Annie Bananie en Europe

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Tag Archives: Poland

Wandering in Warsaw: Łazienki Park

Łazienki Park (“Ła” is pronounced as “wa”) was my final stop in Warsaw and I almost didn’t go. It hadn’t been on my list of places to visit but I had about two hours before I had to head to the airport, so I dropped by for a brief stroll. And thankfully I did because it became my favourite part of Warsaw. The park was larger than I had imagined and thus within the two hours, I barely covered a small part of this urban paradise. Such a treasure waiting to be discovered…

Idyllic representation of a city park, surrounded by peace and serenity. Not a fan of the signs of urban life in the background (white high-rise building) but that can’t be helped in the city center.

Vibrant signs of life are to be seen everywhere around the park. Among them, a gorgeous mandarin duck caught my attention, as did several playful red squirrels here and there. And a gentleman in stone…???

Flowers were in full bloom in late spring and the lush greenery made me forget that I was still in a city.

More wandering around the park before heading to the airport, ending my short Polish weekend getaway.

Finally, the peacock. I’ve already mentioned him in the “Beautiful things in Warsaw” post but I can’t resist showing him off again here. First and possibly the only time in my life seeing a peacock opening up his train (new terminology learned, thanks Wiki) to assert his reign. Stole my heart right there ❤

Wandering in Warsaw

There are places that I travelled to, primarily not because I really wanted to see the place, but because someone I knew wanted to go but couldn’t. It’s not a gesture to brag by saying, “Look, I’m where you want to be!” but more like…”I’m fulfilling one of your wishes on your behalf, though I really wish you were here with me.” The first place was Luxembourg. I think my uncle meant it as a joke and picked Luxembourg randomly on the map of Europe, but when he told me, it just stuck with me, and I went as my first weekend trip away from Belgium.

The other place was Warsaw. Whenever I asked my dad if there was anywhere in Europe he really wanted to visit, he’d say Poland, specifically Warsaw. I don’t know if there was any particular reason, but I think he had the impression that Poland is a good representation of the Eastern European countries, if he could only pick one.

Well, my dad still hasn’t gotten the chance to go to Poland but alas, I knew I had to go and see what it was about Warsaw that attracted my him. So I went for a weekend in 2017 and, for the first time in my life, photographed a streak of lightning and saw a peacock spread its feathers. Of course, these are only two of many reasons why the two days in Warsaw left a deep impression in my memory. After almost four years, I am blogging about this trip from recollection, so a lot of details may not be accurate. But this will be a reminder to head back with my dad in the future, to fulfill his wish for and with him.

Palace of Culture and Science, a prominent landmark in Warsaw. Dark clouds were approaching and a storm was anticipated, so I had to dash quickly to get inside before I got soaked. There was a viewing terrace at the top of the building where I enjoyed a panoramic view of Warsaw in the midst of a thunderstorm

Same building viewed from a different angle, lit up in rainbow colours during the night, after the storm. I mistakenly thought that this was the building known as “Stalin’s Birthday Cake” but that was actually the Academy of Science in Riga, though they do look similar.

The old town square in Warsaw looks like any quintessential old town square found in almost every city in Europe. Don’t get me wrong, it is very pretty, especially on a nice day under blue skies. Ironically, unlike Bratislava, Warsaw didn’t come off as melancholic…or “blue”.

Quiet morning after the rain, with not-so-blue skies this time (a day after the previous photo).

I quite liked these carvings on the walls of the University of Warsaw Library (Biblioteka Uniwersytecka w Warszawie, or BUW). There were actually eight panels and it took a bit of research to find out about the two pictured here. On the left is the score for B-Moll Study by Karol Szymanowski, a Polish composer (source), and on the right is Collatz conjecture algorithm coded in Pascal (according to Reddit).

I thought this was just a random sculpture of a mermaid with a sword and shield but apparently the Mermaid of Warsaw is a symbol of the city. She appears on the city’s coat of arms and there are various sculptures of her across the city, the one in the photo standing next to the Vistula River by the Świętokrzyski Bridge.

And here is a silhouette of a unicorn and a girl on the “unicorn well”, next to St. Kazimierz Church in the New Town. Apparently the unicorn had been on the coat of arms of the New Town, according to Wikipedia, again. I’m quite stoked to be learning so much, after four years, about the symbols that appear in these images that I took without much thought. Pretty amazing the amount of information you can find out there by Googling “Warsaw unicorn”…

Chillin’ in the park, under the shadows, in the sunlight. Of course that wasn’t me in the hanging cage (is there a specific name for that?) but I wouldn’t mind switching with those folks… 😉

Time for some food!!! I was looking forward to dining at Rózana in Warsaw because I’ve heard great things about it from various sources. After sitting down, I decided to get the roasted duck, which was described to be “served on apple and forest cranberry sauce with potatoes and fried apple”. I love a good duck dish everywhere I go, and while this one was nice, I couldn’t help comparing it with the duck roast that I had in Prague. As a result, the Polish version appeared a little underwhelming because the one in Prague was just sooooooooooooooooooooo good. A bit unfair I know, sorry!

Pierogies, or dumplings, are perhaps Poland’s national dish and if not, they are still massively popular. There are restaurants specialized in serving pierogies, Zapiecek being one restaurant chain that can be seen all over the place in Warsaw. Obviously I had to try some, and I went for the mixed pierogies with Ruthenian dumplings (cottage cheese with potatoes) and dumplings with meat and cabbage. The dumplings were served with a very greasy but flavourful bacon gravy. I was surprised to find that these dumplings were quite similar to the Chinese pan-fried ones (pot stickers). Would I get them again? Why, certainly I would!

