Gdansk

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Solidarity Square

Solidarity Square

After we left Sofra we headed by train to Gdansk. Our hotel was an ex-commo jobbie adjacent to Solidarity Square where Lech Walesa famously climbed the shipyard fence. The hotel was more or less set in an industrial site and looked pretty unpromising from outside. It was called Gryf which, with a little license in English was close enough to Grief which seemed entirely appropriate.  Inside was a revelation. It had been completely renewed and even had a lift, although this was actually an addition on the outside but seamlessly connected to the hotel. Our room was generously large and very comfortable.

We were two tram stops from Ulica Dluga or Long Street, the centre of the old town. This was our second

Ul. Dluga

Ul. Dluga

visit and we knew what to expect except that, arriving by tram this time we saw two gates that we had missed five years earlier when we came by taxi and were delivered further in. This included Foregate which was a prison and torture chamber. It is now an art gallery. Naturally we were beset by tour touts as soon as we left the information centre. We were thinking of lunch; our first meal since leaving the health spa, so we were reading café menus ardently. All the time we were being offered city tours. At one restaurant a man was offering me 20% discount. Without looking I said I did not want it. This was repeated a few times until I realised that he was inviting us into the restaurant, not offering a city tour.

Organ Grinder

Organ Grinder

Nearby was a real first. An organ grinder. The monkey was only a decoration but he had a real blue and gold macaw. Wow, that is a big bird. I was so taken by it I have no memory of the music.

Further down Long Street Anna chose a café. Her decision was based on buskers. She chose one about midway between two so that the noise was minimised. Murphy was of course on the job and a gypsy settled out the front with a small accordion. She continually played a mournful, out of tune sound that seemed to repeat endlessly. It was appalling. Our first lunch on parole was good though.

After lunch we went to the Ratusz Staromiejski or old town hall. It houses a series of museums which show

Ratusz

Ratusz

all the usual stuff plus a large display of silver spoons. Not sure why they bother. They had no obvious artistic merit, resembling the sort my mother used for family meals. What was of interest were the large photographs of Gdansk during the war. There was very little left and it is simply amazing how the city has been reconstituted.  It has been done principally from plans and photographs. The result is outstanding.

The highlight of the visit to the town hall was climbing the tower. Some 220 steps. Anna did not join me and remained downstairs. When I got to the lady checking tower tickets (it is an extra charge) I told her that my wife had my ticket. She said to wait until Anna arrived. I then tried to explain that she was not coming so waiting was pointless. I would have to go back down. She clearly took pity on me and told me she trusted me and let me go. The view was worth the climb. All of Gdansk was displayed below.

Fontanna Neptuna

Fontanna Neptuna

Just along from the Ratusz is the Fontanna Neptuna. This bronze work dates from 1613. It now has a protective fence which was fitted in 1634 after Neptune’s trident spouted Goldwasser, the local liqueur, to the delight of locals one night.

We continued down the street to the Green Gate. It is pink to my eyes. Here was a display of photos of naked women and the offices of Lech Walesa. I chose not to visit the display. Passing through we saw the Motlava River for the first time. On our side it is well renovated but the other bank still needs some TLC. There was a festival of yachting and the marina was packed.

A little further north along the river is the Gdansk crane. It was built in 15th century and could hoist loads of up to two tonnes. Anna bought us an entry ticket. She then managed to convince the attendant that she had asked for two and we were both allowed through. They are very trusting in Gdansk it would seem. The crane is big but aside from climbing up and down a bunch of stair cases and seeing two big wooden wheels it was less than spectacular.