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Published: October 27th 2010
The morning we docked at Gdynia was a bit murky, it was still warm, but the skies were grey and ominous, as was our lack of adequate wet weather gear... hmm fingers crossed. We disembarked at the portside town of Gdynia and then took a bus to the town of Gdansk. We didn't really see much of Gdynia as we drove through it - to be honest it was just a modern (last 15-20years it has more-or-less popped up) clean town that could be just about anywhere. We did pass a lovely church on the way that claims to have the largest pipe organ in Europe... man if I had a penny for every time we heard that! (Actually I’d have about 12p... but still!)
When we neared the popular Polish holiday town of Gdansk the immediate impression is the spattering of spires and ornate towers peaking up above the cityscape... Surely a good sign! The inevitable rain came in just as we hopped off the bus - hmmmm! We dashed from shelter to shelter as we walked down the impressive central pedestrian only promenade called Dluga Street, the whole place was packed with tourists - no surprises with cruise
ships in the neighbourhood!
Dluga Street is a large part of the storied ‘Royal Route’ through the centre of the old town. Dluga extends from the Golden Gate down to the Town Hall, where it becomes Dlugi Targ. There are three especially famous houses on Dluga, which have been restored to their pre-war glory and are on display: The Uphagen House, the Ferber House, and Lion Court - which is extra cool because of the impressive Neptune statue out the front. The whole area is jammed with shops and stalls selling everything from intricate Polish baked goods to amber jewellery and confectionary of all imaginable types. A great place to while away a few hours people watching and soaking up the sunshine which quickly burnt away all the nasty rainy clouds! Hooray!
We walked all over the old town area and visited many cool historic sites, but one of the most memorable things was just seeing the old photos taken just after the war - the sheer level of destruction is incredible and Gdansk is considered a town that got off ‘lightly’ compared to some others!! Although we were also told that the Gdynia area is where WW2
actually began - and that’s a bit scary too. There are so many tales of misery and horror from throughout the history of Poland it defies belief - at one point it was estimated that 60% of all women in the city had been raped by invading soldiers of some description or another... just hideous.
We also toured through St Mary’s Church - which is the largest brick church in the world and can seat up to the insane capacity of 25,000 people! The place was titanic. We have seen a fair few churches around the place, but every now and then one can still surprise you... and it did. The vast internal space just seems too huge for a church started in the 1300's and finished in 1501. There are copious amounts of goodies inside, both the main area plus the many little rooms set off to the sides: famous artworks, ornate tombs, amazing sculptures and pulpits etc and a cool astronomical clock which dates back to the early 1400's.
After exploring the very lovely streets surrounding St Marys and Dluga Street we wandered down to the Motława River. The riverside is dotted with historic buildings, including
an old granary which looms in an imposing manor over the end of the water... its just looks like it should fall in! We also sampled some local goodies as we wandered around - gingerbread and ice cream -YUM!
Poland is yet another country that we would love to see more off, I'm sure we will head over to Krakow or Warsaw in the coming years - a visit to the infamous Auschwitz is something we feel we must do too. The people in Poland are lovely, as is the beer! It’s infinitely amazing to hear about the jaded and colourful history of this proud nation, they have been dominated by several other nations over the centuries, but at the same time they had a huge empire at one stage too. One other interesting thing we discovered was that for the first time there are actual Polish chain stores developing throughout the country - for the first time in its history. The Polish people we met were all very proud of their ever emerging independence in all facets of life. Gdansk is a great town in a cool and compelling country - can’t wait for next time!!
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