The leaving of Gdansk

After enjoying a hot bath – I live in a flat that only has a shower so relaxing in a hot bath is a rare and welcome treat, especially if you have been walking the streets of Sopot and Gdansk during the day. After enjoying a hot bath I headed out to Goldwasser, a restaurant named after the local fire water. It was invented by a Dutch man living in Gdansk at the end of the 16th century and is made from over 20 herbs and roots including cinnamon, wild orange, cardamom, thyme, lavender, juniper, coriander and cloves. It also includes little pieces of 23 carat gold, hence the name, gold water. This restaurant is one of the places in Gdansk you can get it so naturally I had it as an aperitif, it had something of a schnapps flavour to it. A main course of pork ribs in honey and vodka followed by the local cheesecake were both delicious, I thought I could get away with a second dessert as it was my birthday – I don’t know if I ever mentioned that – after all it is well-known that no calories affect you on your birthday, right? Of course I finished up with another of the Goldwassers, not to do so would be rude right?

The day before we had also visited the Post Office monument commemorating the site of the battle between detachments of German police and SS and 50 Polish postal workers inside. The Polish put up a brave struggle for over 17 hours including facing flamethrowers and part of the building collapsing. The relevant ministries commissioned and unveiled the following monument, “A wonderful example of Communist-era public art and fitting tribute”.

It represent a dying employee of the post office receiving a rifle from the goddess Nike. Through a gateway I thought I saw another memorial so I walked through to see the following photo of the survivors being lined up with their hands against the wall just before they were shot.

I expect it wasn’t from the time but a re-creation. Next to it was one of the most affecting memorials I have seen. Casts of people’s fingers where they would touch the wall as they stood there with their hands above their heads just before being shot.

This morning, breakfast, packing and checking-out took long enough that we had to change plans. Originally we had been going to Westerplatte where the first exchanges of the Second World War took place but duff information from the Tourist Information Centre meant we could not find the bus so instead we went to the following:

This building on Okopowa 9 is home to the Internal Security Services but it was the Danzig headquarters of the Gestapo. Above the main entrance you can still see where the insignia was hacked off:

And above the door it’s possible to make out some letters that have just been painted over, ‘Polizei Prasidium’.

It was then lunchtime and we headed to La Cantina which, despite its Mediterranean sounding name, is actually a celebration of old Poland with traditional Starolpolski dishes. JTO got the Piergogi she wanted and I had a breaded pork chop. We then collected our bags and headed to the station and our train to Szczecin before travelling on to Berlin. On the train we met a Polish student in the final year of his English Phonology degree who wanted to practise his English with us.

There was so much to see we did not have time for that we are talking about another trip, perhaps in the Summer to take advantage of the beaches. Gdansk is a city with a beautiful old town, some great restaurants and there is a great welcome from the people. There is plenty to do and you could do a lot worse than visiting it. Go explore.

UPDATE: This was written on Saturday 10th March but not published then because the wifi in the Hotel did not work. For more about that read the next post.

2 Responses to “The leaving of Gdansk”

  1. Paul Strobl Says:

    Thanks for this! I’m moving to Gdansk soon, so I’ll have to have some Goldwasser when I arrive…

  2. Bucketlist | The Flashing Blade Says:

    […] Since visiting Riga repeatedly when JTO was working there, having completed our goal of visiting every European city, and my having enjoyed living in Liverpool when there as a student, we had decided to try and visit Hanseatic port cities, of which this was the first. Last year we visited Gdansk which I wrote about on this blog here, here and here. […]

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