a bit more colourful. What was more interesting for me was a walk around the castle inside to see the Gothic interiors which are original. The top floor has been transformed into a hotel which is a good idea as this spot is just over half way from the Baltic Coast to Warsaw so if visitors didn't want to do the whole 8-9 hour journey they could break it here and stay over. I should imagine the views are splendid. There is also a small cafe if you fancy a light snack and a cup of tea or soft drink. Even if you don't it's worth peeping in at the cafe as it is situated in the vaulted cellars.

Overall, the Golub part of the town is pleasant with some lovely old houses with arched doors and decorative facades. There are lots of old-fashioned gardens belonging to the houses - plots of land where flowers intermingle with runner beans and potatoes. The town is worth looking at if it is on your route but not worth spending more than a couple of hours there unless you are mad about castles and want to stay overnight in one.

Amazingly, the town does have a bus service which is frequent enough from Torun (39km) and I believe there is a less frequent service from Grudziadz (52km). If you stay overnight in the castle you don't have far to catch a bus - the stop is at the foot of the building. You will find the railway station on the Grudziadz road which is opposite the castle. Here you can catch trains to Bydgoszcz.

I'm glad we changed the route home even though we were only in the town of Golub-Dobrzyn a short time - it was worth it just to see the castle.

I wish I could recommend it but I can't!

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by Praskipark on September 14, 2011

On our last trip a couple of weeks ago to the Baltic Coast we decided to take a day out from Grzybowo and drive along the coast in the direction of Koszalin. I had heard quite a lot about the tiny village and beach of Sarbinowo and wanted to check it out in case we liked it and decided to stay there next year for a change. Looking at the Internet the village doesn't look much different to Gryzbowo with it's stretch of pure white sand and gently rolling waves but having now been for myself I can safely tell you that it is very different indeed.

The drive from Gryzbowo is a pleasant one with rolling hills, a patchwork of verdant fields and the odd giant windmill popping up on the horizon. There was a breeze blowing when we visited and it was fun to have the windows open in the car and try to catch the wind through our fingertips. The journey lasted about 30 minutes with hardly any traffic on the country lanes. Immediately driving into the village I could feel a sense of claustrophobia as it has a small centre with one church and one main street. It was difficult to find any parking places so my husband drove straight through the main street and parked on some rough ground where other cars were parked. This bit of road was directly behind the sea and beach and as we didn't like the look of the string of souvenir shops and cafes that lay ahead we decided to find an entrance to the beach .

The road leading up to the entrance to the beach is a bit roughshod without any pavements so traffic can drive straight up behind you. Not good when you have a small child that can easily let go of your hand and run out into the road so care is needed here. I was quite surprised that so many people were milling about as Grzybowo had only a handful of visitors and seemed so peaceful compared to Sarbinowo. Walking up the hilly path to the beach I was even more surprised at the number of people dressed in their best Sunday clothes. It was as if they had just been to Mass and walked straight to the beach for a morning stroll. It was a warmish day and seemed weird to see some people fully dressed in long dresses and suits to sit on the sand.

On the other hand it was even stranger to see the number of elderly women in 50s style bathing costumes and multi coloured dyed hair doing their exercises and parading around like movie stars. The beach was packed out with bodies and the chatter was deafening. We sat down with our granddaughter to build sandcastles and I couldn't hear myself think because of the noise coming from loud conversations. This is something I am not used to. I like to go to a beach so I can hear the sea and the birdlife - to be with nature. There was no chance of that on this beach. To look at it was very much like the beach at Grzybowo with its thick white sand stretching for a long way and the only thing in front of it being the sea which on this day was very calm. Two differences I noticed apart from the hordes of people were that there was a man made wall at the back of the beach which you could sit on or lie down and there were lots of pebbles in the shallow area of the sea. I didn't like the wall feature - it was ugly and spoilt the look of the beach. I much preferred the pine trees and sand dunes of the beach at Grzybowo. We spent about an hour on the beach and this was about as much as I could take - the noise just put me off. I felt like I wanted to stand up and shout, 'Be Quiet, can't you? So overall, this beach gets the thumbs down.

