The story in pictures of a trip to Rameswaram..

Pamban Bridge


In the Crowd but Different

There are times when you see someone who stands out from the crowd and then it feels great to have a camera!

While walking through some streets, I found this gem below. Although there was no crowd here, these “two” ladies would have stood out even in a sea of people!

And another time, one gets some pictures without working for it. Like this one in red jacket who kind of photo-bombed in my otherwise quite normal photo. I think at that time, I was a bit irritated as I’d been trying to take a picture of the palace with some difficulty as it had begun to rain. But later, I kept the picture for the contrast it provided. Reminded me of Matrix scene with the training video in which there is a woman in a red dress :).

For more such “standing out of the crowd” kind of pictures, take a look here.

Verona contd..

In the last post, I ended with the story of Isabella and Corrado but that’s not the end of my stories of Verona.

Continuing on our exploration of Verona, we came across a lovely square with Fra Costera – a monk standing on a pedestal above the arch with a stone ball in hand. The legend says that this ball will drop if an honest person passes by under the statue. It has of course not fallen down so far ever, for who is really honest in this world?

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Fra Costera waiting for a honest person

At the center of the square, Dante stands looking at everyone. Verona was the place where Dante seeked refuge when he was exiled from Florence.  Probably as a gratitude, he dedicated the Paradise part of his masterpiece – Divine Comedy – to Verona, more specifically to the Cangrande – the library of Verona which is on the left hand side in the picture below.

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Dante in contemplation

At some places we saw the symbol of city – a dog with a ladder. And almost everywhere we could see the colors of the city – red and white. See the cathedral below with the red and white stones to get an idea.

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The Duomo of Verona

We came across Emilio Salgari at the bibliothek, who was the creator of Sandokan – the 19th century fictional pirate


Creator of Sandokan

We passed by the Church of St. Thomas where Mozart played a concert while still a child, Porta Leoni, the church of St. Fermo and St. Rustico, a street going into the Veronetta – small Verona. On the hills, we could see the Medieval Military buildings.


Our tour ended at the oldest bridge of Verona – the Ponte Pietra. You can see the different colored stones there – the white ones are from the original bridge and had fallen into the river when the German army blew the bridge during the second world war. The locals pulled out those stones painstakingly from the river and rebuilt the bridge over a period of 10 years piece by piece.

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Ponte Pietra

Then our guide sat down to answer our queries and give suggestions on what we could do next depending upon our interests. We thanked her with tips and took our leave.

Since we had only about 2 hours left to return to our bus, we decided to do the touristy task of visiting Juliet. I wanted to see the Cathedral first so three of us took a different route than the other three co-passengers from the bus. The Cathedral was nice – not as magnificent as in Florence or Milan but serene. A service was ongoing inside as it was a Sunday, which felt so lovely.

Then we found our way towards Juliet. I couldn’t catch her alone for even one moment. So here she is with someone who also, probably like me, felt inappropriate to grab Juliet’s breast which is supposedly the thing one should do here. I wonder who came up with that stupid idea in the first place. A side note – the same statue of Juliet – albeit not golden – stands in Munich too!


Juliet with her admirers

Then we went to grab something to eat before heading back to the bus and call it a day.

It was a long journey back home but the beautiful sunny day in Verona somehow kept the heart warm when I had to step out into the freezing cold night to get to home…


The Journey Back..



After the tiring day at Venice, the tour came to the camping site and it was time to get some rest. The bus was supposed to start early morning so I tried to make the best of the time by sleeping as soon as possible. But I somehow woke up too early and couldn’t get back to sleep. Anyway, finally after everyone was ready, we started on our return journey. The great thing – we stopped at Verona. That was wonderful because of two reasons – a) the sun was out b) we’d left the mad crowd in Venice.

Once we got down, I rushed towards the place where the walking tour was supposed to start from. Having missed the opportunity in Venice, I was quite determined to not miss it here. So I reached the venue along with the two other girls that I had made friends with in the tour. We had some time to kill. The tea and some french fries at the McD there was not hurting anyone, so we sat down to get ourselves fuelled for the tour.


