Saturday, August 27, 2005


Today I would like to write a bit about Luzerne. If you want to know where the city is placed you can find it easily on maps of Switzerland I put in my earlier entries of this blog. Each city I visited in Switzerland had something exceptional and beautiful but Luzerne seemed to me the most charming somehow. I don't know why. I would call Sion the most characteristic with its two big hills, mountainteous towns were pretty with its specific mountaineous architechture and old wooden houses from XIX century like everywhere in the world but Luzerne had its specific style and this historical climate I like so much. Talking about Lucerne I would like to start with a wooden bridge full of flower-pots (picture number 1 and 2 of this entry) that comes from XIV century as far as I remember though it was reconstructed significantly after its big fire in 1993.
What interesting about this bridge (picture number 3 in this entry) is that above heads of people who were passing (and still pass ) it -a bit beneath its ceiling - there were (and still are) placed paintings every five metres next - entitled altogether - "A dance with a Death". They were a kind of a prayer for each human being who walked along this brigde and were supposed to remind to everyone we are not everlasting on this world.
On each picture people were dancing, working or fighting - were just busy with their everyday routine while hidden -merely visibly Death was tracing their each step. I liked this brigde - major touristic attration of Lucerne - very much.
Of course many other things can be written (and soon will be) about this wonderful city where many houses are painted but the one I remebered the most.
To be continued soon:)

Friday, August 26, 2005

some more things about Switzerland 2005

That's me again. After some rest time to go back to my my blog. Don't think it is something easy to write about Switzerland. I am trying to collect all things that seem to be interesting to me but time and again I am having problem which one to choose!
So I will start with a map of my route marked with black lines on the map beneath. The places where we stayed bit longer (a day or two days for example or half of a day) are marked with black ringes. It wasnot my first time in this Alpine country but I have never seen such large parts of it. The highest mountain I climbed till summer 2005 (as deals Switzerland of course) was 2600 metres above sea level and is placed in the region I marked with a yellow ring on the map beneath. This year from observatory platform placed on Klein Matterhorn I could see the higesht mountain of Europe - Mont Blanc - cause visibility was really perfect that day and I decided to go into Mont Blanc region during my next trip. It is important to admit that when visibility and weather conditions are great is nothing big to see Mont Blanc from Geneva, Sion or Montreux. But this time I could see it only from Klein Matternhorn.
The map beneath isn't ideal and some places/towns I was at are not marked there at all but with a lapse of time I will try to find better maps and enlarge to you some regions plus present many interesting things about them. I want to come back into Switzerland at once of course.
I have learnt a lot of about Alpine flora (bought some books of course) and brought many souvenirs (like a whistling Alpine marmot). I also visited botanical garden in Geneva and could compare it with famous Kew Gardens in London I saw last year (I must say Kew gardens were bigger for sure but also generally better as deals taking care of plants that grow there).
Generally I think Switzerland is fascinating country, everyone should see Alpine glaciers or any glaciers at all and visit Switzerland at least one time in life. I can assure you that you are able to spend lots of money there and you will not notice at all that you are without them soon.
But you will not be regreting. I can assure you.
To be continued soon:)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Alpine glaciers - the views that I don't want to forget

I am back. First I want to present to you some unforgetable summer views from Jungfraujoch and then from Klein Matternhorn. I hope never to forget them.
First Jungfraujoch -the highest railway in Europe (3454 m above sea level + Sphinx station 3551):

Then Klein Matternhorn (3883 metres above sea level):

Soon I will write and explain to you much more:) I hope to come back there and do some skiing on glaciers surface. I think it would be really cool.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Very long entry about geography, languages, history and ...trains in Switzerland

At the heart of Europe

It is often said that Switzerland lies at the heart of Europe. Geographically speaking, that's not quite true. However, the main route linking northern and southern Europe does run through the Alps. Switzerland borders Germany in the north, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein in the east, Italy in the south and France in the west. This means that three important European cultures meet in Switzerland - that of the German-speaking region, the French and the Italian.
The geography of Switzerland is notable for its great diversity.
Switzerland’s three main geographical regions are the Jura, Plateau and the Alps.
Beneath you have location of Switzerland in the centre of Europe and its neighbours:

Size, regions, population

Switzerland has an area of 41,285 square kilometres (15,940 square miles).

The Jura, the Plateau and the Alps form the three main geographic regions of the country. You have them marked on the map beneath:

7.3 million people- just over one thousandth (0.1 per cent) of the global population - live in Switzerland. Switzerland has a high population density, with 237 people per square km (614 per square mile) of the productive area. In the agglomerations, which cover about 20% of the total surface area, the density is 590 per square km (1528 per square mile).

Switzerland is densely populated, with an average of 183 people per square kilometer.
However, there are major differences between the geographical regions. The geography of Switzerland means that the climate varies greatly from one region to another. Depending on the area and the time of year, Switzerland experiences conditions reminiscent both of Siberia and of the Mediterranean.

