“ Village located in north-western Poland „
Having lived in Portugal for over ten years I have developed a deep love of the ocean. Whenever I am away from the sea I miss the sound of the waves and the smell of the salty air so much. When planning a family holiday for this year I had already decided that we were going to have a seaside holiday but as my husband hasn't been well recently and has been unable to fly I decided to book a holiday on the Baltic Coast in a small town called Grzybowo. I knew we would be able to drive to our destination and the journey would be pretty straight forward although over 8 hours. If using public transport I do believe there is a train from Warsaw which takes you to Kolobrzeg and then a bus can be caught from there to Grzybowo. The train journey also takes approximately 8 hours and about 30 minutes on the bus.
~~~~~~So where is Grzybowo?~~~~~~~
Grzybowo is a small seaside town in western Pomerania, tucked away in the north west of Poland, approximately 6 miles from the major port and Hanseatic town of Kolobrzeg. I had never heard of Gryzbowo before so before going on holiday I asked my husband to ask a few Polish colleagues to see what he could find out. He was pleased to hear that this particular part of the Baltic coastline is loved by many Poles and Grzybowo is especially known for its air quality. The town is more like a village where in the summer months people visit for the bracing fresh air and pure white beaches. Grzybowo translated ito English reads - Mushroom so you never forget the name even if you can't pronounce it.
~~~~~And what did I think to this town called Mushroom?~~~~~~
I liked the feeling of the town straight away - there was a friendly, calm and relaxing atmosphere. There was something special about the sea air too. I don't think I have ever been to any seaside place where I have wanted to get up early to stroll on the beach and just be outside all the time. By 10pm I was ready for bed and slept like a baby every night.
~~~~~a Run down on the town~~~~~~~~~
The town is in a way split into two halves. The area near to the beach is filled with holiday accommodation but this is fine - very stylish houses - no high rise hotels or tall apartment blocks. There is no shortage of accommodation but if visiting in July and August it is always best to book well in advance as these are the very busy months. Types of accommodation varies too - anything from a room in a large house, campsite, small hotel or a chalet complex.
There are lots of small country lanes leading into the main street where the shops and cafes are situated. I liked finding all the different tracks and wandering off. The area very close to the beach is still rough ground leading into a pine forest and sand dunes towards the beach.
The main street, Ulica Nadmorska, has a good atmosphere and can be quite busy around meal times. There is a good selection of cafes and restaurants and a few pretty ice cream parlours which serve delicious and very colourful ice creams. A good bar on the main street to try out is Milano's. Here they serve food and a delicious ale from the Czarnkow brewery. It's like a cross between an old fashioned stout and Guinness. If you are self-catering as we were you don't have to walk far to a shop. Shops and delicatessens vary in sizes from very tiny to medium sized supermarkets. Most foodstuffs including meat, vegetables, bread and cakes etc can be bought in the town and there is a chemist on the main stretch too. Prices are a little higher than in Kolobrzeg so if you fancied a trip into the large town to do a big shop then you could do that by bus as they are frequent and leave from stops on the main street.
From what I could see the main dishes being served in restaurants were pizzas, pasta, fish and pierogi. I thought the fish seemed expensive - 6zloty (£1.20) per 100gm. I noticed an old-fashioned tin house where eels, salmon and other types of fish were being smoked. This fascinated me because I had never witnessed the fish smoking process before and it was fun to see a small crowd every morning and evening gathered round the smoke house to watch the man turning the various types of fish. The smell was evocative too.
Added to the shops, cafes and restaurants were numerous small outlets selling seaside souvenirs. I didn't buy anything but wish I had bought one of those glass frames that you turn upside down and the coloured sand forms pictures as it drops down to the base of the frame. I also liked some of the kitsch lighthouses and pot seagulls but knew I would be in trouble if I had taken any home.
The other side of town is where the 'real people ' live as I call them. By this I mean people who live in Grzybowo all year round. Here there is a small school which reminded me of my old primary school - an old fashioned brick, churchy looking building with a playground. There is a large campsite, a couple of other shops which were cheaper than the ones close to the beach and had a good selection of wines, a very modern looking building which at first I thought was a church but turned out to be a religious hotel centre. I was fascinated by the garden belonging to this building and the metal bell which stood in the garden. I did notice some very attractive houses with large gardens as I walked around with our family dog. Next time I will leave the dog at the chalet and then I will be able to enjoy the peacefulness of the other side of town. With a dog there is no peace because every house had a dog behind a gate and wanted to bark at our dog. Of course being very well behaved he ignored all the other muts!
