Sopot is a cool little seaside town near Gdansk. It has been described as the Ibiza of Eastern Europe – by my guidebook at least. And it is somewhat. But I always imagined that Ibiza would be wilder. Granted, you can stay out all night long partying (as I did), but in general it seems much more family oriented.
If Gdansk is a tourist town, Sopot is an amusement park. Everything seems to be plastic and made to be looked at. Side kiosks sell souvineers and lite snacks. Overpriced restaurants feed those willing to trade more money for a place to sit. There are manicured open areas and if you’re wanting a hike, you can pay a few zloty and walk along the world’s longest wooden pier. But it is a very small town with only a few sights and not nearly as historic as Gdansk.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time there, but it didn’t live up to its billing. I do recommend taking a day or so if you’re in Gdansk to see the area. If you decide to stay the night, I highly recommend the University Dorms (part of the Trojmiasto system) in the summer. Though the receptionists don’t speak great English, you can muddle through and get a room. They are cheap, clean and recently updated. There are no rooms larger than 2 (that I saw) and each room of 2 shares a bathroom with another room of 2. It was a great break from the dorm style accomodations and just the thing to clean up after watching the sun rise on the beach bar.
Which is what I did. After I got a shower and did some laundry, I went out for dinner and a drink or two. After that I headed to the Copacabanna bar, built in a tent structure right on the beach. It was pretty cool. I guess I got there early because there were only a handful of people sitting, drinking, and dancing. But after a couple of hours the place started to fill up with all the beautiful people in expensive clothes. As beautiful as I was after a shower, I still didn’t have the expensive clothes. The upstairs area I learned was for “veep veep private party stay out” after one trip to the toilet. Despite the fact that I’d been up there all night long, I was barred. Apparently the party started without me. So I did my best Right Said Fred on out of there. No way I’m disco dancing.
I went to another club just down the beach. The door was locked though people were inside partying – more face control. Luckily I was behind a couple of people who it turned out were locals and frequented the bar. Using my awesome Social Engineering skills and just walked in behind them like I belonged there. I grabbed a beer and started talking to the guys I’d followed. They were a couple of Polish brothers; one was an artist, the other a photojournalist. They spoke great English so we just sat there and chatted into the night drinking Sambuca by lighting it on fire, putting out the flame, drinking it, then sucking the gas through a straw 3 times. It makes you very lightheaded.
Next door there was a theater with a small impromptu party going on with some of their artist friends. They were all complaining about the sad state of the world the way I imagine the famous American expats in Paris and Prague would do around the middle of the century. I tried to liven up the mood by grabbing the guitar from the stage and playing as well as I could given my state of sobriety. I was able to put a few chords together and then asked somebody to sing to the chords. It lightened the mood for a moment but then they told me the guy was singing about the sad state of the world.
As the sun came up, I wandered out to the beach, snapped a few shots, and then walked about a mile back to the University Dorms. I’d had a good but exhausting night and morning and needed to get 3-4 good hours of sleep for the 6 hour train ride to Warsaw to meet a friend. Checkout came early and I stumbled back into town to grab some breakfast and coffee.