Then we started the tour, quite on time, when the guide and all the people who wanted to take the tour were assembled.

The guide told us Verona means “terrace on the river”. The city is on the river Adige and has a history of more than 2000 years! It was a Roman settlement in the 1st century BC. The most important ruling family was the Scaligeri family (also known as Scala) which ruled for around a 100 years between the 13th and 14th centuries. Then it came under the rule of Venice in 1405 AD. Later, it was taken over by Napoleon, then Austria before becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. It is a Unesco world heritage site today. Quite a history!

So the first thing that the guide showed us was this huge arch with a clock on it. This is the entrance to the old city. It is called Portoni della Bra.


Portoni della Bra

Then we made our way to the statue of the Bard who had chosen Verona as the setting of the romantic tragedy “Romeo and Juliet”.

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We briefly passed from the Arena – which is like a mini colloseum. We got to know that the word “Arena” actually means “sand” which was spread in such theaters to absorb the blood of the fighters (men, animals..all the same).

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The Arena

Then the guide took us to the Castel Veccio also called Castello Scaligero. The walls of the fort were great overlooking the river and seemed quite popular for photos.


Castel Veccio with King Tut!

There were two rulers from the Scaligero family with the same name – Cangrande – first one was good and the second one as cruel as they come  (nicknamed – Can Rabbioso – Angry Dog). He was assassinated by his brother. The rule of the Scaligero family didn’t last for too long after that. Within 25 years or so, Verona was part of the Venetian rule.

In 1805, the castle was used as the Barracks for Napoleon’s army.

On the road close to the castle, we saw some embedded white marble pieces and our guide asked us to make a note of them. Then we reached a beautiful stone arch overlooking the river. It was Arc de Gavia – Gavia being an influential Roman family in 1st century. Napoleon’s army had dismantled the arch to make way for advancing easily.  100 years later, the people of Verona collected the pieces and resurrected the arch in front of the river. The marble pieces seen earlier were at the original location of the arch.

We reached the Jupiter Gate which must have had the temples of Roman Gods in the past. The San Seno Gate was where the Roman soldiers holding bags collected tax there – hence the name Porta Borsa (Gate of Bag). Once we went through that gate, we also saw a small piece of wall which had the Head of Medusa, thereby confirming that there must have been some Roman temples in that area.

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Porta Borsa

Then the guide showed us the place of origin of something very Italian – the Pandorro – which is the traditional Italian Christmas Cake! Domingo Meligati made the first Pandorro in 1894 in his bakery on this street.


Home of the Pandorro

We passed Piazza Herbe which was the ancient Roman city center and the market for spices, the column of San Marco which shows the Lion with open book indicating it was constructed in the time of peace, the Justice Square – with a statue of a lady pointing a sword towards the skies asking for justice for the 14000 people killed in 1915 by Austrian armies in the WWI (in the old time, there used to be executions of convicts here).

We also saw the Rib of a whale hanging between two buildings on a street. It was actually the advertisement for the pharmacy that has been there since the 1700s when the whale bones were supposed to have medicinal properties!

Since we were in the city of the romantic tragedy, we came across another symbol of doomed lovers. It was a well. The protagonists of this story were Corrado and Isabella from the 16th century. The story goes that Corrado pursued Isabella incessantly but Isabella played hard to get. Then one day a fed up Corrado accused her of being as cold as the water in that well. Isabella asked him to jump into the well and see for himself if the water was indeed as cold as he thought. She was probably indicating to him that she wasn’t as cold but as the young men in love in the world of stories do, he took it literally and jumped into the well. Isabella, overcome by this turn of events, jumped into the well, to be forever with Corrado.

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At this story, I should probably stop and continue in my next post with the remaining things I want to write about Verona. Until next, arrivederci!

Venice Reloaded

I had been to Venice a really long time ago. It is an interesting city but all I recall is that I was just too exhausted and the weather was too grey for my liking.