******The Star Attraction*********
One of the main reasons we came here to Grzybowo was because of the beach. Actually, there aren't any other attractions and I do believe that this small village has been built for the sole purpose of accommodating visitors to this part of the Baltic Coast. It still has an untamed look and lots of areas of scrub and rough, rocky ground. The actual beach is about 5 minutes walk from the main artery of the town and can be reached on paths leading from the town. Most of the paths are concreted until you come to the wooded area which in itself is a cycle path and walkway that branches off on a steep, sandy incline to the sea. The climb to the beach is the bit that is hard work as the sand here is really dense with lots of fine pine needles mixed in the sand which have dropped from the nearby trees. The smell of the pine mixed with the sea is very evocative and as soon as you reach the opening to the sea you immediately feel a sharp blast of cold air coming from the dancing Baltic waves and of course, a stunning view.
The time of year we visited was the second week of June and fortunately we had a week of very nice, sunny weather. I think there was only one afternoon that looked a bit grumpy on awakening but the mood cleared in the afternoon. Temperatures were a little cooler than Warsaw - around 20 - 25 degrees centigrade. This is fine for me as it is so humid in the capital city - I was glad of the breeze from the sea - I felt I could actually breathe. What I did notice is how the clouds moved very quickly over the sea changing the temperature very suddenly. One minute you could be sat on the sand with a flimsy covering and within a few minutes you would feel a cool breeze. I think there was only one time when I actually wore a thin jacket when walking along the coast. Most of the time all the family wore shorts and thin tops. My son and his Golden Retriever braved the sea and swam in it many times. The other family members declined as it was too cold although we did paddle in it.
I wouldn't say this beach area was very busy with visitors apart from weekends. Early morning and evening the beach was generally empty and perfect for a stroll with the dog or as in my case with the camera. I loved to take photos of the incoming waves. The stretch of sand is very long, white and very deep. I didn't notice many shells so is perfect for walking on in bare feet. The busiest times were always from about mid-day until 4pm. This is the time for families to relax or play games with children. My granddaughter who is two enjoyed her time on the beach and even liked the water although she shrieked at the coldness but once she had got used to it she giggled and wanted more.
All along the Plaza there are paths leading on to the walkway/cycle path which can take you back in to the town of Grzbowo or if you prefer to go for a long walk or cycle you can follow the path which is of smooth Tarmac all along this coast. Next time I think I will walk to Kolobrzeg. You are able to see the lighthouse at Kolobrzeg in the distance from the beach.
I didn't notice any lifeguards but the season had only just began so in high season this may change. Litter bins are placed at intervals along the beach and I did notice how clean and tidy the beach was. There are no public toilets on the beach - they are placed on the cycle path at intervals and are the blue portable types.
The Baltic Coastline can get very windy at times so it is advisable to take a wind break with you if you plan to spend a long time on the beach. I did notice people flying kites and Paragliders were struggling to keep hold of their equipment so be warned the wind is harsh. It's also a good idea to take a beach towel, parasol and a deckchair as I didn't see anyone handing out parasols, chairs etc. This is quite an untamed beach and not many facilities so best go prepared and also remember the sun cream as the wind also can burn and isn't good for the skin.
As I have mentioned above we took our family Golden Retriever with us and before we entered on to the beach on the first day we checked the large display board at the entrance. There were no rules saying that dogs weren't allowed so we carried on. This was a Saturday tea time at around 5pm and the beach was quite busy with weekend holiday makers. We played on the beach for a while and let our dog go into the sea and after about 30 minutes we spied a Quad bike coming towards us at a very slow speed. Scenes from 'Baywatch' spring to mind. We knew what the outcome was going to be as the man driving the Quad bike was the Beach Policeman. He stopped in front of us and told us that dogs weren't allowed on the beach. My daughter-in-law who is Polish said that she hadn't seen a board displaying this information. He said that it didn't matter - it was a rule throughout Poland. Dogs weren't allowed and in our own time could we take the dog off the beach. His manner wasn't at all bolshy - he was quite charming, actually and as he moved on down the beach we saw him stop someone else with a small dog.
My daughter-in-law wasn't convinced about this rule so went and asked another doggie person with a Jack Russell, if they had had any problems while on holiday and they answered, No. So we came to the conclusion that this patrol happened only at busy times like weekends, took no notice and took the dog to the beach for the rest of the holiday although we went further down the coast away from other beach lovers. I have to add that we never saw the beach patrol again and saw lots of other dogs playing with sticks and swimming in the sea so I would say it is one of those quirky rules that only exists depending on how officious the patrol man is. I know that on other beaches on this coastline there are specific signs saying that dogs aren't allowed and designated areas where you can take them but this wasn't the case on Plaza Grzybowo.
I absolutely fell in love with Plaza Grzybowo and the small town/village. It was somewhere that I wasn't too au fait with but so glad I came across it because this town is one of the loveliest I have been to and I never thought I would say that always placing most Portuguese towns at the top of my favourite list. As for the beach it is exquisite and even more beautiful than any of my favourite beaches on the west coast of Portugal The town isn't glamorous in any way but there is something special about it whether it is the sea air, cloud formations, white beaches, friendly people or just those glasses of dark ale on offer. It was my first visit and I know it definitely won't be my last. I loved my time there, so much that we are hoping to retire and buy a small apartment near the sea.