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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Travel Tuesday: Romanian Navy Day

Dearest sweethearts,

I don't often get to tell you about my homeland, but today it's one of those days when I share ;) Today in Romania there is a national celebration: Romanian Navy Day. Most countries that have a navy have their own Navy Day and Romania celebrates it each year on the 15th of August. It was first celebrated on 15th of August 1902 (115 years ago!) - the festivities match with the feast day of the "Assumption of Mary", the oldest celebration of Virgin Mary. In case you didn't know, The Virgin Mary is the protector of sailors, so the fitting if the 2 celebrations is harmoniously done. 
Usually on the coast of the Black Sea, in the port town of Constanta, local and tourists alike feast their eyes upon the unique show prepared. It comes in a display of sound, colour and light - choreography at it's finest, everyone being able to see tugboats performing manoeuvres in harmony with eachover and the music. Of course there were times when the fleet was outside borders, like in 1925, when they were in the harbour of Cuda in Crete. Nonetheless the sailors celebrated on their boats/vessels this special day. In time the festivities her more and more popular and people from all over the country would come see it.
#DidYouKnow that in 1928 the Romanian Navy Day had special guests? The Polish sailors from the vessel Lwow. It was the very first time when a foreign crew participated in our national event! 
Also, each year an anchor made out of flowers is thrown into the sea in the memory of the sailor soldiers fallen in battle protecting Romania. Alongside the National Hymn that will be played today, 21 artillery salvos are the regular remembrance that can be heard each year.

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves The Sea
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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Krakow: American Style Food Time!

Dearest hearts,

If you love American Style Food and you would like none of that fast food industry products (be it McDonald's, KFC or Burger King), if you are in Krakow and you want something juicy, fatty, filling and yummy, make sure you try out Jeff's - Neighbourhood Grill and Bar. Jeff's is the place to go to! It ain't your traditional polish diner, Nope! It's your boy next door American diner where everything feels genuinely like the States! Everyone there seems to have incorporated the idea that a smile is worth everything. The moment that you pass it's "porch" you will be greeted by hostesses that "can hardly wait" to show you to an appropriate table and tell you the menu of the day. The smile never falters ;) and somehow that's always refreshing in a world we only see the dark side.
 With a rank of 417 out of 894 restaurants in Kraków on TripAdvisor, it gathered 59 written reviews on the same site, with a grade of 3.5 out of 5 stars. The restaurant is open from 10 am to the last customer, all days of the week ;) it is located on ul. Podgorska 34. That means Galeria Kazimierz at the last floor, in the food court,  right in front of the Cinema City
I've always loved the way food is served here -people know that due to the food they serve, the customers will use their hands, hence every table gets a full roll of papernapkins to use to their hearts content. That comes in handy when you have chicken wings and fries, but also when you get sandwiches or burgers. You won't have sticky fingers, that's for sure ;) In the summertime we like to share a jug of lemonade in 2 - it's 1 litre big, heavy with lemon juice, low on sugar and with icy cubes inside. Very refreshing! We would like to suggest to you this time to try out the "Kanapka BLT" - that's 2 tall sandwiches heavy in crispy yummy bacon and cheese and pieces of ham combined with mayo-mustard sauce and lettuce and tomatoes with a side of fries and beetroot salad. Marek is a fan of ribs so he had the baby back ribs with hot sauce and side of fries, colesaw and a corn on a stick. Everything was delicious, as always ;)
You can always contact them on Facebook or call them and setup a reservation for a table. It opened in 2001 and running ever since :) The cuisine is signalled as: American (New), American (Traditional), Back to My Photos, Breakfast, Brunch, Burgers, Hot Dogs, Seafood and Steakhouses. You can pay cash or by card (Visa and even American Express). You can see their full menu on their Website and see in advance what you can order ;) We recommend it with all our heart and we believe that if ever you are in Krakow your should give it a go ;) 
The prices:
- Kanapka BLT - 25 zloty
- Baby Back Ribs - 41 zloty 
- Lemonade for 2, in a jug (1 litre) - 30 zloty

** This post was made out of love for American food. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! **

Yours truly,
The LadyBug that loves Bacon!
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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

