Welcome to my place . . . Gdansk
Go to the shipyards, epicentre of the downfall of the Soviet-Bloc, for a crash course in revolutionary politics
Take in Gdansk town hall then maybe head for the shipyards
Michael Gannon born in Roscommon. He married Renata, a Polish woman, and they have a teenage daughter, Julia. He lives in Gdansk, Poland where he works as an official tourist guide.
What do you like about working in Gdansk?
Diversity. Gdansk is only part of a metropolitan area which includes two other urban spreads called Sopot and Gdynia, both with their own different styles and personalities. Gdansk is strikingly beautiful, spacious but cosy, architecturally blessed plus clean and green. Sopot is a sexy seaside spa resort with a nice mix of young, beautiful, old and creaky. Then there’s Gdynia – a bright, modern, airy passenger and cargo port, collectively and officially called the Tricity, three in one.
What’s the first place you bring people when they visit Gdansk?
I take them to Oliwa Cathedral, a bulging time capsule situated halfway between the airport and city centre, for a 20-minute concert played on a monster-sized, centuries-old organ. The repertoire includes sacral, classical and film music, which can soften the most hardened souls. Much of the artwork in Oliwa is some of the best and there you’ll find the resting place of the first Bishop of the Free City Of Gdansk, Edmund O Rourke, a descendent of the Earls who fled Mayo long ago.
Three things to do in Gdansk that don’t cost money
Wander round the Old Town and lap it up.
Go to the shipyards, epicentre of the downfall of the Soviet-Bloc, take the lift to the roof of the bold and bulky European Solidarity Centre for a bird’s-eye view of the lay of the land then pop into the nearby Solidarity Museum in the BHP Hall for a crash course in revolutionary politics.
Find the nearest beach (in summer of course) and try your hand at amber hunting – for best yields, it’s when the north wind blows . If it’s hot, just chill.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Gdansk?
Amber jewellery is something unique and you can get it for somebody special. Maybe get some local, flowery, ethnic Kasubian tablecloths or just a jar of regional honey from Hala Targowa ,the city’s market hall.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives the flavour of Gdansk?
Gdanskie Bowke serves up authentic Baltic food like beef tartare, herrings in cream and juicy venison steaks, soak it up with the best of grainy and white breads and wash it down with mugs of frothy local beers in a laid-back but happening riverside setting. Service is top-notch, decor stylish but not stiff and the prices that won’t break the bank.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Gdansk’s role in history?
From the water take a trip on a ship with guide included in the price and sail along the ancient Prussian river Motawa that joins the majestic Slavic Vistula and see and hear the stories unfold; Westerplatte is the one that stands out and matters most. €15 and a couple of hours well spent.
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