Saturday, 25 April 2015

Museum of Technology in Warsaw - part 2: Music

The horses are not only used to travel or work. We also bring leisure. This is also the case for the technology - it is not only created for travelling and working. It also serves leisure. Museum of Technology in Warsaw, apart from cars, offers exhibitions on many other topics and among them we have chosen the musical machines. They were created to have fun for the ones that, as me, cannot play or sing as good as they would like to.

100 years ago the cheapest way to listen to the music was to give a coin to an organ grinder.

In the museum I have learnt that their sound was created by pipes, just like in the typical church organs. The selection of tones was done with use of a pinned cylinder.

Such cylinders, obviously of different sizes, were used in other types of musical automates, like music boxes.

But here, as you can see, the sound was created by a metal comb. No, the comb was not multipurpose, the musician could use it for his hair.

The cylinders were also used for typical Western saloon automated pianos.

 But the most impressive music machine of the museum is the orchestrion.

 As always the most interesting part is hidden and one must open the door to see it.

Yes, you are correct. There are many instruments inside, apart from a piano you can see a musical triangle, a drum and a cymbal. All of them connected to the cylinder and automated.

But as with the cars, to let musical machines enter all houses, the technology needed to make a big step. Step to the disc.

The first ones were made of metal.

The second generation was made of cardboard.

And this way we came to the almost contemporary gramophones, tapes and CDs.

The best thing about the Museum of Technology in Warsaw is that you can not only see these machines but also listen to all of them. As an example I propose that we listen to the Polish national anthem. Played by a music box of course.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Museum of Technology in Warsaw - part 1: Automotive

Recently my human family decided to show me something called technology. They explained me that technology is what allowed horses to take permanent holidays. So I love it. But what is this technology? To understand it they took me to the Museum of Technology in Warsaw.

As they told me, the technology started to replace horses when the engine became widely used. And the engines at the end of nineteenth century looked like this.

It can work without breaks, but does not look as cute as me. Contemporary engines look quite interesting, although the fire seems frightening.

Obviously one cannot ride an engine. So people invented cars. The first, from the end of the nineteenth century, looked similar to a carriage.

With time cars become covered, with a lot of glass. And people started to produce them in big quantity, thanks to the optimisation of assembly lines. The most influential car of the twentieth century is the famous Ford Model T.

The first cars produced in Poland was built on Italian license. So it was called Polish Fiat.

Ford T was the first car, that a typical American family could afford. So in the second half of the twentieth century also in Poland they invented a car for typical family: Maluch. It was pretty small inside which you can see on this one that was cross-cut.

But in Poland they also produced bigger cars and the last of the line of their development is Polonez. Jeremy Clarkson form Top Gear judged it to be amoung the worst cars of the world. Well, what  Clarkson probably does not know is that also a racing version was constructed.

But if you prefer to feel the freedom of riding, the technology offers you another option - motorcycles.

With such a sidecar you can even take your family with you. It is probably the invention closest to horses but it still make more noise then, we do.

Saturday, 11 April 2015


Over the last years I have shown you many opera houses in Europe. But actually we never visited one inside. To make up for it I will take you today to the famous "Rigoletto" by Guiseppe Verdi, as shown in the National Opera in Warsaw.

You might remember the building itself since we have seen it two years ago. During the night, the former Town Hall building is nicely illuminated.

On the top of the National Opera House you will rediscover the quadriga above the main entrance.

First, we need to buy the tickets.

Then, we move to the cloak room.

The red carpet will lead us to the balcony.

The spectacle starts at 7 PM so it is just about time that we take our places.

The room is vast, with many levels of balconies and galleries.

The curtain is still closed.

Just below the scene you can see the orchestra.

The best-known air from "Rigoletto" is "La donna è mobile". The most famous performance is probably this by Luciano Pavarotti.

But do not be fooled by the light tone of this air. "Rigoletto" is a sad story. The main character, Rigoletto, is a court jester, whose job is to amuse the Duke of Mantua.

The Duke likes to have fun and his favourite hobby is seducing women, both married and innocent, leaving the fathers and the husbands helpless faced to his ducal power.

When he seduces the daughter of Rigoletto the latter hires an assassin. Unfortunately, Rigoletto's daughter Gilda fells in love with the Duke and sacrifices her life to save her beloved, despite the fact that she knows he was unfaithful to her.