The Plateau

The Plateau stretches from Lake Geneva in the south west to Lake Constance in the north east, with an average altitude of 580 m (1902 ft).It covers about 30 percent of the country`s surface area, but is home to two thirds of the population. There are 450 people to every square kilometre (1,166 per square mile). Few regions in Europe are more densely populated.Most of Switzerland's industry and farmland is concentrated in the Plateau.

The Jura

The Jura, a limestone range stretching from Lake Geneva to the Rhine, makes up about 12 per cent of Switzerland’s surface area. Located on average 700 meters (2,300 feet) above sea level, it is a picturesque highland crossed by river valleys.Numerous fossils and dinosaur tracks have been found in the Jura region, which has given its name to the Jurassic period. The rocks of the Jura were formed between 208 million and 144 million years ago. Jurassic period rocks are found in numerous places in the world, but it was in the Jura that they were first studied, at the end of the 18th century.

Typical Jura landscape near Langenbruck, Canton Basel-Country

The Alps

The Alps span some 200 kilometres (125 miles), at an average altitude of 1700 m (5576 ft), and cover nearly two thirds of Switzerland's total surface area. They provide a continental watershed, determining the climate and vegetation, But while they contribute enormously to the Swiss identity, economic activity is concentrated in the Plateau.The valleys of several major rivers - the Rhone, Upper Rhine, Reuss and Ticino - divide the mountain ranges.

The Aletschhorn and the Aletsch glacier, Canton Valais

Cows in the Bernese Oberland. In the background the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau

The average height of the mountains of the Swiss Alps is 1,700 meters (5,576 feet). The snow line begins at 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). There are 48 mountains which are 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) or higher and about 1,800 glaciers.The best known mountains are the Alps, but Switzerland has a second range, the Jura.
In a country whose people pride themselves on keeping everything pretty and neat, the mountains, with their cracks and crevasses, their sheer faces and often unpredictable weather could not offer a more daunting contrast. Down below, everything is small and on a human scale. But look up, and the immense size of the mountains is overwhelming.In a hectic, ever-changing society, the mountains are a constant. To enter the mountains means to enter another time zone, another world, leaving everyday life behind. They give a new perspective, both literally and figuratively.

People's attitudes towards the mountains have changed over the centuries. In mediaeval times they were seen as the home of malevolent spirits. Scientists started to take an interest in them in the 18th century, and shortly afterwards writers and artists fired by the ideas of the Age of Romanticism began to extol their beauty. As the 19th century progressed, more and more people, especially foreigners, came to regard them as a challenge and set themselves the tasks of conquering the hitherto virgin peaks. By the end of the century, practically every peak had been climbed.

Language distribution


German is by far the most widely spoken language in Switzerland: 17 of the 26 cantons are monolingual in German.


French is spoken in the western part of the country, the "Suisse Romande." Four cantons are French-speaking: Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel and Vaud. Three cantons are bilingual: in Bern, Fribourg and Valais both French and German are spoken.

Italian is spoken in Ticino and 4 southern valleys of Grisons.

Rhaeto-Rumantsch (Rumantsch)
Rumantsch is spoken only in the trilingual canton of Graubünden. The other two languages spoken there are German and Italian. Rumantsch, like Italian and French, is a language with Latin roots. It is spoken by just 0.5% of the total Swiss population.

The many foreigners resident in Switzerland have brought with them their own languages, which taken as a whole now outnumber both Rumantsch and Italian. The 2000 census showed that speakers of Serbian/Croatian were the largest foreign language group, with 1.4% of the population. English was the main language for 1%.

Language rights
Language rights are enshrined in the Swiss constitution. German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Rumantsch all have the status of national languages, but only the first three are official languages. Nevertheless, Rumantsch is used in official communications with Rumantsch speakers, who in turn have the right to use their native language in addressing the central authorities.The constitution also contains provisions to enable the federal authorities to help Ticino and Graubünden support Italian and Rumantsch respectively.Foreigners often assume that the fact that there are four national languages in Switzerland means that every Swiss speaks four languages, or at least three. However, the reality is very different.

Linguistic profiency and English
The Swiss can certainly be proud of their linguistic proficiency and many understand the other languages of their fellow countrymen very well. However, proficiency in the national languages is decreasing in favour of English. Quadrilingual Switzerland is apparently becoming a two-and-a-half-language Switzerland. Many people speak their mother tongue and English and understand a second national language.

Each canton makes its own decision about which language will be taught when. In German-speaking Switzerland children have traditionally started French from the age of 9, while French speakers have started German at the same age. In Ticino and the Rumantsch-speaking areas, both French and German are learned during compulsory schooling. Ticino decided in 2002 to make English a compulsory subject, alongside French and German. To lighten the load, children will be able to drop French when they start English in the 8th year.Zürich's education minister provoked a national debate in 2000 by announcing that his canton intended to make English the first foreign language, rather than French. Supporters of the move point out that English is more useful in the world. They add that children and parents are in favour and that since motivation is an important ingredient in language learning, pupils are likely to learn English more successfully than they do French.Opponents see the decision as a threat to the unity of Switzerland, and fear that French and Italian speakers will be put at a disadvantage because they will still need a good standard of German to rise in their careers within Switzerland.