The town wasn't much better - filled with Polish tourists who seemed to like walking around bearing their stomachs which were generally white, floppy and rather fat. Every stall and kiosk was packed to the brim with bad taste postcards and Kiss Me Quick hats. Tat and more Tat! Cafes were plentiful advertising Pivo and Kielbasa and other Polish delights not forgetting the much loved hamburger and chips. The only sign of culture I spotted was the brick church which stood at the beginning of the main street. On arriving in Sarbinowo I had every intention of visiting the church but the tackiness of the place and the demented chatter of the beachgoers had given me a headache and I couldn't wait to escape back to my beloved Grzybowo were life was calm and peaceful. I wish I could recommend Sarbinowo on the Baltic Coast but I can't.

Charming Chelmno

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Praskipark on September 22, 2011

Chelmno is a beautiful small town I spotted on my way home from the Polish Coast two weeks ago. My husband decided to change the route going home to Warsaw to avoid the heavy traffic around Torun and when driving down one of Poland's quietest roads I noticed to the left of me in the distance perched high on the banks of the River Vistula - a fantastic scene - a skyline of red brick Gothic churches. Only problem was we were already late on our journey and if we were to stop off at Chelmno on that particular day we wouldn't have arrived home until midnight. So what did we do? We carried on home and returned on Tuesday of this week to see what this town, exactly 41 kilometres from Torun was really like.

Chelmno being the first seat of the Teutonic Knights used to be called Kulm and was originally going to be their capital but for some reason the town of Malbork was chosen instead. Chelmno developed rapidly as a commercial town due to its affiliation with the Hanseatic League and the trade of grain and wool along the Vistula river. At this time Chelmno had many Royal privileges but lost its sparkle when the Treaty of Torun was signed and the town returned to Poland. Those troublesome Swedes invaded and caused havoc during a series of wars in the 18th century. The town was damaged physically, its population diminished and its reputation ruined. Unlike a lot of other Polish towns Chelmno escaped the devastation of World war II but still never shone like it once did.

We parked up outside the town as I wanted to walk around the fortified walls. I really do enjoy a stroll around the outside of a walled town. The views are of gentle rolling hills and on this day the sun was quite warm and the clouds were depicting some cracking formations. These walls are I think the only example in Poland that have survived almost in their entirety. Perhaps Paczkow in Silesia is another example but they are definitely the only two examples. Not all of the 23 defensive towers exist but the ones that do are not in bad shape. Some areas of the walls are deteriorating more than others. I noticed that one of the towers had a huge crack centrally but it was still holding its own. A lot of the bricks along the bottom part of the walls were crumbling slightly and there was a cloud of white damp slowly rising. Overall, I would say this amazing structure has stood up well against time, elements and those pesky invaders.

Having walked around the walls I decided it was time to enter the old town but wasn't sure where the main entrance was until we stumbled across this huge medieval gateway. The gate is called the Grudziadz Gate. I guess originally from this entrance you could follow the road to Grudziadz which is about 30 kilometres down river from Chelmno. The very imposing gate which is the only surviving medieval gate in Chelmno had a small chapel added to it in the 17th century when it was redesigned. Once through the gate we saw streets laid out like a chess board and placed in the centre was the marketplace.

First attraction I opted for was the amazing Town Hall slap bang in the centre. You can't miss this building as it is so graceful stood in all its Renaissance glory. I have seen some town halls in my time but this has to take first prize. It is like something out of a Tim Burton film with it's smoky white walls embroidered with pale blue/grey lacy turrets. The clock tower rises high above showing a clock face on each side of the tower and I imagined Rapunzel with her long golden locks standing at the top of the tower in front of the wrought iron balcony letting her hair down, searching for her prince. The ornate decoration around each window and doorway is as if it has been delicately piped with fondant icing. Apart from Tim Burton I also thought of an enormous wedding cake. This is what the building reminds me of - stood in the centre of the square. It's eccentric, elegant and like nothing I have seen before.

