Capitol of Pomerania - What?.....Welcome to Gdansk!

Gdansk Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 7 › view all entries

I am usually better at travel plans than the story I am about to tell you….remember this.

I made my plans for my trip to Gdansk in May….not so long ago. I thought my flight was on June 20th, so I made a reservation at a hostel beginning that night.

Upon checking my reservation, Friday June 18th, I realized that I not only was my flight on the 21st, it was so early that it was not possible for me to reach on that morning, by train. As the car was currently out of commission, the train was the only way to reach my destination of Eindhoven.

I was flying WizzAir and they fly to Gdansk from Eindhoven. So, I changed my arrival at the hostel in Gdansk and had to book a hotel in Eindhoven for the night of the 20th……aarrgghh!

I was all concerned about the additional drama that I had brought on myself and stressed out about making my flight.

The train to Eindhoven was 1hour 20 minutes and then a bus to a field (20 minutes), then a 10 minute walk to the hotel. It was a decent hotel and near to the airport, but not walking distance. I settled in and went to sleep early.

I didn’t sleep well, after my awakening at 1:12 am, I woke up each hour until it was within 5 minutes of my planned time. I was at the bus stop 8 minutes early for the bus I wanted. There were others waiting for it, as well. The first bus (late)……didn’t even slow down. Thirteen minutes later, the next bus…..did the same thing. Now….I was running out of the buffer time that I had in catching the earlier bus. I now planned to just stand in the street and stare the bus down. Another guy had the same idea. The bus came to a stop and we got on without a word from the driver.

I arrived in time to check my bag and get to my gate as I was the last one through the ticket check.

The flight was full but, I had an aisle seat so, I was ok.

We landed in Gdansk to sunny weather and warm, warmer than I expected I was sweating in my jacket.

I retrieved my suitcase and waited at the WizzAir transport stop in front. There were only two of us for the transport and the journey to the train station was about 25 minutes.

Upon arrival, the other man on the transport was kind enough to help me to the station and get me a ticket for the bus that I needed to get to the hostel. What a nice way to start my stay in Gdansk….friendly people. I had called the hostel but their driver wasn’t there…whatever that means as it’s family’s home and their car.

Anyway, I got off the 174 bus on the side of the highway. I really wasn’t sure which way to go from here, other than across the street. I chose to go down the hill versus up the hill…..instinct.

With the additional assistance of a neighborhood boy (spoke great English), I found the hostel.

The first room they took me to (in the basement), could have been a prison cell. On second thought, most prison cells are larger. As I brought my suitcase down and returned to get my passport, a lady was yelling at the boy who helped me. He had given me the wrong room. I had room #4 and it should have been #104.

My new room was in the house next door, which is in the process of being converted to hostel accommodations, as well. This room was larger and cleaner.

After preparing my backpack for the day. It was back to the bus stop and a return trip to the train station as it is near to the old town.

I decided that this afternoon would be a get to know you, for the city. I just wandered around and got a feel for things. As it turns out, Gdansk is a great city for just that. On my other days, I will check out the museums and see the interiors of many of the buildings.

I first found my way to the Raduna Canal, which was dug in 1338. It was one of the greatest projects undertaken by the Teutonic Knights in Gdansk. It was used to supply power for mills along it. Some thing nearby not to miss:

- the little building straddling the river (small mill)

- Medieval tower near covered market

- Great Mill (1350) One of the largest industrial buildings in Medieval Europe

- Old Town Hall, Gdansk was one city divided into two districts, each with it’s own town hall.

- Also, Church of St. Catherine, the oldest church in Old Town (1227) and was built by the Dukes of Gdansk-Pomerania. The church had a major fire destroying much of it’s ancient wooden structure in 2006.

Continuing towards the town center, I reached the Church of St. Mary, which I would visit on another day but…….it’s it massive. It’s not the most beautiful as it’s seen some rough times as all of Gdansk has. In front of it, St. Mary Street has a pink Baroque church with a playful fountain in front. It seems like a miniature in comparison to St. Mary’s behind. I sat and watched several children play as the water kept changing it’s pattern.