Swiss history (VERSION I)

Switzerland's history cannot be understood without considering its geography, which has had a considerable impact on determining the development of its way of life.The country that we know today took its final shape only in 1848. Before that time, we cannot really speak of "Swiss history," but rather the history of its various parts, which only gradually came together.

Prehistoric times

The oldest traces of human existence in Switzerland date back about 150,000 years, and the oldest flint tool found in the country is thought to be about 100,000 years old.The best known early prehistoric site is at Cotencher in Canton Neuchâtel, where Neandertal hunters left flint cutting tools in a cave some 60,000 years ago.Farming reached central Europe from the Mediterranean area in the 6th millennium BC. The oldest known farming settlements in Switzerland are those found at Gächlingen in Canton Schaffhausen, which have been dated to around 5300 BC.Metal - in the form of copper - was first made in Switzerland around 3800 BC, and bronze - a much harder and stronger alloy of copper and tin - some 1500 years later. The iron age began in Switzerland around 800 BC.Although copper ore was found locally, tin had to be imported - an indication that trade was already highly developed.The so-called "Amesbury Archer", or "King of Stonehenge", buried in southern Britain around 2300 BC, and discovered in 2002, probably came from what is now Switzerland.
Middle Ages
The period following Roman rule, generally known as the Dark Ages or Early Middle Ages, lasted from about 400 to 1000.The territory of what is now Switzerland shared a similar evolution with the rest of western Europe.The first couple of centuries or so was a time of migration, moving in the general direction of east to west. Peoples were displaced as waves of new tribes arrived from Asia.Switzerland was settled by different peoples, who brought not only new lifestyles, but also new languages.Christianity which had arrived in Switzerland under the Romans, took root and spread, partly through the work of missionaries. The church, with its system of bishoprics and monasteries, became a major landowner with rights over all those who lived on its lands. At the same time, noble families were increasing their power and building up their landholdings by conquest, inheritance and marriage.For a brief period the Frankish king Charlemagne controlled much of Western Europe and took the title Emperor of the West in 800. However, even under Charlemagne there was no idea of a state. At every level of society, relations between weak and strong were based on personal allegiance. The emperor ruled through a network of noble families.Throughout the period, and beyond, the balance of power between kings, dukes and the church constantly shifted as each jockeyed to preserve its old privileges or to grab new ones.A further level of power was added in 962 when the German king Otto I persuaded the Pope to crown him Emperor of what much later became known as the Holy Roman Empire.

The year 1291 is traditionally regarded as the foundation of the Swiss Confederation, when three rural communities made an alliance to protect their freedoms against encroachments by would-be overlords.The 14th and 15th centuries saw this group expand to a loose confederation with both rural and urban members. By the end of the period the Confederation was strong enough to have a serious impact on the balance of power in Europe in wars where their troops gained a fearsome reputation for their skill and courage.Expansion proceeded in several ways. In some cases new members joined the Confederation as equals; other communities or territories came by purchase or conquest.The rights of the inhabitants of the Confederation still depended both on the place where they lived and on their position in society.The Confederate members administered their own affairs, but also held frequent diets to discuss issues of common interest. In this period Zurich, Bern and Lucerne took it in turns to summon the meeting. Each member sent one or two representatives, drawn from the political leadership.
The Reformation
The 16th century was a time of upheaval throughout western Europe, when a movement to reform the Roman Catholic church split western Christendom into two opposing camps, as Protestants rejected the authority of the Pope.Although the movement was ostensibly a religious one, it reflected deep underlying tensions in the social structure. In Switzerland, as elsewhere, it was accompanied by riots and destruction. Supporters of the reform all over Europe smashed the "idolatrous" statues and pictures in churches, and threw monks and nuns out of their monasteries, in many cases never to return.But discontent went beyond obvious manifestation of discontent with the church to attack the very structure of society. "Extremist" Protestant movements like the Anabaptists, which found their followers in the rural regions and which among other things called for an end to tithes and rents, were forcibly repressed by mainstream Protestant leaders.Theological debate gave rise to a debate about tolerance; Geneva adopted an authoritarian stance, imprisoning, expelling or even burning those Protestants who disagreed with the official line, while Basel became a centre of intellectual freedom.

