May 2017 took me to Gdansk in Poland. Gdansk – a place I had never heard until a month back and a name which I could not even pronounce. (A simple way to remember: “Gd” – Gadd as in Gaddaar (Hindi word) and “aaansk”).
Neptune Fountain in Gdansk
Now I know that this was the place where the second World War started. Gdansk – or Danzig had a majority native-German population. When Hitler sought to expand his empire, this was one of his targets. The majority in the city was in the favor of annexation to Germany. On 1st September 1939, as part of the bigger plan to attack Poland, the first hit was made at Gdansk. This is called the Battle of Westerplatte. The Polish put up a spirited fight – much to the surprise of the Germans. The fighting continued for 7 days and ended when the Poles ran out of ammunition and supplies.
I also got a chance to visit Hell. Well, that is a spelling mistake. The place is called Hel. It is a peninsula coming out of the north of Gdansk. This was the place of action in the world war 2 post the fall of Westerplatter. Hel is said to be the place where the Polish army resistance lasted the longest. 8 September to 3 October 1939.
Around 50 km from Gdansk is what used to be the Stutthoff Concentration camp. This was the first concentration camp set up outside Germany. It was also the last to be freed and around 65000 people died here. The place – quiet, peaceful, beautiful carried with it horrifying memories in the form of photos, stories, barracks and yes – the gas chamber – Nazis favorite way to kill people.
The concentration camp with the Gas Chamber at the far end

2017 – The Year of Travel

105,000 kilometers – that is how much I traveled in 2017. this is equivalent to going around the earth along the equator – 4 times.
The definition of travel here is going to a place outside the place I am residing in. So does not include the nearly 3000 km travel per month within the city.
The bulk of the kms ( 70%) came from 4 international trips across 3 continents. 95% was by air.
It was also a year with more than one trip to a location – 2 trips to US. 2 to Goa and 3 To Mumbai.
So 2017 is a unique year as I am not sure this will be a feat that will be repeated any time in future.  Planning to write more about it in coming days.