Since the action of "Rigoletto" is taking place in various locations, there is a need to change the scenography a number of times. During the breaks it is possible to visit the buffet. In a fancy place the food is fancy as well.

I particularly liked the cake.

One of the greatest things about operas are the amazing costumes. We are lucky because we will be able to visit an exhibition of the greatest designs of costumes starring in the spectacles of the National Opera in Warsaw. They fully deserve the name of haute couture.

The first dress that I will show you comes of course from Rigoletto, this is the dress of one of the noble women seduced by the Duke of Mantua.

The respective scene is shown on a screen next to the dress.

This amazing dress is from la Traviata, it is a design by Gosia Baczyńska.

The costumes for Madame Butterfly designed by Magdalena Tesławska and Paweł Grabarczyk.

And here Onegin as seen by Joanna Klimas.

I hope that you have enjoyed this date with high culture. I must say that I liked it a lot! And I just cannot get "La donna è mobile" out of my head ...

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Win a postcard from Rick!

Our last story from the Centennial Hall was the story #200! Who would have thought! And yes, it's been 3.5 years and 200 weeks since I created this blog. To celebrate it, I have prepared a little contest in which you can win a postcard from our last trip.

To win the posctard you need to:

1. Leave a comment under this post.


2. Click "like" and / or leave a comment on our Facebook Fanpage.

Congratulations and recommendations of new trips will be appreciated. I will let you know who is the lucky winner next week. In the menatime, I will be working on new stories and new adventures. Thank you for reading my blog - travelling is always better when one can share it with friends :).

Centennial Hall

For our last trip in Wrocław I have left a very special place. A place so special that it is one of fourteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland. Ladies and Gentlemen - let me take you to the Centennial Hall.

The Centennial Hall was built in years 1911-1913. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of the victory of Leipzig. The Hall is surrounded by a Pergola.

Inside the Pergola there is a large and comfortable lane.

In the back of the Hall there is a "dancing fountain". Unfortunately it was closed for maintenance at the time when I was visiting it.

The tall structure that you see in the back is a "Needle", being a metal construction of 96 meters. It was built in 1948 and at that time it was 10 meters higher. The Needle was put in place for the first big exhibition that took place in Wrocław after the war.

The Hall did not suffer much during World War II. The only "victim" was a wooden roof that used to cover these pillars.

Let's move closer to better see the Hall. You may say that it does not look so impressive and that it is surprising that UNESCO considers it to carry some universal values. Well, you need to realise my friends that it was one of the first buildings of this kind in the world, built with use of reinforced concrete.

Inside the Hall there is an interactive exhibition presenting the construction of the Hall.

You can see its place in the history of architecture. The Centennial Hall was built in a style called expressionist architecture, being a sub-branch of modernism.

What I liked a lot is this comparison between the Centennial Hall and the dome of the Roman Panteon. Please remember that at the beginning of the second century, the Ancient Romans did not have reinforced concrete available.

Finally we may move inside the dome.

Nowadays, the Centennial Hall is a multi-purpose hall, used for concerts, matches, political conventions and masses. For next weekend they plan some music-hall, this is why it is filled up with chairs.

You might have noticed already that this huge dome (it has 65 meters of diameter!) is not supported by any columns. I have been told that when the wooden scaffolding was being removed the main architect, Max Berg, was standing in the middle of the floor, ready to literally bear the consequences of any mistake in calculations. Well, these were the good old days when people knew what "honour" and "responsibility for own acts" mean.

I propose we go up, to the gallery. On the staircase you can see the concrete from which the Hall is made.

I managed to sneak inside one of many conference rooms in the Centennial Hall. That allowed me to understand where are some of those windows that I saw from the outside - they make up the walls and the ceilings of some smaller rooms.

The view from the gallery is definitely worth climbing some stairs (Max Berg did not include elevators in his design). The Centennial Hall is really impressive, both when you look down ...

... and up.

I hope that you have enjoyed this trip in the Centennial Hall. To be honest, flat pictures cannot show it in its real dimension. Therefore I recommend you to take a look at these panoramic pictures.

That was our last point of interest in Wrocław. We leave now Silesia and move on to some new adventures!