When you are in Gdańsk…

…try to talk to some people.

Today I read that the Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski said that he thinks the world don’t have to be a “a mix of culture and race, a world of cyclist and vegetarians, of people who focus on renewable energy and are against any form of religion”. For him, “this has nothing to do traditional Polish values”. He couldn’t be more wrong.

For the last six days Kati and I were in Gdańsk. It was our second visit to the city after our trip through Europe in summer 2015. Gdańsk was once the home of my family, but this is a long time ago. I love the city and Poland, which is why it’s heartbreaking to see what the new government is doing to the country and its image.

The Law and Justice (PiS) party’s victory in Poland’s October 25 parliamentary elections doesn’t fit with the country I know for more than 16 years now. But I don’t live there, and so you probably don’t do it too if you read this blog. That’s why we should talk to the people who live there. I think that they will show us a different Poland.

The Gdańsk we visited is a modern and open city. We didn’t see so many cyclist, but it was very cold, and I can get why nobody would take the bike at minus 12 degree Celsius. I’m not in religion, but I haven’t got a problem with people who do. Besides the churches I didn’t see any signs of religious life on the streets. Like everywhere else in the enlightened world.

On Długie Pobrzeże: the Brama Zuraw
On Długie Pobrzeże: the Brama Zuraw (Image: Tobias Schwarz, CC BY 4.0)

We saw a city that has always been a mixture of culture and race. The Długie Pobrzeże is an old harbor pier which is a stone made witness of the fact that once people from all over the world came to Gdańsk. Germans and Poles lived here for centuries together, and without nationalism it would have been more often a peaceful together.

Gdańsk is the perfect spot to discover something new, like vegan food, and to learn something old again, like living side-by-side with different cultures. We saw so many interesting restaurants and heard so many different languages in the cafés and on the streets. And everyone we get to know welcomed us in the city.

We love the city. We want to meet the people of this other Poland, the modern and open one. We don’t want to ignore the country and it’s people because of their government. That’s why we want to visit Gdańsk and other Polish cities more often in 2016. Bye teraz Gdańsk. Bye teraz Polska.

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