walkabouts in gdansk and stockholm

walkabout in Danzig/Gdansk

meet at the Neptun-fountain at dluga targa. walk dluga-street and take first small street to the right. move into a deserted big backyard until you find the huge wall paintings there.

a monumental picture of two worlds and I just guess it is propaganda-art . to the right you have antique philosopers, you have the nice comic-figure, you have the blue police protecting the people and on top you have a guy showing his red heart .  on the other side of the machinery-wall you have the mc-donald world, the world of betraying luxury dolce gabbana (DG) on just a naked man`s underwear, the blue police suppressing the people and the top is dominated by weapon.

keep on walking to piwna street and turn right there. continue to chlebnicka street untill you come to a red-brick-house with stairs.  on the front it sayes ” towarish ….” but the pub is called CYK . it containes the athmospere of the 80-ies containing also the ”solidarnosz-propaganda art” .

communist-time ended 1989 when the workers-union-movement solidarnoc succeeded in demanding free elections in poland. solidarnoc was conducting strikes and mass-manifestations at the Lenin-shipyard in Gdansk. those times are still alive in this pub CYK . and a big wall-painting inside shows the solidarnocz-symbol : a bus with unionists on the way to strike,  demonstration , democracy.

on the other side of the street you see a tunnel-valve.  going through that and looking through that you see a small white house with blackened wooden bars. if you move closer to it you will find Nicolas Copernicus and Anna Schilling on the sidewall of that house from the 14th century that was not destroyed of the granade-bombing.

the dome of mary was also built in 14th century. its huge structure was ment to lift up the people to god and demonstrate the power of the church. the building-technique was revolutionary , the gothic-brick-architecture managed to build cathedrals much faster than the limestone-cathedrals in  southern europe. funny thing only was that the church had to use sciences like mathmatics that she denied in her religious preachings.  thus a man like Copernicus who was a high church-official was schooled and skilled in sciences like astronomy.  but when he wrote his revolutionary handwritten book about the revolving of planets and signs he was afraid to publish it. (it was then printed in Germany near Wittenberg, Martin Luthers town).

Anna Schilling was the daughter of a Dutch merchant and she lived in this house. when handymen renovated the space under the roof in the 1990ties they found a wooden chest with annas name incarved. the love-affair between Nicolas and Anna was well known in Danzig. it was a scandal and the church condemned it roughly. but this time Copernicus did not step back. he wrote that he will serve the people and the town just as good as he could …

walking down mariacka street you see that there are still busy merchants and handycrafts-people. it was amber, the gold of the north, very much longed for for jewellery in the middle-ages because of its lightness in weight and easyness in carving.

at the end of the street, or rather the beginning of the street you find a tower ( with a good view from on top ) and a gate. the gate was fortified in former times , closed at night while the ware-houses and grain-stores on the other side of the water were protected by dogs and bridges closed down at night. the city of Danzig was protected by the `order of the teutonic knights` and their symbol, the crown and the two crosses under, is still on flags , heraldic signs and in the steel gulley-locks . yet the knights and their big fortress were not very popular and there were constant conflicts between the town with its free rights (rechtsstadt) . free trade would be better in the hand of the city itself and so in the 16th century the order of knights left protection over to the city and the big fortress was taken down to the ground, while the teutonics order`s fortress marienburg ( marlborg) was and is still there. from that time on the free and hanse town Danzig with its german population was turning more and more towards the state of Prussia on one hand and the state of Poland on the other hand. those politics turned out to be good for Danzig.

passing the gate and turning to the right at the waterfront you will find the restaurant ”gdanski bowke”.

this ”bowke” is a kind of original-type in all the harbour-towns. dressed in a kind of a sailor`s fine-outfit he just as well can be a harbour-worker, stowing from ships into warehouses or just strolling around the quay and looking for a job or hanging at a pub. the name ”bowke” is close to ”boy”, ”pojke” in swedish ”rabauke” in german ( the latter being closer to a kind of rough type ).     here we turn around and move towards the crane.

another original remembered is Paul the ferryman of the motlawa-ferry, at those times going on ropes.     starting from the other side a quite drunk guy, Matull, jumped on board at the last second, screaming and shouting that he is well paying (some pennies) and can demand service and so on and so on.   an upcoming steamboat makes Paul tighten the backrope and Matull falls over bord. splishing in the water he shouts ” I cannot swim, I cannot swim, I`m drunk I`m drunk !” Paul takes out a flat liquorbottle from his backpockets, takes a sip and mutters ”me can`t swim neither and me is drunk too” but me never would make such fuss about it .”   he grips a peaking-hook and fishes up the dripping Matull.   reaching the other side Paul asks: ” tell me sweet Matull why do you jump into the cold water ?” ”wwelll, I was well a bit dddrrrunkkkk ” .  ” me too, ” muttered Paul , ”but me never would jump in the water  for that   …. ”

