Warsaw’s new Gothic Art exhibition

Yesterday I went to Warsaw. Nothing special, as I travel there very often. Having a good bus connection – it takes only about 5 hrs to get there. I had a good reason to go – even though I had to wake up at 4:00 am to catch the bus at 6:30. That reason was a new arrangement of a Gothic art exhibition in their National Gallery (Museum).

So I went – and what I saw – took my breath away. I was not alone there – as there were about a dozen of us – guides – who came for the training from nearly all around Poland. It was not a strictly understood training. It was rather an exquisit lecture exclusively for us. The same lady lectured to us, as did during the splendid Europa Jagellonica exhibition in 2012. So we knew, that the quality of the training would be just exactly matching the quality of the exhibition, as well as our expectations.

Sadly we noticed many of the pieces, originally belonging to Wrocław or Gdansk, which were appropriated right after WWII. This is a big problem still discussed in Poland widely, and probably will never be solved. However, I thought that with the quality degradation of the National Gallery in Gdansk – it is far better to have those splendid art pieces being exhibited in Warsaw.

So, not to fall into a sad mood – HERE are some pics which I took during the visit.

I will definitely return there – as soon as possible – for more wonderful sensation.

 

Published in: on 13/02/2014 at 11:42  Leave a Comment  

Photos of My Lübeck

Here are some photos I have taken during the short three days visit to Lübeck.

It is a pity, that out of 2000 photos, only less than 1700 cpuld stay, as relatively good quality ones. I had no tripod, so especially in bad light the pictures taken – turned out to be somewhat out of focus… But – still those, which I have seem to be a fine memory of an interesting trip. 

 

Published in: on 12/01/2014 at 00:39  Leave a Comment  
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My Lübeck

I have always wanted to visit Lübeck. It influenced my Gdansk – as far as the City Rights are concerned, and city outlines (to some extend) too. So when a friend of mine (a guide as myself) called me one evening with a suggestion to go to visit the town, where the Hanseatic League started – I agreed without hesitation.

And so we went, for three days. The flight from Gdansk takes about 50 minutes.

We got off the plane at half past 5 p.m., into a little airport – somewhere in the middle of nowhere. With no idea where to get to the bus to the town’s center, nor how long does it take to get there.. 😉 Luckily today, the modern lingua franca is English – so we managed to get some information from the Airport Information Desk. We found the bus stop, and for 3 EUR per person we bought tickets to the town. It takes 30 minutes’ drive to get off at the Lübeck bus station. And this was exactly where we wanted to get off. We had a room booked in one of the small hotels in the near vicinity of the station. We left our luggage and started off to encounter with the city. We walked to the Holstentor, which looks splendid every hour of the day (or night), and past it – to the center of the old town. We walked it for about 4 hours. And I can say – we saw most of it. At the same time – we knew, and planned what to see next day.

Here are some photos I have taken during the short three days visit to Lübeck. It is a pity, that out of 2000 photos, only about 1600 have relatively good quality. I had no tripod, so especially in bad light the pictures turned out to be somewhat out of focus… But – still those, which I have seem to be a fine memory of an interesting trip.

It is not to expensive to stay in Lübeck, as cost of coffee starts from 2 EUR, the cost of a snack starts from 2 EUR. Museum and church entrance fees vary from 3 to 6 EUR. Hotels can be easily booked through booking. com.

Example entrance fees to the MUST SEE’s are: * St. Mary’s Church – 3 EUR (and you do not get the receipt there), * Town Hall – 4 EUR (the tours are everyday at 11:00, 12:00 and 13:00), * St. Anne’s Museum – 6 EUR – BUT – you need to ask for a ticket for two museums – so that for the second one you pay only half price. If you do not ask it – nobody will propose this to you. It is good to know – what to demand. This information you can get at the Lübeck Welcome Center. However – probably due to the low season (we went there this January) – it takes a bit to attract attention of the staff. But finally – then they are very helpful, kind, and informative. It also is good to print out a map of free toilets. 😀

Remember, that you will not be allowed to take ANY pictures in the St. Anne’s Museum nor in the Buddenbrook House (situated in the house of the famous Mann family). Besides – DO NOT await any impressive interiors in the Buddenbrook House, as unfortunately it was thoroughly remodelled after the last film adaptation of 2008. However – one can take a walk – tracing the Buddenbrook family story – with the book and the map of the town.

