Pomerania – It’s a place too!
I learned all kinds of things this weekend while visiting friends in beautiful town of Gdansk, Poland. For instance, the southern shore of the Baltic is called Pomerania, or Pomorze in Polish. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it – I tried over and over again to speak some Polish with coaching from friends and got nothing but bemused chuckles, or responses in English.
Another great factoid – Poland was once the largest country in Europe! It’s southern end practically touched the northern reaches of the Ottoman Empire, which is why as a Turkish scholar I felt obliged to go and visit.
So, the weekend in Gdansk was full of Polish history (fascinating stuff), pork products (fascinating to my belly!), amber shopping, churches (there are tons!) and beer, of course! We did all this while festival shopping, kayaking, and museum hopping through the town.
One thing that struck me in Gdansk is how strongly the years of unwelcome communism shaped the town. For instance, as a rejection of communism and a statement of their individualism, Poles attended church, well, religiously. During the communist years, there was a stretch of forced vegetarianism. Now there’s a national chain restaurant that serves up delicious vegetarian food – in your face, communists!