Danzigers Don't Wear Shorts
You will quickly notice that people in Gdansk, don't wear shorts. Even when it's 90 degrees outside, they will wear leather jackets, jeans, and fancy shoes. This goes for girls too. The style of local girls is skirts, short sleeves, sandals, and flip flops. Seeing a person in shorts is rare, and an automatic sign that reads, "I'm not from here." Don't let this deter you from wearing shorts. The worst you'll get are some stares from locals. Don't worry about it. At least you will be dressed appropriately for the weather.
Although it is illegal, many locals mine the surrounding forests' peat, for amber, which is fossilized tree resin, and is highly priced in the Baltic countries.
The miners come out at night to avoid detection, and dig the peat for amber, and then sell it on the black market. My grandpa even used to mine amber, when he was alive.
Why it's illegal, I have no idea, but I do know the amber miners have their own clicks, and they don't take kindly to strangers mining their amber, and if they catch you, they will beat you up. I have no idea what happeneds if the police catch you.
I was kind of tempted to do it, but there are too many risks involved, and if you sell it to the wrong person, you will be in some serious trouble, so it's best to leave the mining to the locals clicks.
St. Dominic's Fair, Opening Ceremony
Every year, for 3 weeks in summer, the city of Gdansk hosts the largest open air fair in Europe. Over the course of 23 days, more than 1,000 merchants take up residency in Gdansk, and the streets become packed with musicians, food vendors, and street performers.
St. Dominic's Fair was first organized in the year 1260, by Pope Alexander IV, as a way to keep people from falling asleep during the evening mass. The fair allowed merchants from all over the world, to come together, and trade their commodities, culture, and ideas, and even share stories about sea monsters. The result, is St. Dominic's Fair.
The fair starts on the last Saturday in July, and lasts for 23 days. Today, it is the largest open air culture and commercial event in Europe, with over 1,000 merchants, and 70,000 people attending daily, a number which doubles on the weekends.
Though the fair hosts different events every day, the most interesting and most spectacular event, is the opening ceremony, which takes place at noon, on the last Saturday in July.
First, a procession enters the Main City. They usually enter through the Golden Gate, but this year, they entered through the Green Gate. They then make their way to the stairs of Artus Court, where a speech is given.
After the speech, a trumpet player plays the Hejnal of the Dominican Fair. Once he is finished, a procession of stilt walkers, knights, drummers, Dominican priests, a giant rooster, and some other characters, makes its way to the Green Gate. Sometimes they have floats, but not this year.
At the Green Gate, the mayor of the city, along with some other dignitaries give a speech, then the mayor gets handed the key to the city.
After the key is handed over, the dignitaries gather around the world's largest drum, on which they count off all the years of the fair. This year, it was 753. The drumming is accompanied by singing and chanting, and an announcer, who announces important historical events, during the drumming. For some reason he forgot World War 2.
Before the final hit, the drummers pause, so the mayor and fair organizer can announce the official start of the fair.
The final hit is accompanied by more stilt walkers, performers, and gold confetti, which symbolizes wealth, good times, and prosperity, for the whole world.
After the confetti stops, the crowd disperses.
There are already events taking place before the ceremony, so feel free to walk around, while you wait.
This is the most spectacular thing I've ever seen!
Honestly, to me, the opening ceremony is the only part of this fair that's worth seeing. I went back a few times, and there wasn't anything special going on, and the streets were so packed with merchant stalls, that you couldn't get through. Basically, every event that takes place during the fair, except concerts, take place the day of the opening ceremony, so if you've seen this, you've seen it all.
If you're attending the ceremony with someone else, make sure you arrange a place to meet after the crowd disperses, because once the procession starts, YOU WILL get separated.
I don’t know how this happened, but I was lucky enough to end up at the front of the crowd, so I was right up against the barricade, and had a good view. The only bad thing is, I couldn't see the world's largest drum.
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
Polish Money: Zloty
Although Poland joined the European Union (EU) on the 1st of May 2004, they don't have the Euro as currency. Poland's currency is still the Zloty. 1 Zloty is worth 100 Grosz.
You can get your money with your credit or debit card from cash points or just by exchanging your local money at one of the bureaux de change.
- Budget Travel
It is customary in Poland that ladies toilets show a circle or the words "dla pan", whereas gents toilets show a triangle or the words "dla panow". This can be quite confusing when only the signs are shown on the toilet doors in a restaurant.
Public toilets usually charge anything between 1 and 2 Zloty, so make sure you have some change available.
