It’s been a while since I’ve been out for an early ramble. This one begins at 6 am. It’s a follow-your-nose-despite-plans ramble, in the course of which I make new discoveries in a place I thought I knew reasonably well. My goal is Łazienki parklands, but I meander through Park Morski Oko en route, passing a police car beside a couple of shaken-looking people in orange T-shirts; a blind man tapping with his stick; a pair of middle-aged women on exercise machines; and a dog being groomed by its owner on a park bench (that’s where all those clumps of hair come from); being passed by bothersome cyclists. I meander, checking out anything that tickles my fancy: street boxes full of bright orange flowers; a fruiting beech tree; a low woven fence surrounding flowers with a sign identifying them; the brown furry cylinders of bulrushes topped by a spike; posters peeling from a blue fence.
Eventually I reach my true goal, and walk through the grand gate into the 76 hectares of Łazienki parkland and its shady avenue of trees. It’s already over 20° but I’m seduced out of the shade by tiger lilies and memories of my dad who sold tiger lily bulbs. I approach the Belverdere restaurant located in the neo-classicist New Orangery along a formal path marked by vivid pink plantings, past a fountain and a sundial, towards a curve of yellow flowers in every stage of bloom and decay.
Finding Chinese lanterns in the middle of Warsaw is no longer a surprise (see the link at the end of this post) but the painted pandas are, especially Tutankhamen Panda. Flowers, just past their prime are blooming, both subtle and startlingly bright, sheltering ducks and leading the eye to reflections.
I find a tree cave, branches right down to the ground and substantial (and unphotographable) space inside. A path leads past a bust of an important person through a rockery, over knotted roots, past grand bark, to a pool with wavering reflections, and down to a pseudo-Roman amphitheatre guarded by a parading peacock.
I catch glimpses of the palace on the isle, and when I reach it I find a troop of people at work: mowing the lawn, spraying ornamental trees, leaf-blowing, netting scum from the fountain pool, raking leaves: all overseen by nonchalant statues and more peacocks. Guards on segways cruise the park, making sure no one dares to tread on the grass or commit any other anti-park acts.
Myślewicki Palace and the old guardhouse are two more buildings that have managed somehow to escape my notice. Outside the guardhouse an energetic group of people are doing something systematic with sticks and laughing at their incompetences.
Time is galloping by, so I head out of the park, looking back at the perfect reflection of the palace. At my daughter’s, I play little cockatoos (who somehow morph into mummy and daddy fish) and luxuriate in coffee made with her new machine. That first sip! A perfect end to a perfect walk.
Have a look at https://warsaw2015.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/a-walk-in-lazienki/ for the background to the Chinese presence in Łazienki, and links to other Łazienki posts.