5 Outdoor Hangout Places In Krakow

Dearest sweethearts,

Summertime is a good time to visit Krakow - though my personal favourite is autumn and spring comes as a close second. Krakow has so many places one could relax outdoors, without melting from the torrid sun waves. Krakow boasts of multiple restaurants and coffee places that have their own terrace - and even if you are not a fan you could also try the cool cellars that are mostly from the 15th century. These is air conditioning and there is fresh cold beer or home-made tasting icecream - so everyone can pick and choose to their liking. There are many outdoor hangout places in Krakow but I'll tell you if my favourite 5 - don't consider this a top, I love them all and the order constantly changes ;) so you need to test them all and let me know what you think:
Chopin's piano - sculpture inside Planty, Krakow
1. Planty - The green belt/park surrounding Krakow's Old Town area - before, the medieval city had strong walls and a moat to protect it; now the city has grown so much and the people wanted to preserve and protect the old town, so this park happened! A green belt where everyone can come and cycle, roller blade, have a walk with their children or their pets, a place where one can stay and relax and read a book - sometimes even sit on the grass and relax, have a nap. The Planty also hosts some of the more known cafe's - like the amazing Bunkier Sztuki Cafe with its fingerlicking pancakes and English breakfast or poached eggs. The cafe has see through plastic walls, that allow you to enjoy the view even when it snows or rains. It's split between smoking and non-smoking and I also dearly recommend the smoothies ;)
Cavalry in Park Jordana, Krakow
2. Park Jordana - or as I like to call it, the Krakow Central Park - is 20-30 min away from the Main Market Square (depends on how fast your pace is) and right next door to the Main Building of the Museum of Krakow. It's a favourite for youngsters due to the tennis and skateboard court, but also for the ones with a patriotic soul, as inside the park you can find many statues of important Polish people throughout history. There are often manifestations of cavalry in the summer-autumn time. Having a picnic with the family here is quite common.
3. Cafe Szal - A Frenzy of Madness... - taking it's name after a painting of a Polish author, the cafe is a must if ever you are in Krakow. It is located on the first floor of the Sukiennice - you can get to it by the stairs that also take you to the 19th Century Art Museum (2nd floor) or take the elevator. The terrace of the cafe is on the side of Sukiennice that overlooks the St. Mary's Church, the Adam Mickiewicz statue and the St. Adalbert Church (the oldest church in Krakow). It's the best view of the Main Market Square and St. Mary's Church that you will ever get, so make sure you snap a photo! Be careful, there is a "No Smoking" rule, due to the vicinity with the paintings (museum).
4. The Vistula River Bank - it's nice and cosy, providing you a view of the Wawel Castle and the boats that roam past you. You can find a tree and get some shade or you can put a blanket on the grass and take a sun bath. There are also some tables where you can play chess or a board game... sometimes in the summertime there is open air cinema ;) not to mention you can always grab a beer and some fries at one of the boats in the area.
5. Krakow's Mounds - #Didyouknow that Krakus Mound is one of the 2 prehistoric sites/monuments that Krakow has? It's also a great place for a family picnic! The view is gorgeous over the Kazimierz-Podgorze area but my favourite mound is the Kopiec Kosciuszki. Kosciuszko fought in the American War and Jefferson (Thomas) spoke very highly of him. To remember the 200th anniversary of his death, the year 2017 has been proclaimed the "Year of Kosciuszko" by Polish authorities.

Have you ever been to one of these places? How did you like them? What are your favourite hangout places, outdoor of course, in Krakow? Would love to hear more about secret places none knows of :) do tell!

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves The Outdoor 
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Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Things We Do For Love Of Power

Dearest hearts,

Sometimes moments from our history, even most recent ones, pass us and we don't remember. Some things we should indeed remember, lest we forget... #didyouknow that on the 6th of August 1945 the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by the US B-29 Superfortress  "Enola Gay"? Thats 72 years since the "Little Boy" was released... It's an odd and frightening thought that human beings have such capacity of (self)destruction in them. What good is there that there was a warning sign before - they were dropping pamflets about the imminent attack - if nothing like this was seen before? Every other attack could somehow be avoided, bunkers would be used, but in this case they would not help much... how horrible and what kind of heart would one have to release such power knowing the horrible consequences? To know that the bomb can create permanent shadows out of living things - there were numerous cases of people caught too close and being instantly turned into shadows on the pavement. We are all just dust in the wind, but what gives another person the right to assume control over another's life?
#Didyouknow that the Ginkgo Biloba tree was actually one of the few trees that could stand the Atomic bomb? It's also the single tree that continues to grow through the misery, it is a strong force set against all odds. I wish we could all be that strong when facing adversity. I was reading the other day this book by Tom Marcus - "Soldier Spy". He is a former MI5 agent, working there for years, but with no ability to switch off from his job. Some would call that mental issue, psychological problem... you name it! In the book he tells a story about going shopping with his wife and son. He sees a couple acting different, splitting quick - the lady with the burka going one way, the man the other. Additional details come in and when the man comes down, as if to tie his shoelace, Tom gets ready to take him down (actually killing him) thinking of an imminent bomb attack.  Turns out that the guy was just stealing a large TV in broad daylight! I wonder how many times people do take the wrong call, causing all Hell to break loose, just by thinking that they saw something. I believe it's all related to power, the knowledge that you have it and know how to use it (most of the time towards your own benefit) causes more harm than we can imagine.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don't believe I have ever met a person with power that did not use it for himself more than for the benefit of others. Once someone gets power they always want more - it's the same with money, but I think in this case it is worse... Once power rises so does ones ego, making them feel invincible. It does no longer matter what happens to others, but what matters most is oneself. Putting things above people is the next step - why invest time and money in others when you can have it all for yourself? Who cares is thousands of people die in an instant (and more in the course of the years that followed, due to radiation)? We won the battle, we won the war, we gain certain resources... A human being is nothing compared to a pint of oil, according to some. How horrible is to have power and not have a soul!

