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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Iasi: Trumpets - Good food & Great Time

My dearest hearts,

I've been meaning to tell you about a place in my hometown for a very long while now, I just didn't have a chance to sit down and write about it. The Trumpets is a very British pub in the heart of the city, in Palas Mall Iasi. It's a very friendly place, extremely upbeat and positive, with very good customer care. It's a place where mamy of my (corporate) friends spend their time after work, or even come there for their lunch break. The "5 o'clock" options that they have are amazingly yummy and at a decent price, less than 5 euros - including drinks.
The pub has places both indoor and outdoor, and considering the weather in Romania (unlike the one in Poland) you can enjoy sitting on the terrace until late November. The seating options outside are more comfortable and nice - and if you come with a friend that smokes you'll prefer that, as smoking indoors is prohibited by law in Romania. The indoor seating has many tall chairs, pub experience to the max. I've always loved how the indoor was decorated - it actually gives you the British feel and look. I love even the cute little bathrooms, with the ladies sign for "Iron Ladies". 
The Trumpets in Iasi is open from 9 am to 2:30 am but Fridays and Saturdays they stay open a bit longer, until 4:30 am.  They host lovely live concerts of local/national bands and when there is a gig night it always gets extra crowded. Besides their well established British theme, along with a red phonebooth and all, there is a wider selection than usual when it comes to beers. I dare you to find another pub in Iasi that has a similar selection! You will also get a kick out of reading their menu - it's priceless! The names of the products sold are names of British bands and artists. You can enjoy a breakfast with Egg Sheeran ;) how cute is that?!
The prices:
- hot beverages (tea) - 250 ml - 7,99 RON
- lemonades - between 9,99 and 10,99 RON
If ever you travel to Romania and find yourself in Iasi, make sure you get to the Palas Mall. Take a short break and have a fresh pint of Kilkenny / Guinness + some fish and chips on the side (the chips are delicious! And you should ask for them either way, they go nice with the beer). Don't forget to let me know what you think of the place!

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Enjoyed The Trumpets
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Monday, 16 October 2017

Growing Up - Polish Style

My dearest pumpkins,

In case you were wondering how Polish childhood feels like and what common traits are in growing up in Poland or growing up abroad but in a Polish family, I thought I might share with you my findings on this subject. I have many friends who told me stories of their childhood, I've seen a lot of movies, but also had first hand experience from my husband's family stories and pictures (priceless, every single one of them!). So without any further ado, let me share you some facts about growing up - Polish Style ;)
1. #GrowingUpPolish abroad can be of an issue when teachers read out loud the names of the students. Either you will get your name misspelled or you'll only get your first name. 
2. Short names completely different than your regular name. Let's say someone's name is Aleksandra Nowak. How would you call her shorter, Alex? Well no... that would be: Ola = Aleksandra :/ 
3. Everyone is your Aunt and Uncle (Ciocia I Wujek). That's  not a title only for family members. That's also for friends, close relatives, sometimes even for people you might meet only once in your life... It gets confusing :/
4. Pantofle (kapcia) were a must! No carpets? Slippers! Visitors came in? Bring out the slippers. They come in all shapes and sizes - some are comfy... But sometimes you might not get one your size... :(
5. Granny (Babcia) will always have loads of pictures with The Pope (that's John Paul the 2nd, the Polish Pope) and the saints. 
6. Granny will also have the best food ever, the best sweets ever and she will make you eat an extra portion, just in case you're extra hungry and you're not telling ;)
7. Eating hot chicken broth (rosol) with pasta every Sunday lunch. No matter how hot/cold it may be outside. Also, drinking hot tea all year round is the thing in Polish families. And they do it in glasses! Not mugs!
Lolek I Bolek 
8. Watching TV for kids: Pszczolka Maja (Maja the bee), The Smurfs, Reksio, Lolek I Bolek.
9. Opening presents on Christmas Eve, not the day after.  Oh the Christmas dinner stories I heard are one of the best. Christmas traditions are at their finest!
10. There are always treats around the house, just in case someone comes unexpected. There is always a safety stash ;) that kids enjoy immensely when they don't get caught!