The XVIIth century
The 17th century saw three further landmarks in the development of modern-day Switzerland. All came as a result of the 30 Years War (1618-48), which ravaged large swathes of Europe, particularly Germany, but in which the Confederation succeeded in remaining neutral.Firstly, the war made it clear to the Confederation members that despite their deep differences, it was in their interest to stay together as the only way to avoid being drawn into a Europe-wide conflict.Secondly, they gradually formalised the important policy of armed neutrality, to prevent border incursions by the warring armies.Thirdly, Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognised by signatories of the Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the war.Despite this, Switzerland was not a haven of peace. Both social and religious tensions sparked armed conflict within the country in the second half of the century.

The XVIIIth century

The 18th century was a period of relative peace and prosperity, until its last decade when French revolutionary troops invaded and destroyed the old political system.During the 18th century, great advances were made in scientific agriculture. New industries got off the ground, including clockmaking and textiles.Learned and patriotic societies sprang up all over the country. Swiss intellectuals discussed new scientific and philosophical ideas with their counteparts abroad. At the same time, they promoted Swiss national awareness, going beyond narrow cantonal boundaries.The new industrial and intellectual elite challenged the entrenched ruling circles.The century ended in Europe-wide turmoil after the French revolution and France's subsequent wars against European monarchies.French troops invaded Switzerland in 1798, broke the power of the ruling élites there and temporarily destroyed the cantonal system by creating the centralised Helvetic Republic.For the first and only time in their history the Swiss were forced to abandon their neutrality and provide troops for France.

The federal state
The foundations of modern Switzerland were laid down in the 19th century. The most important event was undoubtedly the adoption of the 1848 constitution, which gave the country a more centralised government and created a single economic area where cantonal rivalries had previously hindered development.Among other things the new goverment abolished internal tolls, it unified weights, measures and the currency and it took charge of the postal system.These moves made possible the development of many of the industries and services which are still the cornerstone of Switzerland's prosperity, such as chemicals, engineering, the food industry and banking.However, for many people conditions continued to be very difficult. Poverty, hunger and lack of employment prospects encouraged large-scale emigration throughout the 19th century, much of it to north and south America.