As fate would have it, I was there again recently and – believe it or not, with the same conditions – I was exhausted and the weather was again – GREY.

Somehow Venice doesn’t seem to even try to impress me :-).

I don’t know what can I say has changed in the city between my first trip and now. I saw the same canals, the same gondoliers, the same crowds, and the same pigeons…

The Lone Gondolier then


The Lone Gondolier now

Coincidentally, this fits the theme of the photo-challenge.

But at least one thing was different – this time I saw the Carnival madness in town.

Anyway, the dressed up people graciously posed for photos.


All Dressed Up

Alright, that’s a very well done scary makeup (and there was a whole zombie army of those)

It’s kudos to the management there that there was no stampede and nothing untoward seemed to occur. The crowd was so huge that it reminded me of some of the famous pilgrimage places in India! If you don’t know how it is, then consider yourself lucky. You are not missing anything.


And the Crowd

I don’t know if Venice would call me again but if it does, then I do hope that it would be in better conditions. As they say, “third time is a charm”!

Poland – End of the Journey

At the end of the evening’s tour, I was tired – both physically and mentally, and very cold. It was interesting to have met some new people who had joined the tour – two from South Africa, a few from India are the ones I can recall. There was a girl from Brazil who walked with me towards the tram station. We were going in the same direction. She told me that the next day she was going to take a trip to the concentration camp. I never wanted to go there – having read about it is shocking enough – and because of the emotional toll that the tour had already taken on me, I am quite sure that my decision was right. So I thought that I would probably go to some museums etc. the next day.

But – as fate would have it – on the 1st of November, All Saint’s Day – almost everything in Poland is closed! I didn’t know that, else I would have planned my days differently. The concentration camp was open though – quite strange – isn’t it? Anyway, so my hopes of being able to go to the salt mines were shattered. Then I thought of climbing the Wawel Hill again because I read somewhere that in November, the castle museum is allowing free entrance. Did that and found that it being the All Saint’s Day – the museum was closed.


The day was getting colder and more difficult to pass. Then I looked up at google for some help. And like a good friend, it did. I found that the city zoo was open. Having nothing else to do, I descended the hill and made my way towards the bus that would take me to the zoo. It was a long journey – had to make a change in between – which was like a rural stop with no shelter but just a stone bench on which I sat. There seemed to be nobody around although there were many houses, the breeze was quite cold, the tree branches swayed and swished and except for the occasional cars passing by, it felt like something has happened and I am the only human being left on earth! Thankfully, a couple arrived and then the bus appeared as well. I reached the zoo and it was such a picturesque route through the hilly forests – all colored by the master strokes of the autumnal brush. I am sure if the sun would have been out, this would have been totally magical – justifying the name of the penultimate bus stop – Baba Jaga (the witch from the East European folk tales)! As probably it was a festival day, there were not too many people there. It is a big lovely zoo but that day the animals seemed to be lethargic with the cold weather in the same way that the people did. I was feeling kind of sorry for them to be trapped there. But probably they would have more survival challenges in the wild than in the zoo. Not justifying the captivity but just contemplating.


Anyway, so after spending the zoo and getting chilled to the bone, I decided to head back. The bus was already there and I went back to the city. Found a nice Indian restaurant to have some warm lunch and tea. Then went back to my room to take some rest. At around 6 pm, there was supposed to be a walking tour of the Macabre Krakow.


I had planned to meet a friend D – who lives in Krakow, but I didn’t know what time he would be back to the city as he had gone to spend the All Saints’ Day with his family. So I went to the tour, thinking that if D comes, then I would leave the tour midway. It was quite good for me that D sent a message just as I was listening to the guide and thinking that I don’t want to go on that tour else I would get nightmares later. So D kind of rescued me :-). Then we went to get a drink in the main square while waiting for his girlfriend A, who joined us in some time. I was curious about the tradition of going to the cemeteries on this day and asked if they could take me to one. They very graciously agreed and in the process, poor D had to let go of his plans for a dinner although he was hungry, for A mentioned that the cemeteries might close if we delayed. There were special tram services that day to take people from one cemetery to the other! Shows how important that festival is for the people there. Basically the day is about remembering the saints, martyrs and deceased members of your family. The cemeteries were lit up with thousands of candles and there were people everywhere, unlike my experience during the day while waiting for the bus.