Before the Town Hall was built in 1570 there used to be another Gothic structure standing there. Would have loved to have seen that one but I bet it wasn't as lovely as the building today which now houses the Regional Museum. Good job we visited on a Tuesday as the museum was open but really it is nothing to get excited about. Remember, this is a small provincial town so the displays are not huge or all that interesting. In fact I've never seen such a collection of random objects. It looked like the displays had been put together by the curator and the rest of the people working there. There was no order at all and nothing was labelled. It must have been one of the worst museums I have been to in Poland but that didn't matter as I was able to see the interior of the building. I thought the exterior was far out but the inside was just as eccentric with it's large, ornamental attic and arched windows which diminish in size when you get to the bottom of the building which makes the proportions of the building rather odd and make you feel a bit strange.

Six churches in a town the size of Chelmno is ridiculous. I knew there would be no way we would have the time to view all of them as Chelmno is a long drive from Warsaw and we couldn't fit everything into a day's visit. Plus I'd promised myself a stroll along the river so I could look at the surrounding lush meadows. We decided to look at two and chose what we thought were the most attractive and interesting. You can only look at so many churches in a day. On mass they look beautiful but on close inspection not all the churches are attractive and we actually found a couple closed.

The first one we looked at was just off the southern corner of the market place, Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Gothic in structure, being built from 1280 - 1320, massive in size and outlines the market square. Although Gothic it seems extra pointy. By this I mean there are so many pointed turrets above the windows. The huge Gothic arched doorway is fabulous where you can see the central aisle. Interesting to see that the walls inside were brick and hadn't been decorated with paint. Must be cold in winter. The ceiling in the northern aisle with its very fine golden ornamentation is lovely. It looks like the surface is made from satin and all the intricate lines and swirls have been added by a seamstress using delicate gold threads. The rest of the furnishings are a mixed bag and the overall scene is a heavy, jumbled one. My favourite features are the the fragmented Gothic frescoes in the choir which really stand out although not all in one piece and I really liked the 14th century figures of the eleven apostles. Other ornamentation is of the Baroque period although I wasn't sure about the stone font. To me, this had a Romanesque feel about it.

Moving on to perhaps a more interesting church - Church of SS John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. This one you can find in the north western corner of the Old Town. It was once a Cistercian and Benedictine Monastery and is very unusual because it has a two level nave. Gothic in style again, built in the 14th century. I loved the wall paintings of the patron saint. Not sure how old these are but at a guess I would say early 1340. Other features I fell in love with are the main front portal. Love the carved texture of smooth sandstone and the Baroque altar which is a little over the top but stunning to look at all the gold opulence. I like to look at the tombstones and I found a beauty - one of the oldest in the region dating back from 1270.

I think we made the right choice when visiting booth these churches and two was enough for me on that day. Whether I will go back and try to look at the others more closely, I'm not sure. There is still so much of Poland to see.

Unfortunately if using public transport these aren't very good. As far as I know you can only reach Chelmno from Bydgoszcz, Torun and Grudziadz by bus. Buses are every hour.

The restaurant under the grapevines

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Praskipark on November 14, 2011

Pod Winogronami is a restaurant we came across this year when visiting Kolobrzeg on the Polish Baltic Coast. In June we went to a different restaurant Ale Ryba which I have reviewed and although the restaurant itself was attractive enough the food wasn't very appetising so when we revisited in September we decided to try the restaurant directly opposite on Towarowa Street.

Translated, Pod Winogronami means under the grapes or grapevines. I immediately thought that this was a strange name for a restaurant near the sea and from the outside it looked more like a restaurant you would find in Croatia or a courtyard/back garden of any pension in any Slavic country apart from Poland.