Yours very sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Wishes Everyone Would Not Sell Their Soul
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Thursday, 3 August 2017

Things I Am Thankful For - July 2017

Dearest sweethearts,

If you've been reading my blog this year you must have noticed the challenge I have proposed for this year. It's hard sometimes to see the bright side of life. Even when looking at a glass of water we tend to see the empty half, nor the part filled with water. In fact, all that is relatively as the glass is never empty - the other half is filled with air! So what I proposed was that at the beginning of each month we should think of the things we are thankful for.  It might be hard at first but you'll get better as time passes. Train yourself to see the beauty in the little things in life. Start with 5 things/Moments and work up from there ;) Here's my take until now for the month of January, FebruaryMarchAprilMay and June. For July am thankful for many things, but here are 5 picks:
Picture taken during ceremony by Iza from Bellove
1. The Little Ladybug Baby Girl had her baptism - it was a blessing to have the family around us. Both my Mum and Granny were already here and my sister flew all the way from Brussels & almost everyone from Marek'sfamily managed to come, so we had a very cosy and intimate ceremony in the very same church that we got married in - St. Peter and Paul Church on Grodzka, Krakow. In case you didn't know, that's the very same church that St. Pope John Paul 2nd parents got married ;) Now you know!
2. My amazingly talented and pretty sister came to visit! I don't get to see her as often as I wish, we don't get to spend enough time together, we always end up pushing each other's buttons but... She's my big sister, she's the one I look up to, she's beauty and brains and ocasional brawl... She's a Wonder Woman! She's the Ladybug Baby Girl's  "Matusica Miau" (Auntie Meow) and I'm sure that in time she's gonna teach her how to dress, paint her nails, put on lipstick and makeup, shop till you drop and... whatever not... Looking forward to that! :)
3. My very own amazing photographer - Iza from Bellove - I have met Iza from more than a year ago. She was there for me when I was searching for a photographer to do a specific set of pictures. She never did that type before, yet she embarked on the journey with confidence, professionalism and... friendship 🌼 Iza is a gem, a one of a kind lady - I'm glad to see her develop both her skills and her brand. I've received the printed pictures from my #ladybugbabygirl baptism and they came in this adorable handmade box, all wrapped in ribbons and with an extra gift inside 🐞 I thoroughly and wholeheartedly recommend her, as a photographer and as a friend. Iza... see you soon ;) (We're having the 1 year old Ladybug Baby Girl photoshoot very very very soon!).

4. The little things in life, that truly make a difference - be it the time spent with family, be it the fun and noisy moments you have with your friends, or even the silent moments you have with yourself. I cherish the moments when I'm alone, let's say walking through the Jewish quarter (Kazimerz) and spotting new street Art, murals, bumping into a live concert, or just simply looking at people passing by the street... finding an odd recycled piece of furniture / equipment and smiling because someone took the time to make it come alive again...
5. My sister's birthday - in case you were wondering I'm 16 going on 17 and she's 18 going on 19 :p kidding aside, July is an important month for me! My family has many Lions: my Granny and my sister & my very own lion cub: The little Ladybug Baby Girl 💗 my sister was born in summertime, she loves the sun (but not too much, if there is no sea and sand nearby) and she has a very warm and open heart. She sees the best in people. She is also terribly talented, witty and sarcastic. She is my very own gem! And I love her to the moon and back again. 