I was given a candle by A to light as well. That was so kind and thoughtful of her! I really appreciate it when people include me in their traditions. Makes me feel welcome and not an aloof outsider! I lit it up on a grave that seemed like the candles there were about to go out.

Then D and A walked me back to my room while D had to satisfy his hunger with a doner on the way. It was late and super cold but the warm gesture of D and A made the day so much better! I had something to eat in my room and went to sleep.

The next day I had my flight back. The morning was a bit hectic as I couldn’t find the key of my suitcase anymore – but that’s another story. I managed to get out in time for my flight and all was fine. I went for my customary Indian food at the restaurant I like very much but it wasn’t up to the expectations that day. Then as the bus I had to take still had time, I went to a nearby mall and then some time later, was on my way home. That was the end of my first trip to Poland. Hope to be there once again, albeit in less cold weather :-).

Polish Dancing – Krakowiak (contd..)

I wrote down a few stories of Krakow in the previous post. It’s a wonderful city and I wanted to see every bit of it despite the painfully cold weather. The Tuesday that was my first day of sightseeing there, was a bit windy and therefore, felt much more colder than it actually was. So, the best thing to do – keep walking and added bonus – learning more stories of the city.


A horse carriage waiting for riders at the market square, Cloth Hall building behind the P sign

Continuing from the last set of stories.

Fifth Story

The main market square – Rynek Glowny has retained its shape since the medieval ages. However, the level has grown by 6 meters! Why? That’s because of – guess what? Garbage disposal. In the houses, what would now be the cellar, would have been the ground floor in the 13th century. In 2005, an excavation led to the discovery of the settlement that must have been destroyed by the Tatars in the 13th century. There is an underground museum today there called the Rynek Underground which was opened in 2010 and has a great multimedia system to explain everything about that settlement. How the people lived in those days, what they wore, their tools, the toys, the clothes – every big and small detail is displayed and explained.

A terrible and yet, fascinating piece of the exhibition is getting to see how suspected vampires were buried in those days! If you are curious, then I must tell you – it was not a comfortable position as can be seen in the open graves displayed there with the bones of the legs and hands arranged at unnatural angles. (Thinking back, I realized that I was there on Halloween day, so I guess it’s not by chance that I was getting the dose of spooky!).

A tip – the museum is open for free entry on Tuesdays!


A man in the multimedia clip telling you to move on and not stare at him (after you watch an argument between him and a woman in the street)

Sixth Story

How can one leave the market square without the story of the Brave Trumpeter of Krakow? So, there I was – listening to the Hejnal (Hymn for Mary) being played on the trumpet by someone from a window at the top of the St. Mary’s Cathedral. It is played every hour in all four directions but it stops abruptly.  Now there was once a trumpeter who played his trumpet for the hejnal as well as important announcements for the city in the 13th century. One day, as he looked out of his window on the top of the cathedral, he saw a big cloud of dust coming closer and closer to the city. And then on looking carefully, he could see the invading Tatars. What could he do to save his city? It would be a waste of the precious time to climb down and alert someone. So he thought may be if he started played the Hejnal over and over, people would surely take notice. And he did that. First nobody understood but slowly it dawned that it was a warning and the people prepared themselves and defended the city. But also, the Hejnal stopped as suddenly as it had started because alas, the Tatars saw the Trumpeter and shot an arrow to his throat! After the battle, one of the friends of the trumpeter went looking for him and found him dead with the throat pierced by the Tatar arrow but still holding his trumpet as if ready to play more!

