Autumn 2021. In theory we could travel to other continents, but destinations we had in mind such as Japan or the United Kingdom were impossible to plan ahead. Instead we organised a rail trip to Eastern Europe, travelling to Berlin, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Bratislava, Poprad, Vienna, Linz and Salzburg. By travelling to Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria, we explore an area which was in the (not too distant) past bonded together by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and by Austria-Hungary.
We’ll be honest. We expected Gdańsk to be grey, industrial and dull. We associated Gdańsk with communist-era blocks, the shipyard and grey skies. We were so very wrong.
The first written record thought to refer to Gdańsk is the biography of Saint Adalbert. Written in 999, it describes how in 997 Saint Adalbert of Prague baptised the inhabitants of Urbs Gyddannyzc, “which separated the great realm of the duke [i.e. Boleslaw the Brave of Poland] from the sea.”
No further written sources exist for the 10th and 11th centuries.Based on the date in Adalbert’s vita, the city celebrated its millennial anniversary in 1997.
Archaeological evidence for the origins of the town was retrieved mostly after World War II had laid 90% of the city centre in ruins, enabling excavations.The oldest seventeen settlement levels were dated to between 980 and 1308.
It is generally thought that Mieszko I of Poland erected a stronghold on the site in the 980s, thereby connecting the Polish state ruled by the Piast dynasty with the trade routes of the Baltic Sea. Traces of buildings and housing from the 10th century have been found in archaeological excavations of the city.
Stamp on the city
A rich history with many rulers: the Teutonic Knights, the Hanseatic League, Poland, Prussia, Russia, Germany. Wars, divisions, communist rules. Poland as a whole and Gdańsk as a city has a very complex history.
It’s visible in the cityscape.
So we were surprised, and we shouldn’t have been, to have this Medieval, Late Medieval, Renaissance and 17th century vibe.
The city centre where our Holiday Inn was (and is) is situated has a vivid day- and nightlife. Restaurants, bars and clubs can be found near the marina and Ulica Długa (Long Street).
Indeed, we were stopped a few times to be lured into a bar, a club or a restaurant. Which says to us tourism is (also) oriented towards party tourism. Gdańsk has an airport – Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport (GDN) – and is not far from Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. So it’s not difficult to see Gdańsk as a party destination.
Some interesting museums, ‘strollable’ streets with pretty landmarks and most activities reachable on foot make Gdańsk a good destination for a long weekend.
I will definitely recommend Gdańsk to friends looking for an original weekend getaway.
2021 Rail Tour of Imperial Europe
- POTSDAM 2021 | Schloss Sanssouci.
- 1945 Potsdam Conference’s Cecilienhof Palace.
- Potsdam 2021.
- REVIEW | InterContinental Berlin.
- BERLIN 2021 | Pergamon, ‘Das Panorama’.
- BERLIN 2021 | Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace.
- BERLIN 2021 | The Bundestag in the Reichstag.
- Berlin 2021.
- By train from Berlin to Gdansk via Szczecin.
- Stopover in Szczecin.
- REVIEW | Restauracja Ritz in Gdańsk.
- REVIEW | Holiday Inn Gdansk.
- GDAŃSK | Museum of the Second World War.
- GDAŃSK | European Solidarity Centre or Europejskie Centrum Solidarności.
- A walk through Gdańsk.