12 hours in Gdansk: St. Dominic's Festival
On one spontaneous morning, I went to the airport and asked what the cheapest flight was. I got on a $20 WOWair flight to Gdansk, Poland, and booked an overnight bus back to Berlin for a round trip total of $30. I knew that I needed to check out old town, but I had no idea that I would stumble upon a 750 year old tradition: St. Dominic's Festival.
Originally established by Pope Alexander IV, this summer festival is one of the biggest trade and cultural open-air festivals in Europe, rivaling Oktoberfest. Because of this, Poland experiences a massive economic boom during this time and decided within the last 15 years to extend the festival from two to three weeks. So if you plan it right, you can find the old town absolutely packed with stages, vendors, craftsmen, and performers during the last week of July through the first two weeks of August.
Adding to my luck, the way the sunlight was hitting the Old Town buildings was absolutely beautiful. I could not stop snapping pictures. There is about 1 square km of booths so I recommend just walking around, trying whatever food looks interesting (try to make it Polish!), and buying something you can take back with you and use. I find whenever I purchase little trinkets, they end up just collecting dust. I got a Polish pottery spoon holder that I know I'll put in my kitchen, use every day, and forever remind me of my amazing 10 hours I spent strolling the streets of Old Town during this incredible display of Polish culture and character.