The story of the brave trumpeter is commemorated till today with the ritual of playing the trumpet and stopping abruptly by the people of Krakow. There are three conditions for becoming the trumpeter of the tower today:

  1. You should be a man (yeah, yeah, I know)
  2. You should be a member of the fire-brigade
  3. Most importantly, you should know how to play a trumpet.
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St. Mary’s Basilica from where the Trumpeter plays the Hejnal (top of the left tower)


See the window that’s opening for the trumpeter?

Side note: The trumpeters have to stay at the top of the tower for a few days at a time. So it has all the facilities that one might need to live like in one’s home. I don’t know about the internet connection though.

Seventh Story

Now since I started writing about the cathedral, it is important to know that the entrance for tourists is different from the entrance of the worshippers – makes sense so as not to disturb the ones who are going to pray for that is the main purpose of a place of worship. One can go inside for free and admire the magnificence. But for going up to the tower and to get close to the most famous piece of work there – the altarpiece by Wit Swotsz (German name – Veit Stoss), there is a small fee.

Now Veit was a renowned sculptor from Nuremberg, Germany. His fame reached Poland and somewhere in the 15th century he was commissioned to make this altarpiece for the cathedral in Krakow. He moved there with his family and worked on this piece for 12 years! After living in Krakow for 20 years, he decided to leave the family business there to his son Andreas who was also quite skilled and returned back to Nuremberg with the rest of his family. Mmay be he was missing the German Bread – which I have seen people from Germany missing when they are abroad for too long or may be Poland was getting too cold (it was definitely super cold when I was there) – who knows why he went back. But it was not as rosy for him when he went back – got arrested twice, getting branded on the cheeks was prohibited from leaving Nuremberg, getting on the wrong side of the city council but being in the good books of the Emperor Maximilian saved his neck. He did carry out some interesting pieces of work despite all the drama for it was probably difficult to stop a good artist of some international acclaim, from making art.

I didn’t get a picture of the altarpiece from too close but you can see it at the back in the picture below.

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Inside the St. Mary’s Basilica

What else did I do? Ah yes, I went to see some more churches from inside to both admire them as well as to get some respite from the cold weather, while waiting to go for the next tour that would start at around 6 PM. Despite the freezing cold, I was quite keen on going for that tour, for one never knows what would “tomorrow” bring.  The stories from that tour – in the next post. Until next..”Do widzenia”.

Polish Dancing – Krakowiak

On the evening of an icy, windy Monday, I boarded the flight from Gdansk to reach the next beautiful city of Poland – Krakow. Upon arriving at the airport, it was easy to follow the signs and find the way to the train that runs between the city center and the airport except at the point where a sign was kept on the floor (like a board) and a girl standing in front of it obliterated the view. So in the confusion, I missed the first train by two minutes. The next one was after half an hour, which I then boarded and reached the city center in about 20 minutes. From there, with the help of google maps, I walked to the room I had booked. I had informed the property and the receptionist was waiting for me till that late even though it was not a 24 hour reception kind of place (it was around 11 PM). She handed me the keys, explained everything and then left. I was too cold and tired to go get anything to eat (although a 24 hour supermarket was just round the corner). So I just snacked on something I had in my bag and went to sleep. Had a restful sleep. In the morning, I searched the net and found a restaurant close by that offered gluten-free options for breakfast. So I got ready and reached that restaurant. It was a very modern themed restaurant. I ordered something but it took too long to come. So I had to gobble it up quickly instead of savoring it, as I was getting late for the walking tour that was about to start.


The Fancy Breakfast

And then I sped towards the Florian’s Gate, where the tour was supposed to start. Thankfully, I reached in time and other people were also just getting in. We had a pleasant guide who started with the first story of Krakow.

First Story

In the 10th century, there was a king with 5 sons. Probably he seemed to consider all of them equally worthy of the kingdom, or he couldn’t decide who would take the kingdom after his death. So the kingdom got divided into 5 parts. Thus began the struggle of 200 years when the kingdom kept getting divided over generations. Then in 1320, Wladislav I “Lokietek” (the Elbow High) from Krakow, reunited all these fragments. For 400 years after that, every king of Poland was crowned in Krakow. The coronation route would start from the St. Florian’s church. The church was renovated several times and the current look is from the 18th century.