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Childhood
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Friday, 13 October 2017

Bucket List: Sting Concert in Krakow

My dearest hearts,

Everyone has its own Bucket list of wishes and dreams. Some you may cross out faster then others, some - sadly - may remain unmarked. Last night one of my items from my list got crossed out thanks to my amazing better half. This month is my birthday and a few months ago I've received one of the best gifts: a ticket to Sting! That's right ;) Sting had an amazing concert last night in Krakow, Poland, in the Tauron Arena.  I've been dreaming to hear him live ever since I was a wee lass.  Besides my eternal love for Freddie Mercury and Queen I had a huge love for the trio: Sting, Brian Adams and Rod Stewart - I still do! Their voices did not change throughout time and their style is eternal. When they sing the music makes you soar and your heart flutters, so listening to them live surely provides goosebumps and trips down the memory lane. Sting in Krakow was a pleasure and a privilege to all the people gathered there last night.
Sting in Krakow, 12th October 2017
Sting presented his new album "57th & 9th" along with his band and his son, who did the intro for his famous dad. He is the "most popular pop artist" from abroad that played in Poland, this not being the first time he is in this fine land - he's been here more than a dozen times, and keeps coming back. His tickets are the the most expensive ones in terms of the concerts from artists coming from abroad, yet they always sell out fast. Sting is very popular here for his soft nostalgical pieces, but also for his progressive rock and symphonic arrangements. The prices on last night tickets ranged between 229 zloty to 399 zloty - the VIP pack between 593 and 723 zloty. 
Around 6:30 pm - crowds start to gather
The Arena was open for the crowd at 6:30 pm but even before that the people were swarming like bees around the area. People were hard to come, knowing that these kind of concerts usually take time and run late but the area in front of the stage - no seating - had people coming and staying on their feet for 2 hours (not moving, not to lose their place) until they caught the first glimpse of Sting. The first song that was played started around 20:10 and it was a piece that Sting sang together with his son. Then there was about 25 min of his son, playing the guitar and singing his own pieces - I must admit that when I closed my eyes I could feel that he had a similar voice as his father. Then there was a bit of break and at 20:55 the Show started. Sting is immortal in its own rights, he never changes, he never fades away and his voice is as amazing as always! He had a team of 5 behind him, his son included doing the backing vocals and singing from time to time a piece with him (great in "Shape of my heart"!). 

Sting has an energy that is marvelous to watch. Even before he started, my position allowed me to see after the stage as well, I would see him pace and run around - lights turned off and his son performing - and dancing to the music. It's a privilege to see a legend unwind before it's turn. It was amazing as well to see the love he has for his son and the positive vibes going back and forward with the crowd, who were supportive in every song. He played over one hour before he said "Daddy needs a break" and he let his son play one piece, after which he came back and rocked our world even more. He played over an hour an 40 min, he had a great encore and the people were thirsty for more! So he came back, rather surprised, played it's amazing "Message in a bottle" and promised to come again. Hopefully sooner rather than later :) here is his story about the last song he played: “I wrote that song almost 40 years ago in a little flat in London, with no one there but a cat who wasn’t interested in what I was doing. And to think 40 years later I’m here, with you, and you seem to know all the words - it means a lot to me.” 

The Concerts playlist - 12th of October 2017, Tauron Arena in Krakow, Poland:
"Synchronicity II"
"If I Ever Lose My Faith In You"
"Spirits in the Material World"
"Englishman In New York"
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
"Mad About You"
"Fields Of Gold"
"Shape of My Heart"
"She's Too Good for Me"
"Petrol Head"
"Message In A Bottle"
"Ashes to Ashes" / "50.000"
"Walking on the Moon"
"So Lonely"
"Desert Rose"
"Roxanne" / "Ain't No Sunshine"
Bis:
"Next To You"
"I Can't Stop Thinking About You"
"Every Breath You Take"
Bis II:
"Fragile"

Yours from the heart,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Sting
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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Travel Tuesday: Gifts You Should Bring From Poland