Yours very much sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Wants To Be Thankful For All The Lovely Things Life Brings Us
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Monday, 31 July 2017

Krakow: Nowy Plac Nowy

Dearest hearts,

If ever you visited Krakow and to be more specific, the Kazimierz district (also known as the Jewish Quarter/District), then you must have also visited one of the most famous places in this city: Plac Nowy (pl. for New Square). Plac Nowy is the heart of Kazimierz, it's very own "Ground Zero". The rotunda that can be found in the middle of the square, was used in the 1900s as a slaughterhouse (for the poultry used in the Jewish rituals) until the German occupation. Right now it's the "go to" place in terms of "fast food" good for parties. The rotunda now hosts several "zapiekanki" places - here you can buy the best zapiekanka in town! If you don't know what that is, you have no idea what you're missing!
The zapiekanka is a kind of Polish designed pizza. You basically take a flat loaf of bread, cut it in half horizontally, add different ingredients and topics and... voila! The best food for before-during-after party. High on calories and usually fatty, it's a perfect choice in case you want to have a night out where there is plenty of vodka planned. I usually like the"highlander" style, with kielbasa (sausage) and oscypek (highlander smoked cheese). In the weekend the Plac Nowy always hosts a flea market and also the local handmade producers come and display their goods. Plac Nowy is a must see place!
Recently a new idea of a project is taking place on Plac Nowy and ulica Estera - between the 15th of July and 6th of August, the location mention has a "new face". The traffic of cars is prohibited and only pedestrians and cyclists can use that area freely. The streets have been temporarily painted green (quite an odd and unnatural shade, if you ask me...), small trees in pots have been randomly placed about and huge orange blocks were placed for sitting/recreational purposes. Depending on the public opinion the project can be terminated or it can move on and be implemented permanently, including with the changes requested by the people who give feedback.
I believe it's a wonderful idea to give more places like this in big cities. It's a "breathing space" that is truly needed, in a city where the quality of air is an issue. It would be lovely if the project would be approved and in time there would be, instead of the green painted road, patches of real green grass and maybe some linden trees or chestnuts to provide real shade (instead of the small and skinny little things in pots). It's a great idea that has been talked about in cities like Barcelona and New York - having squares of only pedestrian and cyclists use of territory. The only issue that I raise is how will the traffic flow be redirected?! Anyway... if you have the time, do check out their #nowyplacnowy Facebook page ;) you can also discuss further ideas on the 3rd of August, at the Engineering Museum.

Engineering Museum (Muzeum Inżynierii Miejskiej), sw. Wawrzyńca 1527th July & 3rd August 
5pm – 8pm
If you cannot make it to the consultations and want to have your say,  you can email:-

Yours very much sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves The Idea #NowyPlacNowy
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Friday, 28 July 2017

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Dearest sweethearts,

#didyouknow that this very day, in 1951, Walt Disney's animated musical film "Alice in Wonderland" was released? 
The White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland
Now "Alice in Wonderland" is a truly remarkable and psychedelic story... one that makes you think, at older age, if Lewis Carroll hadn't been smoking something funny or ate to many brownies... Regardless of that, I remember being small and watching the magical, marvellous places Alice went through; not once have I ever questioned her sanity! But then again, that's how children are: they don't question, they believe in magic and impossible things. They think of even as much as "six impossible things before breakfast"! What do we, older and more responsible human beings think of before breakfast?! Oh... I know, we think of the inevitable chores of the day, our course of action, the bills we must pay, the children we need to feed... you know where I'm getting with this, don't you?! We stop being kids and stop being fun. We stop thinking of the impossible and we ground yourself to reason and what is expected of us. 
What I do find fascinating (be prepared, this is another #didyouknow moment) is that the writer of Alice was a lecturer in mathematics! So he did have a real, grounded, down to earth job that required his full attention. He was "programmed" in a 1+1=2 kind of thinking, but as well as you can see, he was quite out of the ordinary - thinking outside of the box. His real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and Lewis Carroll was just a pseudonym under which the books were published. He also liked constructing new words, some by combination or others... Just out of the blue! In 1898, when he died, it became the best received children's book in the UK; a great defeat of the critics that bashes it when it first came to print! This just goes to show you must have patience and believe in what you have worked. Translated in over 176 languages and never out of print, it's normal that Disney W. wanted it as one of his classics. Walt dreamt about making a movie about Alice in Wonderland for 30 years! (Talk about commitment!) And I think we can all agree, on behalf of our childhood, that he did a wonderful thing for all of us. 

Now, as it's near breakfast time, let us all strive to think of six impossible things before breakfast :) be a child again and dream wildly!

