For my two-week whirlwind journey around Poland, or part of it, I didn’t really know where to go or what to expect. To be honest, I was expecting to see some nice places, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting to find anything particularly spectacular. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t have been more wrong because I found a place that astounded me to the point that I was actually questioning whether I was in Poland or indeed Europe.
So, what on earth am I talking about? Well, there is this little town in Pomerania called Leba (pronounced Webber). A local I was staying with in Gdansk kept going on about it, and someone from the Tourist Information Office in Gdansk also mentioned it. Anyway, in the end, I thought I would go and check it out for myself. Could it really be that special? When people big up a place, there is the risk of it not meeting your expectations. This was not the case, and it actually far exceeded my expectations.
After a couple of trains and a minibus from Gdansk via Sopot and Lebork, I arrived in Leba. It was like a ghost town. There were few things open, and very few people around. I was wondering if I should have even bothered. It just shows that you can’t always judge a place from first impressions.
I didn’t have directions to the accommodation I had booked because I honestly didn’t think it would be difficult to find. I thought it was a tiny place, and the owner of the hostel told me to just to ask someone. Because I really didn’t want to walk around for a long time, having carted my backpack around all day, I went into the first shop that was open. I couldn’t believe it when I asked and the woman in the shop didn’t know the road. Really? There was a local man who seemed to know where it was, and he directed me, but it turned out to be the wrong way. After walking around, and not coming across the road, I asked someone else who seemed to know. She sent me in the right direction, but not to the road I was looking for. I was getting fed up and tired of walking around, so I rang the number I had, but I got cut off before I found out where to go. I tried ringing back but it kept going to answerphone. I went into another shop I found, and asked the cashier. She had no idea. Really? She asked a customer who seemed to know. He actually did know, and it was just round the corner.
When I got there, the lady was lovely, and she told me the dunes were about 9kms away. As I was on foot, I’d have to make sure I left early because it gets dark early in February.
The following morning after breakfast, I asked if I could borrow a bike. Thankfully, they had one they could lend me. So, Vanessa (the bike) and I made our way to Rabka, which is where the route to the dunes begins. I hadn’t been on a bike since Albania last year, but this was a very different experience. There were hardly any cars on the road, and good cycle paths.
Leba is closer to Slowinski (pronounced Swovinski) National Park than I had thought, and I was there in no time. It’s free to enter the park. There are electric buggies that can take people the 5.5 kms to the dunes, but I was able to ride my bike the whole way. The trees were bare, and quite a few hadn’t survived the severe winds from the Baltic Sea, but it was a wonderful journey. It was peaceful with few people around, and it was a beautiful, sunny day, more like spring than winter.
Once I saw a mountain of sand, I knew that I had arrived. It was much quicker than I had thought. I parked my bike, and continued on foot. All of a sudden, there was sand all around as far as I could see. It was incredible. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Then again, I had no idea what to expect. I felt as if I had been transported to another continent. Was this really Poland?
If you are looking for something a little different, this is worth experiencing. It’s incredible. I ended up spending ages there. I went for a long walk along the beach before parking my bum on a sand dune in front of the Baltic Sea to have my packed lunch. As the weather was so good, I lay down and just enjoyed being there, listening to the sound of the waves. It was great.
Then, it was time to explore, so I went to the top of the biggest sand dune.
I took my time on the way back. I stopped off to take photos, and went off in different directions, exploring the area. There was the Baltic Sea on one side and a lake (Lebsko Lake) on the other.
Slowinski National Park is unique because it has sand dunes, lakes, and the Baltic Sea. It’s the most unusual national park I’ve ever been to, and one I will definitely return to, preferably in late spring or early summer.
If you are heading to Leba from Gdansk, Sopot, or Gydnia via public transport, take the SKM train to Leborg. From there, you can take a minibus to Leba.
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What’s the most unusual national park you’ve come across and what makes it so unusual?