The XXth century

The 20th century saw important changes in Switzerland in both domestic and foreign policy.The political system opened up. At the beginning of the century a single party dominated the government; by the end of it four parties had guaranteed ministerial posts.The economy ran into difficulties in the 1920s and 30s, but overall Switzerland prospered. The move away from agriculture and into highly skilled specialist industries continued. From being a country of emigration, in the second half of the century it became a country which drew immigrants.The standard of living increased dramatically for most people. They gained far better social security and working conditions, as well as access to an extensive range of consumer goods.The century also saw a sharp shift in Switzerland's relations with Europe and the rest of the world.For most of the period Switzerland continued outside the European mainstream. It took no active part in either of the two World Wars. However it later found it harder and harder to remain a "special case" in the face of globalisation and European integration. The issue of Swiss neutrality remained a central topic of debate.At the end of the century, Switzerland reexamined its role in World War II. The Bergier commission of expert historians investigated criticism of Switzerland's wartime behaviour and produced its final report in 2002. The Bergier report has been a key element in leading the public to re-evaluate a period of history which had previously been largely ignored. Its thorough investigation threw light on both positive and negative aspects of Swiss behaviour.
Switzerland is a federation of relatively autonomous cantons, some of which have a history of confederacy that goes back more than 700 years, arguably putting them among the world's oldest surviving republics.
According to the popular legend, in 1291, representatives of the three forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden signed the Federal Charter. The charter united the involved parties in the struggle against foreign rule by the Habsburgs, who then held the German imperial throne of the Holy Roman Empire. At the Battle of Morgarten in 1315, the Swiss defeated the Habsburg army and secured quasi-independence as the Swiss Confederation. The authenticity of the Federal Charter is disputed with many historians agreeing that it is in fact a forgery of the 14th century.
By 1353, the three original cantons had been joined by the cantons of Glarus and Zug and the city states of Lucerne, Zürich and Berne, forming the "Old Federation" of eight states that persisted during much of the 15th century (although Zürich was expelled from the confederation during the 1440s due to a territorial conflict) and led to a significant increase of power and wealth of the federation, in particular due to the victories over Charles the Bold of Burgundy during the 1470s, and the success of the Swiss mercenaries. The traditional listing order of the cantons of Switzerland reflects this state, listing the eight "Old Cantons" first, with the city states preceding the founding cantons, followed by cantons that joined the federation after 1481, in historical order. The Swiss victory in a war against the Swabian League in 1499 amounted to de facto independence from the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1506, Pope Julius II engaged the Swiss Guard that continues to serve the Vatican to the present day. The expansion of the federation, and the reputation of invincibility acquired during the earlier wars, suffered a first setback in 1515 with the Swiss defeat in the Battle of Marignano.
The success of Zwingli's Reformation in some cantons led to inter-cantonal wars in 1529 and 1531 (Kappeler Kriege). The conflict between Catholic and Protestant cantons persisted, erupting in further violence at the battles of Villmergen in 1656 and 1712.
Under the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, European countries recognised Switzerland's independence from the Holy Roman Empire and its neutrality (ancien régime). In 1798, armies of the French Revolution conquered Switzerland and in 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte imposed a new constitution, largely restoring Swiss autonomy. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 fully re-established Swiss independence and the European powers agreed to permanently recognise the Swiss neutrality. At this time, the territory of Switzerland was increased for the last time, by the new cantons of Valais, Neuchatel and Geneva.
In 1847, a civil war broke out between the Catholic and the Protestant cantons (Sonderbundskrieg). Its immediate cause was a 'special treaty' (Sonderbund) of the Catholic cantons. The war lasted for less than a month, causing fewer than 100 casualties. Apart from small riots, this was the latest armed conflict on Swiss territory.
As a consequence of the civil war, Switzerland adopted a federal constitution in 1848, amending it extensively in 1874 and establishing federal responsibility for defence, trade, and legal matters. In 1891, the constitution was revised with unusually strong elements of direct democracy, which remains unique even today. Since then, continued political, economic, and social improvement has characterised Swiss history.
In 1920, Switzerland joined the League of Nations and in 1963 the Council of Europe.
Switzerland proclaimed neutrality in World War I and was not involved militarily in the conflict. Neutrality was again proclaimed in World War II, and although a German intervention was both planned and anticipated, it ultimately didn't occur. The massive mobilization of Swiss armed forces under the leadership of General Henri Guisan is often cited as a decisive factor that the German invasion was never initiated. Modern historical findings, such as the research done by the Bergier commission, indicate that another major factor was the continued trade by Swiss banks with Nazi Germany.
Women were granted the right to vote in the first cantons in 1959, at the federal level in 1971, in the last canton only in 1990. In 1979, parts of the canton of Berne attained independence, forming the new canton of Jura. On April 18, 1999 the Swiss population and the cantons voted in favour of a completely revised federal constitution.
In 2002 Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations, leaving the Vatican as the last widely recognized state without full UN membership. Switzerland is not a member state of the EU but applied for membership therein in May 1992. Switzerland has not advanced this application since the rejection, by referendum, of the European Economic Area in December 1992. However, Swiss law is gradually being adjusted to that of the EU and the government has signed a number of bilateral agreements with the European Union. Switzerland (together with Liechtenstein) has been surrounded by the EU since Austria's membership in 1995. On June 5, 2005, Swiss voters agreed, by a 55% majority, to join the Schengen treaty, a result that was welcomed by EU commentators as a sign of goodwill by a Switzerland that is traditionally perceived as isolationist.
December 2004 marked a new stage in the development of Switzerland’s rail network, when the Swiss Federal Railways - SBB - inaugurated what it proudly describes as a public transport network for the third millennium to meet the challenge of the ever growing demand for mobility.The Rail 2000 project, as it is called, uses the latest technology and has required the construction of new lines. It aroused great public interest. The SBB arranged various “open days” and information centres to keep customers up to date with progress. When the new timetable was put on the internet in April 2004 to give users a preview of the services on offer in December, the site was overwhelmed.Rail 2000 is simply one part of Switzerland’s ongoing efforts to maintain an excellent transport system that meets current needs.Other projects involve the construction of the longest, deepest rail tunnels yet and the promotion of new railway technology, to ensure that the country remains an important transit route for goods and people as it has been for millennia.In a determined effort to preserve the environment, Swiss transport policy is to encourage the use of rail rather than road, particularly for freight, improving the rail service and charging trucks for using the roads.Since the railways first developed in the 19th century, they have helped shape Switzerland. They are shaping the Switzerland of tomorrow as well.
At last another nice picture from Swiss Alps and it will be continued soon (specially the part about about mountains trains)

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Hello:) Today I am doing a very short entry of mine. Soon I am going into Switzerland and I would like to present you a map that will show you which 2 mountains I will climb (by mountain train this time). I have marked them with two black rings. Of course it is also good to realize both where Swizerland lies and that there is only one National Park there (marked with a pink ring on a map beneath). So as we can suspect Swiss people care about their Alpine nature very much. And it is very good in my opinion:)

More things both about Switzerland and the Alps I will write in my blog soon:)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Results of some research and not only

Hi again:) Today I would like to present to you a stuff that is somewhat different to the one I have described till now. Namely I am going to present to you an abstract(=summary) done on a basis of one particular flora-research carried out in a region marked as a violet rectengular on a map beneath. Who did the research? A man whose name I cannot give to you. Why did he carry this research out? Because he wanted to be higher in Polish academic hierarchy. Why am I writing about his research right now? Firstly because the territory it was done on is almost neighbouring to a Landscape Park “Forests upon Upper Liswarta river” (brown circle on the left of violet rectangular on the map beneath) where I have done my research and for the second I am putting this bigger part of the abstract in this entry of mine cause all in all it seems immposible to me both people could type such long textes when no computers they had at all (however these are times seem to me to be more human all in all cause they tried at least to be more polite and kind in their daily routine towards one another) and what is much more worthy to remember as it seems to me today Silesia used to be an industrial power of Poland not so long ago while today only industrial ruins we have everywhere here. Well, on the right of violet rectangular that represents the central part of Cracow-Wieluń Upland, on the map I have added below you can also see Ojcowski National Park (on the map a town Ojców is marked) 16 kilometres far from the city Crakow (not marked on the map beneath). I will write more about this smallest Polish National Park soon. Today I would like only to state that all pictures in this entry (apart from the map) come from Ojcowski National Park. I hope both you enjoy looking at them and can find some interesting informations reading the abstract beneath:

Geobotanical problems of the central part of he Cracow-Wieluń Upland.