the crane built in 1444 was the worlds biggest crane in the world at that time. it could lift two tons of goods but could also lift up the ships masts. it operated with muscle-power by workers in the big wheels. the hanse-trading-union between the baltic towns was still powerfull and Danzig had about 2200 ships per year arriving and leaving. watertransport into the country was floating on flat boats . the crane inside also has small exhibitions about the medievial life inside the houses. (entry-fee is very small money).  moving on alongside the water we pass the museum of boatbuilding which belongs together with the maritim museum on the other side of the water.  we can continue to the hilton hotel and the water-taxi-bridge. watertaxi is subfinance by the european union and hilton-hotel has a big covered swimmingpool and hot bath on top of the roof. for a whole day untill 10pm you pay 150zl as a non-resident, including towels. when poland joined the european union especially Gdansk was focussing on small and middle companies. Gdansk is a center for architecture and handicraft. 7000 conferences took place here last year . our little walk now can be done besides the water untill the holyghost-gate ( svietego ducha) or on a parallell backgate.

in 1944 the whole town was grenade-bombed ( by the Russians against the Germans) and 90% fell to ashes. the wooden inner-construction of the medieval houses let them burn and collaps easily.  but pictures and drawings of the houses were saved.   from 1945 on people from other parts of poland moved in into the city. the new settlers took away two million cubic meters of rubble and debris. the first plan in 1946 was to build a modernistic, effective centre of trade and administration. but many members of the city-council were against that : many fundaments had survived, some fassades too, many peaces of art had been saved before the bombing and a lot of stone-sculpture-art had been found and rediscovered under the ruins. so in 1952 the polish communist government was following those arguments and decided to rebuild the town piece by piece. town-archeologists, the university and various sections of handycraft-unions worked together. the inner house- constructions are now of concrete and steel while the interiours are often genuine craftsmenship.

the small scale of he houses and streets is still favoring small-scale economy. its small cornershops. small pubs and restaurants allthough the supermarket- and restaurant-chaines are gaining space.   a very small pub is ”duscek” at swietego ducha 120/122 where the locals still play music .  in summertime on the ”beischlag”, that word cannot be translated because a thing like that is not existing anywhere else than in Danzig/Gdansk. its a step-up-terrasse or floor-balcony , stone- and sculpture-fenced in.      there are no plastic-chairs or -tables allowed outside (by polish law).  I hope this pub survives just like the spirit and origin of this town Danzig/Gdansk.


walkabout  in the old town (gamla stan)  of Stockholm

Stockholm was founded by earl Birger Jarl , as a military post at lake-mälarens narrowest water-passage.  it was put up as a hinder for the warrioring folks from east over the Baltic sea.  being a fortified place it then attracted tradesmen from the hansa-union, mostly from lübeck, danzig,  hamburg. the  decorated merchant-houses in the upper part of town  demonstrate the wealthyness by trade.   then from the 16th century on Stockholm changed from a trading-city into the capitol of Sweden , the royal castel and the house of the gentry (riddarhuset) and the bigcurch (storkyrkan) taking over the picture and demanding space.   yet the stockexchange at stortorget and the smallshop-area at köpmannagatan (the tradesman-street) are living reminders and follow-ups of that former period.


walkabout starts at bus 53 s stop riddarhustorget . (53 you find on map 1, ). cross the street to Stora Nygatan, walk up to the museum of living history (free entry there) and wirströms pub ( free live Music there monday-saturday from nine o clock p.m.).
turn left into gåsgränd, check lilla Jerusalem with reasonable-priced food and dive under to Västerlånggatan. avoid Västerlånggatan as much as possible because its the mainstream-tourist street. turn left on västerlånggatan, turn right at storkyrkobrinken and turn right again into Prästgatan. Breathe out walking narrow and calm prästgatan  . turn left at solgränd and reach up to stortorget. meet bunches of tourists there and take to köpmannagatan on the opposite side. Before reaching up to ”st.george and the drake”-statue, turn into Själagårdsgatan. promenade it until Svartmannagatan (the black mens street, called after some monks with black hoods ).                            marble-plate : tradesman fuhrmann donated this  house to  the church

go down Södra Bennickebrinken, Österlånggatan and reach to Järntorget . there is good choice to be sitting outside some coffeehouse or restaurant and enjoy streams of people passing by, taking pictures, meeting …  . the bronce-statue is Evert Taube a famous Swedish folksong-songwriter.        if you continue across Järntorget you will find a busstop for bus 53 after some hundred meters close to the water.



3 reaktion på “walkabouts in gdansk and stockholm

  1. Once in awhile, I drive bus numer 53 and by a coincidence (we will see….) I will take you to this place and I never mind crazy legs like above…

    / the bus driver Perka

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