Yours very sincerly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Disney
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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Travel Tuesday: 10 Things I've Learned While Travelling

Dearest friends,
Dearest travellers of the world,

There is absolutely nothing that truly enrichens us more than travelling. You can go to dozen of Universities, have the most advanced teachers and technology, but if you live daily in your box and never go outside of it, your soul will wither and die. We are like plants, we need the fresh air, the sun, we need to feel the breeze and we need to communicate with others. No plant is able to stand on its own, without the help of other elements. We are made this way, to have out heart and soul yearn for more and to want to know more of life. The moment that you will start travelling, that is the moment when you will start thrusting for more. You will want to see more, to understand more, to find patterns and know people. Travelling might be a subterfuge for some, a burden for others, a "must do" for some - but it will eventually creep upon you and you will love it! There are dozen upon dozen of things you will learn through travelling. For today's #traveltuesday I want to share with you 10 Things I've Learned While Travelling:
Old Town, Krakow, Poland
1. You will leave your comfort zone - travelling means leaving your box, leaving home and all the know places and facing the unknown of a new land. There are thousand of variables! There are do many things that could go wrong... but stay calm, it's never as dark as before dawn ;)
2. You will learn to trust yourself more - especially if you're hard-core enough to have a solo trip. I, for one, adore the single trips - they provide you with the opportunity to test your limits and learn more about yourself. The only minus is that you'll end up taking selfies as nobody can take a picture exactly as you think of it - but a tripod!
The "zubr" (bison) reservation in Pszczyna, Poland
3. You will learn to talk to strangers - even now days when we have all these gadgets and apps, things may go south and you might get lost and need some instructions. Ta daaam! Meet the locals: they don't bite and they might be very friendly. You can talk to strangers and even though you may be shy, it's not like you're likely to bump into them again, right?!
4. You can perfect a language you've learned in school - remember those 2 years of Italian at the Uni? Well you'll be surprised if during a trip to Italy you might find yourself understanding and even remembering some words so you could speak back ;) thank God, he gave us long term memory and the capacity to remember and make connections!
Palace of culture, Iasi, Romania
5. You will learn to be more curious - it's hard not to be curious in a foreign country/city. There are so many things to see, to do, to discover and be surprised about. Try to see the world through the eyes of a child; ever surprising, ever new, fresh!
6. You will learn how to manage your time and resources - you will understand that going 2 hours before the flight to the airport is a good thing, you will learn that shopping sprees are usually better to be left for the last day (after you checked every shop out), you will fully understand why you should budget ;) and think of the things you truly need, not want.
Auschwitz, Poland 
7. You will learn to understand, appreciate and find connections with other cultures - in the end, we are all the same, we share the same family tree, going down to the roots. You will see that Balkans have similarities in the way they eat-drink- be merry and this goes the same in the Baltic countries. At a certain moment you will stop being surprised of the connections ;)
8. You will start thinking in terms of minimalism - you will understand that you don't need 10 dresses, 5 pants, 3 skirts and a multiple array of blouses for a weekend stay. You won't need to think of "just in case I'm in a mood", you will start to think logical and see you can live out of a single small backpack for even a week!
Polish countryside - Malopolska region
9. You will (maybe) start to understand the "Big Picture" of life, and how we are all connected. Our life's are intertwined with each other and every decision that we make affects the others as well. If someone litters on the street more will follow, but if you go down and pick it up and set an example maybe more will do the same as you did and maybe others will feel ashamed of throwing things anymore. Everything we do affects the planet!
10. You will find that travelling can be addictive - once you will start visiting other countries, other places, you will yearn for more. You will catch yourself thinking of other places to visit and how you can book a flight and raise money for the stay. AirBNB will be your best friend and Miles & More will be a must!

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves To Travel
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Saturday, 22 July 2017

