Hel (with one “L”) is a very pleasant place, I know because I went there yesterday. I would post some photos, however the file upload problem hasn’t been resolved yet (but the guys from Transparent are doing what they can to get it sorted out).
So, instead of looking at pretty pictures of Hel, you’ll have to read my descriptions of the place. In that case, let’s make them short: Hel is indeed lovely, but I wouldn’t want to be there during letnie wakacje (summer vacation) – the place turns into a madhouse.
If you can’t make it to Hel in person, you can always visit the town’s official webpage. It’s called GoHel.pl. “Go Hel” also seems to be the official city slogan. But oddly enough, there’s no English language version of the website. It’s in Polish only. (Why then “Go Hel”? To appear more “European” and what-not?)
What got me interested (and confused) was this sentence:
Witamy w Helu! (Welcome to Hel)
“Hmmm…. odd,” I thought. “Weren’t is used to be ‘Witamy na Helu’ once upon a time, or am I going totally senile?”
You see, Hel is an interesting place, not only because it’s at the very tip of Poland, but also because nobody’s really sure how to correctly say “I’m going to Hel”, or as it turned out yesterday – “Welcome to Hel.”
I’ve always thought that “Witamy na Helu” was correct. Apparently not, according to the Urząd Miejski in Hel. It’s “Witamy w Helu.”
Ok, fair enough, we say “Witamy w Gdańsku” and “Witamy w Warszawie” and Hel simply wanted to conform. I can live with that.
But how do we say “I’m going to Hel”?
I’ve always thought that “jadę na Hel” was correct. 99% of the population, if asked about it, would automatically answer “na Hel.” But apparently, it’s only correct if you’re talking about the entire Hel Peninsula. Then you “jedziesz na Hel.”
If however, you’re only talking about the town of Hel, then you “jedziesz do Helu.” At least that’s how a helpful Hel dweller explained it to me yesterday.
Whatever. People in Hel can say “Witamy w Helu” all they want. They’re not going to convince me.
I’m planning to return “na Hel” soon!