- Budget Travel
Neptuno - Neptune
In the centre of Gdansk and from the sixteenth century, in the Long Market, there is a fountain with a bronze statue of Neptune the god of the sea , that represents the relationship that has always had Gdansk with the sea
Neptune has always been in this place, until the Second World War when it was necessary to remove and hide it to save of destruction. In 1954 it was re-installed in place and is now a must for all visitors to the city to see the statue and how it integrates with the surrounding buildings
One legend about this fountain says that Neptune angry about the gold coins that the people threw to the fountain and hit the water with his trident, which made the gold coins to become in smaller gold chips as you can still see the Goldwasser
Note: Goldwasser (Golden Water) is an herbal liqueur, with 40% alcohol, typical of Gdansk, which has small flakes of 22 carat gold in suspension
At that time the alchemists tried to find the "panacea" that could cure all diseases and the "philosopher's stone" that could transmute lead into gold and possibly these are the basis of the discovery of the recipe that has been passed from father to son and we think that it's a secret so closely guarded as the Coca Cola
En el centro Gdansk y desde el siglo XVI , en el Mercado Largo , hay una fuente con una estatua de bronce del dios de los mares Neptuno que representa la relación que ha tenido siempre Gdansk con el mar
Neptuno estuvo siempre en este lugar , hasta que durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial fue necesario desmontarlo y esconderlo para que no fuera destrozado . En 1954 se volvió a instalar en su sitio y ahora es casi una obligación de todos los visitantes de la ciudad el ir a ver la estatua y como se integra con los edificios que la rodean
Una de las leyendas que hay alrededor de esta fuente dice que Neptuno enfadado por las monedas de oro que le tiraban a la fuente , se enfadó golpeando fuertemente el agua con su tridente , lo que hizo que las monedas de oro se convirtieran en pequeñas virutas de oro , que se pueden seguir viendo en el Goldwasser
Nota : Goldwasser ( Agua de oro) es un licor de hierbas , con un 40% de alcohol , típico de Gdansk , que tiene pequeñas virutas de oro de 22 quilates en suspensión
En esta época los alquimistas buscaban la “panacea” que pudiera curar todas las enfermedades y la “piedra filosofal” que pudiera transmutar el plomo en oro y posiblemente estas sean las bases del descubrimiento de la receta que se ha ido pasando de padres a hijos y podemos pensar que es un secreto tan bien guardado como el de la Coca Cola
Tradtional dishes and sweets
kartoflanka - potato soup
czernina - duck blood soup
There is a story behind this soup. IN the past if a suiter wants t propose to girl,and come to the girls house to ask for her hands.If this soup is served that means NO.
flaki or flaczki - beef or pork tripe stew with marjoram
rosół - clear chicken soup
grochówka - pea and/or lentil soup
pierogi - dumplings, usually filled with sauerkraut and/or mushrooms, meat, potato and/or savory cheese, sweet curd cheese with a touch of vanilla
mizeria - sliced cucumbers and sour cream.
kotlet schabowy - a breaded pork chop
makowiec - poppy seed-swirl cake,
pierniki - soft gingerbread shapes iced or filled with marmalade
krówki - Polish fudge, soft milk toffee candies.
- Food and Dining
Good Morning : jin dobry
How are you : yak shim mash
How much is it : ila to koshtooye
Yes : tak
OK : dobra
Where is : gijeh yest
Bus station: pshystanek
Money : pyeniontze
you are welcome: proshe bartzo
Thanks : tzienkuye
Here you go proshe bartzo
Water : voda
Food : yetzenye
Hungry : gwodny
Thirsty : spragnyony
expensive : drogy
Cheap : tanyi
Coffee : ka'hva
Enough : wystarchy
Street : oolitza
Airport : lotnisko
1=yeden ,2=dva, 3=tshy,4=chtery,5=pyentch,6=shestch,7=syedem,8=oshyem,9=tzyevyentch,10=dzyesyentch
City of peace or wars?
This writing in my picture is placed at the foot of the hill topped with the monolithic monument to heroic defenders of Westerplatte, that is at the place where the WWII broke out. It says "No more wars" and has been already seen by many top world leaders, presidents, prime ministers and other VIPs taking part in official celebrations which took place there.
Gdansk (and Westerplatte) was always shown in mass media as a city crying "no more wars", Polish city of peace and heroic resistance against Nazis. It was a part of huge communist propaganda. History of Gdansk in 1939 - 1945 is more complicated and includes a devastation of German heritage and burning out the city to the ground, house by house, by Soviet forces in 1945. Then it includes persecutions, extermination and exiles to Soviet concentration camps those citizens who were named "enemies of the nation" that meant those who didn't want to support the new order. Then it includes local wars, uprisings against communist rulers.