Dearest sweethearts,

A trip to Poland, to Krakow, should be inevitable once in Europe. Poland is the centre of Europe, it's own beating heart, staying strong to its beliefs. It's a country of beauty, wonder and it has magical cities you fall in love with at the first sight. It has many UNESCO world heritage sites and it boasts of a rising number of tourists each year. But now, during today's #traveltuesday I wanted to help you a bit - let you know what might be considered as a good present / good gift to have for the ones home, after you've visited Poland:
Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland 
1. Amber from the Baltic Sea - Poland is renowned for the beautifully clear Amber from the Baltic Sea and has a long tradition  of exporting it as well, by sea, to other cities (like Warsaw and Krakow) but also abroad (reaching even to Rome). The price of Amber is extremely good in Poland and you can find anything - from earrings, bracelets, necklaces to magnets for your fridge, made out of it. It's a must #madeinpoland - make a lovely gift to someone you love.
2. Wooden handcrafted objects - from treasury chests to chess boards. The best place to buy them, in Krakow, is from the Sukiennice (The Cloth Hall) in the Main Market Square.  It's gonna be hard to miss seeing them, even if it's always crowded out there! The colora and the shapes and sizes can get you hypnotized... try not to leave all your money in one place ;) there are plenty things to see / buy!
Wedding wodka - calculate at least 1 litre per person
3. Alcohol - be it pure, crystal clear, wodka or the local delicacies like "Nalewka Babuni". You can also find here local gems like beer with cherries, beer with plums and beer with honey... that one is sweet as Hell and leaves me with an immense headache.
4. Polish marinated cucumbers - pickled gerkins - a cure for the almighty hangover that you will have, after you try out all the wodka.
5. Smalec - lard, to be smeared on fresh bread and eaten before the heavy drinking starts. It acts like a "tampon" layer due to the amount of fat in it, and it's a life saviour!
6. Pierniki (gingerbread) from Torun - don't worry, you don't actually need to physically get to Torun, every large supermarket sells them. Just make sure they are #madeinpoland #madeintorun - check the label carefully ;) they are yummy - fresh they are even yummier, if you manage to get there.
7. The notorious John Lemon Lemonade - made in Poland, the John Lemon trademark was registered by the Polish manufacturers of the lemonade back in 2014. The John Lennon trademark application was filed in 2016. Hey... But you can't stop Ono from making "a honest buck" on John's back, can't you?! :/ anyway, if you manage to grab a John Lemon bottle before they change the name, make sure you do! I love it!
8. Oscypek - traditional highlander / mountain cheese, be it in oval shape or in strings, it's delicious! Especially during winter months, on the grill, with some "zurawina" (red cranberry) sauce. Mmmmmm... heavenly! At the Christmas Markets you can also find a version with dried plum & bacon - do try it!
9. For newly mums: Madame GooGoo Baby Carriers - custom made, #madeinpoland with great love and care, by a mother who was so fond of her children that she wanted to do an ergonomic design yet one of a kind. You want a baby carrier shaped like a unicorn, a Ladybug, an owl, a dragon... they did it before and they fulfil wild dreams! They also ship internationally ;)
10. A trip back to Poland - let's face it! If you ever managed to get to Poland you will want to come back again and again and again. The best present for yourself or for the ones you love, is to come again to Poland and witness more of its wonders. Take a sabbatical and come to Poland! Poland will always welcome you with open arms - filled with pierogi and history ;)

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Poland
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Saturday, 7 October 2017

