Gdansk and Malbork

Trip Start Aug 30, 2005
Trip End Jan 04, 2006

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

I had the most amazing thing to write here but someone came and used my computer and deleted what I had worked on. I hope I can write just as eloquently as before.
Last weekend the class when to Gdansk. We took the 5 am train north for seven hours to cross Poland. I slept most of the way uncomfortably because none of us realised that the seats pulled out. The cabin looked like a huge mass of people all interconnected. But we finally arrived to a raining and cold Gdansk. The class immediately dropped off our bags and departed for a 5-hour tour of the city. It was a beautiful city, which was constructed, very much in a Dutch architectural style, resembling Amsterdam. There was one remarkable thing about most polish cities (Krakow is the only one exempt) Gdansk, like Warsaw was 90 % destroyed in the Second World War. The Nazi's tore through the town dismantling the buildings one by one, this lends too the illusion that what we were seeing erected in front of us was old but most of the buildings were reconstitutions. Our tour led us towards dinner. I was beyond famished because I hadn't had food since the 3 grapes and a bun I had on the train early that morning. Me and a couple of people were really tiered and left the dinner festivities, which includede a jazz concert, early and the restaurant owner drove us back to the hotel (we cant figure out why he did this but who were we to turn down a free ride in the dark and rain).
The next day we awoke from the best sleep ever cause of the exhaustion of the previous day and it was a refreshing thing to have an American sized bed and down comforter. We took a boat ride on the Vistula River, which is the river that opens feeds interior Poland and connects to the Baltic Sea. The weather was chilly but sunny. The cruise was amazing. What baffled me was that we briefly stopped on Westerplate, which was Poland, and consequently the rest of the world first encountered fighting with the Nazi's. It's a strange feeling to be standing at the post office and battlefield upon which the Second World War started. Our tour guide was amazing. She was so enthusiastic about her town and she appeared to know everyone in the town and another random fact, when Prince Charles came to visit the site it was she who took him around Westerplate.
Sunday we left early and took the train to Malbork, which is a neighbouring town to Gdansk off the coast. It was in Malbork that the stronghold of the Teutonic empire existed. The humungous castle is on the Vistula River and was amazing. We took a 4-hour tour of the castle and grounds; I paid particular attention since I am doing my thesis on the Teutonic Order in Poland. It was interesting to see the various renovations to the castle in with splatterings of baroque architecture. I was the official photographer for the class so I have amassed a crap-load of pictures from the castle.
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