Poland the land of perogies, honey meringue pastries and cheap beer has intrigued me since my friend Alicja introduced me to polish culture and food about 30 yrs ago. Our bus tour of Gdansk on a beautiful sunny day 70F gave us a taste of Poland and a feeling we would love to return.
Their 1000 yr history particularly the golden era from the 15th to 17th century as grain farmers and merchants created much wealth known as the golden era. Seen as a safe place for Jews and mennonite farmers from the Netherlands the society developed quickly until Sweden raided all their riches and Poland collapsed in 1800s.
June 1st the day we are here is a celebration of independence after WW1 and known as Children's day. It also celebrates the right to vote achieved following the Solidarity demonstrations of 1989. It was a wonderful vibe to meet local parents with their children enjoying the ancient centre. G. Farenheit was born raised in historic poland city centre founder of temperature measurement.
WW2 tension started when Poland was attacked by the Germans which started the WW2 in 1939. The intense bombing and occupation from 1943 virtually destroyed Gdansk and many historical buildings. Poland lost over 6 million Jews and citizens during the occupation.
We walked through the historic old town, the Green gate, the Golden gate and explored the ancient town area were buildings now restored, dried grains for world export. The location of the city 5mi back from the Baltic Sea made it a safe port and home to much wealth. There are many shops and restaurants featuring honey meringue pastries and all sorts of perogies.
St Mary's Basilica..largest brick church in the world..housed many treasures of Poland. Many were saved from destruction being sent to private collections worldwide..a concerted effort to get them returned is in progress. While tourists meander around the ancient church, local weddings take place in the nave of the church such as the one we witnessed with many guests wearing national dress...fun!
In the past decade there has been tremendous growth..immigration from the Ukraine, Italy and Spain has brought labour required to re-build the city. Many international head offices exchange employees and families due to free education....and easy development opportunities in construction and business ventures. The complaint by citizens is the government has little experience with urban planning over time to make liveable cities with green spaces and acquiesce to developers money rather than lifestyle.
It is very cheap to fly from Poland to other European centres so many citizens come to Gdansk for services such as mechanical car services, dental care or holiday wknds and for cheap alcohol.
In 1979 strikes for food began as corruption by Russian government left people starving and being killed for revolting. In 1980 Lech Walesa led the first trade union of shipyard workers known as Solidarity to a massive nationwide revolt against food wars. The Solidarity revolt led Lec Walesa to become President of Poland leading to the beginning of democracy and to winning the Nobel Peace prize.
We all loved Gdansk and would love to see lots more of Poland another time.Read more