An open-ended adventure by Andrew's Travels
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  • Day9

    Gdansk - The Shipyard and Museums

    May 24 in Poland ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    We walk up to the shipyard area; outside is the Monument to the Fallen Shipyards Workers of 1970 which commemorates the 42 or more people killed during the Coastal cities events in December 1970; in 1980, Lech Walesa emerged to rouse crowds of strikers here, leading to the formation of the Solidarity movement and ultimately to democracy for Poland and most of the Eastern bloc.  Still active, the shipyard area seems to be slated for redevelopment and general gentrification and we enjoy seeing the old cranes and perimeter buildings while they are still there.

    Behind this is the European Solidarity Centre, a museum and library devoted to the history of Solidarity, the Polish trade union and civil resistance movement, and other opposition movements of Communist Eastern Europe. 

    We walk to see the Polish Post Office; now a museum, the building is historically significant because it was one of the first sites targeted by the German Army when it invaded Poland on 1 Sept 1939 and WWII started; from the Polish perspective, a group of postmen held out against SS troops for almost a day and this feat is commemorated by a monument.

    It is a short walk from here to the Museum of the Second World War, built in the style of a leaning tower with glass facade.  We visit this museum and it is very interesting.

    Back at the Motlawa Riverfront, we cross over to the small island of Olowianka (Granary Island) in the river and pass the Polish Philharmonic Concert Hall and the National Maritime Museum.

    Then it is back to the hotel to head off to the airport for the flight back home.  A great trip to Poland is over.
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  • Day8

    Gdansk - Old Town 2; continued

    May 23 in Poland ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    We turn left after the Green Gate along the Motlawa Riverfront - the heart of the old port, it is now a bustling restaurant area - and reach the iconic Gdansk Crane (best viewed from the other side of the river, which we did); this restored 15th century port crane is now part of the National Maritime Museum. 

    We walk up the picturesque ul. Mariacka, where rich merchants used to live, towards the Church of St Mary; this is the largest medieval brick-built church in Europe, taking 150 years to complete and has been rebuilt after being destroyed in WWII.  It is also famous for its astronomical clock built in 1464-1470 by Master Hans Duringer; our timing is fortunate as we see it do its stuff at 11:57am.  We also ascend the 407 steps to the top of the 78m tower for some great views.  Outside is the Royal Chapel, used as a place of worship for Catholics when St Mary's became Protestant.

    We see the Arsenal, the finest example of a Dutch Mannerist style building in Gdansk; this former weapons and munitions store is now filled with shops and an art gallery.  Our walk takes us past both the Old Town Hall (also Dutch Mannerist) and the Old Market building on our way to visit the Church of St Catherine. This is the oldest and most important church in the Old Town and houses an exhibit of Tower Clocks in the Gdansk Science Museum which is situated in part of the tower - this is 76m tall with even better views of the city and the shipyard area from the top than from the Main Town Hall.
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  • Day8

    Gdansk - Old Town 1; The Royal Way

    May 23 in Poland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Gdansk is a city on the Baltic coast of northern Poland with a complex history, having had periods of Polish, Prussian and German rule, as well as periods of autonomy as a free city-state.

    An important shipbuilding port, from 1918 to 1939, Gdansk lay in the disputed Polish Corridor between Poland and Germany, the political tensions here culminated in the Invasion of Poland in 1939 and WWII.  The city was destroyed during WWII, but is now painstakingly rebuilt.

    We start our exploration by walking the Royal Way along ul. Dluga (Long Lane) and Dlugi Targ (Long Market).  Along Long Lane we pass the Highland Gate, marking the route's beginning, the Prison Tower (now housing the Amber Museum), the Golden Gate (ceremonial gateway to the city) and pass many beautiful, tall and narrow houses built in Flemish style before reaching the Main Town Hall.  We visit this; it is now the seat of the Gdansk Museum and has reconstructed interiors - the Red Room is of particular note and has a beautiful ceiling. 

    The road widens as we reach the Long Market and Artus Court - the historic meeting place of the town's elite - with the bronze statue of Neptune's Fountain in front of it and the Golden House, with a fine facade, beside it; the Royal Way ends at Green Gate, built as a residence of visiting Polish Kings.
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  • Day7

    Warsaw - City Centre

    May 22 in Poland ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Warsaw is not all "old" buildings; there are many high rise and modern buildings in the city centre.