Krakow Fresh Markets: Stary Kleparz

Dearest sweethearts,

I couldn't live in an universe where there is no Autumn and no October months. I was born in October and the best season for me, the season that suits me and the moment that I feel most at peace is when Autumn comes. Not the dark shades or grey November with its rain, but the lovely golden Autumn of October's love. That's also when I found it best to go shopping in the fresh markets for veggies and fruits.  Who doesn't love the Autumn cornucopia: pears, apples, plums, walnuts, you name it! And the endless types of freshly picked mushrooms - you can smell them a mile away. Of course mushrooms are a big thing, here in Poland, so when it starts to rain frequently and sustained, in September, the "Mushroom season" starts!
Krakow boasts of many open markets, fresh local markets where people can forget about the huge chain market stores and buy local products, helping in this way also the local economy. I can tell you for sure that it's worth your while, a trip once a week to the fresh market, to get tasty and juicy tomatoes, home grown, than going to Kaufland / Carrefour / Auchan and buying some tomatoes grown in the green house, tomatoes that never saw the real sun. It's not only good for you or the local economy but also for your growing children ;) they need natural products!
Stary Kleparz is a farmers market, located a stone throw away from the Old Town - maximum 5 min in a straight line from Galeria Krakowska, passing the Jan Matejko square. It is one of the largest market squares for local producers. It's usually open from 6 am to 6 pm - or earlier, if the producers sell all their products faster ;) it's not like anyone is keeping them there. Calculated as an average, the time people spend there shopping is about 20 minutes, but you have to know that when you come here you must know from the start what you want to shop. This ain't no supermarket, the queues are not huge and you have people selling fast, always having change and - of course - you must come with cash (no card!).
In the Stary Kleparz Market Square you can buy fresh veggies, fresh fruits, fresh dairy products (all sorts of cheese, also eggs from real hens), fresh meat but also on the sides, surrounding the main area with tables where people show off their products, you have small shops with really good local products at a very good price - better than in the supermarket. Located on Rynek Kleparzki 20, in the Old Town, it has a tradition of over 800 years! It's totally worth a visit, especially if you are around the Barbakan, and if you are in a mood for some really nice pastries and sweets - there is also a Wawel shop, next to one of the entrances in the market, and they have outrageous prices! The kind that make you wanna buy the whole lot!
Of course the market is sanitary regulated and all products are safe. There are local checkups and all is well, nobody wants to get anyone hurt and lose their customers ;) Also the market is quite clean and toilet stalls are at the end, down the stairs, separated men from women - in case anyone is in a hurry. I've never tried them, but hey! I gotta tell you all the facilities of the market! 
Hope to see you there one day, or you'll go there and let me know what you think of it ;)

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves xxx
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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Autumn in Krakow - Pro's and con's

Dearest pumpkins,

You know how much I love Poland and how deeply I feel for Krakow. The last summer days are gone and the autumn equinox passed, so I thought I might share with you my Pro's and Con's why you should spend Autumn in Krakow - but also in Poland in general. To be quite frank, Autumn is my favourite season - also due to the fact that I was born this very month, in October, but I will try my best not to be prejudiced by that ;) so... let's see the Pro's first:
1. The Sublime Autumn Weather - Astonomically Autumn beings with the Autumn equinox on the 21st of September and it lasts until the 22nd of December.  The temperature range is between 5 and 15 degrees Celsius.  Moderate temperature that slowly decreases daily and makes you layer up like an onion. The Con when it comes to the weather is the high level of precipitation - but more of that on the Con's.
2. The local markets bursting with colours and smells - the fresh veggies and fruits tempt you in every fresh market. My favourite one is the one on Stary Kleparz (Old Kleparz), just a few minutes away from Galeria Krakowska / Plac Jan Matejko. The month of September-October is perfect for going there and buying stuff for winter. There are local farmers bringing "the good stuff" and I highly recommend the mushrooms. They come in all shapes and sizes.
3. The 7XGospel Festival - the 12th one this year (2017) - focuses on Polish American African Gospel music, religious performances, workshops and all in both languages Polish-English. It takes place between the 12 and the 22nd of October. Feel free to register and join In! It's open to people of all ages and backgrounds, as long as you have an open mind and heart in understanding people and the world. Highly recommended for people who search for higher meaning in life.
4. November 1st - We don't have Halloween but we do have All Saints Day! Throughout the day people go to the cemetery to their beloved ones that passed away and pay their respects by bringing flowers and big candles that can burn throughout several dozen of hours. By the time night falls, throughout Poland, throughout Krakow, you will see cemeteries filled with people, filled with light, sometimes as if it was day outside - so bright it can get!
5. The number of tourists seems to drop, you don't get as much crowded streets and there is more room to breathe - the most popular time to visit Krakow is probably summertime and wintertime (for the Christmas Markets - in abundance throughout the city). I am totally fine with that, as it leaves me with clearer streets and much more space to breathe in my beloved Krakow. No more hustle 
The Con's:
The 2010 flood ìs one of the biggest ones recorded
1. High Level of Precipitation - it is well known by the locals but also by the foreigners that have lived in Krakow for a longer period than one year, that during the month of September there will always be transit issues near the Vistula River.  There are many rivers that join too the Vistula and when it rains heavily and sustained for weeks on end, the level raises so much that people no longer can use the bike paths. It's a constant every year!
2. The smog / The fog / The pollution - once golden Autumn starts fading away and November rains and cold starts settling in, people start their heating systems and... In the process, some use very un-eco friendly products, resulting in air pollution. The fog sometimes is so heavy you can cut it with a knife, you can't see at arms length before you. The smog... well... everyone gets infuriated because there is always on red on the typical applications that show you the quality of the air. Snow and wind does help clear the air up... but it's a constant nightmare to go out - people with masks everywhere! 