The elaboration is a monography treating of the geobotanical conditions prevailing in the central part of Cracow-Wieluń Upland, a region remaining under the strong pressure of the pollutants emitted by the Upper-Silesian Industrial Region as well as of the multiple and local anthropogenic actions, eg. open mining, agriculture, chemization and land meliorations. It represents a recapitulation of the author’s 12 years investigations (carried out in the years 1972-1984) as well as of the findings of other researchers’ work made during the last hundred years. It involves a complete analysis of vascular plants flora (1125 species including 885 native, 317 adventitious and 23 hybrids) and presents a short survey of natural, seminatural and synanthropic plant communities (149 assosiations, 28 communities with indetermined as yet synataxonic unit) within the most important biotopes i.e. forests, bushes, xerothermic and pssammophilous vegetation, meadows and pastures, cottage-side places, cultivated fields and boundary strips, sewerages and stagnant waters like kilns, gravel pits, clay pits, sand pits, railway tracks and stations, border communities
The work attracts particular attention to the following questions:
- decay of the plant species
- degeneration of natural, seminatural phytocenosis and origin of xenospontaneus communities
- migration of adventitious species
- geobotanical differentiantion of the territory
In the light of contemporary investigation he balance of the losses in the flora living at the territory under investigation comes to 5 percent. In the relation to 66 disapeared species the highest losses were noticed among the elements of the native flora (82 percent), mainly xerothermic grasses and bushes (33 percent), peat land and meadows of different types (21 percent) , deciduous forest (17 percent).
The process of antropopressure, intensifying in the last decade is at the territory under examination advanced to the different extent, that is why one can distuinguish regions with the dominance of the landscape natural or cultural or even devastated. The forests of this region are in the first, second or third zone of pollution. The influence of toxic gases manifests itself in the fall out of fir from the beech stands , decay of the conifers vitality (pine and spruce), necroses origin and early yellowing of the deciduous trees leaves. Meadows are endangered with extensive drying of platy and grassland vegetation –destroying by the extensive tourism movement (…). The elaboration treats in detail of the questions involving the nature protection, i.e.alternative measures undertaken to protect these species and communities that show tendency to disappear; preservation and extermination of the plants under protection; project of the rational network of nature reservates. Besides the author makes an attempt at graphical representing the extent of vegetation synanthropization process taking place the territory under examination.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Some additional info about Bieszczady

Hello:) This entry of mine will be rather short casue (unfortunatelly) I have very few moments to wite here. But soon I will do another longer entry as I suppose. Today I would like only to complete my last entry with some more info about Bieszczady. So I will start with putting in my blog two pictures with a peak of Tarnica (highest mountain in Bieszczady as you could read in my last entry) that show a big cross that is placed on it. It wouldn't have been visible in my last entry, unfortunatelly. I would like to add that on most of Polish peaks crosses are built. And some even light by night. I remember such a steel lighting cross somewhere in Pieniny mountains cause I slept nearby it. When I was younger it was my usual habit to sleep here and there when the weather was OK. Once I bought great sleeping bag addressed to people who would like to climb Himalaya mountains and since then I didn't care too much unless rain was pouring down. So here are two pictures with a cross from Tarnica peak:

I hope you like two pictures above. Besides in this short entry I would like to present two other pictures with blooming pastures in Bieszczady (the same I described in my last entry). Some people advise to me to put some more pictures with plants into my blog. Let it be:). Well ... on the other hand, however, it is very hard to state in my case what plants can we see on these pictures I enclose beneath cause at least on my computer screen they are rather blurry. The navy-blue colour plants are probably representatives of Gentiana species and the violet flowers probably belong to a representatives of Centaurea species though I would not give my head to cut that I am right at this moment specially what deals the second possibility. In case of yellow plants probably Linaria would be the name of their, however, still I have also many doubts. All in all you must admit these all flowers surely can enrich each mountaineous landscape. All species of Gentiana are legally protected in Poland.