Of course, the trip wouldn’t be complete without cabbage rolls, or gołąbki, as they’re called in Poland. There’s something irresistible about cabbage rolls but I didn’t know that I was getting it when I ordered. “Polish gołąbki” on the menu didn’t mean a thing to me (gotta order something mysterious once in a while) and I was surprised and glad that it was indeed a cabbage roll dish, which was oh-so-delicious!

Always carrying my best travel buddies, Mr. Nikon and Boo from Mario, with me all around the world. It would have been nice to share the lovely food with some good company but my dad wasn’t there at that time and I hadn’t met Mr.ZJ back then, so some trips such as this one had to be completed alone. That didn’t stop me from enjoying a nice beer with the gołąbki, ha!

I left out one place that I will write about in the next entry and that is Łazienki Park, which was probably my favourite place in Warsaw (out of the limited number of places I visited). Lots of green coming up in the next post!

From high places, part 6

Why hello there! I think the time has come to add another post to the “From high places” series, which showcases views of cities and towns from high vantage points such as towers, hills, and airplanes. Let’s see how many more I’ve managed to collect since the last post!

Amsterdam

 
I fly with KLM quite a bit and so I often have connecting flights in Amsterdam, which means that I get to see Amsterdam from the air from different perspectives as the plane takes off or lands (if I get a window seat, and I often do). Here are a few of them.

Beijing (read about it)

When I went to Beijing 13 years ago, I saw the Forbidden City from a hill in Jingshan Park, took a picture of it, and lost the photo. Then last year, when I went back to Beijing in December, I decided that I’d have to go back to Jingshan Park and retake that photo – and I did! Magnificent history right in front of my eyes!

Bilbao

 
Bilbao certainly had its fair share of hills and as a result offers many wonderful viewpoints of the city. The first three photos (featuring the famous Guggenheim Museum in the second photo) were taken on Mount Artxanda (reached by funicular) and the last one from Parque Etxebarria at the top of the Mallona stairs.

Conwy

Conwy has arguably the most majestic castle of all the castles I’ve seen, and the view from the top of the town walls was amazing. Seas, hills, castle – seems like Conwy has everything needed for a medieval tale!

Edinburgh

I’ve written about Edinburgh before and shown the view from the top of Arthur’s Seat, but there are plenty of other fine viewpoints around this hilly Scottish capital. On the way to Calton Hill, stop to appreciate the Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat on the opposite side and the city below!

Falkirk (read about it)

I visited Falkirk on a rainy day, mainly to see the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel, on which this photo was taken. If you look for the carefully, the Kelpies can be seen in the far distance on the right side of this photo.

Falkland

Not to be confused with Falkirk, Falkland was the starting point of the hike up the East Lomond Hill. I had to stop many times to take a break and catch my breath but the view over Falkland was certainly a welcomed treat!

Glasgow

Even though I live in Glasgow, I may be a little ashamed to say that I don’t know many places to see the city from up high! Well, The Lighthouse is one such place, but I would be surprised if there weren’t more.

Holyhead (read about it)

After visiting South Stack, I decided to walk back to Holyhead along the coastal path, which was to take me around an hour an a half. I ended up taking approximately two hours because of a detour to the summit of the Holyhead mountain, one that I was glad I took because I was rewarded with this view!

Inverness

I only dropped by Inverness for a short while during a day tour of Loch Ness, but I had the chance to see Inverness Castle and see the city by the river from the castle, which was situated on a hill. I’d love to go back to Inverness if I still have the chance before I leave Scotland!

Mississauga

Mississauga was featured in the first part of the “From high places” series, but here is a different point of view – downtown Mississauga from the air right before landing at Toronto Pearson Airport. The slender and defining shapes of the Marilyn Monroe Towers would be recognizable from any distance, though unfortunately the photo turned out slightly blurry 😦

Oban

I’ve been to Oban three times within the past three years but it was only during my most recent visit (last week) that I finally went to the looming McCaig’s Tower that is visible from the town centre. The uphill walk offered some great views of the coastal town and the Inner Hebridean islands (not shown here)!

Stirling (read about it)

Stirling wasn’t a city that left a deep impression on me, but it was still worth exploring as a day trip from Glasgow. Here’s a view of Stirling from the Wallace Monument.

Warsaw (read about it)

 
Warsaw – ah, yes, Warsaw, as seem from the top of the Palace of Culture and Science. What amazing views from every angle! I was so mesmerized that I was sad to go. To make it even more spectacular, I was there right in the midst of a thunderstorm – how cool was that!

That’s all for part 6! Be right back as I continue to hunt for more high places… 😉

Beautiful things in Warsaw

Warsaw was three weeks ago but I still want to note down the highlights that made this weekend trip especially memorable. Perhaps they’re not exclusive to Warsaw, but the city became just a bit more beautiful than it already is, because I had these experiences there.

Rain was in the forecast but I didn’t expect a thunderstorm, especially not while I was on top of the Palace of Culture and Science, the most prominent building on Warsaw’s skyline. And I was thankful to have a shelter from the rain, though I did have to face my fear of thunder. Then I thought, why not turn this fear into a photo opportunity?! I’ve never successfully photographed lightning before, and with streaks of lightning before my very eyes every minute or so, at the perfect angle, there was no reason not to try. And this is the result. Definitely not trivial to get the timing right but I’m happy with the outcome. (P. S. Whoever it was on Tripadvisor that said that Warsaw is not a great city to be viewed from above…how utterly mistaken you were!)

Łazienki Park is an urban oasis that is full of colour, full of life, full of surprises. Among the scurrying red squirrels and graceful mandarin ducks, this king peacock decided to show off his flashy robe in front of an excited crowd while not even batting an eye. “See how stunning I am,” he seemed to say. I’ve seen peacocks plenty of times before but this was the first time I’ve seen one spreading his feathers fully. Too beautiful for words.

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