10 Things I Need To Explain Foreigners About Romania

Dearest hearts,

It's "a truth universally acknowledged" that we don't actually know much about the world until the world comes knocking at our door, or when we decide to get out arses moving and start travelling. Travel enlightens us, makes us see that there is more to life than accumulation of funds in a bank account or day in - day out going to work. I've been living in Krakow for more than 6 years now and when I say that I am an expat people ask from where am I. When I say that I am Romanian I get mixed signals: either "Oh! Your country is so beautiful! You have such pristine mountains!" or... "Oh! Romanian..." (smiling and moving along)... so... I feel the need to explain:
1. Romanian does not equal gypsies! Roma gypsies are said to have roots in India. They have a nomadic style of living and in the 13th century they have started their migration to Europe. Romania was very open towards them and the political parties gave them many rights - so they settled and started breeding heavily, raising their numbers and doing rather... mischevious and dirty deeds (around the world). Because they started travelling in the EU and because they steal and cheap and (unfortunately) they have Romanian ID's people assumed that everyone home is like that. Bollocks! Not all Romanian people have dark skin, steal and act unlike human beings :/
2. We are not all communists - it's been almost 28 years since communism collapsed yet everyone remembers the bad and the ugly rather than the good things... It's true, Romania was part of the communistic block, but hey! Theoretically we have democracy now and we get to choose our own leaders - even if they suck and don't give a hoot about the people, rather then their own pockets!
3. Our capital is Bucharest, not Budapest! Trust me, this is a common mistake that people across the ocean make... that and the fact that there is an actual country named Hungary - and yes, they are not hungry all the time! (*insert here rolling eyes*).
4. We don't live in trees and we don't eat it bananas, we also have Internet and it's not dial up! Some people from a certain State (or more united...) might belove that we just discovered the TV, the media and so on. Some may think we are a 3rd world country... Oh! The ignorance...
5. Romania is a country meant to be travelled- it has mountains, it has seaside, it has the Danube Delta, it has lakes and streams and waterfalls. It has loads of castles and palaces you could visit - at least one per each day of the year! 
6. We love Latin languages, we eat them for breakfast! Romanian language is a Latin based language, that makes us understand really easy all other Latin languages like Spanish, Italian and so on. Don't find it weird if you speak in your own language and we know you are gossiping ;)
7. Dracula was a real person but he did not drink blood, transform into a bat and lived for ages in a coffin... There was a true ruler, named Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler was the nickname, as he liked to Impale the people who would lie and cheat and steal - sounds fair to me!). He was also known as "Vlad Dracul", hence the name. He was one hard-core person! His rule was law and he was not take any wronging of his subjects. 
8. We DID score the very first PERFECT 10 at the Olympics! Nadia Comaneci, Olymipics at Montreal, gymnastics. She was absolutely glorious and perfect! Everyone knows her name, everyone who loves gymnastics understands her effort and her hard work and dedication. It took her strength and discipline to get there, to be PERFECT!
9. We do have "the world's best driving road", as Jeremy Clarkson put it. Thats the Transfagarasan highway, in the mountains, open it a few months per year during summertime. It was one of Ceausescu's creation - one that endures and makes everyone wonder and ponder upon its beauty. Indeed communism left over some things that are worth your time ;)
10. Pierogi is a traditional polish dish but the Romanian people have "coltunasi", which is more or less the same thing... it's just that the Polish people got more inventive when it comes to the fillings... after all... are we not all family? One big European family :)

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Her Heritage
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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Krakow: MilkBar Tomasza - a "must eat" place in the Old Town

Dearest sweethearts,

One of the best things in Poland are the "bar mleczny" (Polish for "milk bar"). You can find them in every city, every neighbourhood. They come in all shapes and sizes and some of them have different twists - the regular "bar mleczny" is a typical Polish communistic location to eat out with few money. Don't think you'll get something special! You have traditional dishes, served hot, in a canteen like environment. Most of the "bar mleczny" are push-the-tray style but some do also provide a waiter option - must frequent though are the ones where you order, take a number and wait to be called. The food is done in large quantities and sometimes you can get really lucky with finding a really good MilkBar.
MilkBar Tomasza (located on ulica Tomasza in Krakow) is quite a one of a kind "bar mleczny". It's a definite upgrade from the communistic type of MilkBars. It raises the bar so high that no other "bar mleczny" in Krakow can come even close to it! It's owner, an Irishman living in Krakow for quite a while now, manage to blend in his culture with the blood of Poland and created quite a magical place: MilkBar Tomasza, where you can listen amazingly good music like U2, Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and so on... On my first visit to MilkBar Tomasza I had a full hour of U2 (eating an Irish breakfast while listening to "The sweetest thing") and on my recent "trip" I had the pleasure of getting in tune with Annie.
The MilkBar Tomasza has a very clean and open and friendly environment. The seating options vary from table for 2 to benches and corner tables that allow more people to join in the fun. It's always very crowded with both foreigner and locals alike, even though it's in the Old Town but off the beaten track. The owner is also a cool here and he runs a tight an merry ship. You don't have any of the older generation ladies with a sour face, serving you like you are a bum smelling of piss... you DO have young students, fluent in English, that are more than glad to take your order and help you out in case you are not decided. It's not your average "bar mleczny" - MilkBar Tomasza should be crowned king of the MilkBars in Krakow (at least!)
There is plenty of natural light coming from the tall windows - there is a full wall of them, that also allows you to have a look on the street, watch the passer-by running from the rain, or simply enjoy the light while reading a book. The serving is fast and while you wait for your hot dish you can enjoy the Irish / British artists playing over the speakers.  Of course the Irish breakfast is a must, but if you are not a fan (are you an alien?! How can you not like that?!) You can't go wrong with the "daily special" (daily menu) - costs around 19 zloty and it has a soup and a hot meal/entree. You usually have at least 2-3 options to choose from - make sure to give a look at the chalkboard menu, it gets updated fast and you can always ask for more details. They even bring you the hot meal to the place you are seated!
The prices:
*Menu of the day = soup and hot dish = 19 zloty (no drinks included in the price, that's something extra you need to figure on your own). 
I chose, as it was a really warm day, a "cold soup" made with yogurt and apple and cinnamon - PL: chlodnik jablkowy z cynamonem. The hot dish I choose was chicken breast breaded with tzatzki sauce (typical Greek sauce, made out of yogurt and cucumber) with baby potatoes (with butter and herbs on top) and side salads - that was absolutely glorious and even now, as I think of It, my mouth waters... If ever in Krakow, in the Old Town, you are hungry as a wild wild and you want something good, fast, with a really unbeatable price, in a chilling environment, Milkbar Tomasza is your place ;) feels like home away from home, especially for the Brits in Krakow! 

