The Humanities Sixth Form Trip to Gdańsk in the October half term was an enormous success, combining visits to historic sites like the vast St Mary’s basilica and Marlbork castle (the biggest brick buildings in the world) with more modern attractions including the Teatr Szekspirowski (Shakespeare Theatre) and Montownia (a stylish food hall housed in an old submarine factory).
Students learned about the grim Nazi occupation at Stutthof concentration camp and the Second World War Museum, and about the workers’ resistance to communism in the European Solidarity Centre. These are important elements of the 20th century history courses at Fettes and gave invaluable insights into the themes of international relations in the 1930s and Cold War.
One of the great things about Gdańsk is being able to stand in places that really merit the over-used label ‘iconic’ because they have featured so often in history documentaries. These included the Polish Post Office, scene of some of the first fighting in the Second World War, and the gates of the former Lenin Shipyard, where Lech Wałęsa led the protests of 1980.
Highlights for many were the pirate ship cruise up the river to Westerplatte with hot chocolate, and the pizzas with view of the Baltic coast from the 32nd floor of the Oliwa Star tower. The Molly Malone Quiz on the last evening (after an excellent meal in the brewery restaurant beneath the Old Town Hall) included questions about Scotland’s connections with Gdańsk was won by the ‘Outhouses’ (Arniston and Dalmeny), who narrowly defeated College by two points.
Mr McDowell said: "It was a great trip, with smooth and speedy travels to and from our destination, a pleasant hotel and some great food, even if the weather was sometimes a bit, well, Baltic. Huge thanks to the students who came, the parents who supported it, and my colleagues for their help."