Not everything is, or in fact even should be, glamorous.
Which brings me to Gdansk, Poland.
This is not an attractive city. I'm not writing that in a mean-spirited way, but it is something of an honest observation. The docking area for Gdansk is basically more industrial than anything else. Gdansk does hold a special place in recent history as being basically the first blowtorch to the former Iron Curtain of Eastern Europe. Whatever snarkiness is found in this posting is all in good fun; how Gdansk and its residents contributed to the cause of freedom in Europe was a very serious business, and the western world owes a debt of gratitude to the city.
Side note: As I begin to type this, a small boat, filled with what I assume to be drunken Gdansk residents, is moving past our ship. Fortunately, as I don't speak Polish, I can't understand what they are yelling. Somehow I don't think it translates to "Hello cruise ship peoples. We hope you enjoyed short stay in city Gdansk. Please do come back much again times!".
Anyway, while Rostock was also a former Eastern Bloc city, it's clear that the German government has had the resources to invest heavily in redevelopment over the past few decades. Gdansk? Not so much.
(The view from our cabin upon arrival; "We have many lumbers for exports!")
Now in all fairness, the old city area of Gdansk definitely has that older European charm.
Today was St. Dominic's Fair in Gdansk, which meant significantly more people and congestion in the city. It also made your's truly pretty uncomfortable when I was squeezed under an archway with about 100 others while a thunderstorm blew through the city. I'm not wild about being touched; well I am if I know you well, otherwise, it rather creeps me out. As shown above, part of the events associated with St. Dominic's Fair was some kind of race.
Another feature of Gdansk is amber, as in the petrified tree sap stuff that traps bugs and created Jurassic Park. Amber is a big commodity for sale in Gdansk, and we found many shops selling it during our brief time in the city. Some of the amber jewelry was very attractive.
Another side note: As I am typing this, a police boat appeared alongside our ship. Apparently, the first boat wasn't the only one riding the Vistula River while enjoying adult beverages.
Like many other continental European cities, Gdansk suffered quite a bit during World War II, although it does seem as if there still some areas that are just now being rebuilt, all these years later.
- Smoking. Common to Poland and some of the other cities we've visited is the fact that smoking seems to be still fairly wide-spread, especially among younger people. It's odd to think of the United States as being progressive in any way, especially these days, but I think we're ahead of the curve in this one particular area, which is a good thing. I personally wish that smoking just stopped, as dying of lung cancer is a horrible fate deserved by nobody.
- Currency. The national currency in Poland is the Zloty. Given the fact that I am horrible with foreign languages, and after trying three times to pronounce "Zloty", I instead deemed the name to actually be the "Zlotnick", which I think sounds better anyway. I actually did get some Zlotnicks from an ATM by the way, which came in handy as we did some shopping before heading back to the port/lumberyard. I even managed to save a 10 Zlotnick note as something of a keepsake.
- Food. Pickles on bread is a thing to eat in Gdansk. For the record, I didn't.
- Language. Much like Germany, English wasn't widely spoken in public, at least not as far as I could hear. We did deal with some amber salespeople who had a good command of the language though, so much so that they could pass for English teachers in Nanticoke, Plymouth or Shamokin (sorry for that inside Pennsylvania joke, but I just couldn't help myself).