I visited Gdansk for two days before making it to Sejny and I was hosted by another kind couchhsurfer Anna. While I was staying there some of her family, university friends, her best friend Aneta and her then fiancé now husband were there or visiting and were welcoming. You don’t need to know Polish history to have an appreciation of Gdansk (although knowing will increase your admiration). The architecture of the Main Town is beautiful. Gdansk is often considered the most beautiful city on the Baltic coast and it is quite clear why.  Particularly beautiful parts of Gdansk are the streets Ul Dluga and Dlugi Targ. The latter is where you can find the famous Neptune fountain. Look for beautiful architecture in the small detail on buildings – It can be found almost everywhere. It is part of what makes the city special.

Anna and Aneta took me along Ulica Mariacka or often called Amber Street in English. Along this beautiful street the architecture details to buildings are beautiful and there are nice shops (selling mostly Amber but were closed at the time I was there), nice cafes and restaurants. There are also cheap cafes popular with students furnished with an aim for a kind of Soviet time ambience which leads to a real mixture of artefacts from communist era posters, to old motorbikes and so on.

There is also a church is claimed to be the largest brick church in the world. It has a high view point which I didn’t have time to see. There is also a beautiful viewpoint from by the town hall which again I did not see but hope to try another time.
 Thanks to Anna and her family I didn’t just experience Gdansk as a tourist but a welcome guest. So we enjoyed a BBQ at her friends family as well as an almost endless supply (it seemed that way) of fresh waffles 🙂 (Prepared by Kacper) and karaoke which they continued into the early hours.

My first day was such, so it was my second and final day before I saw the city which is when her friends Rysia and Onka had to leave.

However together with them we explored some of the beautiful buildings and also a nearby seaside. Unfortunately the weather was not as warm as it could be (nor was it throughout the day). We were fortunate to get good weather for the BBQ. In clear weather Gdansk will look amazing but it is such a city that it can be appreciated in sun, cloud or rain.

A Very Rich History

“The fall of the Berlin Wall makes for nice pictures. But it all started in the Gdansk shipyards” – Lech Walesa

On the Baltic coast Gdansk is a beautiful city that is also a big tourist draw perhaps surpassed domestically by only Warsaw or Krakow its importance or least impact on Polish history is possible unrivalled. It was m mentioned in writing about St Adalbert, who baptised the then town in 997.

German immigration and control of the Teutonic Knights who seized the city they were asked to assist let to a series of wards before a rebellion tore it away to the Polish crown.

Its importance economically continued to grow.  In the 16th century three quarters of Polish trade was done through here not Krakow.

Although control sometimes slipped to the Prussians, Russians and Poles, Gdansk had often retained some autonomy before the Nazis occupied it. The Second World War was began here at Westerplatte and ultimately disastrous for it (as for much of Poland) as the city was razed. But it was here, Walesa and others claim that Communism first fell. The rebellion in the ship docks which lead to the first trade union (Solidarity) in a communist country (as well as the biggest in the world)
led by Lech Walesa (later elected president) that helped end the regime in Poland and so it is claimed across Eastern Europe.