For centuries, the center of the Baltic amber trade was Gdansk, and it's still the place to get amber accessories and other amber crafts. You'll find no shortage of amber dealers in town. The biggest concentration is on the main street of Duga and along the prettier but just as crowded Mariacka. While the majority of the dealers are reputable, amber fakes abound, so it's caveat emptor. The Amber Museum is a good place to learn how to detect the real McCoy. If you haven't time for the museum, Bernstein (Dugi Targ 22/23; tel. 58/305-15-97; www.bernstein-ninard.com), a third-generation jeweler, can give you a quick demo on recognizing the genuine article. (Note: Real amber floats in salt water, while the fakes simply sink.) Galeria S&A (Mariacka 36; tel. 58/305-22-80; www.s-a.pl) is one of three shops on Mariacka Street with a certification from Societas Svccinorvm in Polonia (the International Amber Association). It also has an outlet on the ground floor of the Amber Museum.
Another 100% Gdansk take-away is Goldwasser vodka. While the sweetish taste is not everyone's glass of tipple, who could pass up flakes of gold in their cocktail? You can buy a gift box at the Goldwasser restaurant. Kashubian folk art (Kashubian is an ethnic minority group) in the form of embroidered linen is also a unique regional gift. You'll find them on Mariacka Street or at Galeria Sztuki Kaszubskiej (Sw. Ducha 48; tel. 503/005-978; www.gskart.pl). Benedicte (Garbary 5; tel. 58/305-69-03; www.benedicite.pl) is good for tea, honey, and fruit preserves made by Benedictine monks in Poland and other Central European countries. Hala Targowa (Plac Dominkanski 1; tel. 58/346-31-33; www.halatargowa.pl) is a traditional fresh produce and household goods market frequented by locals. From Monday to Saturday starting at 9am, you can pick up seasonal fruits, cheese, sausages, and pierogi for picnics.
After a tour of the Amber Museum, you'll know amber is not just for dressing up, but did you know that you could drink it, too? Steeping fruits, nuts, and spices in vodka to make nalewka is a very homey Polish pastime. But even for nalewka-savvy Poles, immersing amber granules in vodka comes as a novelty. Don't go dunking your funky pendants into alcohol; you need the unpolished pebbles, which you can find in stalls along the Motawa Canal or Mariacka Street. Brama Mariacka (Mariacka 25/26; tel. 668/163-303) sells them in packets or bottles at 7 z. Add 50g (1 3/4 oz.) of amber into 0.5L (17 oz.) of pure vodka and leave in a dark place for 10 days for the resin to dissolve. It's reportedly good as a rub on temples to alleviate headaches. Or add to tea as a warmer on chilly days.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.