Saturday, 30 March 2013

Frascati Park

If I would show you my calendar you would see there that I have planned for the beggining of the spring nice long trips outside of Warsaw. But what can I do if on the last weekend of March it is minus eight centigrades? My human family firmly refused to go on any longer trip. Instead, we took a walk in the Frascati Park in Warsaw.

We start at the Square of the Three Crosses. It is not really a square. In the middle you see the church of Saint Alexander. As many other churches in Warsaw it was destroyed by bombs during World War II and subsequently rebuilt between 1949 and 1952 in a form similar to its original design.

From the square we turn right to the Prusa Street. Bolesław Prus was a famous Polish writer who lived in the neighbourhood. We pass a hotel of an international network (very expensive) and then we arrive to the Buffo Music Theater.

It is quite known in Poland, mainly because it introduced the first Polish musicall "Metro", about young Polish people in the 1990s. Many known Polish singers played in this musicall.

Finally, we arrive to the park. It is quite small and currently covered with snow.

The Frascati Park is located on the edge of the Vistula escarpment, just like the Arkadia Park that I have shown you recently. So we need to use stairs to get down. Be careful, they are slippery!

Did you notice the tree in the back. Yes, it does have leaves. Unfortunately they come from last year.

If we take the second stairs we will go further down

You can see the hights of the wall. And it is only a part of the height of the escarpment.

Here you can see what is still below. This part of Warsaw is called "Powiśle" which can be translated as "close to Vistula river".

Becasue of the cold my human family made me shorten the walk. So back on stairs and going up again.

Just before jumping into the car I will show you these nice decorative vases. They are more or less everywhere in the park.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Historical Zurich (by night)

I had to make yet another short trip to Zurich. Unfortunately, I spent there only one evening and when I got out of the main station it was already dark and it was raining. So I have sent my human secretary so that she takes a few pictures of this nice city by night. You may recognise some views I have shown you last autumn, like the Gross Munster church ...

... and the Limmat river.

At some point she was interested in a little narrow street going sharply down. Quite scary to be honest, especially when you bear in mind she did not have me at her side to protect her.

But this is in this little street that she discovered that Zurich actually dates back to Roman times! No wonder you did not know it, at this time it was called Turicum. It had even had some Roman terms (or baths).

They claim that you can see some remains down here. Sorry, for me it looks a lot like some parts of the city's sewage systems.

* * *

While my human secretary was running up and down in the rain, I was relaxing in the Zeughauskeller. It used to be an armoury for the city of Zurich, now it is a very popular restaurant.

You may be surprised, but the original building was built in 1487, so before Columbus discovered America! Of course it was damaged and refurbished many times but the owners claim that many of the original beams and walls were preserved until today.

An armoury is in short a place where arms were stored. You may still admire some recalls of this glorious times on the walls of the Zeughauskeller. Here come the replica of the arms of Wilhellm Tell, a folk hero of Switzerland.

Then the armours of the Swiss soldiers. Did you know that for centuries mercenaries were one of the main "export goods" of Switzerland. They still guard the Pope as they used to since the 15th century.

 Of course you will see here also some firearms.

Nowadays of course the arms and guns are not as important for Swiss people as they used to be. Times change, other weapons help Helvetia to rule the world. I must however admit it requires quite some creativity to put on one wall halberds and ski poles.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


During my stay with Ania, we made a little trip from Radzyń to Lublin, the capital city of the region. Lublin was founded in thirteen century, it is now one of the 10 biggest cities in Poland. It is of course an industrial city but we focused today on the the Old Town. It is surrounded by city walls. You can access it by one of the four gates.

The Grodzka Brama (gate) was originally constructed in the fourteenth century and then renovated in late eighteenth century in baroque style. Today, it houses a modern theater.

If you approach the Old Town by the Krakowskie Przedmieście Street (yes, yes, it is the same name you have seen in the Royal Route in Warsaw, it means "suburb facing Kraków") ...

... you will use the Krakowska (or Kraków) gate of course. It was again built in the fourteenth century. From the top you can see a nice panorama of the Old Town.

Here you can see a glimpse of it.

The biggest attraction of Lublin is of course the gothic castle, originally built in the thirteenth century. It is located on a hill, like most castles built in those days, as hills give a huge advantage to the defenders of the place in case of wars or unrest.

Unfortunately the castle has a very dark history. It used to be the seat of the nazi administration during World War II. It also served then as a prison where many Polish patriots perished in a horrible way. After the war has ended, the castle continued to serve as a prison of Soviet secret police and then the secret police of the communist Poland. Again, many patriots were emprisoned there and many gave their lives for their dreams of a safe and independent fatherland.

The gate looks inviting though, despite the many stairs.

Since 1957, the castle has become the main site of the Lublin Museum. Luckily, this time we will be able to enter inside.

In the main courtyard you can see the old cannons ...

... and an old well. Does it not remind you of the one we have seen recently in Kazimierz Dolny?

If you wish to see a bit more of this interesting city, I strongly recommend you these panoramic views. And then we can have a rest in one of the many pubs, bars and wineries of the old town. A Czech cellar in Lublin? Why not!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Radzyń Podlaski

Recently, I have visited another Postcrossing friend of mine, Ania. She lives now in Radzyń Podlaski, a nice small town in Eastern Poland. It only has a bit more than sixteen thousand inhabitants and has quite a boring market place.

But do not be foolled by it, Radzyń was founded in 1468 and has a nice and interesting history. So let's move down the Białka river to see a bit of this history.

The ducks seem to enjoy the cold water. At least I hope they do.

Here you can see the church of the Holy Trinity. It was founded in mid-seventeen century.

But the biggest attraction in town is the Palace of the Potocki family. This used to be the most rich noble family in the region. Let's stroll through this nice alley (mind the snow!).

I like those old-fashioned lanterns. They remind me of the good old days when horses were walking this path.

And here comes the palace. You can see how large it is - I told you, the Potocki were super-rich.

Let's come closer. We need to cross the little river. It used to be a line of defence probably.

Here comes the main gate. Unfortunately it is not possible to visit the palace inside. This was a true disappointemnt I must admit.

Next to the gate there is a statue of the famous Polish violonist and composer, Karol Lipiński. He was born in Radzyń Podlaski - he is probably the most famous person born in this town so far.

I must admit I got a little cold during this trip. Luckily Ania found for me a nice furry blanket. My new best friend for tonight.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Mike the Skating Bull

I was complaining recently (more than once probably) about the cold winter in Poland. I got then an e-mail from my friend Mike.

I decided to share this e-mail with you.

* * *

Hi Rick,

I think you are really exaggerating with all those complaints about the winter time. This is an amazing period, you only need to find the best winter sport for you. My favourite one is skating. I will show you today the fun it can bring. I will take you to the Stegny Ice Rink in Warsaw. 

It was built in 1979 and you can see it. But it is very welcoming to all those who are not fluent skaters. You will see the "Welcome" ("Witamy" in Polish) signs everywhere.

Actually, there are two rinks there. One longer for those who can (and want) to skate really fast.

And the inside one, designed for children and beginners like you. They also play hockey there.

I know, I know, you do not have skates. This is not an excuse. It is possible to rent skates here. And it only costs 5 zloty for one hour, so the price of an international stamp for just one postcard.

The bad thing unfortunately is that the smallest size they have will probably be too big for you. And yes, for me too.

So what I would recommend you is just to use your horseshoes. Skating is real fun, believe me! Winter has many great aspects, you just need to open yourselves to them.

* * *

I must admit the whole story was quite interesting. Maybe I will try it myself one day. Next year. Maybe. In the end, I am a traveller, not a sports champion. So I will stick to it.