Destinations Magazine

Backpacking in Poland: Exploring Peaceful, Pleasant, Holy Pelplin

By Jsbdsl @jonnyblair

“In my hour of darkness, there is still a light that shines on me” – Paul McCartney.

Backpacking in Poland: Exploring Peaceful, Pleasant, Holy Pelplin

Backpacking in Poland: Exploring Peaceful, Pleasant, Holy Pelplin

My oh my! When I continue to tell people about these places I have been, you can never quite believe it. Pelplin is gorgeous and has been one of the recent stops towards the end of my backpacking journey, here in Poland, I visited just before my time in Starogard Gdański and just after my visit to Tczew. It’s a tiny village, but it’s unforgettable.

Sunset in Pelplin, Poland

Sunset in Pelplin, Poland

I made the pleasant, lonely walk out of Pelplin this morning to climb to the Hill of Jan Pawel II on a Sunday morning as well as touring the sights of this tranquil place. This is a really spiritual and holy village. It was a nice place to find peace, to pray, to dream, to love and to admire the beauty of the fields and sky around me. Nobody else was here. I’m trying to be a better person every day, to myself and to others. I stayed in the only hotel in the village – the Hotel Nad Wierzycą, the Only Hotel in Pelplin. When touring Pelplin, here are my personal top things to check out.

Downtown Pelplin, Poland

Downtown Pelplin, Poland

1.Pelplin Abbey
Pelplin Abbey is predictably the main reason why people come here. It dates back to 1258 and was an Abbey. It is now a fully functioning cathedral church and I caught a poignant Sunday service here. Since 1824 the church, known as Pelpin Cathedral, has been the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pelplin.

Pelplin Abbey

Pelplin Abbey

Pelplin Abbey - inside the church

Pelplin Abbey – inside the church

Pelplin Abbey - outside the church

Pelplin Abbey – outside the church

2.Hill of Jan Pawel II/John Paul II
This was another leaf from my backpacker’s tree of dreams. I awoke on a sun shiney, brisk Sunday morning. Times had not been so good for me, I was on a down, but I turned to religion a lot during this time of my life.

The walk to the Hill of John Paul II

The walk to the Hill of John Paul II

The walk to the Hill of John Paul II

The walk to the Hill of John Paul II

I walked all the way from the village centre of Pelplin to the Hill of Jan Pawel II/John Paul II. Basically this strategic hill sits on the edge of the village and features a huge cross. The former Polish Pope, Jan Pawel II once did a speech here and so the walk here felt like a pilgrimage.

At the Hill of John Paul II

At the Hill of John Paul II

At the Hill of John Paul II

At the Hill of John Paul II

At the Hill of John Paul II

At the Hill of John Paul II

I had a few poignant moments to myself atop the hill and nobody else was there. I’m trying to be the best man I can and I really did wonder about my life a lot when I was here. There is a rumour that this hill was only formed because when they were making the church, they had dug up lots of soil and had to put it somewhere.

The road out of Pelplin

The road out of Pelplin

3.Gutenberg’s Bible
For such a small village, it was incredible how many significant and holy things there were to check out. Not just the famous hill where the Pope preached and the Pelplin Abbey, but one of the only 49 remaining original copies of Gutenberg’s Bible is here in Pelplin!

The only original copy of Gutenberg's Bible in Poland

The only original copy of Gutenberg’s Bible in Poland

The only original copy of Gutenberg's Bible in Poland

The only original copy of Gutenberg’s Bible in Poland

I’ve included this as a sight of its own – the Bible is inside the Diocesan Museum and is the only one in Poland. It is really worth the trip.

The only original copy of Gutenberg's Bible in Poland

The only original copy of Gutenberg’s Bible in Poland

The only original copy of Gutenberg's Bible in Poland

The only original copy of Gutenberg’s Bible in Poland

4.Diocesan Museum/Muzeum Diecezjalne
And of course in order to see the only original copy of Gutenberg’s Bible in Poland, you need to visit the Diocesan Museum. Because I am studying Polish in Gdansk, I got student rate which is 4 złotys for entry. There is a double entry ticket that also includes the Cathedral tour, however I was here on a Sunday so the Cathedral was free.

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Tickets for the Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Tickets for the Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

The museum features some fabulous art, particularly the paintings upstairs. There are also clothes from down the centuries and a history of Pelplin and the region, it’s all very holy.

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

Diocesan Museum in Pelplin

5.Urząd Miasta i Gminy Pelplin
The Urząd Miasta i Gminy Pelplin is a strong mustard coloured building on the main street. It’s the town hall. I didn’t go in but I walked past and took a photo of it. I later added it on my blog as a top backpacking sight in Pelplin.

Urząd Miasta i Gminy Pelplin - Town Hall

Urząd Miasta i Gminy Pelplin – Town Hall

6.Pelplin Train Station
I arrived into Pelplin by train from Tczew and I later left the village by minibus. The train station is worthy of a mention because it is a typical textbook remote Polish village train station. I love it. This is the sort of thing that inspires me when I travel!

Arrival in Pelplin

Arrival in Pelplin

Pelplin Train Station

Pelplin Train Station

7.Pub Klimat
I found out that there is really only one pub in town so on a Saturday night in Pelplin, it seemed the obvious thing to do to visit Pub Klimat. It’s a small and cosy bar down by the train station. Beers from 6 złoty (£1.20) so you can’t go wrong.

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

There are other licensed venues in the village of course, but Pub Klimat is the place to be at night. I just went in for one beer, but one of the locals bought me one and they didn’t want me to leave! I had to get some sleep.

