St. Dominic’s cellars in Gdansk – critically

And so it happened: after a long delay, the Romanesque Cellars of the St. Dominic’s monastery in Gdansk, were finally opened…

Yesterday, i.e.  last day of 2014, was announced in mass media, as a day of free admission. In reality it occurred to have been a day closed for public 😦

It was only for the employees of the Archaeological Museum or so… Both of us – Ewa and I, considering the fact of being guides, were admitted. Besides, there were no crowds at all, in fact there were only four of us waiting to enter. My problem was, that thinking there would be a great mob of visitors, I did not bring my big camera. Therefore I took photos with my cellphone. It means – the quality is bad, really bad.

And such are my impressions after visiting the place. Bad…

The idea of restoring and finally opening for public – Gdansk’s oldest interior was GREAT. The whole undertaking, the remaking of partially destroyed vaulted ceilings, the whole restoration and research – was a Titanic yet precise piece of work. And the ones who did it – deserve the highest respect.

But…. There always is a BUT in nearly every story 😦

Someone lacked brains and good taste in designing the lighting fitting. There is a saying that a bad frame can spoil a painting. A badly designed light can ruin the whole exhibition. And here we have such case.

HOW on earth could aggressive colors in such a small interior be accepted? Where was the taste both of the designers and of the principal, that they all accepted such shoddy shades of red, pink and blue?

Next – who on earth allowed the little M&M’s like bulbs in the junction of the walls with the floor? Maybe the designer had no idea, that such lights are perfect at the disco, but NOT within the old walls.

There is male voice telling the history and leading through the place. Although very sexy – the voice was only in Polish. I love my mother language, and I seem to know it pretty well 😉 but even I had some problems with following the pace of the story.

Why didn’t anybody think of audio-guides? Nobody noticed that there are also foreigners visiting Gdansk? Noone in the museum probably ever thought that not only Gdansk experts, like us, will be visiting the place, but also people who have NO IDEA where they are. For them the pace of narrative is too chaotic.

The point-lights, showing what is being explained are too short (not to mention agressive colors), and give no possibility to take a thorough look or photo.

Besides, the known educational principle is FROM GENERAL – TO SPECIFIC (DETAIL). The designer probably never attended lessons well… There is NO general; there are only irrelevant details, brought out by lights of dubious quality.

Such small interiors demand ONLY neutral light, no colors neither shades.

Well, it was to be so wonderful, yet appeared to have been done carelessly 😦 as usually.

Shame on the investor who employed such a badly qualified light designer! More – pity a great amount of money was wasted. Such an arrangement is a very expensive one. Yet has to be done by an experts.  Pity such was not the case here.

However with some improvements, the exhibition can become a pride of Gdansk, and its restorers.

Recommendation for modifications:

* get rid of the trashy lights,

* introduce neutral light instead

* arrange informational small charts in various languages;

* the short informational film should also be translated.

* introduce audio-guides in various languages

Most of all – the Archaeological Museum of Gdansk should go to Krakow, to the Rynek Underground Exhibition to learn how to make and prepare exhibitions! It is worth learning from the best 😉

Published in: on 01/01/2015 at 16:26  Leave a Comment  

Another … church in Poland

I am often asked why most of the Polish tours have at least one church in the itinerary… Sometimes it is describeb with an expression: “ABC” (another… church).

Before any explanation WHY another church – enjoy a short visit to the splendid ST. ANNE’S in Cracow, which is one of Europe’s outstanding examples of baroque.  🙂

And now – here is some explanation:

In Poland – so dreadfully destroyed during the last great military conflict which was the Second World War – sometimes the only REAL art is located only in churches. It is worth remembering that a great lot of the splendid art that Poland was furnished with – was simply STOLEN by both armies (first the German and then Red Army). Earlier in the history there was a Polish-Swedish military conflict, which resulted in a great Polish loss of art as well as architecture (just to mention the Krzyztopor castle in Ujazd) and what should be NOT forgotten – is the Napoleonic period – which also resulted in plundering and destruction of Polish art and goods.

After WW II that art that was luckily found or (more rarely) claimed – was placed in museums. Unfortunately many Polish museums still do not have the knowledge of how to display the possessed art. Besides – not everybody likes (or has time enough) to visit museums. Another thing is that Polish museums still do not have the opinion or reputation as (for example) the Rijksmuseum has.

