Why go to a residential district in a small city when on a holiday? To feel the reality of life in a place. All cities (especially) have a tourist-face and a true face. The pictures on the tour guides and the locations tend to be circled along these areas.
So a trip out of the tourist district was in order. But where? I chose to visit a few districts – Oliwa, Zaspa and Wrzeszcz. And what I found was a city building for the future, it puts a tangible reality to the news reports of a growing economy (not a boom, but definitely growing).
The district of Oliwa is the northern most district in Gdańsk, bordering the neighbouring city of Sopot. Oliwa began its written history as a Cistercian Abbey who derived the name, presumably, from the Slavic rendition of Olives (for the Mount of Olives). It was the scene of a major battle between Poland and Sweden, when the latter invaded Poland and it today a middle class estate housing the Catholic Cathedral of the city,
as well as a gorgeous park.
What about Oliwa made it futuristic? Well, the fact that construction was going on all around. New, modern condominiums were being built to house a more wealthy middle class population.
South from Oliwa is the Zaspa district, a slightly less wealthy residential district Zaspa is border a new business area with modern housing for a new service-based economy.
Then there is Wrzeszcz, the shopping district. There’s nothing about Wrzeszcz that makes it seem out of place in other parts of Western Europe. It may not look as fancy, but it has new malls that house all the brands that you would find in Western Europe.
Maybe this is Gdańsk’s chance to return to its glory days. The odds seem to be in its favour if it takes them.