Saturday, 27 September 2014

Park of the Branicki Family

Hello everybody! My cousin Ralph has entertained you for the last three weeks but now I am back, ready to present you some of my recent trips. I need a moment to put together all the memories from my last trip with Aleksandra. One reason for this is that I keep on being busy all the time. Like last weekend - I went to Białystok for a special event. I will describe it to you next time. Before that, I want to show you a special place in Białystok that I did not show you last time we were there. My schedule was busy again so I only had half an hour just before this special event. As a result, you will be able to admire the Park of the Branicki family in the morning mist. So take your scarves and let' run - the area is pretty big.

Braniccy were an aristocratic family that ruled this part of Poland (called Podlasie) for many years. The palace in which they lived and the surrounding park are known as Versailles of Podlasie. Let's enter by the main gate.

The park and the palace are embraced by a wall. After passing the main gate we can spot the lawns and a little lake with a fountain.

Let's approach the palace. It is one of the best preserved aristocratic palaces in Poland. It was built in late seventeenth century in baroque style.

Nowadays, the palace houses the Medical University of Białystok. Therefore, you can find here the Museum of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy. Unfortunately it was closed on a Sunday early morning.

On top of the main building you can see Atlas, the titan from the Greek mythology, who is supposed to carry the Earth on his shoulders.

I also liked these armoured figures on the right - they reminded me of the ones that I have seen at Les Invalides in Paris.

Let's now pass these columns. In between, you can already spot the park.

Those of you who know a bit more about European parks from the seventeenth and eigtheenth century know that they can be widely divided into two major types. English landscape gardens pretend to be more or less wild so embracing nature as it is (or would have been) without human presence. On the other hand French formal gardens are living sculptures, demonstrating the power of man over nature.

Well, the Branicki park has it all. It is located on two levels. The lower one is an English garden.

We will find there a little river, trees and some benches.

The upper part, located in the direct neighborhood of the palace, is a French garden. Let's climb the stairs then.

I have not yet been to Versailles but it definitely looks a lot like Tuileries, with many sculptures, perpendicular lanes and ...

... wonderful flower carpets.

The view from this part of the palace must have been fantastic.

I am sure that you have noticed that the upper part of the garden does not have benches. Well this is because it has another nice place to rest.

Let's have a last look at the lower part of the garden, as seen from the upper level.

There I see one of the many gates. I suggest we take it. Actually we have to speed up a bit to make sure we are on time for the main event that has brought us to Białystok.

So - let's run!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Ujazdowski Park

I hope that you have enjoyed our visit in the botanic garden last week. Since we are already on Aleje Ujazdowskie, I though we could go a bit further to the North and see the Ujazdowski Park.

As you probably rememeber, Aleje Ujazdowskie are a part of the Royal Route of Warsaw. In winter it is beautifully illuminated. In summer time it is embellished with flowers.

Between the park and the garden runs a street that connects the left and the right bank of the Vistula river.

This bike station is in fact a rental point of city bikes called Veturilo. If you want to move around the city center of Warsaw without worrying about traffic jams and parking places this is definitely the best solution.

Let's have a look at a plan. It seems that the park is half blue (so covered with water) and half green.

We should be somewhere close to one of the biggest attractions - the little waterfall.

Indeed, it is really small.

Then comes the lake. It was designed by Wiliam Lindley. Rick has shown you some time ago his monument next to the Dancing Fountains.

The best view is from the little bridge in the back.

The second part of the park is mainly covered with lawns and flowers.

There are parts were roses are grown almost "wild" ...

... and others where the flowers are well disciplined into "carpets".

The most important monument is dedicated to Ignacy Jan Paderewski. He was one of the most prominent Polish pianists and composers. He was also the Prime Minister of Poland in 1919, at the dawn of its independence.

Next to the park you can find a little pecularity. These are the so-called Finnish houses, built in 1945 to accomade those who came to help rebuilding Warsaw after the nazis turned it into ruins. The houses really came from Finland, as part of war reparations to USSR.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little walk. Next week Rick will be back to take you to some new adventures. For the rest of the afternoon I plan to take another ray of light on one of these nice benches.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Botanical Garden in Warsaw

Hello everybody, it is Ralph again. Rick got a call from Aleksandra with whom he was in Canada and Helsinki. They are now on their way to a new country. Since I was already in Warsaw, he asked me to entertain you for a week or two.

* * *

I will take you today to the botanical garden of the Warsaw University. In May, Rick has taken you to another one, located next to Warsaw, in Powsin. But the one I will take you to is much older, it was founded in 1818.

Next to the main entrance you can see the Astronomical Observatory of the Warsaw University. It is pretty old as well, since it was founded in 1825. At that time it was one of the most advanced observatories in Europe.

After entering the garden you will immediately notice the sweet smell of roses.

They are here in all colours. A little tip at the beginning, if you want to learn more about a plant look for a little information card next to it. The card will show you the Polish name, the Latin name and the origins of the plant. A red tag indicates an endangered species.

In summer time, the garden is full of colourful plants. This part represents the species typically found in gardens in the Kurpie region.

One of the benefits of the fact that the garden exists already for 200 years is that it is the house of many very old trees. Like this beech ...

... or this maple. Looking at its size I can only guess it could give a swimming pool of maple syrup.

Talking of swimming pools. The garden includes a section dedicated to water plants, including my favourite water lilies.

You can also see here little lakes, covered with duckweed. I believe Rick has shown it to you in natural environment, in the Biebrza National Park.

And look, here come lilies again, this time in the ground not in water. I just love this smell.

With so many flowers, the garden is obviously the house of many hard working insects called apidae (or simply bees). To help them, people have created for them small houses where they can lay eggs. I know it does not look like a typical beehive. This is because most of these bees do not live in colonies. They also do not make honey.

This huge green plant in the middle is the biggest of this type in the world. It is called Gunnera manicata and can be higher than a man.

Personally I am not really fond of green plants, I prefer plants with flowers in vibrant colours, like these fuchsias.

Speaking of flowers. I was told at the entrance that in this part of the year, the greatest jewels of the garden are the dahlias. Here they are.

And even more over there.

In the old days people used to come to this garden to find rest and peace of mind. They could then meditate in this little temple.

Unfortunately the temple undergoes now as you see some refurbishment. So I propose we sit next to the fountain.

Let's enjoy the sunlight and think of all the magnificent dahlias blooming just for me and you.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Copernicus Planetarium

I have complained some time ago that I never had time to visit the Copernicus science center. Recently I have received an e-mail from my cousin Ralph.

He has visited Warsaw during the summer break. We did not manage to meet since I was travelling so he took the time to visit the center himself. I hope you will enjoy this little tour. I still hope to see it myself soon.

He wrote me that he really liked the building and its colours. So do I.

The center is located next to the bank of the Vistula river.

If you would take the Świętokrzyski bridge ...

... you would come close to the National Stadium that we have visited together during EURO 2012.

Inside the Copernicus center there is a living robot. When it is angry its eyes turn red.

And when it is happy its eyes are shining and it waves its hand.

The main goal of Ralph's visit was the Planetarium.

I have no clue where this machine could take us. But I am sure Baron Munchausen would love it.

This is the entry to the dome theater.

It is called dome theater because the planetarium is hidden under a dome.

The films are projected from a round-shaped projector.

Unfortunately it is not allowed to take pictures during the movie. So all we can show you is a shot made available at the website of the Planetarium. Love my friends, all you need is love.