Last night I watched the Manchester City match whilst eating a pork and garlic butter steak at the wonderful Restaurancja Repulic. Not the right result on the night but I think we can put it right next week when we play the return leg at home.
After breakfast we headed out past the shipyards I posted about yesterday, and the photo shows them to still be very busy. We headed past the suburb we visited yesterday for the Gunter Grass sights and on to a place that we had been recommended by a good friend. In 2006 we recommended to a good friend that he visit Jurmala, the seaside resort close to Latvia’s capital, Riga. On hearing about our visit he said we just had to go to Sopot, one of the three cities which make up the tri-city.
So Stephen, here, having got off the train on the right, we’ve arrived at Sopot. A pleasant walk through some residential streets brought us to the park named after the Polish President and his wife who died, not too long ago, in a plane crash whilst on the way to Russia. Through the park and we walk out onto the sand of the beach and up to the Baltic Sea.
We then walked the 25 metres up a lighthouse on the front to get great views up the coast, to the third of the the tri-cities Gdynia in the north, pictured, and then south to Gdansk. It then being lunchtime we went to the Monte Vino restaurant on the ‘Monciak’, or Bohaterow Monte Cassino, named after the Second World War battle where 25,000 Allied soldiers died trying to take a summit in Italy and the break through was finally made by the Polish 12th Podolian Ulans Regiment, described as one of the “proudest achievements of modern Polish military history”. I had a very nice Salmon steak on a saffron risotto followed by a melting middle chocolate pudding with ice-cream.
After we joined lot of people for a stroll along the pier, built in 1827 by a doctor in Napoleon’s army. At 511 metres long it is the longest in the Baltic region and the longest wooden pier in Europe. We then headed back to the station but stopped off for a vodka at Galeria Kinsky, named after the German actor Klaus Kinski who was born upstairs in the same building.
At an early age he was forced into stealing to feed his family. At the outbreak of the War he joined the Polish Army but after being captured by the Germans he was conscripted for them, as being a person from a place that the Germans at the time thought should properly be part of Germany, so he should be fighting for them. He was caught by the British and whilst a POW discovered a gift for acting in the camp. On leaving he took it up professionally and went on to make over 100 films and father one of the most beautiful women in the World. We caught the train back to Gdansk but got off one stop early.
Yesterday I posted about remebering the stuggle of Soldarnosc and others to throw off the yoke of the Soviet system. But that’s not the whole picture. On returning to Gdansk we walked up to the monument you see above, a T34 Soviet tank. It is said to be the tank #125 which was the first to enter Gdynia in March 1945 as part of a Polish/Soviet offensive on the city. Other say it is a different tank. It bears witness to the other side of the account. The Soviet soldiers who died fighting to free the continent of Europe from the Nazis. Something we witnessed later in the day when visiting the Soviet Cemetary marking the 3,089 soldiers who fell during the siege of Danzig, as it was then known.
It was quitly moving to see the row upon row of stars glinting in the dusk. It’s a sign of their being no love lost for the Soviets that the cemetary is in a worse condidition than the private one next to it. The monument on the promentary in the area also seemed to be a gathering place for the local young people.
The last picture shows the need for the Nazis to be removed. This unremarkable building is part of the Gdansk Medical Academy. Operating out of a small outhouse in the courtyard of the building, Dr Spanner, produced soap using the fat from people’s bodies. On liberation in 1945 over 400 bodies were found in the basement of the building. A plaque on the wall states, “In this building, during World War II, the Nazis used the bodies of victims of genocide. People executed in the prisons of Konigsberg and Gdansk, the patients of the regional home for the mentally impared in Kocborow, and the inmates of the concentration camp in Stutthof as material to produce soap. People brought this fate upon people”.