Gdansk Pilgrimage 2018 (7): Hala Targowa market, harbor cruise to Westerplatte and pierogi heaven.


I’ve prefaced the travel narrative of our visit to Poland (itself backdated to the actual days we were there) with a series called Eight Days of Gdansk, which provides background on a European destination that’s scandalously little known to Americans.

Previously: The Museum of the Second World War.

Our final full day in Gdansk featured three distinct experiences, beginning with a visit to the market hall, which was only a couple of blocks around the corner from our hotel.

Hala Targowa Gdańsk

One of the strangest buildings in the city, the covered market wouldn’t look out of place posing as a provincial 19th-century train station in the south of France. Built in 1896 in a Neo-Gothic style, the market has recently been completely renovated at a cost of 20zł million, an act that led to the discovery of the foundations of one of the city’s oldest churches, the 12th century Church of St Nicolas, underneath the main market building. Amid the cheap clothing stalls and rows of meat and dairy produce, the church’s foundations have been left as they were found, providing a small, living archaeology museum in the basement along with a display of photographs, objects found during the excavations and drawings of how the church might have looked. You can also visit the Romanesque Cellars whose entrance can be found in the courtyard outside.

I found a Polish-made winter touring cap at a reasonable price, and had we not been so stuffed with the bountiful hotel breakfast, there’d have been some very attractive sausages and snacks.

Phase Two of our day occurred following lunch, and a cruise aboard one of the exceedingly strange tourist galleons. There are two of these crafts, and we’d already spotted the sister ship in Sopot. The route took us down the harbor areas of the Motława and Vistula rivers, then to Westerplatte, where the Vistula meets the Baltic Sea.

The following photos are only vaguely chronological. Now that we both pack cell phones for trips, and still take a digital camera, it sometimes can be difficult combining three perspectives into a unified narrative.

For a last big meal in Gdansk, we absolutely nailed the choice: Pierogarnia U Dzika. A “dzika” is a wild boar, and the taxidermy decor is omnipresent. My pierogis actually were filled with boar, and accompanied by an awesome bigos (hunter’s stew).

It was a fitting end to the culinary journey, from which I’ve emerged with an even greater appreciation of Polish cookery.

It had taken me too long a time to return to Poland, and of course Diana hadn’t ever been. Let’s hope the gap narrows in the future. It was fascinating and fairly priced — so get off your butts and book a trip.