Another thing is – that most of the foreign visitors think Poland still is a country far, far behind the world. Common opinion says that visiting the museums in Russia, or Western Europe gives more art reflection. Yes it does – but among their exhibitions – there are many pieces that come from Poland. Think of it when you stand in front of a wonderful huge Beer Mug with coins  in the Louvre. Do remember please, that it was made in Gdansk :), not to speak of a variety of art held in the Hermitage.

However church visiting is not only a Polish speciality. During my visit in Prague, we were rushed through nearly all the city’s churches, starting with St. Vitus Cathedral. In Rome, the sightseeing also starts with significant churches of the Eternal City (not to mention a special church to all the Catholics and art lovers – the St. Peter’s Basilica)

Also for a better understanding – please read the below fragment from The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo… Very beautifully it explains WHY are the churches so important in and to Europe 🙂

Thought was then free only in this manner; hence it never wrote itself out completely except on the books called edifices.  Having thus only this resource, masonry, in order to make its way to the light, flung itself upon it from all quarters. Hence the immense quantity of cathedrals which have covered Europe–a number so prodigious that one can hardly believe it even after having verified it. All the material forces, all the intellectual forces of society converged towards the same point: architecture. In this manner, under the pretext of building churches to God, art was developed in its magnificent proportions.Then whoever was born a poet became an architect. Genius, scattered in the masses, repressed in every quarter under feudalism, finding no issue except in the direction of architecture,–gushed forth through that art, and its Iliads assumed the form of cathedrals. All other arts obeyed, and placed themselves under the discipline of architecture. They were the workmen of the great work. The architect, the poet, the master, summed up in his person the sculpture which carved his façades, painting which illuminated his windows, music which set his bells to pealing, and breathed into his organs.Architecture was, down to the fifteenth century, the chief register of humanity; up until that interval not a thought which is in any degree  complicated made its appearance in the world, which has not been worked into an edifice; that every popular idea, and every religious law, has had its monumental records; that the human race has, in short, had no important thought which it has not written in stone. And why? Because every thought, either philosophical or religious, is interested in perpetuating itself; because the idea which has moved one generation wishes to move others also, and leave a trace. Now, what a precarious immortality is that of the manuscript! How much more solid, durable, unyielding, is a book of stone! In order to destroy the written word, a torch and a Turk are sufficient. To demolish the constructed word, a social revolution, a terrestrial revolution are required. The barbarians passed over the Coliseum; the deluge, perhaps, passed over the Pyramids.In the fifteenth century everything changes.Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself, not only more durable and more resisting than architecture, but still more simple and easy. Architecture is dethroned. Gutenberg’s letters of lead are about to supersede Orpheus’s letters of stone.

Published in: on 31/12/2013 at 18:54  Comments (2)  
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Showing off ;)

Today got a Merit Badge in Tourism – (granted by  the Ministry of Sports and Tourism)

And… that’s all I have to say today  😀

Published in: on 04/10/2013 at 22:21  Comments (4)  

About Medieval Easter Traditions…

Easter is full of odd traditions when you stop to think about them for a moment—why do chocolate eggs come from rabbits, and what do they have to do with the resurrection of Jesus?–and predictably, a good deal of that is just because they’re so old we long since stopped paying attention to where they come from. There are plenty of other places on the internet that will talk about eggs and ancient pre-Christian fertility rites, but I’m just going to focus on the Middle Ages for now because let’s face it, that’s where I live.

The three days before Easter—Maundy Thursday (named for the command Jesus gave his disciples, and not, as I thought when I was little, just an oddly-named ‘Monday Thursday’), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday were called the Triduum, and medieval people would, unsurprisingly, spend a lot of these days in church. Easter was, as now, the most important festival in the Christian calendar, which is presumably why it needed forty days of fasting and preparation to get ready for (which in turn is part of why people were so excited for it).

Below is a link to this very interesting post about Medieval Easter Traditions. I am a keen follower of this blog, as it doesn’t have the “scientific boredom” 🙂

Published in: on 30/03/2013 at 01:21  Leave a Comment  

The Great Escape – the real thing

I recently got an email from a friend – I have no idea where this comes from – so I cannot give the source. But I had to post it here – just so that everyone could learn about this historical fact. Worth remembering – German Nazis established many POW camps as well as a network of concentration camps in today’s Poland. The country was occupied by them from 1939. And this part of Europe was to supply the Nazis with manpower (slaves). More about the Nazi plans for this part of Europe HERE.

