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Part 2 from yesterday plus Day 5 - Off to Gdansk

Events of the afternoon and next day

semi-overcast 20 °C

Part 2

Our tour guide for the day was Paweł, a young man with a real strong sense of his history and culture. We spent the afternoon at a number of different locations which started with the memorial to the Jewish Ghetto Uprising. At the beginning of the war Warsaw was home to approx 380,000 Jews which was almost 30% of the cities total population. The actual Jewish neighborhood is long gone as it was completely destroyed by the end of the war. There were nearly ½ million Jewish people from Warsaw and other Polish cities walled into a very small section of the city where by early 1942 over 100,000 had died from starvation, diseases, and mistreatment. Hundreds of thousands were removed and transported to the death camp Treblinka outside the city. A large memorial including a carved two sided black obelisk commemorates the spot where they were marched to the waiting trains for transportation to the camps.


In April 1943, the remaining people decided that they had no alternative but to resist and attack their capture rather than simply wait their turn to be eliminated. The armed struggle was doomed from the start as they didn’t have access to sufficient weapons and were significantly outnumbered. Following 3 weeks of desperate fighting the Nazi razed what was left of the ghetto, except for a few scraps of a wall which remain to today, to the ground.


We then drove over to Lazienki Park and walked down to the Palace on the Water. Also in the park is a large Chopin statue where on Sundays free out door concerts happen, we didn’t stay as the concert had not started.


Our next stop was Old Town and the Royal Castle which, like most of Warsaw, was rebuilt after the war. In its heyday, the castle it was one of Europe’s most splendid royal residences. Today the castle is filled with a large amount of original Marcello Baccierelli 17th -18th century paintings of royalty, which don’t do much for us as they had all the power and money plus worked their surfs/peasants hardheartedly which was the common practice at the time.


At the end of the afternoon, Paweł spoke to us of his pride of Polish culture/history and why he felt they have turn out what they are today. He explained that as a result of Poland’s tortured past, which included numerous subjugations by foreign conquerors, the people of Poland developed a stubbornness and sense of resiliency that is a double edged sword. This allows them to stand up to oppression but makes if sometimes inflexible to govern themselves effectively.

Monday May 15, 2017 Day 5

Jet lag is taking it’s toll. Despite Fred’s regime of melatonin starting before we left, he hasn’t been sleeping and Gail is sleeping less than usual. Course sleep does arrive just before the alarm goes off. Forgot to mention earlier that we have meet our group so we are 13 in all plus a guide and drive. More about them at a later posting.

A early start to the day as we’re off to Gdansk, a 5 hour drive north-west of Warsaw. Outside of the city center we drive through many large, fairly stark apartment complexes and then through the industrial area and then the agricultural area. We notice an absence of single family homes or suburbs as we know them. Perhaps the need for housing meant the building multi-family dwellings. Don’t know. And then the view is pretty much blocked for miles on end. The highway is lined by high barriers supposedly for soundproofing but where we can see behind them there’s only fields, not even cows ears to protect. Our guide and driver just laugh, shrug, and explain it with the word ‘corruption’. Hmm…


Eventually, after an hour or so, the fencing gradually thins out so that we can see the countryside. Rapeseed is in full bloom right now so the fields are bright yellow interspersed with lush green grass. It’s quite remarkable and a bit starting. The speed limit along here is 140k and most cars fly by.

Gdansk is a city of about 450,000 and known to BC ferry users as the builders of the latest 5 ferries in the fleet. As a seaport, it has been much sought over property by many rulers in the past and wears the remains of many cultures. In recent history, it was the site of the first battle of WW2 and the birthplace of the Solidarity movement lead by Lech Walesa.


After a quick stop at our hotel we were off with our local guide Lucas to visit the monument that was built to recognize those that were killed and who fought for the Solidarity movement. It was through the efforts of these people that Poland was able to break the ties to the communist regime. The monument is at the gates to the shipyard where the workers staged their strike.


Back on the bus to visit a large cathedral at the edge of town that had been repeatedly sacked and rebuilt for centuries. The Catholic Church was very supportive of the Polish movement to achieve independence from the Communist and the Polish govt’ has not forgotten as it today partially funds the church.


We headed back to Old Town Gdansk. Gdansk endured heavy damage during WW2, about 65%+ of it was destroyed. Much of it has been restored using as much material as possible that was recoverable. The Old Town today a major tourist attraction with no cars, cobblestone streets and filled with amber shops. After a bit of a wander, another church or two, we headed off to another tasty dinner and then home to bed.


Posted by Fredricgail2017 13:41 Archived in Poland

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Gail and Fred I am enjoying your travelog...very descriptive writing and great photos...it is like being on the tour with you!
Thanks, Jennie

by Jennie Sutton

Sorry to hear about the jet lag. Hopefully it will be over soon. Lots of interesting info in your blog. I like the pic of the clock tower. A civic building? I didn't know that amber was a Polish thing. Is that just Gdansk? Your days sound full. Enjoy! And soak up that sunshine. It's raining here today. MJ

by Selkirk

Jet lag is a bugger. But it does eventually lapse. Hope you get a good sleep soon. Appreciate your historical and cultural commentary. Great perspectives with the camera - as usual:)))

by Don

The Amber jewelry has so many colours! :)

by Heather Jones

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