Anyone looking for travel tips scroll down to the bottom.
This week has been one of those ‘this-time-last-week’ weeks.
This time last week we were getting ready to head out of our apartment in Sopot and on the train to Gdansk. This time last week there was thunder in the clouds and lightning flashes lighting up the sky.
It was our second year at Open’er music festival. Last year had been an experience I enjoyed so much I wouldn’t let the idea of round two go.
Last year we flew to Warsaw and suffered a six hour train journey to Gdansk (crowded in the corridor between two cartridges where they stick the toilet) which left me with unrelenting vertigo for almost the entire holiday. We stayed in a flat at the top of what I think I counted as approximately 120 steps in almost the heart of Gdansk. The apartment was great, there was access to the roof through the window of the master bedroom so we used that as a balcony to drink on and play music for most of the day before heading to the festival in the evening.
The errors we made the first year were leaving it too late to book our flights, hence flying out to Warsaw (which in its self was a great city) & the train journey from hell, and not really researching the logistics of the festival. To get to Open’er festival we had to walk through town to the train station which took about 10 minutes at most, and get the train from Gdansk Główny to Gdynia Główny, it is a straight forward direct train. What we didn’t know when we got to Gdynia was that there were shuttle busses running from the train station to the festival, so for the first day we ended up getting a taxi. Taxis in Poland are cheap, everything in Poland is cheap, but I don’t particularly like the way polish people drive. It’s very… Erratic, so I wasn’t thrilled about our proposed mode of transport but was out ruled about 6-1.
When you get to the entrance of the festival there are Polish security looking out to make sure you don’t take any beer in with you (the only beers you can take are cans if you’re camping) and it’s about a miles walk to the wristband check. To get your wristband on day one you need to take your ticket along with your passport and get it changed, the exchange point is right by the entry into the actual festival arena (unless you’re camping it’s about half a mile down the path). Unlike a lot of other festivals Open’er operate searches as you go in, every day. A quick pat down and check in your bag and you’re set to go.
The main stage is directly to your left as you walk in, the tent stage is across the field about 3/4′s of a mile at the far end & there’s a ‘Hear & Now’ outdoor stage between the two (closer to the Tent). These were the only stages we spent any time at our first year so we weren’t aware of ones that we saw this year, the ‘Beats’ tent and an ‘Alter Stage’ (Alter is official festival organiser and Heineken sponsor the festival). If you look towards the big Tent from the main stage to the right there’s a huge Heineken VIP building and a fenced off area with bars, toilets and food stalls, just up from there is where the ‘Beats’ stage was. To the left, another fenced area running the whole way down a path from the main stage to the Tent with bars, food stalls, clothes stalls, another Heineken VIP area, toilets, chill out areas and a Silent Disco. Halfway down the long path (which is some form of run way as the site is on an airfield) there’s a broken down bus, painted white and graffitied with people’s names and messages from the years at Open’er.
The only beers you can get in the festival are Heineken or Desperados. You can only purchase these drinks (and the food) with festival ‘tokens’. Each token is valued at four złoty (as I write this that is the equivalent of about 80p) and each beer is two tokens.. I trust you can do the maths on the beers. You’re only permitted to drink in the restricted fenced off areas. We bought the tokens 100 PLN at a time (25 tokens) which lasted just shy of two days for me.
There is Wi-Fi in areas on the site and plenty of places to sit. Most people working speak English but I would highly recommend learning a few key Polish Phrases (see below).
Our second year at Open’er smoothed out many of the errors we made in our rookie days. Instead of staying in Gdansk and making the journey to (and from) the festival an hour long each way we stayed in Sopot. We learnt about Sopot in our first year when 4 of the group had left on the Saturday the remaining few moved to a hostel. Sopot is the place to be. I would easily just recommend the town as a holiday destination, the beach (which was 5 minutes’ walk from our apartment this year) is beautiful. The sand is white, it stretches right across the coast as far as you can see left to right, there are bars and cafés, a pier (7.50pln to get access to the pier but there’s a nice bar/cafe that serves food), souvenir stands and bike rental. The centre of town was only a 5 minute walk, in a different direction, from our apartment, if you went to town you could also get to the beach and loop back round to our apartment. There are clothes shops, even a recognisable H&M, a ‘pharmacy’ (like Boots), Mexican restaurant, Italian restaurant, MacDonald’s ‘restaurant’ anything you could really need. Another particular attraction about sopot is the ‘wonky house’ it’s quite a stand out feature..just google it…
Our decision to stay in sopot made our journey to Open’er easier; the train took 15 minutes and is on the same line from Gdansk. The shuttle bus was still about 15 minutes but because our apartment was two minutes from the train station we could guarantee if we set off at 4, we’d have a beer in our hand chilling out at the festival by 5.
Programmes at the festival are free (unlike the extortionate price you’ll pay at English festivals), tickets were £110, more if you were camping. For 7 nights the apartment we rented was about £100 each and I spent no more than £250 whilst out there. Including return flights to Gdansk Airport (a 30 minute taxi ride and 80 złoty) the ‘holiday’ must have cost about £550. The line up is always good, there aren’t many stages so not a lot clashes and I get the feeling the organisers try to arrange it so the chance of people wanting to watch the ‘headliners’ of the Tent stage whilst the Main stage headliners are on very slim (completely different styles of music).
I hope to make the journey again next year! Rumour has it they’re expanding and adding more stages!
Stay in Sopot or Gdynia. I don’t recommend camping at any European festivals. The festivals usually start late afternoon and run late into the evening because of the heat so if you plan on camping you’re going to struggle with the heat of sleeping during the day. (Sun starts to rise about 3.30/4 ish)
Shuttle busses run from Gdynia Główny train station.
Learn a few Polish phrases. http://www.meetpoland.com/useful-polish-words-and-phrases.html
Everything is cheap so buy toiletries out there! This includes towels (for the beach).
Don’t expect the cider (Redds, Somersby) to taste the same, it’s more like an alcoholic appetiser.
Book your flights in plenty of time!
Don’t be stuck with a flight to Warsaw & the worst 6 hour train journey of your life!