NB. anyone wanting to see a perfect example of a merchant house interior – will have to come to Gdansk – to visit the Uphagen House, which has been perfectly rebuilt and refurnished after the destruction of the City by the Red Army in 1945.

This was what I was thinking of – while walking the streets of Lübeck. The city was bombed in 1942, but despite this tragedy – fate spared the city the hellish suffer from the Red Army furious invasion, which hit my Gdansk. Lübeck did not suffer from the Communist regime, as Poland did, so the city was rebuilt and reconstructed – exactly (or as exactly as could be) as it was before the war tragedy. Besides – the population of Lübeck – unlike in Gdansk – did not change. The centuries of family traditions, everyday customs, even marzipan production – did not change as the years and centuries went by. There is a continuation of all that forms the Self Identity of a Hanseatic City… Nothing like that can anymore be found in Gdansk. 😦

So – this is what I was thinking – while walking the streets of the Hanseatic Town of Lübeck… The Hanseatic tradition is still seen everywhere – while in Gdansk only few know what was this organisation, and few only realize that Gdansk was one of the mightiest Hanseatic cities of its times… In Lübeck no-one fights against history. It is accepted and present, and is a source of pride. Whilst in Gdansk it is clearly seen that the history is not accepted at all by majority, being the descendants of the post-war settlers. There is a great and foolish crusade against the Hanseatic look and tradition of the town. The latest exmaple of the lack of common sense and the lack of any taste (!) was the consent to build the so-called Shakespearean Theater (although nobody knows for sure whether any of Shakespeare’s plays were ever played here centuries ago). Well, but what can be awaited of the people, who in majority are the post war settlers, or their descendants – having no will to dig into the rich history of Gdansk!!

Those of us, who have Gdansk roots going back several centuries, or those who are lovers of the town’s great history, fear that untill the next elections – the city will be spoiled with such unwise, disgusting and ugly designs, amidst political quarrels, and corruption.

Envy – sad envy – this is what we both felt when taking hundreds of photographs and enjoying the views of splendid Lübeck, and while inhaling its atmosphere. We somehow felt at home there. Even though neither of us speaks German – the atmosphere of a Hanseatic Grandeur felt familiar – but we both come from Gdansk, also once proud and rich Hanseatic and Royal city.

However – here in my hometown, one can still feel that atmosphere of Grandeur, if only one knows where to open the eyes, or set the ears… 🙂

Published in: on 11/01/2014 at 19:00  Leave a Comment  

My Scottish trip

Some time ago, in 2012, I went to Scotland.

To be exact, I drove do Scotland. A friend of mine proposed he’d take me there on his way to his son. Well, I have always flown by plane, I have never taken Europe in a car. Well, not true – I have – but never that far. I decided to give it a try. I had some business to attend to in Edinburgh, so I had to go anyway. I got into the car and off we went. Travelling through Europe is great – now as the borders do not exist anymore, it is open for touring.

The first stop was at the Channel Tunnel. It was an experience for me – as I am claustrophobic, so I feared a bit – especially having in mind what happened in 2009. But the trip took about 20 minutes or so, so I managed, I survived. And here I was on the British Isles. The route “up the map” was quite easy. And finally we crossed the “border”, and drove into Scotland.

I went back in my memories, and remembered how many times in my life, still in Nigeria, I had heard about Robert the Bruce, Sir William Wallace, Arthur’s Seat, the Scottish mountains, and heather, and the Scotch broom (which also grows here in the north of Poland even more yellow, and which by the way, gave the name to the House of Plantagenet – from “planta genista”).

