Edit Blog Post
Published: September 30th 2016
When you talk about Gdansk, it’s worth mentioning Sopot and Gdynia as well... After all they are one ‘city’ – Tricity that is... And yet I can’t say I know all these three cities the same way. Gdynia would have to be the city that I know the least about and that I have visited the least amount of times, maybe because it’s the furthest away from Elblag? I never gave it much thought to be honest but Gdynia is usually not on my to-do list... It used to be pretty good for shopping as all the shopping was centred around one looong street so you could get everything you wanted to buy in one go... Now with all the shopping centres around, there is simply no need to go there anymore... at least for shopping that is... Gdynia does seem to attract more and more people though for other reasons – sandy beaches, walking trails, bicycle paths and numerous events, the biggest one of them being Heineken Music Festival, they sure make this city worth a visit. Now when I think about it, maybe I should give it a bit more attention and plan a trip there some time in
the near future... Something to think about for sure...
Sopot is the smallest one of the three cities. It is said to be one of the most beautiful cities on the Polish coast. Some would even call it the summer capital of Poland... With the longest wooden pier in Europe, clean sandy beaches and a nice walking street with many shops and restaurants, it sure is a lovely spot if only for a day trip. Once in a while we come here for these reasons exactly – to walk on the pier, stroll along the beach and have a drink or a bite to eat on the Monte Cassino Street. I wouldn’t be so eager to plan a week long holiday on the beach here though as Sopot does get overcrowded during summer months but so do the other popular beach resorts along the Polish coast as well. The best way to avoid the crowds is to simply visit Sopot outside of season. Then you’d be able to have the pier and the sandy beach all to yourself... almost! 😉
Finally, Gdansk is the city I know the most about as it has been more or less my
‘second’ home since I was a kid... Well maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but I do know Gdansk quite well. The reason behind that is very simple – my dad comes from Gdansk... Kind of, as he wasn’t born there but spent most of his life there. My grandparents chose Gdansk as their home during the 60-ties (1966 to be exact) and my dad lived there since then until a twist of fate – also known as my mum – brought him eventually to settle in Elblag. My grandparents remained in Gdansk though so ever since my sister and I were kids we used to go to Gdansk either for day trips or for a few nights to visit them. After high school I also spent a few years in Gdansk when I moved there to continue my education... I still keep on wondering what possessed me to study economics but even though the studies were a total miss, I did have some fun during that time as well. After all the studies weren’t all about studying... And if it weren’t for the choices I made back then (including the choice of this dreaded faculty) I wouldn’t be where
I am right now and I wouldn’t be writing this blog either...
Even though I got to know some parts of Gdansk quite well back then, I never really felt the urge to dig into its history or to visit any of its museums. During this trip though, having Grant and Millie beside me, I thought it would actually be nice to show them around a few places and learn a bit more about this town in between as well.
During our summer in Poland we did quite a few trips to Gdansk, mostly to visit my granny as she simply couldn’t get enough of seeing her great-grand-daughter, but also to visit a few places around Gdansk.
The first on the list was the Old Town of course. You can find plenty of things to do around here to fill your day. Starting by the Motlawa river you can walk along Dlugi Targ, passing by Gdansk’s symbol, the Neptune statue and then passing by beautiful buildings reconstructed in the old style you can continue through Dluga Street all the way to the Golden Gate. You can go on through the smaller and narrower streets of the Old
Town after that, visit one of the Old Town’s museums or old churches or simply stop somewhere in one of the numerous bars and restaurants to have a bite to eat or a drink. We walked around the Old Town’s streets many times, enjoying the sunny weather and admiring old architecture. Out of all the streets in the Old Town, Mariacka Street has to be my favourite. It’s simply picture perfect – narrow street starting at St Mary’s Basilica and leading all the way to Moltawa river with beautiful old buildings and their characteristic staircases, numerous shops and restaurants, not to mention that it’s also much less crowded than for example Dluga Street! It’s also the place to go to if you are interested in buying some amber products as there are plenty of amber workshops and shops around. I wasn’t planning to buy anything, instead I had a nice chat with one of the craftsmen there – he was really passionate about his work and had plenty of stories to share, not only about his products but about his customers as well. For example I did find out that the majority of his clients were Germans which actually didn’t
surprise me at all, as even though they do have access to Baltic sea as well, there is no doubt that the price of amber in Poland is a fraction of what they would have to pay in Germany. What did surprise me though was the fact that many of them were apparently buying amber collars... for their dogs! To keep them safe from ticks... Ok... Amber is said to have some healing powers but remedy for ticks? That’s a first...
