We continued driving north, stopping at the port of Gdansk on the Baltic coast. For hundreds of years the city had been a wealthy trading centre and merchants from England, Europe and Scandinavia lived behind the fortified city walls in tall houses set around the cobbled main square.
In 1945 Gdansk was completely destroyed by the Soviet Army at the end of World War II – beginning forty years of Communist domination.
In 1980 the shipyard workers went on strike in protest against the raising of food prices by the Communist government. Lech Walęsa was a political activist and worked as an electrician at the Lenin Shipyard. He became the leader of the strikers and later helped create Poland’s first independent trade union, Solidarity. For his efforts he was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and in 1990 Lech Walęsa was elected President of Poland. His presidency was not a complete success and he failed to be re-elected in 1995 and again in 2000, perhaps indicating how much easier it was to criticise those in charge than to be in charge yourself!
Since the end of the Communist rule the ruined city had been carefully restored to its former beauty. Today the city was full of visitors, mainly Germans, Scandinavians and folk off the cruise ships.
The weather was warm and sunny and we parked our camper for two nights in a large car park adjacent to the Academy of Music, ten minutes walk from the centre with its busy waterside cafés, restaurants and high end hotels.