I stopped at a little shop just outside of St. Mary’s. It was showcasing crafts from the Kashubian region.

There were ceramics, wood carvings and embroidery. The embroidery took most of the display space. There were table linens, of course but also, men’s shirts and all types of ladies garments with the designs of this region. I had a great conversation with the owner. She along with her mother an elderly lady in the region work all winter to prepare for the short tourist season.

She explained to me about the 7 colors and their relevance. Each colour has a special meaning and reflects a specific attribute of Kaszubian land: Three shades of blue are the representatives of the sea, lakes and sky, green is for the woods and meadows that are everywhere in Kaszuby, yellow is the sun, red- the love that the Kashubian people have for their home land but also for the blood spilled in the land.

Finally, black means Kashubian’s hard work.

We had a great chat about the crafts of Central and Eastern Europe. We talked about the challenge of furthering the traditional crafts and imparting the desire in visitors to seek out outlets that promote the work of individuals and their pride in their culture. It’s a tough job but so rewarding for me to find such places and give them my business.

She helped me choose a table runner that has the oldest Kashubian design that is still reproduced. It was made by the elderly lady and she is very proud of each one that she makes. She has made me happy, as well. I will tell this story each time I have a dinner party where it is used.

I left her shop energized. I continued to the main street. The rows and rows of houses all similar to the houses of Amsterdam.

The differences are that the row houses of Gdansk are very colorful, a wide spectrum is used. Also, the roofline and façade details are more simple than the Dutch. I think that this lends itself to work easily with varied color choices. The color is more focal. Also, many of the houses also have frescoes painted on then. There are stories, histories to be shared on the facades. Taking a close look reveals much about the owners.

I had reached the center - Dluga & Dlugi Targ (Main Street)

Some must see spots on this street are:

- Town Hall of the Main City (1327) Is considered to one of the finest town halls in all of Northern Europe

- Neptune Fountain ( a magnet for tourist and pigeons, alike)

- Golden Gate (1612) on the site of a former Medieval gate

- St.

George’s Court - built by the Order of St. George in 1487 in a Flemish style

- Prison Tower (2nd half of the 14th century) built as apart of the fortifications of the main town. In the late 16th century it lost it’s purpose and was then used as a court, prison, and torture chamber.

- Highland Gate (1571) a part of the western fortification and city gate

- Green Gate - (1564) was intended to serve as residence to visiting royalty, which only happened once.

I continued to cross the Motlawa River, stopping to look along it’s beautiful western side. The buildings are as grand as they are varied. There are several gates to the city that are part of what is left of the city wall in these areas.

The most dynamic an unique structure here must be the Medieval Crane.

It was built in the 14th century and then renovated in the 15th century, when it acquired it‘s present appearance. It operated by men working on huge treadmills inside. It was capable of lifting up to 2 tons to a height of 90 feet….quite a feat in the 14th century.

What a great first day and overview of the city. I look forward to looking at it in more detail. I know there is much more to discover.

I took the bus back to the hostel (10 minutes) and proceeded to ask for assistance with the numerous things that kept coming up: internet issues, no tp, and no heat. I was too far from the router to get a good connection….ok, tp was taken care of but only one roll???, and the heat, it turns out, is controlled by the city and as of June 1st, the heat was shut off.

It was quite cool and I was in a basement unit so, I asked for an extra blanket. The one on the bed was the thickness of a summer weight jacket and the extra one brought to me was as large as a bath towel but not as thick. I slept in my clothes!

Also, every few minutes, for several hours, people kept slamming the doors, over and over, it was driving me batty. The music was loud and the giggling was insane……I’m an old man!!!! It did quiet down by 10:30.…

delsol67 says:
Thank you :-)
Posted on: Dec 08, 2012
free08 says:
Oops, meant "thorough".
Posted on: Dec 04, 2012
free08 says:
Nice, through blog!
Posted on: Dec 04, 2012
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: boxinbcn