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Autumn In Krakow
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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Things I Am Thankful For - September 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, FebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly and August. For September, I am thankful for many things, but here are 5 picks:
Polish Garden Red Roses, Krakow, Poland
1. New and old friends - I'm thankful for all my friends, that came my way through various ways and means. I love a person the moment we connect and sometimes I find it rather difficult to let a friendship go. I am a social person, I love social media, I have constant chat windows with friends around the world. I miss them, I wish I would have them nearer, but I'm extremely thankful of the friends I have physically next to me. I am thankful for Gabi, whom I've met more deeply during the pre-baby Pilates classes. She is a smart, beautiful human being, talented when it comes to knowledge and connections. She recently introduced me to Anna, a fascinating Polish lady who speaks Romanian like a native. She has so many wonderful stories about Polish history! It's a pleasure listening to her. She's also a guide! 
2. Autumn settling in & bringing fresh veggies and fruits from the local markets - I believe that Autumn is the best season of the year, of course I might be prejudiced by the fact that I was born in October... but I think it's the perfect time for everything! It's not too cold, so you just layer up with a scarf and a thin jacket and you're done! There are days where it even feels like summer, yet it's not scorching hot. The autumn sun rays are soft and soothing, the smell of leaves and apple and grapes and fresh wine is in the air... going to the local market feels like Heaven - a symphony of smells and colours. Have some plums, some pumpkin, some apples, some mushrooms ... a bit of all!
3. 13 September brought another record of viewers on my blog: 5506 users! And so... my previous blog stats record just doubled... I wonder when I'll get to beat this one! It's true, I had a lot of traffic coming from the hot topic of "How to get a Polish person mad/upset" but I think it also has to do with a brilliant Facebook group I recently joined. I promote there the articles related about Poland and Polish History. The group is named: Polish Culture, Food and Traditions - and people from around the world, with polish roots and connections share the common love about Poland. Do join in!
4. 22 September - The International Day Without Cars - every step that we take, every step that takes us closer to the goal of protecting the environment, I'm in! During late Autumn - Winter, the air in Krakow is horrible... there is a constant for, the smog that sticks to your lungs and depresses you beyond words... steps have been taken to make things better and I see a slow and painful change. I just somehow wish people would take more often the public transport and stop burning rubber and other things that are not eco friendly.  The International Day Without Cars is a step forward - this day all public transport is free! Also, in Krakow, when the smog is too powerful, the people who own cars can go by public transport for free.
5. Long walks in the park with my mum, granny and my little Ladybug Baby Girl - I love days of golden Autumn, I love the idea of having a picnic in the park with my mum and granny and small one. Buy a couple of icecreams, take an extra cone for the small one to nibble on, sit on a bench, listen to some street artist playing their music, feeding the pigeons so it would amuse small Emilia, all the while basking in the sun. The glorious sun that will be soon missed - as the days keep getting shorter and shorter. I love my warm Autumn and I welcome dearly October. 

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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