The Great Escape – the real thing

Untouched for almost seven decades, the tunnel  used in the Great Escape has finally been unearthed.

The 111-yard passage nicknamed ‘Harry’ by Allied  prisoners was sealed by the Germans after the audacious break-out from the POW camp Stalag Luft III in western  Poland…

Despite huge interest in the subject, encouraged  by the film starring Steve McQueen, the tunnel remained  undisturbed over the decades because it was behind the Iron Curtain and the Soviet authorities had no interest  in its significance.

Channel4 - Digging The Great Escape

 But at last British archaeologists have  excavated it, and discovered its remarkable  secrets.

Many of the bed boards which had been joined  together to stop it collapsing were still in position.

And the ventilation shaft, ingeniously crafted from used  powdered milk containers known as Klim Tins, remained in working order.

Scattered throughout the tunnel, which is 30ft below ground, were bits of old metal buckets, hammers and crowbars which were used to hollow out the route.

A total of 600 prisoners worked on three tunnels at the same time. They were nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry and were just 2 ft square for most of their length.

It was on the night of March 24 and 25, 1944, that 76 Allied airmen escaped through Harry.

Barely a third of the 200 prisoners – many in fake German uniforms and civilian outfits and carrying false identity papers – who were meant to slip away managed to leave before the alarm was raised when escapee number 77 was spotted.


Tunnel  vision: A tunnel reconstruction showing the trolley system.

Only three made it back to Britain an Australian, Canadian and a Brit. Another 50 were executed by firing squad on the orders of Adolf Hitler, who was furious after learning of the breach of security.

In all, 90 boards from bunk beds, 62 tables, 34 chairs and 76 benches, as well as thousands of items including knives, spoons, forks, towels and blankets, were squirrelled away by the Allied prisoners to aid the escape plan under the noses of their  captors.

Although the Hollywood movie suggested otherwise, NO Americans were involved in the operation.  Most were British, and the others were from Canada , (all the tunnellers were Canadian personnel with backgrounds in mining) Poland , New Zealand , Australia , and South Africa ..

ATT00035The site of the tunnel, recently  excavated by British archaeologists

The latest dig, over three weeks in August, located the entrance to Harry, which was originally concealed under a stove in Hut 104.

The team also found another tunnel, called George, whose exact position had not been charted. It was never used as the 2,000 prisoners were forced to march to other camps as the Red Army approached in January 1945.

Watching the excavation was Gordie King, 91, an RAF radio operator, who was 140th in line to use Harry and therefore missed out.

‘This brings back such bitter-sweet memories,’ he said as he wiped away tears. ‘I’m amazed by what they’ve  found.’

Channel4 - The Great GatsbyBitter-sweet memories: Gordie King, 91, made an  emotional return to Stalag Luft III.

Published in: on 06/02/2013 at 11:23  Comments (1)  

January 2013 greetings – sea and memories

The beach was quite crowded in the early afternoon today, and Konrad (my younger son) was having fun on his skimboard. By the way HOW can one have fun in a cold winter sea?

This is how we spent the first day of the year 2013. I was taking some pictures of the calm sea. There were few ships at the roadstead waiting to be taken into the port of Gdansk.

I remembered a certain January many years ago.

It was an extremely stormy January then. My Father who was returning from a long sail, got stuck at the roadstead of Gdansk. No pilot boat could sail out of the port (port pilot’s service is compulsory in Gdansk). The wind was more than 8⁰B, and the weather forecast said it would last few days more…

Finally the storm calmed down a bit, and Dad called us on the phone. He said that if I came to the beach, he would light up all the ship’s searchlights and turn on the ship’s siren. So that I would know which is his ship, and where he is at the roadstead.

So I took the dogs for a long walk… At that time the roadstead of Gdansk was full of ships, and it was the time when the port was vibrant with life.

I stood there on the beach, and wondered how far the roadstead seemed. It is amazing how distances change according to the weather conditions.

Suddenly loud and clear there came the voice of a ship’s siren… I looked at the sea and saw one of the ships illuminated with all searchlights it had. It was “my” ship, the one I know well, as I spent part of my childhood sailing with my Dad.

