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Honeymoon in Poland - Part III

An article by Joe Wiebe © All rights reserved.

Gdansk, also known by its German name, Danzig, is Poland’s main northern port on the Baltic Sea. We were crammed into a small compartment with six other people for the entire seven-hour train ride, so we were justifiably grouchy by the time we arrived. We were also hungry;  after dropping our bags off at Dom Muzyka, a music academy that also rents rooms to travellers, we went in search of dinner.

When we walked through the Green Gate on the east end of the Dlugi Targ, the Long Market, we were stopped in our tracks by the spectacular sight in front of us. Gdansk’s central square is an elongated rectangle bordered by tall, thin buildings, each painted a different color, some with intricate patterns inscribed on their façades. More reminiscent of Holland or Belgium than other Eastern European architecture, the Long Market is stunning. We stumbled around for a while, oblivious to our hunger, just taking in the view. Eventually, we sat down on the outdoor terrace of a Russian restaurant. Moments later, a balalaika trio sat down right in front of us; they serenaded us through our excellent meal.

Gdansk, of course, was the birthplace of Solidarity, and the city has many offerings for tourists interested in learning more about the trade union that helped bring down Poland’s  Communist regime in the 1980s. The enormous Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers was erected in 1980 in memory of workers killed in riots a decade earlier. It is interesting to note that it was the first and only monument in a communist regime that commemorated its own victims.

Nearby is “Roads to Freedom,” a permanent exhibit opened in 2000 that traces Poland’s fight for independence. Its focal point is the Solidarity Museum, housed in the same hall where Walesa’s demands were agreed to by the Communist government in August, 1980. It is an excellent and important museum, contrasting modern Poland with the country that suffered under the totalitarian control of the U.S.S.R.

Our final discovery in Gdansk was perfect for honeymooners like us: white sandy beaches. Who knew Poland was a sun destination, too? Considering the number of sun-bronzed people jamming the shoreline, Poles definitely know. But there is plenty of room for everyone; the beach starts just above the shipyards and stretches north through the suburbs of Sopot and Gdynia more than 20km without a break, with a well-tended bike path running alongside the whole way. The water of the Baltic Sea, well sheltered here in the Gulf of Gdansk, is warm and clean in the summer. There are beer gardens, restaurants and ice cream stands close by, and trams run back and forth to central Gdansk throughout the day.

Sunbathing on the warm sand, swimming in the ocean, strolling hand-in-hand along the boardwalk—my wife and I still managed to find some elements of a typical honeymoon. Poland is anything but typical; it is a diverse, welcoming country that offers much to travellers.

As appeared in the Vancouver Sun, April 23, 2005

See also:  WarsawKrakow

Joe Wiebe is a Vancouver freelance writer. 
For reprint permission contact the author


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