Sopot – a walk in the sun

On Sunday I went to the beach in Sopot to take some pictures. The day was nice, and sunny.

Sopot is a small town situated halfway between Gdańsk and Gdynia. And it is an interesting place – not only because it is Poland’s summer gossip capital (winter gossip capital of Poland is Zakopane)

For the history of Sopot – see HERE. Even though it is Wikipedia – it’s quite well written. Sopot was a birthplace of such known people as: Fritz Houtermans, or Klaus Kinski (born Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski) – (which in fact is a disputable honor – if should be any at all). Sopot however became famous between the two world wars when a famous Casino was opened here. Soon accompanying the Casino – a splendid hotel was built. It resembled (some said it had the same design) the Grand Hotel in Szczawno (Bad Salzbrunn – where Daisy von Pless visited often). The Sopot Casino Hotel was built to accommodate visitors coming eager to try their luck in gambling. Many lost their fortunes, many lost their lives too, comitting suicides, stricken with grief after losing everything at the green table. Up till today one of the park lanes nearby bears the nickname of the “lane of the hanged men”. Not only fortunes were gambled here. After Hitler gained power also the strategic information was of value. After Hitler attacked Poland in 1939 – the capitulation of the Hel Peninsula was signed in the Casino Hotel…

Today – Sopot is struggling to return to the pre-war glamor. For many years now it has been a known spa in Poland.

So whatever one would think of Sopot – it is worth coming here. See the place, walk around, feel the atmosphere. When visiting Sopot in summer – go to the nearby forests – to see the amount of shades of green… maybe to hear the music 🙂

St. Mary’s in Torun

Whenever I visit Torun, I mainly concentrate on St. Mary’s church…

It is hypnotic.

I do not treat it as a church from today’s perspective. I am amazed by its strong medieval message. We truly are dominated by the grandeur of the interior, and forced to look up. Today by looking UP – we mean looking at the splendid vaulted ceilings. But for a medieval man, it was looking farther, beyond. The ceiling of the church was Heaven itself, the site of God. In the middle ages with the very strong religiousness, it was an extremely important ideological message…

The construction of Torun’s St. Mary’s church started in … 1343. The same year as St. Mary’s Church in Gdansk, and was completed at the end of the century.

HERE is a short video of the church and here ANOTHER one… And ANOTHER

To feel the atmosphere and to inhale the ages of history – you must come to Torun 🙂

Elblag – east of Gdansk

Seldom people go there. Even the Poles consider the town to be not interesting.

And it is on the contrary.

Elbląg has been nearly completely destroyed not only by the Soviets during the last stage of war. But also by Poles – right after the fights. The still existing buildings, that survived the Red Army’s wild march were pulled down, and the good quality brick has been taken to rebuild Warsaw and Gdansk.

Such was the sad story and fate of many towns and villages in former East Prussia.

World War II did not effect the region – until the end of 1944. First there was the German frenzy of evacuation in winter 1944/1945 – sentencing their own people to death (winter and dreadful conditions) and then the march of the victorious Red Army. And finally the new people, who were settled here by the communists after the war. They were the people who were expelled by the Soviets from the lands seized from Poland after WWII… It was not their history, not their place on earth.

Still not everyone understands the rich and complicated history of this land. Still there is a lot to do as far as rebuilding is concerned (I also mean rebuilding the mentality).

But what has been already done is amazing.

For years Elbląg has been one of the biggest in Europe proving grounds for the archaeologists. Here for the last ca. 20 years the digging and research has shown such incredibly rich face of the city, that we sometimes are surpised.

Also the area – the near and far vicinities of the town revealed the secrets of the past. Some of the artifacts can be found in the Town Museum. It has been organized very interestingly – so it is worth visiting.

Elbląg today is a town often visited by Mennonites (it has still two former Mennonite Churches). Why Mennonites? Well, the land around the town we all owe to those People of Hard Work.

It also was a very important place in the earlier times.. Not speaking of the Teutons, who built here a mighty castle. Some historians say that this was to be the capital instead of Malbork. But it was important also later – in the 16th and 17th centuries it was a site of the Eastland Company… No wonder therefore that there were so many English surnames in the history of this once Hanseatic town… The history is so rich and complex, that it definitely is worth visiting the town, at least for a day, or two 😉

Today Elbląg has many fine small hotels, spelndid cuisine, and geographical situation such, that it is near everywhere from here.

Many of my tours start from Elbląg – heading to the east or nort-east of Poland.

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