    We start at the Palace of Culture and Science; this was built 1952-1955 and was a gift to the people of Warsaw from the nations of the USSR. An emblem of the city, it now comprises a concert hall, cinema, two museums, Congress Hall, offices,academic institutions and private companies! It is 237m tall, and built with inspiration from the Empire State Building in Nwe York. Behind it is Swietokyzyska Park and we cross this and look for the hidden away Nozyk Synagogue; this is the only active Synagogue in Warsaw and exceptionally beautiful.

    We walk on to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Pilsudski Square; close to it on ul. Krolewska are the Zacheta Building, housing the National Gallery of Contemporary Art, and the Evangelical Church of the Augsberg Confession, a neo-classical domed building. The lovely Saxon Gardens nearby are the oldest Public Park in Warsaw and are adjacent to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    We see examples of how new building has encroached upon old building as we walk back to see old buildings, near our hotel, used during the Warsaw Uprising and also the last remaining fragment of the Old Ghetto Wall.

    Then it's off to Warsaw Centrale Station to catch our train to Gdansk.
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  • Day6

    Warsaw - Royal Route to Lazienki Palace

    May 21 in Poland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We take the bus 106 again to Mariensztat and walk up to the Old Town again to start the "Warsaw - In Your Pocket" walking tour of The Royal Route.

    The full Royal Route links the city's three Royal residences; Royal Castle, Lazienki Park's Palace on the Island and the Wilanow Palace. We cover the first part, taking in the many historical buildings, parks and monuments on the way to Lazienki Park via Warsaw's two main high streets, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiejscie and ul. Nowy Swiat.

    Starting at the Royal Castle on Plac Zamkowy again, we walk down ul. KP past St Anne's Church, the Adam Mickiewicz Monument (he was a literary figure) to reach the fenced and guarded Presidential Palace. We visit the Church of the Nuns of the Visitation (Fryderyk Chopin attended as a youth) and pass some buildings of the University of Warsaw to reach the Holy Cross Church; this is the final resting place of Chopin's heart (in a sealed urn) and the interior is exceptional.

    After an intersection, the road becomes ul. Nowy Swiat, and definitely more trendy. We reach the modern art installation that is the famed Palm Tree, situated in the middle of a roundabout! At Plac Tlzech Krzyzy, a roundabout with St Alexander's Church on it, the Royal Route becomes ul Al. Ulazpowska and we walk down here, passing a statue of Ronald Reagan opposite the US Embassy, to reach the western perimeter of Lazienki Park.

    We pass Belvedere Palace, the residence of Polish Presidents 1918 -1995; this can only be viewed from the Royal Route and no visitors are allowed. We enter Lazienki Park and see the Art Nouveau Chopin Monument, the open-air Theatre on the Island and the magnificent semicircular Myslewicki Palace before reaching the Palace on the Island. The name derives from the fact that it was originally a private bath-house before being bought by the last king of Poland in 1772 and converted to a private residence.
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    Traveler

    Now I know what you were writing on the train to Gdansk! 🤣

    5/23/22Reply
     
  • Day5

    Warsaw - New Town

    May 20 in Poland ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    The New Town (Nowe Miasto) is next to the Old Town and became a separate urban entity in 1408; it was also mostly destroyed during WWII andhas been rebuilt.

    We enter from the Old Town via the Barbican and pass the Church of the Holy Spirit and Church of St Jacek to enter the cobbled Ulice Freta, the main road in the New Town. We reach the triangular shaped New Town Square and the rebuilt Church of St Kazimierz, with its elegant green dome and beautiful interior. We also visit the nearby Church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary.

    We then walk back down Ulice Freta and turn right along Ulice Dluga to see the Monument to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, commemorating the heroes of this event.

    It has been a great afternoon, thanks to the "Warsaw - In Your Pocket" guide book.
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  • Day5

    Warsaw - Old Town

    May 20 in Poland ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We arrive in Warsaw Centrale Station before 1pm after a good train journey from Krakow. Luckily our room at Hotel Ibis is ready and we set off for the Old Town on bus 106 to Mariensztat with a street map and the "Warsaw - In Your Pocket" guide provided by the hotel to start our 2km walking tour of the Old Town (Stare Miasto). This was founded at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, but was almost completely destroyed during WWII and has been rebuilt.

    We start at Plac Zamkowy and see Zygmunt's Column, the oldest secular monument in Warsaw; this king moved the capital here from Krakow. Opposite is the Royal Castle, a symbol of Polish independence. We enter the Cathedral of St John and see the Jesuit Church next door, before visiting Ulice Piwna (Beer Street). We walk along the defensive city walls, Podwale, past the Jan Kilinski and Little Insurgent monuments to reach the Warsaw Barbican, guarding the North entrance to the Old Town.