Finally I reached Edinburgh. As a great fan of history – I had it now all at my fingertips…

Especially I was concerned about St. Giles” Cathedral (particularly it’s Thistle Chapel), John Knox, Sir Archibald Campbell, and of course the Ramsays… To find out why Ramsays – read HERE.  Everyday I was starting my methodical sightseeing in the early morning, so as to see as much as I could…

I know now, I shall definitely return to Edinburgh. And the next time I will make sure to tak the Cities of the Underworld tour in the Mary King’s Close. I went there during my stay, but it was too late. 😦

So next time, I know what to see, what and where to visit, what to focus on in the city. And next time I shall take a train to Glasgow, to visit the Hunterian Museum too.

HERE and HERE are some pictures I have taken during my two days’ stay in this Grey Stone Town.

The only pity is that it is not allowed to take photos of the Stone of Scone. By the way – if anybody says again I am enthusiastic about Polish history – go and listen to a guide in the Edinburgh Castle! The way SHE talked about Scottish history made me feel not a patriot at all. 😉

Well, this is all I had to say about Edinburgh.

For now 🙂

Another … church in Poland

I am often asked why most of the Polish tours have at least one church in the itinerary… Sometimes it is describeb with an expression: “ABC” (another… church).

Before any explanation WHY another church – enjoy a short visit to the splendid ST. ANNE’S in Cracow, which is one of Europe’s outstanding examples of baroque.  🙂

And now – here is some explanation:

In Poland – so dreadfully destroyed during the last great military conflict which was the Second World War – sometimes the only REAL art is located only in churches. It is worth remembering that a great lot of the splendid art that Poland was furnished with – was simply STOLEN by both armies (first the German and then Red Army). Earlier in the history there was a Polish-Swedish military conflict, which resulted in a great Polish loss of art as well as architecture (just to mention the Krzyztopor castle in Ujazd) and what should be NOT forgotten – is the Napoleonic period – which also resulted in plundering and destruction of Polish art and goods.

After WW II that art that was luckily found or (more rarely) claimed – was placed in museums. Unfortunately many Polish museums still do not have the knowledge of how to display the possessed art. Besides – not everybody likes (or has time enough) to visit museums. Another thing is that Polish museums still do not have the opinion or reputation as (for example) the Rijksmuseum has.

Another thing is – that most of the foreign visitors think Poland still is a country far, far behind the world. Common opinion says that visiting the museums in Russia, or Western Europe gives more art reflection. Yes it does – but among their exhibitions – there are many pieces that come from Poland. Think of it when you stand in front of a wonderful huge Beer Mug with coins  in the Louvre. Do remember please, that it was made in Gdansk :), not to speak of a variety of art held in the Hermitage.

However church visiting is not only a Polish speciality. During my visit in Prague, we were rushed through nearly all the city’s churches, starting with St. Vitus Cathedral. In Rome, the sightseeing also starts with significant churches of the Eternal City (not to mention a special church to all the Catholics and art lovers – the St. Peter’s Basilica)

Also for a better understanding – please read the below fragment from The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo… Very beautifully it explains WHY are the churches so important in and to Europe 🙂

Thought was then free only in this manner; hence it never wrote itself out completely except on the books called edifices.  Having thus only this resource, masonry, in order to make its way to the light, flung itself upon it from all quarters. Hence the immense quantity of cathedrals which have covered Europe–a number so prodigious that one can hardly believe it even after having verified it. All the material forces, all the intellectual forces of society converged towards the same point: architecture. In this manner, under the pretext of building churches to God, art was developed in its magnificent proportions.Then whoever was born a poet became an architect. Genius, scattered in the masses, repressed in every quarter under feudalism, finding no issue except in the direction of architecture,–gushed forth through that art, and its Iliads assumed the form of cathedrals. All other arts obeyed, and placed themselves under the discipline of architecture. They were the workmen of the great work. The architect, the poet, the master, summed up in his person the sculpture which carved his façades, painting which illuminated his windows, music which set his bells to pealing, and breathed into his organs.Architecture was, down to the fifteenth century, the chief register of humanity; up until that interval not a thought which is in any degree  complicated made its appearance in the world, which has not been worked into an edifice; that every popular idea, and every religious law, has had its monumental records; that the human race has, in short, had no important thought which it has not written in stone. And why? Because every thought, either philosophical or religious, is interested in perpetuating itself; because the idea which has moved one generation wishes to move others also, and leave a trace. Now, what a precarious immortality is that of the manuscript! How much more solid, durable, unyielding, is a book of stone! In order to destroy the written word, a torch and a Turk are sufficient. To demolish the constructed word, a social revolution, a terrestrial revolution are required. The barbarians passed over the Coliseum; the deluge, perhaps, passed over the Pyramids.In the fifteenth century everything changes.Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself, not only more durable and more resisting than architecture, but still more simple and easy. Architecture is dethroned. Gutenberg’s letters of lead are about to supersede Orpheus’s letters of stone.

