Saturday, 25 May 2013

Around Champs Elysees

Some of you may remember that my first trip abroad was to France. Unfortunately, I have then spent only a few hours in Paris. I regretted it so deeply that I have decided to go there for a bit longer to appreciate its full beauty. So ladies and gentlemen - welcome to the capital of love and fashion.

To repeat a bit the way I went last time, I went down the Champs Elysees, starting at the Arc de Triomphe, standing in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (called also l'Étoile - the Star).

After a nice walk, I went to the right, to see from close the palaces I only glimpsed at last time. First came the Big Palace (or Grand Palais), built for the Universal Exhibition held in 1900. It houses today numerous expositions of art. But not only art, the fashion house Chanel annually hosts many of its fashion shows here.

On the other side of the street you will see the Little Palace (or Petit Palais), housing the Museum of Fine Arts of Paris. No surprisingly, it was also built for the 1900 Exhibition.

If you go further the Avenue Winston Churchill you will arrive to the Bridge of Alexander III that connects the Champs-Élysées district and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower district. It was meant to commemorate the Franco-Russian Alliance concluded in 1892.

You can see the byzantine style with the golden figures ...

... and the inscriptions.

What I liked most were the old-fashioned lanterns.

Now let's go back and see what lies on the left of Champs Elysees. First of all, we cannot miss the Opera Garnier. It was built in the second half of 19th century and today welcomes mostly ballet spectacles. The operas are shown in the new Opera Bastille that I will show you on some other day.

Later on, let's have a look at La Madelaine.

Do not get fooled, we did not jump to Greece or to Rome in the meantime. The church was initially designed as a temple to the glory of Napoleon's army, based on forms typical for antique temples. After the fall of Napoleon the building was turned into a catholic church.

To the East, you will find the Place Vendôme. In the center stands the Vendôme Column. It was originally erected by Napoleon to commemorate the battle of Austerlitz. Destroyed by a decree of the Paris Commune it was subsequently rebuilt.

To the South of La Madelaine you will see another tall structure - the obelisk. It used to guard for over 3,000 years the entrance to the Luxor Temple in Egypt until Napoleon brought it to France. Now it stands in the middle of the largest square in Paris - the Place de la Concorde. Its twin still remains in Luxor.

On the right hand we have again the Champs Elysees. On our left hand we have the Tuileries Garden. But I will show it to you next time.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

ZOO in Prague

I know that you enjoyed just like me the trips we had to Prague. So today I will show you another glimpse of Prague - the ZOO. As already mentioned, I am not a huge fan of ZOOs. But I do understand why people are so eager to see all the wild animals with their own eyes. I assume then that you would like to have this opportunity as well.

Luckily the ZOO in Prague is located on a wide area. You can judge it by the place where the giraffes and the zebras live.

Let's come a bit closer.

Do you see some animals on the hill?

These are Himalayan tahrs. I wonder if they miss a lot their homeland in Nepal. They are also probably quite warm in this climate. Difficult to judge however just by looking at his face.

The big cats have a special building. This one seems to be quite small though. At first, I was bit a scared by this shadow above the main entrance. Luckily I quickly realised that it is just a statue.

The real tiger lives here. His name is Kawi and he comes from Borneo island in Indonesia.

Actually, the ZOO in Prague has a whole district devoted to Indonesian rain forests.

It is really warm there and the humidity level is very high.

The ZOO is also the house to some birds. The pink flamingos live in the wild ...

.... but the penguins require a little fridge. These ones are called Humboldt Penguins and come from South America (Chile and Peru).

One amazing story about Humboldt Penguins is that in 2012, one of those living in Tokyo Sea Life Park escaped from his prison and enjoyed freedom in the Tokyo Bay. He finally got captured by the zoo keepers (after almost 3 months!) but whenever I think of this story I always recall of these guys.

Last but not least, it is time to pass my greetings to the family. This little statue recalls me of my mum. She keeps on telling me I should visit her more often. Maybe I will take a break somewhere around Christmas, I do miss her. But what can I do, so many people expect my visit now. Travelling is a hard job.

Przewalski's horses are amoung those few of us who remain wild. Actually, at a certain period of time they became completely extinct in the wild but then got reintroduced into their original homeland of Mongolia. So in the end ZOOs have some good aspect as well.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

A weekend in the countryside

It is official - the spring has arrived! I was so much looking towards it. You can see it even in the city center but to really smell it you have to go to the countryside. I will show you today some typical images from the Polish countryside. Nothing spectacular. Just me and the springtime. Enjoy!

I went to ask the different farm animals about their views on this nice change. The hens and roosters were delighted that they no longer need to stay inside.

The pigs told me they truely enjoy the fresh air. They did not seem however eager to take a longer walk. I guess I would be less willing to run here and there if I would weigh that much.

The wood can now spend its time in the sun as well.

And finally a very special building on the other side of the yard. The stable.

Let me present you my cousin. This is his farm and it is thanks to him that we can have this wonderful time in the countryside. High five George!

And finally the lunchtime. Oat is for sure the best thing on Earth ...

What? You do not like oat? Really? Well, what can I say. It only means there will be more left for me.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Empire State of Mind

There are many songs about New York, starting with the evergreen by Sinatra. But for the last couple of years my favourite is the one by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.

To celebrate it, I decided to devote a separate post to my visit in the Empire State Buidling. It has 102 storeys and from its completion in 1931 it was for 40 years the tallest building in the world.

It is not easy to catch it in full from the outside but luckily inside there is a nice relief that shows the building. Looking at all this gold I could not help thinking that the architect was not the most modest guy in the world.

On top of the building there is an observation deck. You can see from there the entire Lower Manhattan.

Here you can see a bit closer the Chrysler Building. You could say it is "the second best" - it was the tallest in the world for 11 months, until the Empire State Building was completed.

And here comes the Williamsburg bridge (connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn) and the East Village.

When leaving the Empire State Building I turned my back again to see its height.

It is when I felt a hand on my shoulder. To my surprise, I saw an officer of the New York Police Department. Apparently, horses are not allowed to circulate in this part of the city! Luckily, my personal charm quickly allowed us to become friends.

He even agreed to drive me back to the airport. Very nice of him.

* * *

I really enjoyed this trip to New York. I hope to see more of USA one day. Now it is time to move on to new adventures.