    We walk back to the Old Town Market Square, with its beautiful and colourful town houses; there was originally the town hall in the centre, but following its demolition in 1817, a statue of the Warsaw Mermaid, the protector of the city, takes its place. There are museums here; we enjoy a view over the River Vistula from Gnojna Gora (what was the old dung mound for human and domestic waste!) before making a wish at the nearby Wishing Bell.
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    Wolfgang und Heidi

    We haven‘t been to Poland yet. Your report is great. We will probably do it at some point (Heidi) enjoy

    5/22/22Reply
    Traveler

    You must visit. We travelled independently; everything organised by Helen (= Heidi? )

    5/23/22Reply
    Wolfgang und Heidi

    😂👍

    5/23/22Reply
     
  • Day4

    Wieliczka Salt Mine

    May 19 in Poland ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Wieliczka is approx 30 minutes outside Krakow and famous for its ancient salt mine, which opened 700 years ago and is still in operation (for maintenance only). Rock salt is a valuable mineral that fuelled Krakow's growth (and, from a tourist income perspective, still does so today!)

    The mine is unique in the world for its corridors, sculptures, chambers and galleries that have all been excavated and carved by hand. There is a 2 km tourist route on three levels through a network of underground galleries reaching a depth of 135m.

    An amazing experience.
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  • Day3

    Krakow - Podgórze

    May 18 in Poland ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    South of Kazimierz, but on the other side of the River Vistula, is the district of Podgórze.

    Located at 4 Lipowa Street in the post-industrial part of Podgórze called Zablocie, is Oscar Schindler's Enamel Factory.  When WWII started in 1939, Oscar Schindler (a German himself) initially employed Jews from the nearby Ghetto because they were expected to be paid less than Polish employees.  He soon came to care about their fate, however, and - using personal connections and bribes - managed to save approx 1,000 people from certain death in concentration camps and to survive WWII.  The administrative building of the former factory now houses a permanent exhibition called "Krakow - the time of occupation 1939 - 1945" featuring many personal accounts.  It was very interesting and informative.

    After the German invasion in 1939, part of Podgórze became the Ghetto for Krakow with 25,000 people crowded into it; this area had walls built around it with tops resembling Jewish grave headstones - we see a 12m long fragment of the wall.  

    Zgody Square is not far; this was the starting point for deportation to camps.  Now known as Ghetto Heroes Square, it features an art installation of dozens of large iron chairs; this was inspired by abandoned furniture after the liquidation of the Ghetto.  At the corner of the square is Pod Orlem Pharmacy; now a museum, the former Eagle Pharmacy was operated by a Pole, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who was entitled to remain in the Ghetto - it was the only Pharmacy there.  As well as providing medicine, the pharmacy acted as a secret meeting place and Tadeusz and his staff acted as runners connecting Jews in the Ghetto with those outside.  It is of particular interest to us as Helen was a Pharmacist.

    At the west side of Podgórze we see the beautiful St Joseph's Church and cross the River Vistula back to Kazimierz via Father Bernatek's Bridge; also known as Love Bridge, it is noted for its acrobat statues above head height.
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  • Day3

    Krakow - Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter)

    May 18 in Poland ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    South of the Old Town, but still north of the River Vistula is the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, Kazimierz (this is where our hotel is located).

    We start in the beautiful Ulice Szeroka, where there are nice restaurants (see later), and visit the Remuh Synagogue and Cemetery.  This is one of the two still active synagogues in Krakow; the original Remuh was destroyed in WWII, but it has been rebuilt and tombstone fragments have been incorporated into a wall sound the cemetery; we walk through this and see many interesting tombstones.

    Futher along is the Old Synagogue, now a museum, and nearby are both the High Synagogue and Tempel Synagogue (also active, with the Jewish Community Centre next to it).

    We cross Plac Nowy - well known for its Zapienka (Polish pizza), other street food and neighbouring bars - and carry on to visit the huge 14th century Church of Corpus Christi, with its magnificent interior and dominating tower.  We walk west through Kazimierz to see Pauline, Church on the Rocks (Skalka), a monastery and church built on a rocky outcrop close to the River Vistula.

    We walk back to Plac Nowy and see what is known as Schindler's Alley (used as a location in the film "Schindler's List").  Back in Szeroka we have an excellent outside dinner at Ariel Restaurant and enjoy live music from a neighbouring restaurant as we eat, before popping inside to hear more live music at ours.
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    Wolfgang und Heidi

    Well done

    5/22/22Reply
    Traveler

    Thanks; I'm sure you're enjoying you Balkan trip, we loved ours.

    5/22/22Reply