Street musicians in traditional attire under Florian’s gate

There were 7 gates to the city but the only way to enter was through the Barbican – which was the defense gate since the 15th century. There used to be a huge moat around that which has now been transformed into a beautiful park – the Planty.

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Autumn in the Planty

Today, there still remains a small part of the city wall with St. Florian’s Gate and the Barbican due to the efforts of a Professor named Feliks Radwanski at the beginning of 19th century when the city officials wanted to demolish the city walls. The reasons given for preserving these ranged from logical to hilarious. I don’t know which one finally convinced the authorities. One of the arguments given was that if the wall was broken, then the Northern winds blowing till the Main Market Square will knock people off their feet, while exposing women and children to influenza, rheumatism, and perhaps even to paralysis. However, the funniest one of all was that the wind would blow up women’s skirts and who would want that inappropriate thing to happen :-).


Tourists in front of Florian’s Gate

Second Story

In the photo of Florian’s Gate, do you see the McDonald’s logo? That’s the first McD that opened in Krakow. The guide told us that when it first opened, it was like the symbol of a huge transformation for the country – from communism to capitalism! The queue was legendary – people waited for hours to get the taste of the big mac. The significance was not because of the taste or quality of McD burgers (a controversial topic), but because of the freedom of choice after living in the communist regime for so long.

Third Story

Going back to 14th century, after king Wladyslaw I, his son Cassimir the Great or as he is called in Polish – Kazimierz, became the king. He was a very strong king but the last one of the Piast dynasty as he didn’t have any sons. A huge contribution from him was the founding of the University of Krakow – which he could establish with the blessing of the pope but only on agreeing that there won’t be a theology department in the university! We don’t know the exact reason for that but one reason could be that the king needed lawyers and accountants instead of theologians. Another reason stated is the pressure from the pope to not have that department. Now, after Cassimir’s demise, the kingdom went to his nephew from Hungary – Louis I. He also didn’t have any sons but had a daughter – Hedwig (Jadwiga) who was then crowned king of Poland (yes, you read it right – King). That happened because of the work (read – giving privileges to noblemen) done by Louis during his lifetime to persuade the noblemen to allow his daughters inheriting the throne. The kings of Poland needed to be “elected” by the noblemen of Poland, unlike in other countries where this was a hereditary practice. The kings therefore, granted a lot of privileges to the noblemen in return for their loyalty.

So, Jadwiga became the king and then as a religious-political move, she married the king of Lithuania Jogaila when he pledged to convert to Roman Catholicism, thus making Lithuania a catholic country. The king was baptized as Wladyslaw Jogiello and he became the co-ruler of Poland with Jadwiga.

Jadwiga had a life full of political turmoil but despite that, she did a lot for the University of Krakow which became the Jagiellonian University. She funded it with her own jewellery. The people of Poland venerated her during her lifetime and even after, and in she was canonized in 1997 by the Pope.

Wawel Cathedral where Jadwiga was coronated and buried

Fourth Story

Now that I mentioned the Wawel Cathedral, let me tell you the most iconic legend of Krakow. There was once, a long time ago, a terrible dragon who lived on the Wawel Hill. He had to be appeased with a regular diet of cattle and once a month treat of a young maiden . Then the day came when there were no more maidens left except the king’s daughter Wanda.  The king in desperation, announced that whoever gets rid of the dragon, would get the princess as his bride. Several people tried and of course failed. Then came forth a shoemaker called Skuba. He stuffed a sheep with sulphur and left it outside the cave of the dragon. The dragon ate it and because of the sulphur, became so thirsty that he started drinking the water from the river Vistula. But the thirst just wouldn’t get quenched. When the dragon had drunk almost half of the waters of the river, he could drink no more and exploded! Thus came the end of the terrible dragon, and of course, the princess married the shoemaker and everyone lived happily ever after!


