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GDAŃSK: Retro Walks. The city and its ghosts

11.06.2018 City

Today’s walk is going to be nostalgic. On our search for friendly city spirits, we will snatch a glimpse at peculiar shop windows and peek inside a permanently closed hair salon, shedding tears for the time long gone. At the end of the walk, to assuage the feeling of nostalgia, we will taste the best cake in town! 

After many years of living in Gdansk, I’ve grown fond of numerous spots I like to share with family and friends. This time, however, I’m going to share them with you! The Long Market neighborhood, unquestionably the most famous among tourists, is full of unique places you may not have discovered yet. 

We set off at Straganiarska street, next to a kiosk with a pistachio façade where a sweet stationery store (1) has found its home (at the corner of Straganiarska and Słomiana). Apart from stationery, this tiny store sells maps, paintings and prints, which may not be what you think they are, so you’d better go inside and see for yourself! That’s where I love having a peek inside through a window once in a while. Quite a few pubs are located right next to the store – Pub Pułapka (2), Cafe Lamus (3) and Pub Lawendowa (4) – offering cozy open-air spaces during summertime. Find a variety of craft beers in Pułapka or go to Lamus and treat yourself to trendy yerba mate or delicious coffee. If you’re staying in Gdansk longer, make sure you come here at night–the street is bursting with life!

Now, turn right onto Lawendowa street. Shortly, you will see one of my favorite stores in the neighborhood. Established in 1920 (!), A & W Sitko leather goods store (5) has captured my attention with its window display–a fuzzy Napoleon backpack, marvelous travel bags and classic purses I long to have whenever I see them.

Once you’ve cooled off after admiring leather marvels, cross the street and visit a recently-renovated 19th century market hall (6). I like strolling between stalls, searching for the cheapest and tastiest strawberries, smelling ripe tomatoes and haggling over flower prices. I always buy fish in the hall, fresh herring mostly. I’m not sure if herring is a good idea if you’re on vacation, but you should definitely try delectable jellied fish. Match it with a loaf of wholegrain bread and a cold wheat beer to have yourself some perfect picnic set. On your way to fish stalls make sure you look under your feet–under a layer of glass you may see the ruins of an 11th-century church and cemetery.

When you decide to leave, go across the market to Pańska street. You’ll see a group of old ladies selling bunches of flowers and homemade and homegrown products: apples, little jars with raspberries, chives. I always do my best to buy something from them.

If you continue your walk via Pańska, stop when you reach the building at the junction of Pańska and Świętojańska. In a place where a hair salon used to be, all we can see now is a signboard and an empty space filled with nostalgia. Haunting, isn’t it? What I find particularly moving is being able to look at these unique remains of the past. So I stop and look, whenever I have a chance. A funky restaurant or a bank will open here sooner or later. At least that’s what happened to the place next door where a textile shop used to be. Once the shop was gone, a beautiful logo continued to tell its story. Unfortunately, and that’s when we should shed a tear, even the logo has now been replaced and the interior has been repainted over-bright green. How sad is that?

On Węglarska street, expect another wonderful window display. No. 5 houses a millinery shop (7). I always marvel at all the extraordinary hats and promise myself to buy one one day. It’s high time to keep the promise!

Let’s finish our nostalgic walk (after all I’ve introduced you to a few ghosts of the past, haven’t I?) in Kawiarnia Retro (8). The place sells the best desserts in Tricity. That’s probably because Misia, the owner, is a perfectionist, tirelessly making sure all the cakes are of top quality. They simply have to be perfect. Flavor is important, but so is health. That’s why Misia’s cakes are made of good quality flour, always without white sugar and occasionally gluten-free.What I like the most are cheesecakes (you have to try a strawberry one, and a pumpkin option in autumn) and millet cakes. Retro serves delicious millet cakes–I bet you wouldn’t even guess they’re made of grains. They have velvety texture and no trace of the familiar millet bitterness. Seriously, you just can’t NOT eat it when you’re in Gdańsk. You should also try their matcha latte – the best and the most delicate latte I’ve had in Tricity.

Our walk has come to a sweet end. It’s my turn to get back to Węglarska and buy that hat I’ve been thinking about. Summer is coming!

 

Locations:

1. Stationery Store, at the corner of Straganiarska and Słomiana

2. Pub Pułapka, Straganiarska 2

3. Cafe Lamus, Lawendowa 8

4. Pub Lawendowa, Lawendowa 8

5. A&W Sitko Leather Goods Shop, Lawendowa 9

6. Market Hall in Gdańsk, ul. Dominikańska 1

7. Wojciechowska Czesława Millinery Shop, ul. Węglarska 5

8. Kawiarnia Retro, Piwna 5/6

 

Text and photos:

Ania Włodarczyk - Gdańsk citizen by choice – since 2007 sharing her passion for writing, cooking, and photography on her blog Strawberries from Poland. Her articles about cooking are featured in magazines and on websites. She is a collector of old cookbooks actively engaged in food photography. Her second book – Kuchnia retro – was published this autumn.

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