Soon I promise to write something more about some other mountaineous plants. Have a good day:)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Some of Polish reserves of biosphere

Today I would like to finish my writing about Babia Góra National Park and compare it/write something more about two other Polish mountaineous National Parks also recognized by UNESCO as reserves of biosphere. Of course these all pieces of information I am going to present today connected both with Babiogorski National Park and Tatra National Park + Bieszczady National Park are merely introduction to the amount of things and stories that can be (and party will be written by me in my next entries) But to be more certain that things I am explaining/describing are easy to be understood/imagine to my readers I need to present another map here (very similar to the one I enclosed to this blog several days ago but enriched with some new places – I mean rings and circles).

So as you know Babia Góra National Park is recognized as the reserve of a biosphere by UNESCO. But it isn’t the only such a region in Poland. There are at least two others as unique as it and also recognized as reserves of the biosphere: namely Tatra National Park and Bieszczady National Park.
So let me to start with Tatra National Park – the most crowded Polish National Park probably but surely not the cheapest one. On the map that I have enclosed above you can find it in the southern part of Poland (beneath a big brown line marking range of Polish Carpathian mountains- it is marked as a pink spot circled with a red ring)– Tatra National Park is the most south protruding Polish National Park (except of the most south-east sticking out Bieszczady National Park that I will introduce in a moment).
In 1992 UNESCO recognized Tatra National Park of Poland and Slovakia as “Tatra” transborder reserve of the biosphere. Tatra National Park was formally founded in 1954 and on Polish side it comprises whole area of Polish Tatras. It is full with characteristic diversified sculpture of the earth surface which is composed of sharp mountain peaks (the highest peak on Polish side is Rysy 2499) , post-glacial hollows (for example the hollow of Czarny Staw I will write about more soon), numerous lakes called ponds (for example Morskie Oko with the surface of 34 ha) and caves (the deepest one is Wielka Śnieżna – over 780 m).
What is very important the flora of Tatra mountains has the layer arrangement and differentiantion. First fir-beech forests in the lower prealps (to 1250 m), then spruces forests in the upper prealps (to 1550 m), next the layer of dwarf mountain pines (to 1800), at last the alpine layer (to 2300) and the peak layer above this altitude. Why am I writing about these layers so scrupulously? Because the same arrangement of plant cover apart from Tatra mountains you can meet in Poland only on Babia Góra slopes, however the layer plant arrangement on Babia Gora slopes is lowered about 100-150 metres on average comparing with plant layers in Tatra mountains (compare this with pictures from Babia Góra National Park from my earlier entries- Markowe Szczawiny chalet in Babia Góra National Park is about 1100 metres above the sea level and at this altitude you can observe how beech-forest is replaced by big spruces). In other Polish mountains nowhere you will meet such a regular 4 layer configuration of flora because they are lower Beneath I would like to enclose to you two pictures with in-famous Markowe Szczawiny chalet:

Writing about Babia Góra and Babogórski National Park (a black spot marked with a red ring in the southern part of Poland on the map above-next to green spot marking Beskidy range within Silesian Voivedship) except of things that Babia Gora National Park was founded in 1954 and UNESCO recognized it as the world reserve of the biosphere in 1976 I think it is worthy to mention that Babia Góra which is built of magurski sandstone constitutes a separate ridge of the Beskid Wysoki what is mostly easy to observe on the map that I placed in this blog on 1 August 2005 showing a distance between Żywiecki Nature Park within Silesian Voivodeship and Babia Góra National Park within neighbourng Malopolskie Voivodeship. This separate ridge of Babia Góra runs evenly with a paralel of latitude about 11 kilomotres reaching maximum hight of 1725 on the peak of Diablak. There are about 700 species of vascular plants in the Babia Góra National Park including 70 alpine species and 54 legally protected species. Babia Góra is also the only locality for laserwort (Laserpitium archangelica) and alpine cerastium Cerastium alpinum. The fauna of vertebrates comprises 166 species including 2 species of fish, 5 species of amphibians, 5 species of reptiles, 115 species of birds, 38 species of mammals (including the bear and the wolf).
The fauna of Babia Góra invetebrates comprises 2437 species including over 30 endemic species (by the way do you know what means endemic?) . As deals invetebrates of Babia Góra cockchafers make a group of 1300 species inside it.
So compare please 166 vetebrates versus 2437 invetebrates with 1300 cockchafers within it. Easy to guess that planet Earth belongs rather to little creatures than to the big ones and the little increase its biodiversity.
Beneath look at the pictures with endemic flora components of Babia Góra slopes – Laserpitium archanglica on the first and Cerastium alpinum on the next:

I hope you will learn what ENDEMIC means if you don’t understand this term.

