23 May 1980

Gdansk money, atlas and music

It gets a bit complicated at check-out in the morning because Cathy, who is a visitor while we are "locals" must pay in hard currency while we can pay in zloty. The difference is huge, about 4 times the real cost in black-market money. And we have to stay at least another night. So we decide to pay up for today and then check her out. She will sneak back into the hotel tonight unofficially.

Baltic Sea
Full day touring Gdansk. We need more money and try to change with some street changers, but unsuccessfully. They all try to cheat us. Can you cheat someone who is trying to illegally change money with unauthorized currency dealers at black market rates? Mmmmmhhh...... Anyway, their technique is always the same: they first accept any exchange rate we suggest, and hand you the zloty equivalent, minus 50 or 100 zloty. When we count the money and point out that they are short changing us, they start arguing and try to take money away from our hands. We are alert enough to avoid being literally ripped off our dollar bank notes, at which point they want their zlotys back and run, and try with some other tourist.

At a second hand bookstore I find a beautiful atlas, printed in 1923, which I buy for 1000 zloty. The bookseller warns me that I may have problems exporting it because it was made before 1945, and as such it is considered an "antique" item and needs an export licence. We'll see, I am sure Marian can help with this kind of things.

In the evening classical concert: the Gdansk Philharmonic plays a program of Brahms (violin concerto) and Sibelius (2nd symphony). They play quite well in my opinion, but the concert hall is quite beat up. Tired furniture and chairs, fading colors. It could use a refit.

Dinner at the Pod Lososzem restaurant, where I taste a great piece of liver. The others have grilled salmon, also quite tasty.

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