That's why the writing "No more wars" put by the communist authorities in this place sounds a bit hipocrytic to me. More, the uprisings against communist rules which took place, say in 1956 in Hungary, 1968 in Prague, 1970 just in Gdansk were local wars in fact. And I can't say they were unfair. These "small" wars helped to defeat the biggest mistake of the 20th century that was Soviet communism. Thus, the motto of pacifists "No more wars" is not always that correct. You see what I mean.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
Economy versus sentiment
There is bo better place than Gdansk to see that the politics and the economy has no time for sentiment. 50% of the area of the Gdansk shipyard which gained international fame when Solidarity was founded there in September 1980, is out of business now. The part which survived is closed for visitors. I could only walk on an open, empty space and it was a bit sad for me to see this neglected area of former Gdansk shipyard, the space of great historical events including birth of the Solidarity movement. However, there is no better choice than the market economy. Let me say how things worked before.
In those times of absurd, Soviet style economy, prices where fixed by communists rulers. Each factory had the plan/schedule, made by incompetent communist party activists, what to produce and how much. Each factory was expected to exceed the plan. The "managers" of the factory were priced for exceeding the plans and they did it. One factory exceeded the plan by 10%, the other (called better that time) by, say, 100%. The result was absurd. For example there had been many ships' hulls (bodies) already produced in Gdansk shipyard but there were no engines, no paint and no other equipment to complete the ship. Thus the ships were not completed on time. The Soviet Union became its main customer, for political reasons. In 1970' the first secretary of Polish Communist Party, Gierek, started to get very large loans from Western banks to finance this economy of pure absurd. For example to buy a paint and other equipment to be on time with the ships produced in Gdansk shipyard for the Soviet Union. He spent even savings of my parents and millions of other Poles which should be spend to pay them retirements. The Polish huge dept in late 1970' had to stop any economic development and push it back. Stagnation of 1980' came and forced the nation to go on streets.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
Wind of changes
In 1990 the wind of changes and the market economy came to Poland. The unefficient Gdansk shipyard could not survive it without large reforms.
Due to large fear of losing a job, the shipyard workers forced the state authorities to change it into a strange company of which 40% belonged to its workers and 60% to the state. It was even unfairly called privatisation that time. Rising debts and finally declaring bancrupcy in 1996 was the result. Unfortunatelly, post-communist authorities which had come back to power in 1995, refused, for political reasons, any financial help for this shipyard while they provided it for many other worse companies.
Finally the shipyard was sold to a private company in 1998 which founded the new company: Stocznia Gdanska - Grupa Stoczni Gdynia S.A. 50% of the area of the former shipyard and about 20% of its employees survived. It's a quite typical example of economic changes in 1990' in Poland.
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
Well signposted WC's.
I have never seen such well signposted WC's before. Normally you don't have the slightest idea where to find them, here you know on the meter how far they are!! 48 metres, or 30, from the post.
Another very important thing: how to know which half is for me??
The part intended for men is most often marked with a TRIANGLE or the text "dla panów", sometimes "panowie".
The part for ladies can be marked with a CIRCLE, the text "dla pan" or sometimes "panie".
Good to learn in advance instead of the "hard way".
Poland is famous for a vodka-drinking tradition.
Nevertheless, there are some popular Polish beers. One famous brewery is Zywiec which was founded in 1852 and nowadays owned by Heineken.
Another well known beer brand is Okocim; an old-established brewery (founded 1845), which is now owned by Carlsberg.
Both Zywiec and Okocim lager contain more than 5 % alcohol.
Besides these two beers, I also tried Lech beer. It is brewed in Poznan and nowadays owned by SABMiller.
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
Some saint things in common with Vilnius
Gdansk old part is full of Gothic - Lutheran churches. But...it is relict from past, from Prussia times, old massive Gothic churches and Lutheran religion. Now it is Catholics land, like all Poland.
I have seen some Saint relict in Gdansk churches. They are copies of those in Vilnius. First of all, I have seen Saint Madonna painting in Gdansk Mariacki Cathedral. It is copy of original in Vilnius, put in Gates of Dawn (Ausros Vartai in Lithuanian, Ostra Brama in Polish).
One more things I have seen in few of Gdansk churches in saint painting of Jesus. Its original is in Vilnius as well. Story tells that Jesus was painted in the way how he looked like, when he appeared to Polish nun Faustina.
Kashubian is a nation, living in Polish region of Pomerania. They speak Kashubian language, it is Slavic, but Polish could hardly understand it, language has words from German dialects as well. Let say, word "Gdansk" they spell like "Gdunsk" and so on. It is possible to buy audio with Kashubian language in Gdansk.
We can assume, that about 53000 Kashubians live in Poland and use its language. There are some lectures of this language at Pomeranian schools. Then I visited Gdansk, there was festival of Kashubian nation.
It is said, that Kashubians and Polish don't like each other too much, possible because Kashubians are more "to German culture".
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