Yours very sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Great Eat-out Places
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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tough Points of Motherhood: Self-esteem

Dearest mothers,
Dearest family members,

Did you know that psychologists actually found out - through extensive research - that mothers self-esteem lowers drastically up to 3 years after birth?! I was thinking of Motherhood - as I often do nowadays - and how both myself and my friends who have had a baby, or more, changed along time.  I mean, bottom line you are the same person... I still love Star Wars, travelling, taking photos and writing on my blog... yet some things fundamentally change inside of you. You don't know when it happens, but it does. You carry a little, constantly growing, human being inside of you for 9 months and then there is the whole giving birth process... and then... then is when it hits you, when the baby is out: post partum! It's out, it's screaming, it's crying, it's constantly in want of your attention and it's taking your whole time, your whole life... but also your whole heart! Some people don't feel the need to have a bundle of joy and excitement in their life, they choose a different path, and I respect that and understand it. But everyone should also understand that, sometimes, women do need more attention/concern, especially if they are mothers, if they have birth.
This study was done in Netherlands, by the University of Tilburg, on 84.000 Norwegian women between 1999 and 2008 (that's 9 years!). The women completed multiple surveys along this time: 2 during pregnancy and 3 after the delivery, last one being when the baby turned 3 years (36 months after birth). A part of the women even completed the same survey before and after the birth of the 2nd-3rd-4th child. I think besides the main point of the study, showing that women having kids will have low self esteem for a very long while, it also shows (or at least that's what I think!) the degree of endurance that women have. Either that or we are too sentimental about the procreation... it shows that even though you go through hell being pregnant and delivering, even though you don't get much sleep or rest in the first months/years (depending on the baby), women are still able to carry on and take a deep breath and say... heck! Let's do this again! (They do look simply adorable when they are wee small! And the baby smell... priceless! - and I don't mean the poo!).
The team of researchers from the Uni in Tilburg found a pattern: during the pregnancy women experience a decline in their self esteem. It does come back (partially) after 6 months after giving birth, but immediately after it plunges again deep down and it never comes back to the T0 (T zero) point. Even after 3 years after birth it does not come back to its original state! Sad part is... researchers did not collect data further on so they can't say if women ever go back to that original moment, but women who had another child do manage to come back to that T0 moments before the cycle starts again. Now the causes can be multiple, ranging from physical changes to the body (growing with the baby and then handling the after birth weight), hormones, stress (about how the baby is developing, about the decisions one makes for the babies heath and wellbeing, about the future of the baby and the family in general). Add to that the additional stress you might experience from being an expat mum, being home away from home... that's a whole another level of stress being added.
You won't be able to have the fast flow exchange of info with the doctor / nurse / midwife, you might not understand 100% everything that is done, you won't have your family next to you... it's hard, but try to do an exercise of the things you DO have, the things that give you strength at that point: the fact that you DO understand the language, the fact that there IS medical care, the fact that you ARE in a sterile environment, that fact that the little bundle of joy is well and so are YOU! There are many tought points about motherhood that nobody tells you about (maybe not even your mother!) but that shouldn't stop you! You are stronger than you think! You are a Wonder Woman - you just need to rediscover yourself. Some of my friends laugh and say you can DO that once they turn 18-21... well... I surely hope I can prove they are wrong! Who's with me?!

