Posts Tagged With: Amsterdam

Gdansk, Poland: The Beginning And The End

Snowy Gdansk

Snowy Gdansk

The Old Town section of Gdansk is very beautiful. But the thing that surprised me about it the most is how it looks so much like Amsterdam without the canals.

I learned that Dutch Mennonites built the city and were a big part of the population from the 16th to the early 20th Century. They built the city to resemble Amsterdam. Neighboring Germany also played an important role in the development and architecture of Gdansk, which was once a German city under the name Danzig. Adolf Hitler used the loss of Gdansk to Poland as a pretext to attack Poland, which was at the time allied with France and Britain.

And so began World War II.

The city is also where the Solidarity movement against Communist rule began. That movement is said to have emboldened others in the Soviet Communist Bloc, three months later leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Much of Gdansk, particularly the Old Town, was destroyed by Russian and Allied forces who attacked German forces occupying the city. When Poland decided to rebuild the Old Town in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it made a political decision to rebuild in the Flemish-Dutch architecture instead of the Germanic-style construction. So today Old Town looks more like a town in the Netherlands than one in Germany. Gdansk does still have houses and buildings reminiscent of ones in Germany and can be found in neighborhoods untouched by Allied bombings.

 To look at Old Town today one cannot imagine it has been rebuilt.

The reconstruction was done using the same bricks, painstakingly putting the pieces back together like a jigsaw puzzle. The place is truly beautiful, especially this time of year with the snow and Christmas lights.

I took a walk in a snowfall in the Old Town and these are just some of the images.

Click on the photo above to see more images I uploaded to my Facebook page.


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The Oregon State University Traveling Wristband

A traveling band

I didn’t think much of it at the time my friend Ralph gave me the bright orange Oregon State University wristband. It was last year during summer. I had just launched a new public relations business and left the United States for Amsterdam to kick start the company. It was fantastic living in Amsterdam. Every day , I rode my bicycle along beautiful canals and narrow streets lined with period homes. Amsterdam has always been one of my favorite cities. So it was great to use it as my base to the rest of Europe. That summer, I traveled across the continent to Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain and back to Holland. In one day, in two countries – Italy and France – I saw two of the biggest masterpieces by Leonardo DaVinci – The Last Supper in Milan and the Mona Lisa in Paris. Absolutely fantastic day!

When I got back to Amsterdam, I had only a few days before I was to return to the United States. That’s when Ralph presented me with the gift – the OSU wristband. He said another traveler he had met had given it to him. I am more partial to the University of Oregon – Go Ducks! – but I was pleased to receive something from my beloved Oregon. For almost a decade, Portland, Oregon, was my home. Known as The Beaver State – note to foreign readers: all 50 U.S. states have a proud nickname – Oregon is a natural beauty. It was then I decided that I would keep the wristband for a while, travel with it, and somewhere on my journey pass it on to some other traveler. The wristband has so far been with me to El Salvador, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and in a few days Argentina.

My hope is that the wristband will travel across the globe with different travelers for years to come, logging its journey and whereabouts here on this blog. Then make it back to Oregon – to Oregon State University – where it will be deemed worthy of display. When I meet the person I should hand off the wristband to, I will know it. Hopefully, like Ralph and I, they will see to it that the band keeps moving across borders.

The band currently in Calama, Chile

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