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

Pub Klimat, only pub in Pelplin!

8.Pizzeria Grill Bar (Pelplin’s International Restaurant)
You go all the way to Poland and you have your dinner in a “pizzeria”? And yes, yes I did! I have had my fair fix of Polish soups, pierogi and bigos down the years and for some reason, the only place open in town on the Saturday night for food was this pizzeria on the main street so in I went. As an original name it is called “Pizzeria Grill Bar”, you have got to love Poland with a name like that. I had a textbook sok pomaranczowy y pizza for about £2. The venue is also licensed to sell alcohol.

Pizza and orange juice in Pelplin's international pizza joint

Pizza and orange juice in Pelplin’s international pizza joint

Pizzeria Grill Bar, Pelplin

Pizzeria Grill Bar, Pelplin

9.Hotel Nad Wierzyca
Is a hotel a “sight”? Yes in this case you should at least check out the fancy Hotel Nad Wierzyca and if you are staying the night, there are not many other options. Camping in a field or Couchsurfing could be the only other ways to spend the night. As a 36 year old backpacker, I’ll take my bed thanks.

My cosy room at Hotel nad Wierzycą

My cosy room at Hotel nad Wierzycą

Backpacking in Poland: Staying at Hotel Nad Wierzycą, the Only Hotel in Pelplin

Backpacking in Poland: Staying at Hotel Nad Wierzycą, the Only Hotel in Pelplin

10.Collegium Marianum (Mary’s College)
The Collegium Marianum is a cathedral school for educating nuns. It has a sad recent history though – In 1939, the school was closed by the German Nazis, most of the professors were killed and the building was turned into a German police school. The good news is it was reopened as a school in the year 2000 and still functions.

Collegium Marianum (Mary's College)

Collegium Marianum (Mary’s College)

11.Gardens and Bishop’s Palace
Just behind Pelplin Church are the Gardens and the Bishop’s Palace and Residence. You can’t really intervene too much or go inside, as its private but I had a good walk around and spoke to one of the Bishops.

Gardens and Bishop's Palace

Gardens and Bishop’s Palace

Gardens and Bishop's Palace

Gardens and Bishop’s Palace

Gardens and Bishop's Palace

Gardens and Bishop’s Palace

12.Lody Bonano
Dandering through the main street in Pelplin and I spot a nice ice cream shop – Lody Bonano so I stop for a cheap and cheerful chocolate ice cream. Delicious and what I love about small villages are these local businesses cornering the niche with no international brands in sight.

Lody Bonano - the local ice cream shop.

Lody Bonano – the local ice cream shop.

Lody Bonano - the local ice cream shop.

Lody Bonano – the local ice cream shop.

13.Pilgrim’s House
On the main road through the village, a fancy yellow building stands out. Although this is now used as offices and flats, it was once the Pilgrim’s House.

The Pilgrim's House

The Pilgrim’s House

14.Church of Corpus Christi
This church is on the other side of the road from the main Pelplin Abbey and attracts much less visitors, but I took time out to tour it. It has a graveyard and is also known as the Church of St. Joseph.

Church of Corpus Christi

Church of Corpus Christi

15.Starogardzka Street
As well as being a travel writer, I also write poems. On my visit to Starogard Gdanski in Summer 2016, I penned a poem/song called “Starogard Girl (in a secret)”. If it ever gets released, I’ll do a pilgrimage from Starogardzka Street in Pelplin. The street is famous as there is an old post-cicercian sluice there.

Starogardzka Street

Starogardzka Street

Starogardzka Street

Starogardzka Street

16.KS Wierzyca Pelplin Stadium
Despite the fact that it’s a tiny village, I still managed to find and visit the football stadium. I was surprised at how big it was, considering the village houses less than 10,000 people.

KS Wierzyca Pelplin Stadium

KS Wierzyca Pelplin Stadium

The team here, KS Wierzyca play in the Polish fourth division and incredibly at the time of writing, they are top of the league, above big clubs like the one in Starogard Gdansk and in Gdansk.

KS Wierzyca Pelplin Stadium

KS Wierzyca Pelplin Stadium

KS Wierzyca Pelplin Stadium

KS Wierzyca Pelplin Stadium

17.Former Sugar Factory Grounds
This could be a sweet bit of backpacking for those who love abandoned buildings. The sugar factory here was quite big and obviously provided lots of jobs for the locals. The buildings remain but are largely boarded up.

Former Sugar Factory Grounds

Former Sugar Factory Grounds

Former Sugar Factory Grounds

Former Sugar Factory Grounds

18.Cukiernia
The best coffee shop on the main street is simply called Cukiernia, which means bakery. The lady’s name was Iza, very friendly and welcoming and good coffee, cake and ice cream.

The Cukiernia - best cafe in town.

Iza at The Cukiernia – best cafe in town.

The Cukiernia - best cafe in town.

The Cukiernia – best cafe in town.

The Cukiernia - best cafe in town.

The Cukiernia – best cafe in town.

The Cukiernia - best cafe in town.

The Cukiernia – best cafe in town.

And in one night and one day I managed to see all those and a few other places. It’s a quiet and tranquil town and one which I needed to visit to talk to God and keep my story alive. I won’t forget the village of Pelplin. I left by mini bus by Tczew and I couldn’t even get a seat.

Leaving Pelplin by mini-bus

Leaving Pelplin by mini-bus

Leaving Pelplin by mini-bus

Leaving Pelplin by mini-bus

Here are some videos from my time touring Pelplin:

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