The Story in the Souvenir

There are two huge bones hanging today at the entrance of the Wawel Cathedral, assumed to be the bones of the dragon; the guide told us that they actually belong to a whale and a mammoth.

With this, I can finally bring this post to an end (has been in draft mode for soooo long) and write the remaining memories of Krakow in the next one.

Polish Dancing – Polonaise (finale)

It was a cold windy day, with occasional rain and with the sun sometimes peeking out from between the clouds. So it felt very nice when we would stop to see a sight while being in the sun. This was the case when we stood on the bridge on the river Motlawa outside the Green Gate – which was at the end of the main street (Long Market). It was built in the 16th century.

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Green Gate and Palace

It includes a palace which was made for the king. Funnily – neither the gate was green nor the king ever stayed in that palace! Why you ask? The gate probably got its name from the wooden draw bridge that used to be on the river here which must have been mossy, hence green. As for the king not staying there – that is more easy to guess. The place had fishermen selling their fishes, hence, it must have been very smelly. Sulphur was a major item being traded – another smelly issue. And thirdly, the place was lined with taverns where loud, brash sailors would spend their time when in town. Definitely not a place fit for the king. So the palace was there just for namesake.

Thereafter, we moved along the river, towards another landmark of Gdansk – the Crane.


It had two huge wheels that we could see. Four heavily built men used to stand in each wheel (probably like a hamster), and thus, the wheels rotated (gravity played an important role). The chains linked to the wheels thus, uploaded or offloaded the cargo from the boats. It was a legit job at the harbor – no prisoners or slaves were involved. The workers got a daily payout of money and beer! Yes, you read it right – beer. The reason being the high calories in beer which were required to replenish the energy for the workers (besides being better than unclean water).

While walking on the streets we also got to know about some of the famous people born in Gdansk – Fahrenheit being one of them. The current President of the European Council – Donald Tusk is from there.

On that note, let me come to the 20th century. We reached this building which was the Post Office of Free city of Gdansk established in 1920, after the Treaty of Versailles. Now this post office was unusual than others because it was not just for post. The postal workers were secretly trained for defending the city.


And on the 1st of September, 1939, 4 AM, the fears came true when the German army invaded Poland. So this became the place where the first shots of WWII were fired. The German army was taken aback because they were not expecting any resistance, it being a post office with just 56 people! The battle continued until 3 PM when the Germans declared a ceasefire, expecting the defenders to surrender. The brave defenders decided not to surrender, unaware (because of the phone and electricity lines having been cut by the Germans already in the beginning of the battle) that the whole country was under attack by then and the army won’t be able to come for their help. But they couldn’t continue for long, after the basement was filled with gasoline and set to fire with a grenade! First the director came out with a white flag – shot by the frustrated German army,  then the commandant tried again with a white flag –  same fate as the director…then the rest were allowed to surrender. The German army had brought along journalists, thinking they would have occupied the post office in no time and could use this for their propaganda material. But the bravery of the soldiers didn’t make it that easy. What came out of this was the coverage of the whole battle. Not that it helped Poland but just that this unfortunate time of history was recorded in pictures. The surrendered soldiers were not immediately slaughtered but later were court martialled and put to death.

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Fingerprints of surrendered soldiers on the left wall and the photo of that event straight ahead

After that we all know what happened in WWII.

At this place, the tour ended and we thanked our guide and took our leave.  I wanted to go look at the second part of the history – post war and hence, the Solidarity Museum but unfortunately, it being a Monday, the museums were closed. Now that I think of it, I could have taken the walking tour about it but I was tired and cold. May be some other time for that. So I went to get myself some lunch and looked around a bit, went inside the church, braved the rain, got some Amber and then went back to my hotel. Relaxed there for some time before taking off for the flight that I had to take to go to my next destination – Krakow. Thus, comes to end my very slowly performed Polonaise.