Published in: on 31/12/2013 at 18:54  Comments (2)  
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Astronomical Clock in Gdańsk

Next year – on April 30th we will be celebrating the 550th birthday of our Astonomical Clock in Gdansk’s St. Mary’s Church.

A conference about the Great Astronomical Clocks is planned here on that day. What a wonderful way to celebrate Birthday 🙂

HERE are some photos of the Clock I took way back in 2009, when it still worked.

It is not working anymore, it is broken, and is now silent, and dead. What a pity! To see a similar one (as far as the idea is concerned) in action one has to go to Prague. This isn’t fair, as we have such a splendid example here. However – something has moved recently. There is hope now – as on the 30th of April 2014 a conference is due to be held here. And during it – some plans for the renovation and mending are going to be revealed. Hopefully – in few years’ time we will again be pleasing our eyes with this fine example of medieval engineering 🙂

 

Published in: on 30/12/2013 at 18:19  Comments (4)  

At leisure – a bit of Chełmno (Culm) and Torun at dusk

Day off…

I learned to cherish each day off like the best delicacy. Especially, as my season seems to be a very long one – with the end in January. Well… we had a day off at the same time, and almost in the same company.  So we started off in the morning. It means – well after 9:00 a.m. we finally decided to move.

Our aim was Torun (Thorn), with a short stop in Chełmno (Culm) on our way. Unfortunately the days are getting shorter (thanks to the stupid time change, giving nothing but earlier darkness), and additionally – because we did not take the highway – in Chełmno we had time only to visit the High Church of the town (popularly called the… St. Mary’s). The reason for it was the lack of time on the way to Torun. As Torun was our day’s target.

But, it doesn’t mean we did not have time to drop in for a tasty chocolate cake and a delicious apple pie in Vanilla Cafe (just upstairs of the flower shop in the center of the town). It seems we did not lack the time for this.

However, Chełmno is a town for a whole day’s visit. For one can’t just walk past the details on the buildings, which although still awaiting better times – retained their charm. How not to sink in the soothing silence of the town’s churches, or how not to walk down the streets – yearning for the good old long gone times of the gossip on the thresholds… So we shall return to Chełmno in spring, when there will be neither itching chill of the wind, nor the drizzle, successfully discouraging to hunt for a good camera shot.

So – promising ourselves a longer spring visit, we finally took off for Torun.

And when we got there… Well, as always – we walked without a rush, and in fact without any purpose. As it is so difficult to decide what to touch first, what to see first. Should it be the Leaning Tower, or the Saint Johns’ Cathedral, or maybe St. James soaked in the purple light of the setting sun, or maybe should it be rather the Town Hall… Finally – as always, we ended up in St. Mary’s

And then we took a stroll through the streets in the deepening dusk.

However Torun is not only one of Poland’s 14 UNESCO sites, it is not only the place to explore the untouched medieval architecture, or to feel the atmosphere – retained throught the centuries. It is not only the town where the famous Nicolaus Copernicus was born…

Torun is also a place to eat delicious dumplings (pierogi). So to maintain the tradition – we went to the Leniwa restaurant. The dumplings were more than worth a visit.

