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Gdansk, Poland


49th day


It is recognized that the Poland was established when Mieszko I, the first recorded leader of Poland, adopted Christianity in 966. In the 12th century, Poland was fragmented into several small states, which allowed various foreign invasions. In 1320, Poland was reunited and achieved its political and cultural unity under the rule of Casimir III the Great. In 1364, the one of Europe’s oldest universities was founded at Krakow by Casimir III. Under the Jagiellon dynasty, Poland formed a union with Grand Duchy of Lithuania that lasted for about 400 years. During this period, though Poland fought many wars against various foreign enemies, Polish culture and economy flourished producing such figures as astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus and poet Jan Kochanowski. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was formed by the 1569 Union of Lublin between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which lasted until 1795. The new commonwealth was the largest and one of the most populous countries in Europe through the 16th to 17th-century in Europe. Russia, Prussia and Austria, the powerful neighbors of Poland, had respectively an ambition to own Poland. This resulted in a series of agreements called Three Partitions. The three divided Poland among them. Three partitions took place in 1772, 1793 and 1795. As a result, Poland was non-existent on the map for next 123 years. Poland became independent as the Second Polish Republic in 1918 after World War I. In September 1939, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that marked the start of World War II. In the war, over six million Polish people died, half of them Polish Jews, approximately 20% of Poland’s pre-war population. Under the strong influence of the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of Poland was officially proclaimed in 1952. The creation of Solidality in Poland in 1980 marked the start of the Revolutions in 1989 which overthrew Soviet-style communist states in Eastern-bloc European countries. In 1989, communist rule was overthrown and Poland was democratized establishing the “Third Polish Republic?. Today, Poland is a member of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Our ship arrived at Poland two days after leaving Copenhagen. Gdansk was a small city and I was not quite sure where to go for sightseeing. So I decided to go out to the Castle in Malbork, a little away from Gdansk. Soon I took a taxi to the station. But strangely enough, the taxi driver dropped me at the entrance of the old city of Gdansk despite my request to go to the station. He repeatedly told me to tell him when I was back because he would come here to pick me up. Moreover, I later learned the fare was higher than average. As I did not know where I was, I went to a souvenir shop to ask the owner where I was, only to be complained that his shop was not an information center.
When I managed to arrived at the station, the train bound for Malbork just left the station. Today’s trip was so disastrous from the start! What’s more, today was the day of Corpus Christi festival, a Western Catholic feast, many shops were closed. The city was so quiet.
According to the timetable, the next train to Malbork was due in two hours. I bought a round-trip ticket and went back to the old city.

*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.

I passed through Prison Tower and Golden Gate to Long Street. The street was crowded with sightseers. This area, devastated by World War II, was reconstructed as it was before the war. The buildings and squares were very impressive and worth seeing. Strolling around the old city, I went to St. Mary church. At the church, it was holding a mass.

Concerning about the departure time of the train, I looked around the main sites in order from near to far. Along the way, I bought an amber accessory. Gdansk is famous for amber production. I enjoyed Gdansk very much in a little more than one hour. The only regret I had was that I did not eat local specialties.

After one-hour ride of a train, I arrived at Malbork. Time for sightseeing in Malbork was limited to less than two hours because of the departure time of my return train, so I hastened to go to Malbork Castle. On the train to Malbork, someone told a girl that she would not be able to enter the castle because today was the day of Corpus Christi festival, but added that she would be able to take pictures from outside and that a clerk might let her in if she smiled at the clerk. Recalling his remarks, I anxiously went to a ticket booth. A clerk in the ticket booth told me that I could enter the castle though the museum was not open. The admission fee was 8 zlotis (about 8 Euro) though its usual fee was 30 zlotis. I was lucky to have a discount on the ticket considering I could stay only two hours or so anyway.
The buildings there were also reconstructed after World War II. They were characterized by red bricks and seemed simple compared to those of the European countries I visited before. But I thought it was the typical German style of architecture.

There were souvenir shops at the square beside the Malbork Castle. One of the shops offered barbecued food and I found myself buying it without a pause. I had not eaten lunch, and it was very delicious! The meat was tender and juicy, and the bacon and onion sandwiched between the breads were properly done. It was expensive for fast food, but I wanted even one more of it if I had enough time.

I successfully caught my return train and went back to Gdansk while viewing a peaceful rape blossom field out of a train window.
I took a taxi from the station to the port where our ship was anchored. This time, the fare was fair. But after learning from the taxi I took in the morning that the taxi driver did little know the road map, I had a feeling that something bad would happen. I showed him a map to get him to confirm the name of the port not once or twice, but he took a wrong way as anticipated! (I heard from my friends a lot of complaints about getting lost by taxi.)
Today’s lesson: Beware of taxi drivers in Gdansk!

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