Saturday, 31 October 2015

Jucker farm

Last week I have shown you the posh urban autumn. Today I will prove you that orange is the new black also in the country side. Let me welcome you to the Jucker Farm.

The Jucker Farm is located next to the Pfäffikon Lake, in the canton of Zurich.

The farm is run by two brothers (named Jucker of course) and it specialises in pumpkins.

You can see there all sorts of pumpkins. The classical orange ones.

Some that are still green ...

... and tiny red ones as well. This nice clown invites you to the "pumpkin circus".

You can see here a pumpkin tiger, jumping through a circle of burning orange.

Next to it another moment of horror, with flying knives.

Here come a magical rabbit in a hat. Reminds me of the one that we have seen in the Labyrinth of Light.

And look! That one looks just as my cousin Randy! Equestrian vaulting looks great but it is by far not a piece of cake, you can trust me on that.

Besides pumpkins, the Jucker Farm is also growing apples.

You have surely guessed that they do not grow them the easy way. Oh, no, this would be too simple. They grow them into a labyrinth.

I believe it is really a great idea - you can run through the lanes and smell the sweet apples around you.

So run my friends. See you on the other side!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Wilanów Park in autumn

It's been already quite a long time since we have visited the Wilanów Park. I have shown you then its beauty on a sunny summer day. Today I will show you the park in autumn colours, there is no better way to explain the term "golden Polish autumn".

The magic part of the golden autumn is that it is a type of natural rainbow, with red, orange, yellow, green and brown leaves that can exist on the same tree.

The Wilanów palace that we have visited last week looks like a jewel surrounded with precious gems.

 Close to the ground, the French-style garden is still mainly green.

But the tops of the trees are already covered by a sunny orange.

Wilanów Palace is located on a little hill.

In the back, it has a little lake. You can come to it by one of the many little paths.

The lake looks calm and innocent.

But do not be fooled by its calm. There were years when the level of water was higher than a horse. Or even higher than a man.

In the backyard of the palace the diversity of the Polish autumn can be seen at its best. The roses bloom as if were still in springtime.

But just next to it, the brown leaves create a most precious carpet, reminding everybody that the days are shorter and that winter is coming.

But for the time being, summer and autumn are still fighting to win their positions. Let's enjoy this sunny afternoon when autumn has stopped half way.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Royal Palace in Wilanów

King Jan III Sobieski is one of the most popular kings in the Polish history. Under his rule Poland was strong and respected. I am happy to take you today to his favourite residence.

The Wilanów Palace was built in the second half of the seventeenth century in a style that was a mixture of baroque, traditional Polish architecture and Versailles.

The Palace was built for king Jan III Sobieski to demonstrate his power after the triumph in the Battle of Vienna. Here you can see him (and his horse of course!) defeating the Ottoman Turks.

The palace used to be a luxury residence, filled with many paintings and sculptures.

In some rooms you almost cannot spot the walls!

Even the ceilings are covered with frescoes.

Some of the rooms were used for official meetings and celebrations.

Others had a private character, with an office ...

... a bedroom ...

... and a chapel.

The dining room was equipped with gold cutlery. King's privilege.

The china was obviously of Chinese origin. It was kept in a real Chinese room.

When the king wanted to take some rest he could sit on one of these benches. Unfortunately this is not allowed to sit on them nowadays.

Through the window he could see his garden, cut in the Versailles style again.

On the lower floor of the Palace there is an exhibition of traditional clothes worn by nobility in seventeenth century.

No, these are not both for females. Ladies were wearing long dresses like the beige one on the left side. Gentlemen were wearing robe-like garment called kontusz, like the green one on the right side. A kontusz was surrounded by a sash, being a piece of fabric, often decorated with gold fibres. They were the most distinctive element of the clothes of a Polish nobleman.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little travel in the times of king Jan.

The sun is shining bright so I propose that we take a walk in the beautiful garden surrounding the Palace. We have already seen it in summer but it is in autumn when its true beauty is revealed.

Saturday, 10 October 2015


A few weeks ago I have taken you to Nidzica. It proved to be pretty disappointing. To make it up to you, I have decided to go still this summer to the most important castle of the Teutonic Knights - Marienburg or Malbork. This will be the fourth castle that we are visiting together, after Bytów and Olsztyn.

Why did I chose Malbork? Because it is the best. It has been proven and certified by UNESCO, which enrolled Malbork on the World Heritage Sites List.

The Malbork castle is so big, that to fully assess its architecture we will first look at a model.

Let's move towards the main entry.

The Malbork castle was built and rebuilt between thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. It lies between two arms on the Nogat river. As a result, only one side of the castle was easily accessible. As you might have guessed, this very side was well guarded by high walls and a moat.

When visitors crossed the bridge over the moat, they were faced with a huge gate.

It was closed with a special wooden grid.

The castle comprised three levels - the Lower Castle, the Middle Castle and the High Castle, each of them constituting a separate defense line. The courtyard of the Middle Castle was large enough to accommodate large groups of visitors.

The Middle Castle was the residence of the Great Masters of the Teutonic Knights Order. You can see some of them here.

This is where they were receiving their noble guests. They had for this a big refectory (or dinning room).

On the walls the guests could admire paintings showing scenes from the Bible or from the history of the Knights.

The main refectory had a special system of floor heating, connected to a huge oven on the floor below.

In warm days, the Master could also invite his guests to the Summer Refectory.

The Summer Refectory is relatively large but the ceiling is supported by just one column. There is a story saying that one day the "government" of the Teutonic Knights was gathered in the Summer Refectory. A Polish person has let some troops know and they tried to shoot in the direction of this single column. They have almost made it.

The High Castle was mainly a secure defense place, guarded by yet another wall and moat.

The gate was guarded day and night.

The bascule bridge could be easily opened and closed thanks to this counterweight.

The courtyard of the High Castle was smaller, fenced with windows from which the defenders could throw stones or hot oil.

In the middle of the courtyard stands a well that was ensuring to the defenders of the castle supplies of clean water.

The High Castle was equipped with a big kitchen. The knights were only eating twice a day, once around noon and a second time in the evening. They only had meat once a week.

The High Castle had obviously its own refectory. On the wall you can see the Virgin Mary - after all the castle was dedicated to her (Marienburg means "city of Mary").

The bedrooms were modest. You may notice also that the beds were short for contemporanous standards. This is because the knights were shorter than men of today.

In the event that invaders would manage to enter the High Castle, the last defence line was in the Gdanisko (Dansker) tower. It was accessed by a special corridor. On one side you can see the castle ...

... on the other the Nogat river.

The corridor had special wholes, through which the defenders could throw on the attackers rocks or boiling water.

Nowadays, the castle is obviously a safe place. It houses a museum where masterpieces of medieval art are exhibited. Like this wooden altar, probably made in the workshop of Vit Stwosz, the author of the altar in the St. Mary Casilica in Kraków.

I really encourage you to visit the Malbork castle. It is truely impressive. And the inhabitants are very nice, I must admit.

(Pssst. If you are afraid of the Knights, you can also try the virtual tour of the Malbork castle).