The theme of the restaurant is associated with vines and designed to look like a garden where you can sit out under the rattan roofs with grapevines trailing while you eat your dinner and drink a glass of wine. All seems very odd to me as Poland isn't known for its wine. In fact Poles are still very much vodka drinkers and have only just started getting into drinking wine. Also,there isn't a great selection of wines on the menu if any - only house wine served in a carafe.

Putting this to one side I have to say that this is a very pretty restaurant even if the grape motifs are a little over the top. They appear not only on the walls, panels of the oak bar, engraved in the tiles on the floor but on the table cloths and seat covers of the chairs as well.

It wasn't such a sunny day when we visited in September so decided to sit inside. It was early - around 12 noon so the restaurant wasn't full.

The young waiter dressed in the usual uniform of black trousers and white shirt came to our assistance as soon as we entered and showed us to a table which was near a window overlooking a small street selling souvenirs and not far away from the arched bar and toilets. This was fine as I like to see what is going on outside and I like to look at the many coloured bottles lining the bar. Nice to know that the toilets aren't too far away either - loved the turquoise colour of the toilet door. He was a friendly chap but a bit edgy - couldn't wait to take our order. I am very slow when it comes to looking at a menu. He asked us if we liked anything to drink and as it was early we just ordered mineral water for my husband, orange juice for my granddaughter and I had a small beer. Off he went quickly to the bar while we scrutinised the offerings from the kitchen.

Our initial aim was to order fish and chips because if you remember, the meal we had at Ale Ryba in June was disastrous. Having looked at this menu we were both tempted to try something different although there was nothing here that I hadn't tasted before or even cooked at home.

First dishes on the menu were salads and quite a grand selection including old favourites like tuna, mozzarella, prawn and Feta. I noticed a blue cheese salad and knew that if my son had been with us on this occasion he would have wolfed that dish down but I passed as it would be too filling even though I love any sort of blue cheese. I didn't really fancy a salad so moved on to the hot starters which apparently on a busy day will take 20 - 30 minutes to deliver to the table - so that suggests that this is a very popular and busy restaurant during July and August.

From the hot starter menu I chose shrimps cooked in garlic butter served on toast and my husband chose a traditional Polish soup with kielbasa (Polish sausage) as the main ingredient. My granddaughter also had a bowl of this which she loved. I tasted some of the soup - the flavour was good but the soup too watery. I prefer chunky soups. My shrimps were okay, a bit on the small side but tasty enough cooked in a rich garlicky butter sauce. We didn't have to wait too long for our starters - about ten minutes.

Moving on to the main meals - there is a good selection of meat dishes including pork, steak, chicken, duck. Nothing too fancy here, mostly cooked in sauces including mushrooms and tomatoes. Potatoes, chips and rice are served with main meals and vegetables include spinach and cabbage. Pickles and beetroot are available too. We all wanted a fish dish but knowing what to choose was a bit of a dilemma. I am always sceptical about fish in Poland - it always tastes odd except for salmon. Perch, sole, cod and prawns were on offer. We went with salmon - safest option.

My husband didn't want anything too rich so he ordered grilled salmon with a serving of rice and salad. I chose shrimp fish cakes for my granddaughter as I thought these would be easy for her to eat with a small knife and fork. If not she could use her hands without getting into too much of a mess.