Now it was even more mine. It was lit up only and especially for me… Since then – whenever I am walking on the beach I remember that stormy January many years ago…

*  /  *


Everybody – have a very good year 2013.

May you all have your own ships – illuminated only for you brightly and clearly


Published in: on 01/01/2013 at 20:39  Comments (2)  

The History of English in 10 minutes

Absolutely brilliant history of English language. Again – I found in on FB, and it comes from the interesting website


Published in: on 27/12/2012 at 12:31  Leave a Comment  

Notes on Christmas…

As it still is Christmas time – it is worth reading some information about this season.

It is a special time of year not only for Christians (here is a very interesting article on Christmas in the Qur’än). This is the time of slowing down, with family meetings and celebrations, promises of the better life, and generally rejoicing.

For children it is the time when the dreams sometimes come true, as under the Christmas tree there is space enough for all the presents, that the mythical Santa Claus is supposed to bring through the chimney…

This is more or less what people usually know about this season, or associate it with now.

But how was it before, in the Middle Ages for example; what is the origin of the fat old man with the white beard squeezing through the chimney, to place the gifts under the Christmas tree?

Here is a link to a very interesting page, where you can find some information about the celebration of Christmas in the Middle Ages.

It is also worth reading about the origin of the Christmas tree

It is popular today to have a tree at home on this occasion, and it usually is pine, or spruce (about the origin of the name Spruce tree you can find here)

There is also some information about the Polish way of celebrating of Christmas, here and here.

As a daughter of Master Mariner, I have very special memories of Christmas on board of the ships my Dad was in command of. Although there was no snow, the atmosphere was really magic. The Christmas tree was always very decorated, and my dad always made sure everyone got a little gift on the 24th December. As this is day (evening) when gifts appear under the tree.

I also remember Christmas in Nigeria, where we settled for quite “a while” … All thanks to Father O’ Hennerthy, who had a gift of uniting people in his church. People of all faiths, religions, and points of view. He even had the skill to cause the animals (always present at the Midnight Mass) to sit in peace 😉

Christmas in Poland is different. It is very Catholic, yet very frantic with shopping before the celebration. But in small villages there still is the true spirit of Christ’s birth day.

So… Enjoy the last evening of this year’s Christmas.

And if ever you would plan to come to Poland in winter – maybe Christmas would be the good time to do so.

Cracow (Kraków) in the south of Poland is the best place to spend Christmas in Poland. Here is a very interesting link to CNN Travel about Krakow in Christmas time.

Published in: on 26/12/2012 at 21:10  Leave a Comment  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from GDANSK :)

Best and warmest wishes for Christmas and for the upcoming New Year from Gdansk.

I wish you Joy, Good Fortune, and all the Health of the world, as well as all the Smiles needed to start everyday with cheerfulness.


Published in: on 18/12/2012 at 14:07  Comments (1)  

Europa Jagiellonica art exhibition

In November 2012 have seen an outstanding exhibition in Warsaw…

The title of the event – which is in fact a three-part exhibition is Europa Jagellonica /Art and Culture in Central Europe under the Reign of the Jagiellonian Dynasty/ 1386–1572. 

Usually everyone is focusing on medieval or renaissance Italy, France or England. Seldom it is realized how much and how strongly the whole Europe was influenced by the Jagiellon dynasty… Moreover it is worth remembering that nearly all European dynasties have at least a drop of Jagiellon blood in their history 😉

Speaking of art of those times, it was international (as art is always international). Artists came from everywhere (like e.g. Veit Stoss – Wit Stwosz) to perform within the borders of the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom.

The results of the borderless artistic performances can be seen in Warsaw until the 27th of January 2013… So who wants to see it – better hurry 😉 Both Warsaw exhibitions can be seen in Warsaw’s Royal Castle and National Museum. Entrance fee for both events – 25,- PLN

Unfortunately the web site of the National Museum is only in Polish, but HERE is a link to some discription in English 😉

Who will not make it to Poland, can go to Germany – as the exhibition will be held in Potsdam from March 2013 till June 2013. HERE is a link to some imore information about the project.

And below are some pictures I have taken during the visit at the exhibition. They are grouped in three folders:

1. Paintings

2. Sculptures

3. Goldsmithery

Enjoy 😀

Published in: on 18/11/2012 at 15:07  Leave a Comment