Saturday, August 11, 2007

A little taste of Poland

We dock into our penultimate port and look forward our visit to Poland. All thoughts of eggs have been banished as now it’s all about amber. Apparently the streets are positively paved with amber, I am not as excited about amber but the whole Jurassic Park bit intrigues me. We are told various techniques that can aid us in identifying fake amber. And you can’t go by the weight as everyone suspects as real amber and the various generally plastic copies are as light as each other. Apparently you can rub real amber and smell the pine resin and are able to pick up little bits of tissue with the real one. We have three towns to visit Gdansk, famous for the birth of the Solidarity movement and Lech Walesa, Gdynia where there are amber shops aplenty and Soport the local seaside and a famous wooden pier.
Our first stop is Gyinia, a charming little place with stylish architecture and yes, an abundance of amber shops. But unfortunately it is quite early when we visit and many of the other shops and the market stalls are not open yet. There are a lot of us tourists and in such a small place it is slightly like a plague of locusts have briefly descended upon them all being marshalled by guides with large white numbered lollipops. It's the first time I've been so aware of the cult of the tourist. I would have liked to linger longer especially when Gdynia had woken up and diluted the visitors a little but we were on a schedule.
We didn't get out at the Gdansk (formerly Lenin) Shipyards but saw the memorial erected to honour the fallen shipyard workers during the brutal strikes of the 70's.
Soport was the only beach we saw on this trip and seemed quite popular, it was our last stop. We were marched down to the sea edge along a wooden walkway and then led back. Again it was very apparent who was sightseer and we seem to overwhelm the seashore for a moment. Personally I would have liked to have visited here first, when it was at its quietest and then finish with Gdynia so we could have appreciated it when it was a little livelier.
We had a stop at a hotel to enjoy some tea and cake and in my case secure my penultimate Polish fridge magnet.
I really enjoyed our little taste of Poland but I definitely would have enjoyed a less curtailed visit but the tides were against us or something and we had to get to Germany.

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