The last of Polish mountaineous National Parks that are also recognized by UNESCO as reserves of the biosphere I would like to introduce in this long entry of mine today is Bieszczady National Park. Bieszczady National Park on the map above are marked as a yellow spot circled with a red ring and lie in the most south–east sticking out part of Poland. As you can easily notice this National Park is much further on the east compared to other Parks I have described till now. It lies among Polish, Slovakian and Ukrainian (the last is marked on the map above with a violet line) border.
Bieszczady National Park was made in 1973 and in 1991 it was enlarged. In 1992 UNESCO recognized the international Polish-Slovakian-Ukrainian reserve of the biosphere called “The Eastern Carpathians”. The Polish part of this reserve contains Bieszczadzki National Park and two Landscape Parks: ”Cieśniańsko-Wetliński” and “The San Valley”. It is a very long story to write about how beautiful Bieszczady National Park is but what is the most important probably Bieszczadzki National Park is one of the wildest places in whole Poland. People at the eastern border don’t have such a comfortable life like the ones in western part of Poland. Much less developed tourism there – less people is surely an advantage but state of roads, sleeping base in mountains (very few chalets at all and conditions inside it worse than tragic mostly), hot water in a tap and if you can have it at last is really an expensive extravagance. Look at the map above – to get into Bieszczady from my place of living within Silesia voivodeship (white spot marked with a red ring) you need to get into Katowice, then to Krakow –circled with a grey ring near to brown spot – this is Ojcowski National Park I will describe soon -then to Rzeszów (underlined with a black line) and than you have to find another train to Zagórze (place marked as a red spot on brown line of Carpathian mountains range). Believe me or not it takes 2-3 hours to get to Zagórze from Rzeszów and then you have to find a bus to the centre of Bieszczady National Park and it takes about 4 hours to get into Park from red spot of Zagórze. It is really incredible what drivers can do do while driving. Every 15 minutes a break for another 15 minutes and from time to time half of hour of break. Really nightmare.
So changing topic what is specially beautiful and famous as deals nature within Bieszczady National Park are unique mountain pastures – so called “połoniny” that are wonderful place for resting and many songs have been written about these pastures in Bieszczady. The biggest and most beautiful of them are Caryńska and Wetlińska pastures. They both are in northern part of Polish Bieszczadzki National Park. Southern part of the Bieszczady National Park comprises its highest parts with the main peak Tarnica (1346 metres above sea level).
What is important in the Bieszczady unlike in other parts of Carpathians , the upper border of the forest (1150-1200 metres above sea level) is formed by distorted dwarf beeches of the lower prealps. And above the forest there are the mentioned above beautiful and full of colourful flowers pastures with rocks sticking out here and there.
Of course I could write many other things about Bieszczady but that’s immpossible so I finish for today: Beneath I present pictures from Bieszczady National Park.
On the first you can see pastures:

and now some pictures with the highest peak of Bieszczady– Tarnica.

Going into Bieszczady the best is to have a base in Ustrzyki Górne – you have to find a bus in Zagórze to Ustrzyki Górne. It is not long to climb everywhere from that village. Also you can easily find a chalet to stay there. Prices are reasonable compared to Tatra mountains. And definitely less people than in Tatra-specially in the autumn. I would recommend to go into Bieszczady in September cause red colour of hawthorns sticking out among rocks on the pastures, these corridors of red hawthorns you have to go into to pass through them can really make you stop breathing. Also June is a good time when you want to see colorful blooming Bieszczady pastures.
To be continued soon.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Some pictures with forests on Babia Gora slopes

Hello:) Today I would like to write some words about forests on Babia Gora slopes. I found some appropriate pictures to show some more things as it seems to me. So as you can see on the picture beneath when you want to reach the summit from Zawoja town you will go a path formed in shape of stairs. This solution has both advantages and disadvantages. Its biggest advanatge is that little chances you will fall off the steep slope, disadvantage is that both climbing up and going down these stairs is even more tiresome than walking "normal" trail.

Well but talking about forest - first you will be passing deciduous forest - mostly with beeches inside it as on the the next picture below:

Then after reaching level of Markowe Szczawiny chalet (about 1100 above sea level) you can notice forest has changed from deciduous into corniferous. Starting with Markowe Szczawiny (more or less) you will follow a trail like on the picture beneath and mostly spruces and pines within it.

It is also worthy to mention that forests in National Parks are natural. So you can see dead trees inside it and all these natural ecological processes like growing and dying that are invisible in lowland forests mostly used for human needs. And it is something really great to see these all dead giant pines and spruces eaten by worms as something normal. On the other hand on these dead logs you can see many new seedlings and this is also great thing to notice how nature can always cope without human beings.

Well that's all for today cause I definitely don't have any time by now. All I would like to add to this story is that Markowe Szczawiny chalet is rather expansive and ...noisy. It is really awful to see there all these noisy people who climb there from Zawoja to drink. They have backpacks full of different beverages and when people want to sleep because they are tired be prepared to put something into your ears cause it is almost impossible to sleep there mostly! Another awful habit used by owners (insetad of preventing such awful behaviours at all and forbidding drinking there) is that when people inside chalet are totally loud and hour is late they switch off electricity and lie it is switched because of outside troubles. Also they rather throw you out into the snow than allow to sleep on the floor when you don't have money for a bed there (really almost no difference I can see between the bed and floor there). That's all for today - to be continued:) I hope you enjoy my stories well:)