Honestly I can state, that our Torun visit was without any plan, nor aim. We went there just because we love the city, and have known it for a long time. My long historical family bonds keep me tied to the city very firmly…

So we did not have to see anything in particular, neither we needed to admire anything special, to know we visited a unique place on earth 😉

I managed to take some photos of pretty good sights both in Chełmno and in Torun. And of course, because I forgot the tripod – some of the photos are out of focus… And for this I am sorry. 😉

Hotel Krasicki – the only Polish Best Luxury Historical

Below is an exact translation from mojemazury.pl :

Hotel Krasicki in Lidzbark  (Lidzbark Wamiński – North-East Poland) Best Luxury Historical as the winner of the international competition World Luxury Hotel Award 2013 .

It is the only hotel in the Polish history to have received this prestigious award.

Ms. Catherine Grabinska, Director of Marketing and Sales at Hotel Krasicki, received the statuette during the ceremony at the Indigo Pearl Resort in Thailand.

Hotel Krasicki competed for the prestigious title with more than a thousand other objects from around the world. An international jury selected the winners from among the objects which in the plebiscite on-line (from June 24 until July 26, 2013) received most votes.

Hotel Krasicki was the only Polish hotel, which was in the prestigious group of winners and awarded the title of Best Luxury Historical Hotel .

Statuettes were presented at a gala ceremony, which took place on 1 November 2013 at Indigo Pearl Resort in Thailand – hotel , which won the plebiscite last year. There, Ms. Catherine Grabinska, Director of Marketing and Sales received the prestigious statuette.

– This award, and the number of people visiting us, confirm that our revitalization and adaptation of the yard hit the jackpot. In the two and a half years we hosted here more than 36,000 visitors from all over the world – says Andrzej Dowgiałło, CEO Anders Group (which owns Hotel Krasicki).

Prestigious Awards World Luxury Hotel Award, awarded for the seventh time, confirms that the winning hotels offer the highest standards of quality, customer service and care for guests’ comfortable stay.

Hotel Krasicki is the first Polish facility that has been awarded in the history of this international competition .

It is worth noting that this is not the first international award , received by the Hotel Krasicki . The architecture of the Hotel Krasicki was appreciated among others in 2011 in the International Hotel Award in the category of Best New Hotel Construction and Design. In the same year the building was awarded the first prize in the magazine Hotelier – Hotel Idea.

Hotel Krasicki belongs to the Polish Anders Group , which consists of a total of five of hotel : Hotel Anders Resort & Spa in Old Jabłonki , Hotel Zamek Ryn , Miłomłyn Hotel Spa Medical Wellness & Vitality and Fairy Nook in Guzowym Furnace .

Home :)

I have finally returned from my Poland tours – and from now on – it is going to be the local guiding only. No more packing – till March. I could as well say – home sweet home 😉

So now I will have some more time to tidy up the eternal mess in photos, to prepare notes for lecturing, to proceed with the book translation, to tidy the mess in all the notes… In one sentence – I will do all the things I did not have time to do before 🙂

And so – here are the examples of my recent activity

A bit of Gdansk – my Gdansk, and – St. Mary’s the always fascinating monument to Gdansk’s pride.

Soon there will be more to come…

Published in: on 02/11/2013 at 18:03  Leave a Comment  

En route – collection

It still is season, although not as busy as in summer, but still I find it difficult to settle. The worst of all is that in the meantime, I have no time to sit down and sort out the photos taken throughout the season. And there is quite a lot to file. Some probably will have to be deleted. It always is a problem – which ones should I delete? Sometimes there is wonderful light but not to sharp edges… Well, finally recently I had some time, as I was ill. So being stuck at home for few days (without rush!), I finall managed to do some sorting 😉

Here are the results – three short miscellanies – one about Torun (what else could it be if not my beloved town!), the other – Poland en route and the third – Malbork (with some pics that had been waiting since past winter) 🙂

Enjoy 🙂

Published in: on 30/10/2013 at 21:04  Comments (2)