Poland - A Day in Gdansk

We jetted off to Poland recently for a 3-day weekend in Gdansk.  
Why Gdansk, you ask?
  1. the flight was cheaper than Krakow 
  2. it's more real and less touristy than Krakow 
  3. the city is teeming with history from WWII to Solidarity.
We went directly from the airport to a local coffee shop to fuel up for the day since our flight left really early. We found this friendly looking dog sculpture in front of a cute cafe.
Sweets are popular in Gdansk.  We tried this nutty, caramel-y pudding dish with our coffee.
We encountered a man selling bread from a cart outside our hotel and had to try one of these pretzels.  It was a nice contrast to the sweets we'd tried.
We stayed at the Scandic Hotel right near the train station which was quiet, clean, and very nice overall.  I liked that they had a shoe-shine machine near the elevator on our floor...
...and bicycles in the lobby.
Having checked in and dropped off our bags, we started to explore.  The central train station was conveniently located across the street from our hotel.
We were impressed by the edifice of this church and archway nearby.
We passed the statue of Johannes Hevelius: astronomer, brewer, and one time mayor of Gdansk.  He sits outside the Old Town Hall.
The city features ornate manhole covers -- a good reference point in case you forget where you are.
I liked this sloping roof with embedded windows framing a pigeon staring out at me.
A rapid running canal slices the town.
This giant weeping willow along the canal was particularly impressive.
Greenery spilled from the bank into the water.

Is this the Polish version of a lawn gnome?
Certain sculptures and imagery remind visitors of the war torn history of the area.
We stopped by the post office and WWII memorial in Gdansk to pay our respects.  One of the first battles of World War II was waged here when the Germans invaded Poland.
Walking back from the post office, we saw less sombre sights including this colorful windmill decorating someone's lawn.
I also liked this rather unexpected art installation of blue trees.
We stopped at the local Hala Targowa (covered market) and discovered the wonders of Polish baked goods.  I practiced the couple words of Polish that we had prepared for the trip and the matron working at this piekarnia was very patient and tried to talk back to me very slowly in Polish.  I think she appreciated my effort.
Outside the covered market were a variety of produce stalls.  

I liked how many vendors were selling these dried sunflowers.  
I couldn't figure out what they were used for until I looked more closely.  In situ sunflower seeds!
At this point we had worked up an appetite and stopped at Pierogarnia U Dzika for pierogies and a beer.  The place was decorated with disturbing boar heads everywhere but the meal was delicious.
We continued our explorations and admired some of the ornate decorations on the various buildings.
Is that the Beatles, I spy, in stained glass?
We soon arrived at Dlugi Targ (Long Market) and the ever popular Nepture sculpture.  Much of Gdansk was destroyed during WWII but citizens were able to hide Nepture away so that he survived the war and lived to stand before future visitors.
We noticed that the various skleps (convenience shops) had an interesting style of displaying their wares.  Everything was on display in a colorful, chaotic mass.
We stopped at a local candy manufacturer along Dlugi Targ and actually got to see the craftsmen working the hot sugar to the delight of the children looking on.
We saw some very sad old teddy bears outside a shop along Dlugi Targ -- it was quite a sight.
We walked over a bridge across the placid Motława River.
From here we spied the medieval Gdansk crane which was built in the 14th century to unload ships -- quite impressive.
I liked this jaunty fellow carrying a scythe.
An impressive round tower dotted with domed windows sat beside the river.
This side of the river features many ruins from World War II that were not rebuilt and stand in memory of the destruction that befell Gdansk.
Walking back across the river, we saw this old galleon which takes tourists to Westerplatte.  The ships feature ornate mastheads.
We walked along Ulica Mariacka, a popular shopping street and stopped in Cafe Kamienica.  The second floor seating area was quite cozy .
I saw this unexpected sign in the bathroom for Laremid.  It's a little hard to see, but there is a guy in a gas mask being hauled away in the back of the picture.  I thought this was very odd for a medicine advertisement and wasn't sure what they were trying to convey.
The buildings of Gdansk often feature gutters to channel rainwater encased in stone gargoyles.  Here's one of my favorites.
This fountain surrounded by lions was idyllic.
The fountain would come on periodically.  It was hilarious to watch this little dog as he was caught off guard by the dancing water as his owner looks on.
It was a warm day and we chanced upon this group of elderly ladies all looking out over the river and enjoying an ice cream cone (lody).
We wandered into a small alleyway off of Dlugi Targ and were surprised to find this mural.
We were especially surprised to find one of the center figures wearing D&G undies and standing next to a package of McDonald's french fries.
There are a number of street vendors set up along Dlugi Targ.  This clown smoking a cigarette wasn't really setting a good example for the kiddies.
Bakeries in Gdansk are hard to avoid and we stopped into one for a late afternoon treat.  I liked the look of these marshmallow ducks but they were too pretty to eat.
Our final stop of the day was the Gdansk shipyards where the Solidarity movement made it's mark and cast Lech Walesa into the spotlight.
We capped our day with crepes at Lokomotywa, a local restaurant kitted out to look like the inside of a railway car.  It was a fitting end to a day filled with travel and exploration.
Here's a sense of the route that we took today.  We walked over 8 miles.
View Gdansk, Day 1 in a larger map

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Sidewalk Safari: Poland - A Day in Gdansk
Poland - A Day in Gdansk
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