I chose grilled salmon with shrimps, spinach and rice. Verdict; my granddaughter's fish cakes were tasty, two medium sized rissoles made from mashed shrimps, herbs like salsa and dill, and mashed potato. She liked these and ate both. These were served with a small salad of which she devoured the cucumber and tomatoes but left the lettuce. I can only assume the pulling of a funny face was her way of telling me that she doesn't like lettuce. My grilled salmon was a smallish chunky piece of fillet served on a bed of rice mixed with cooked spinach and a handful of baby shrimps placed on the top. The salmon was a bit dried out so overcooked, rice was light and fluffy, could have done with a bit more salt, spinach was very green, tasty and peppery. As for the shrimps they were okay - tasted mostly of flesh and salt but then that's what shrimps taste of unless you cover them in chilli sauce or add a lot of seasoning. My husband agreed with me about the salmon although he enjoyed his salad which he said was very fresh and crispy with a good selection of tomatoes, lettuce, grated carrot and cucumber. He passed on the extra addition of beetroot purée as he isn't a fan. Overall, the main meals were average - nothing more. We did have to wait about 30 minutes for the mains to be delivered to our table which is quite a long time to wait when a restaurant isn't busy but on the other hand - perhaps they were cooked from fresh and not microwaved.

Desserts: Not very imaginative - mostly ice cream based. Well, I guess it is the seaside! Fruit jelly and various fruits served with chocolate or vanilla sauce. Polish cheesecake which is always yummy and chocolate cake. We ordered an ice cream for our granddaughter and passed on the dessert menu. We had eaten enough at this point and were ready for a brisk walk around the port. Our jerky waiter brought the ice cream and asked if we would like tea, coffee or anything else to drink. No was our answer. We asked for the bill and with a smile and a nod he went on his way to the bar to get the bill.

Were we impressed with this restaurant under the grapes? We both thought that the décor of the restaurant was more appealing than the food on offer. A lot of time and money had gone into the design of the different rooms and the terraces outside. Many of the pieces of furniture had been hand painted and the tile work on the floor in rich deep colours was lovely and very intricate. The grape motif was very kitsch but still attractive. Service was polite and attentive - possibly a bit too much on the attentive side. Price wise - you are looking at 175 zloty (approx £35) for the meals and drinks described above which were only average and I think could have been a bit more imaginative. It's not expensive especially at the seaside but not sure if I would go again.

Pod winogronami
Towarowa 16
Kolobrzeg, Baltic Coast
94 354 73 36

Nice campsite - shame about the TV

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Praskipark on November 17, 2011

In June of this year we visited Grzybowo on the Baltic Coast and fell in love with the place. When September came around we decided we wanted to visit again and take our granddaughter with us - her first holiday with her grandparents on her own without Mum and Dad. The original plan was to go back to the accommodation we used in June - Zula Chalets. As it was September we thought there would be plenty of vacancies but we were wrong the complex was fully booked so we decided to go with Camping Bursztynek instead.

Camping Bursztynek is in the same village straight across the road from Zula Cottages. This entrance on Namiotowa is for rough camping (tents), caravans, campervans etc and not the one we used. We entered on the road at the back which is the main road leading into Kolobrzeg.

On arrival we found the entrance to the chalet part of the site a bit tricky as you have to turn into the site sharply or otherwise get booted up the back end by fast moving traffic.The path is a tight squeeze and as we entered we weren't sure where to go so my husband drove on the grass in the front of the trampoline, play area. Immediately a young guy came out of one of the chalet's with a worried look on his face. He was the owner of the site. He could only speak Polish and German and a smattering of English. We spoke to him in a mixture of Polish and English and he then understood who we were from the phone call and immediately his worried frown turned into a smile. He went into his house which is on the site and returned with a bunch of keys and led us to the vacant chalet.

Our chalet was in a complex of 3 other chalets and were 30 square metres in size - suitable for 4-5 people. This may sound small but there was enough room for what we wanted to do as we were based outside on the wooden terrace most of the time when on site - other times we were out and about.

The lounge was small and rectangular in shape with a bed sofa, pine drawers, nice cosy rug on the floor. This room had two windows which were simply curtained and a heavy wooden door which led out on to the terrace. Problem - the TV was in the bedroom probably because of the cable situation but it would have been better if it had been situated in the lounge.