Yours always very sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Her Ladybug Baby Girl 
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Thursday, 13 July 2017

SAAL Photobooks - true beauty coming to life

Dearest sweethearts,

I'm a huge fan of photos - be it taking photos, watching photos and even sometimes having pictures taken of myself by photographers of my choosing, photographers I learned to trust, photographers I can call friends. I do take unlimited amounts of photos, that's true, but I also think I am one of the few that still prints then out on a regularly basis. Watching photos on a screen is not as personal as having the photo in your own hands, enjoying it's colours and contrasts. I print also because it's easier to take a photo album from the shelve than searching through folders on the laptop. Some might call it waste of paper, waste of money but I call myself old-fashioned and still prefer the proper prints. 
The freshly received package with the photobook
One day, while I was browsing on Facebook, I bumped into SAAL Digital page that advertised an opportunity for Polish bloggers / bloggers living in Poland. It was about testing the SAAL Photobook - the blogger would received a code valued at 200 zloty and they would be able to pick and choose the number of pages, style, format and if it would be over the value the bloggers would pay the rest. All for reviewing the SAAL Photobook. Count me in! I quickly filled out the online form and waited to see if I was lucky - and I Was! I was so happy to get to try It! The code came via the email I had filled out the form in - all communication was done in Polish language but it's quite intuitive and if you're stuck, use Google translate! ;)
The email received from the team stated I had a certain code worth 200 zloty and as soon as I would have the review I should forward it to the team. To be noted that if you win the Photobook you need to use the coupon, you can't have the money, and there is a deadline as well for doing the selection and using the coupon - 14 days since you receive the email. The email comes with a direct link where you can download the SAAL Digital app, in order to start creating the Photobook. Fear not if you are a Mac user, there is an app for you as well ;) or if you prefer to use another app or Photoshop, you can get in contact with the SAAL Digital team and they can work something out. 
I am a Windows user and I selected the app download. It was fast and in no time I was able to start designing it. The huge minus of the app is the fact that it is Polish language only. Fear Not! If ever you used an app for creating Photobooks it's very intuitive and easy to use. You'll have to select what type of Photobook you want to design, the format - be it landscape or vertical or square format (maybe for the Instagram fans out there...), the type of page (I usually prefer my photos to be printed "matte" option rather than the "glossy" one). You can also choose if you want a richer, fuller cover and if you wish to give it as a gift you can choose a wrapping option. Also you get to select if you want the company logo to appear at the end - it's so small it did not bother me so I left it there. 
Once you have the format selected you can add the pictures you have from your hard drive and start collating the pictures. I had selected the option for 32 pages at the price of 193 zloty, vertical format of 21×28. I used the "Allrounder szablon" as it had a nice black-white classic feel about it. From there on its quite easy - you can drag and drop the pics you took from your pc into the app and place them in the location on the page appropriate to your wish. I had more unregular shaped photos - from my phone camera - and I found it easier to delete the shape prefigured for the photos and drag and drop it myself there and just adjust it by using the corners of the photo. You can also enrich your Photobook with clipart (Kliparty) - both colourful and neutral shapes and objects (for example baby carriages, Christmas trees, flowers and babies). 
Once you are done, click on the Shopping cart (Dodaj do kosza) and finalise the transaction. You need to put in your name, address, postal code, phone number and email address so you can be contacted for the pickup. The company uses a very reliable transport agency - DHL - and they are always on time, with the right package, in perfect shape. Standard fee for the transport, in Poland, in 20 zloty; bringing us to 213 zloty total. Once you pay for the product, an automatic email comes to the email address you have given and notifies you over the transaction. It so gives you a tracking number and a tracking page for SAAL Digital Polska packages. DHL will also contact you, the day after, by text on your phone and by email, giving you a tracking ID and an approximate time of arrival. Mine came in 2 working days and it was picture perfect! 
I really and wholeheartedly recommend this product! It's very well known amongst photographers and they usually use it in order to show off their portfolio. It's also used for photo sessions for weddings - the finishing touches of the Photobook are so delicate and soft yet durable, that for sure they are able to withstand ages. It's not the regular Photobook you can do anywhere! Oh, no! It truly pays off the money you invest in it. The pages are safe and you can't get a papercut as they are thick and sturdy. It's also a perfect idea of a gift! Memories are made to be shared and remembered - not to be kept on a hard drive... getting dust to settle on it. Now go get your groove on, select a couple of the dearest pictures you have and head over to your laptop on the SAAL Digital Polska page and check out their offers!
Picture perfect moments -inside photos taken by Bellove
The perfect gift for the ones you love!
Yours very much sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Photography
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