During one of our walks along Dluga Street we decided to check out the Town Hall. Many people would visit the Town Hall only to climb up its 83 metre tower to see the incredible panorama of the Old Town. We decided to check out the History Museum of the City of Gdańsk located inside as well. One thing that is definitely worth seeing here is the Great Council Room (also known as The Red Room) with its beautiful ceiling full of ornaments and paintings and an enormous white fireplace. You can also see here a collection of photos depicting Gdansk after World War II or what was left of it – as for the Old Town 90percent
of it lied in ruins while Gdansk’s other suburbs were destroyed in 60percent. Hard to believe that the Old Town was almost levelled to the ground when you look at it nowadays – lots and lots of money and work was put into rebuilding it, no doubt about that. Also on display you can find many artefacts, medals and coins dating back as far as the XVI century. And at the end you are rewarded with the view of the Old Town from above. It was worth a visit for sure.
We have been to Gdansk Brzeźno a few times as well. To be honest I wouldn’t even think of going there if it wasn’t for my parents – they rediscovered this place only recently by chance. Back in the 70ties and 80ties you wouldn’t see many people visiting this suburb as it had a pretty bad reputation – lots of vandalism and thefts, not the place you’d like to take your family to. Thankfully that’s all in the past now. Nice beach and a wooden pier, wide path to walk on, leading all the way to Sopot actually (if not Gdynia actually!), couple of restaurants by the beach...
Not too bad at all... A nice park for a stroll as well... You can even find some old bunkers there as well. They were built around 1850 and were used to defend the port from the west side. Apparently they survived both world wars untouched as they were used by Germans to store their ammunition but eventually were partly destroyed after World War II during some military training. Sadly it looks as if they became a bit of a dumpster in the recent years as there was quite a lot of trash inside them, not to mention that they were covered in graffiti – who knows maybe with the increasing popularity of Gdansk-Brzezno, someone will eventually look into cleaning up this site... You’d hope that at least...
Another place that we visited in Gdansk was Westerplatte. It’s a very significant place in the Polish as well as the World’s history as that’s where the World War II started when on the 1st
of September 1939, at 4.47 the commander of the battleship Schleswig-Holstein ordered to open fire at Westerplatte. Over the next few days Westerplatte was heavily bombarded until finally on the 7th
of September Major Sucharski surrendered
the post. All you can see here now are the ruins of defenders’ barracks as well as the Monument of the Coast Defenders on the hill. The big sign on the grass ‘Nigdy wiecej wojny’ (War: Never again!) speaks for itself I guess...
As it turned out we were in Poland just in time for St. Dominic’s Fair in Gdansk as well. It is one of the biggest open air events in Europe and that year it was celebrating its 756th
anniversary. If you don’t like crowds, it’s certainly not the place for you... unless, like us you go there in the morning hours. As it is quite popular for sure – it is said to be visited by an average of 70,000 people daily! Since 1260 it was celebrated yearly. The outbreak of the World War II caused the Fair to disappear from the city for 33 years but it came back in 1972. Every year all around the Old Town you can find hundreds of stands with all sorts of foods – ranging from traditional pierogi, bigos or simple bread with lard and all sorts of goods – handicrafts, clothes, antiques, souvenirs... you name it! We weren’t
really looking for anything particular, just walking around. We did have a bite to eat which was quite overpriced but I guess we were kind of expecting that because of the popularity of the Fair. There are lots of events and concerts planned for the 3 weeks of the Fair each year as well. A morning stroll through the stalls was more than enough for us though. St Dominic’s Fair in Gdansk – check! 😊
Since we’ll be in and out of Elblag more or less until December, I’m sure we’ll have a chance to go back to Gdansk a few more times. After all we can’t let my granny wait to see her great-grand-daughter for too long. 😉 And there are plenty more places to see around there for sure! For now though we were hungry to see another part of Poland... Next stop: Warsaw!
Tot: 2.071s; Tpl: 0.097s; cc: 10; qc: 38; dbt: 0.0665s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb