Saturday, 22 February 2014

Morskie Oko

Hi there, here it's Mike. Remember me?

Rick is having some troubles with the internet on his way to a new country he will visit now. Therefore he has asked me to post a new story today so that you do not have to wait too long. I am now in Warsaw, watering Rick's plants, so I will show you what I have been doing  recently here.

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Since the human family I came with has small kids, I have asked Rick to recommend me a nice park where we could spend an hour or two even on a colder day. Luckily, this winter is pretty warm in Poland. Though probably the kids would prefer to see a bit of snow. Anyway, we headed today to the Morskie Oko Park. It is located in the center of the city, next to a busy street (and a police station).

 The park is not very big and in this time of the year it is not very crowded.

It owes its name to the lake located in the central part of the park. Apparently its shape resembles the Morskie Oko lake in Tatra mountains.

In the middle of the lake there is a nice fountain.

I have left the kids on a playground.

Let's check if there is any building of interest here.

Here, up the hill there is a yellowish building. I will go closer.

This is the palace of the Szuster family. It was originally built in the eighteenth century, then rebuilt in the nineteenth, based on a desing by Henryk Marconi. It was destroyed during Worldk War II and rebuilt in 1960s, just like many other buildings of this type in Warsaw (remember Królikarnia?).

Unfortunately, it is not in its best shape today.

What is pretty amazing is that just next to the palace there is a public school ...

... and appartment blocks from the 1960s and 1970s, built in the socialist style.

When going down the hill I have noticed a small structure. This is the tomb of the Szuster family. It must have been very practical when the whole areas belonged to the family, probably a bit less nice nowadays. Especially for the neighbours.

Let's walk down the alley back to the playground where I have left the human family.

I only propose we stay a moment next to the fountain and enjoy the silence while we still can.

Saturday, 15 February 2014


As you all know, my family has long-lasting military traditions. Therefore I have a special interest in all landmarks of great military events. Today I will show you a Strękowa Góra, a little hill that at first sight does not seem interesting at all.

Don't be misled. This hill was the witness of one of the major battles of September 1939, known as the battle of Wizna or, more poetically, the Polish Thermopylae.

720 Polish soldiers commanded by captain Władyslaw Raginis have fought for 3 days against 42,200 German soldiers with 350 tanks, 457 mortars, cannon, grenade launchers and 600 Luftwaffe aircrafts. They finally surrender but only because they run out of munitions.

So let's go up the hill.

For all those who are surprised that the battle was held in this place I need to explain that before World War II this area was exactly at the border between Poland and the Reich. You may still see some old border marks.

And here comes the map.

Turning back, from the top of the hill you can admire the Narew river.

You will realise then why the Germans have chosen this place for their attack - the surrounding lands are covered by the Biebrza Marshes that I have shown you some time ago.

On the hill itself you can see the remainings of the old forts.

The place is pretty small. A few rocks on the left ...

... and a few rocks on the right.

In the middle of the old fort there is a commemorative monument. I was pleased to find there fresh flowers.

Let's spend a moment of silence thinking of those brave men defending their homeland.

Saturday, 8 February 2014


The warm days are gone and forgotten now. But I still encourage you to take a walk outside, even if it will be a shorter one this time. Why not trying the Warsaw Citadel?

It was built in the first half of the nineteenth century, on a hill facing the Vistula river (yes, yes, you remember it right, it is the escarpment that we admired amoung others in Królikarnia and Arkadia Park last winter).

At that time, Warsaw was part of the Russian Empire. Unlike most fortresses, it was not designed to protect the city from an enemy attack. It was built to control a city that did not want to subordinate to the official government. So these walls were not meant to bring security to the inhabitants, quite the opposite.

The Citadel included a prison and a place where the Russian government was executing political prisoners. Here stood the gallows.

The executed prisoners were buried directly inside the hill. At that time, it was done in secret. Today they are commemorated by these crosses.

When you walk down the hill you will immediately notice this big structure up there. Let's take the stairs.

 This is an entrance to the Citadel, called "Execution gate".

Just behind it you will find a table with the names of those who perished here.

And a flame to commemorate them. It was not burning today, I wonder why.

Alright, I found a notice that the Citadel is undergoing some construction works and refurbishment so we will not be able to enter inside the walls and visit the museum. All I can show you is a glimpse through the fence.

So let's get down and try to walk around the Citadel.

Today the Citadel houses also the Command of the Polish Army. Obviously it is not possible to visit these premises, so all we can see are the gates.

We can still try to sneak a bit inside.

The other gates are closed unfortunately so no chance to get an idea what is behind.

One interesting element is this moat-like structure. It was meant to stop any attackers who would like to enter the fortress. The assumption was that these would probably be civilians inhabiting Warsaw.

I hope that you have liked this walk and a little insight into the sad history of Warsaw.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Illumination of the Royal Route in Warsaw (2014) - the Labyrinth of Light

It is becoming now a little tradition that each year I am showing you the Illumination of the Royal Route in Warsaw. In 2012 I have shown you the central part, next to Łazienki. In 2013 we have seen the Northern end next to the Old Town. This time I will take you to the Southern end of the Royal Route next to the Wilanów park and palace.

The lights started already next to the St Anna church.

This path invites us to the palace and the gardens.

Deeper in the back you can already spot the palace itself. I must say at night it is a bit scary. Do you think they have ghosts there?

The gardens are ruled this year by the Labyrinth of Light. First comes a violet field. Unfortunately you cannot see it on pictures alone but this part of the garden is where the illumination is "dancing" to the sounds of classical music.

These bigger structures look just like water lillies, don't they?

Here comes the entry to the labirynth. Luckily they have left the keys next to the keywhole.

The main theme of the labirynth are the adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. So obviously we will see the giant teacups ...

... and a surprise present.

Then come the playing accesories. First the cards ...

... then the billiard ball ....

... and finally the chess figures.

Obviously we could not miss the giantic mushrooms.

Actually there is more than one type of them here.

And finally, last but not least, the most important guest in the labirynth. The rabbit in the magician's hat!

I wonder what they will invent next year to illuminate the Royal Route and outpass this one.