Our bedroom consisted of a single bed which had a cover and pillows laid out on the top and opposite was a good quality sofa bed made from solid wood as a base, covered in a heavy velveteen material with a jazzy pattern This opened out into a double bed. Nice pine wardrobe with extra blankets, umbrella and deckchairs inside. Plenty of shelves for storing clothes and shoes in. There was a table with the TV and another side table which I used for my granddaughter's toy post office and somewhere where she could place her photos of her Mum and Dad and her Golden Retriever, Sniffy. Two windows here too with nets and silk curtains in a golden shade. All very cosy.

The kitchen was small but big enough. There was no table or chairs because obviously in this sort of situation you eat outside on the terrace where a table and four chairs are placed. Plenty of lower and upper cupboard space. No microwave, a two ring gas cooker (like a camping stove) sink and gas water heater. The floor was wooden but there was a rug on the kitchen floor which was a bit of a nuisance as I kept sliding around on it and my granddaughter fell when running through to the lounge so in the end I took the rug up. The cupboards were much better stocked here with plates, cups, serving dishes etc and some of the dishes had very pretty designs which always pleases me. What pleased me even more was that there was a salad bowl and a corkscrew. I was happy with the kitchen.

As for our bathroom it was a bit cramped - like everything had been fitted into the smallest space possible. However, everything worked. The shower was hot, powerful and the cubicle doors closed. Apart from the sink and toilet there was a free standing unit to place all toiletries, a mirror above the sink and glass shelves at the side of the sink but because of the proximity to the shower cubicle I found this shelf useless and got fed up of things falling off it every time I walked past to get into the shower.

Terraces are always my favourite feature of any log cabin - I love to sit outside. The terrace here was huge so consequently we put most things outside like my granddaughter's toys, fold up washing line, shoes, boots, all sorts of things. First job in a morning was to sweep the decking and tidy everything up from the night before. The view from our terrace was of the children's playground with swings, sand pit and a slide and a full size trampoline. Actually, my granddaughter was the only child who used all these facilities as every little complex of chalets had their own individual playground. It was great for the little one - she couldn't wait to get out of bed to go on the trampoline.

That's the run down of what the chalet was like and really we have no complaints at all. it was cosy, comfortable and we had a lot of fun. Our only complaint was the TV. We are not usually bothered about TV except on Saturday we like to catch the football results and then on Sunday there is a favourite serial I have been watching on Polish TV. Seeing that we were in Poland even if it was 460 kilometres from Warsaw you would think we would be able to tune in to national TV. Could we heck. All the channels were in Arabic!! I ask you. I have nothing against Arab TV but you think one station would be in Polish. I wonder what lorry this satellite package fell off. Very, very strange.

Forgot to mention the grounds. They are very picturesque in a French way. Basically the site is set on a large playing field which I think originally belonged to a school. I say this because the old derelict school building is still there. You might think that this doesn't sound too picturesque but it is a lovely old yellow ochre building with big square windows. I loved to jump up so I could see inside. The rooms were all empty but I could still see the coat pegs painted in red. The field is split into three or four avenues which have chalets lined at the side and in the centre the gardens have been artistically landscaped. Every now and again as you walk through the avenues you come face to face with an old apple or cherry tree. At the back of the field you can go through an opened gate to the area where tents and camper vans are allowed or you can take the path leading to a big gate which leads on to the front road leading to the centre of the village and beach. The path here is a bit rough and after rain will get muddy. The main waste bin and recycled bins are placed here also but there are other bin areas throughout the site so you don't have to trek miles to find a bin.

Prices: We stayed here in the second week of September and the price of the chalet was 100 zloty per night which included gas. Electricity reading was taken when we entered and checked on our departure. The cost was 18 zloty. We parked the car at the side of the chalet and there was no charge for this although it does say on the website that there is a charge of 20zloty. I think this is really good value and would love to go back again in June to get away from Warsaw when the European Championships are being played as the city will be crowded. Only snag - I won't be able to watch footie on Arab TV.
Camping Bursztynek
Namiotowa 78-132
Grzybowo, Poland

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