Other trips

Other trips can be accessed by clicking the following links:

Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Cambodia and South Korea

Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Copenhagen

Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, India and England

Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Ethiopia, Kenya, S. Africa, Zimbabwe, UAE and Denmark

Panama, Colombia, Ecuador (Including Gallapagos), Peru, Bolivia, Chile (Including Easter Island), Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gdansk, Poland on 8/9

We arrived in Gdansk after a 5 hour bus ride (i.e. plenty of time to finally do some work on the blog!) from Posnan. I’d always heard of Danzig, Poland but didn’t realize til researching our trip that both cities are one and the same and that Danzig is just the German name for Gdansk; it’s a port city located on the Baltic Sea on the northern tip of Poland close to Russia; part of the Tri-City area: the adjacent towns are Sopot and Gydnia; much of the city was completely destroyed in 1945 as you can see in the photo below but it has since been carefully restored.

We schlepped our duffel bags the half hour walk to our Grand Hostel located in the heart of Old Town. We sure wouldn’t describe the hostel as ‘grand’ in any way: up a large flight of stairs to the check in desk to be greeted by a nice young man with dreadlocks, a card indicating the wifi password was ‘hostelove’, walking up 2 more very steep flights of stairs to our very cramped, smelly, blazingly hot room with bunk beds and no a/c or fan; one shared bathroom for everyone on the floor with no soap and a cloth hand towel for all to share; 2 shower rooms, one of which had no lock; all this for ‘only’ $53 a night and $10 for a load of laundry if you chose. We didn’t, and ended up doing our best at washing our things in the tiny bathroom sink with my using shower gel and Steven’s using his bar of Irish Spring of soap. Tide – where are you when I need you?  But on the bright side it was glorious waking up every morning to the pealing of nearby church bells.

We were thrilled to find the city’s 754th annual 4 week long Dominican Fair taking place because we hadn’t known about it when making the reservation. There are St. Dominican Fairs in 9 cities in Poland but Gdansk's is the oldest one; I wonder whether we'll see them also in Warsaw and Krakow?

We’d wanted to come here in part knowing that Gdansk was the birthplace of the Solidarity movement led by former electrical shipyard worker Lech Walesa so we spent our 1st morning walking to the nearby Gdansk shipyard, formerly known as the Lenin Shipyard. 

It was here in 1970 that the 1st  major cracks in E. Europe’s communist wall began when discontent with the communist regime boiled over into strikes and discontent. The official tally of those who were murdered by the armed forces was 45 but no one really knows as many funerals were held at night and families were bribed and threatened not to reveal how their family members had died. Protests began again in the shipyards 10 years later in August of 1980 because of huge price increases in the cost of food staples. An electrician named Lech Walesa emerged to lead the
      strikers here, leading to the formation of the Solidarity movement and ultimately to democracy for Poland and most of E. Europe.
The entrance to the Gdansk Shipyards:
This was the spot where Walesa made his speeches to
the shipyard workers and thousands of Gdansk residents

Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers:
It was erected in front of the shipyard gates in 1980,
10 years after the 1970 riots and massacre; the monument
is a set of 3 42 m tall steel crosses with a series of bronze
bas reliefs in their bases; I remember seeing it  for the 1st time
in an episode of The Amazing Race a few seasons ago.

The pillars in Solidarity Sq. each had posters of other
past and current political protests throughout the world.


The nearby European Solidarity Centre (on the right in this photo) is slated to open at the end of August but that’s very wishful thinking based on what we saw. It will be a  combination information center, archive and headquarters of an organization observing human rights around the world.

Then toured the Roads to Freedom Exhibition: housed in a nearby bunker, it traces the Polish struggle against communism.

The Solidarity flag/poster

The photo of the dominoes represents the fall of the Eastern Bloc; victory in one country brought victory in another. One British historian said that it took Poland 10 years to go from the riots in 1970 to free elections in 1980, but only 10 months for Hungary to achieve its freedom, 10 weeks in Germany and a mere 10 days in the Czech Republic.

Leaving the Exhibition, we passed the beautiful library and so many Catholic churches all within a block or so of each other and each packed with worshippers on a Sunday morning.

The library was so ornate, it seemed like a church!

Lina, I thought of your niece Brigid (sp?) when we stopped in at the church of the same name.

Photo of Pope John Paul II outside St. Brigid's;
 so far it seems you can figure on seeing a sculpture and/or
 photos of him outside every significant Polish church.

Walked up the almost 300 steps to the top of the Town Hall where we had marvelous views of the city.
You can see how very tall and narrow
the buildings are in both photos; therefore lots
of very steep stairs to climb to get to the top of any building.
 Steven carries both our bags up and down
all those stairs in every hostel, God love him!
Naomi: hope you're NOT reading this post
since you only take 1 small backpack
on your long trips!

Yeah - more stairs to climb and here we thought
 that last year was the Trip of Stairs because of
  climbing part of the Great Wall.  We were not able

to walk on the gorgeous stairs below as they were part of the 
Town Hall ticket and we only paid to access the Town Hall tower.

A beautiful town almcost completely rebuilt post war; we loved how they maintained the architectural stylye of pre war Gdansk. We've found the architecture here in Poland far more pleasing to our eyes than what we saw all over Berlin.

Neptune Fountain: Local legend has it that the fountain
once gushed forth with the trademark Gdansk liquer, Goldwasser,from the trident’s mouth. Neptune found himself endangered 
by crowds of drunken locals so that’s perhaps why the fountain was fenced off in 1634 with a wrought iron barrier. 

We loved walking along the very vibrant Motlawa River waterfront
packed with Polish tourists, cafes, and yet more Dominican Fair stalls;
what a perfect day with Steven.