Poland: Chapter 2 – more Gdansk

Sometimes a sharp reminder of recent history comes like a  slap of salt spray in the Face. In Gdansk's Roads to Freedom centre are two exhibits which stop you in your tracks. One is an old, grey public phone kiosk where callers were told by a recorded voice that their conversations would be monitored. The other is a leather jacket worn by protester Ludwik Pietrnicki, with holes punctured by the bullets which killed him.

Gdansk Shipyard The exhibition is a short step from the gates of the great shipyard where the Solidarity movement, led by Lech Walensa, was born. In the process of making a film about, the name "Lenina" has been added in big letters at the entrance. Some locals arre bitter about that, and have hung up a banner, blazoned with the familar red Solidarinosc logo, in order to obscure it.

Back in the exhibition there is plenty to remind visitors of the pain suffered in the two decades starting in 1970, when intervention by the militia caused the death of dozens of protesters and ending in 1989, when Solidarity was legalised and free elections to the Polilsh parliament, the Sejm, were held. There's a mock up of a typical food shop in Communist times, with the curious device which allowed customers to see inside eggs, to make sure they were fresh – or at least edible.

Lunch, on the Motlawa waterfront, is extremely edible, though the menu's English translation is a little confusing. "Grease" turns out to be pork dripping with morsels of meat, eaten with lovely bread – and delicious. Goose and wild boar "pies" are two kinds of terrrine, eaten with plum compote and horseradish. And there's herrring with sour cream, onion and slices of apple. The eating here, as you may have gathered,  is never less than interesting.

Gdansk We take a boat trip along the Motlawa and into the Vistula, past the ranks of giant shipyard cranes where Nazi submarines were once built. We had no idea the yard was so vast. Once it built Nazi submarines, then a hge tonnage of Sovet ships. Now a big chunk of its output is yachts for the new rich. The boat, a kitsch, motorised replica of the kind of sailing ship that plied here when Gdansk – Danzig – in German – was at the height of of its mercantile prosperity, passes a warehouse used to store sugar from Russia and depot established in the 1920s, to stockpile Polish coal when striking miners in Britain interrupted imports, and turn around at Westerplatte, where the first shots of the Second World War were fired.

Later, in a shop below a small hotel in he old town, we see a fragment of an chest, bearing gthe date 1539, which the hotel ownerr found when he converted the property. The chest belonged to an assistant of the great astronomer Copernicus, who was born not far away in Torun. And we spend an hour or so in the Amber Museum, housed in the old jail, where once piece contains a pefect little lizard, captured in the transparent resin for some 40 million years. So it'snot just reminders of recennt history that make you catch your breath in this continually intriguing city.

  • Read Poland: Chapter 1 – Gdansk
  • Read Poland: Chapter 3 – Sopot, the summer capital
  • Read Poland: Chapter 4 – Warsaw
  • Read Poland: Chapter 5 – more Warsaw
  • Read Poland: Chapter 6 – Zakopane
  • Read Poland: Chapter 7 – Krakow
  • Read Poland: Chapter 8 – more Krakow
252 people found this helpful
17358

Share Article:

Roger Bray

Travel writer

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

A food tour of Sicily is more than a gastronomic journey: from the bustling markets of Palermo to the serene…
A summer destination without the crowds, open roads without the traffic jams, locals who seem genuinely pleased to see you….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.