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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Advertising - The Soul Of Commerce

My dear friends,

It is amazing how the human brain works, one item triggering a memory of another, cirucits joining and intertwining, interweaving knowledge and feeling alike. How can one track the train of thoughts from a couple of minutes spent in an international airport - for example the one in Munich - to the colorful and rainbow-like camels - provided by the Camel advertising group - to the days of youth, when one was studying Marketing and Business Communications - that's me, alright! When I was small I wanted to be an accountant. When finishing Gymnasium I knew from start where I wanted to go: The Highschool of Economics and Business Administration - and become an accountant like my amazing Grandpa. I remember being very enthusiastic about it, yet somehow by the end of the first year in University - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration - when we had to select which specialty we would like to persevere in... accounting dropped from first place to third, behind Marketing and Informatics... I never regreted the choices I made and I loved the Bachelor and Master studies in Marketing and Business Communication - if anything, they were eye-openers for the world and how the money makes it all go around...
David Mackenzie Ogilvy, CBE, was an advertising executive who was widely hailed as "The Father of Advertising". In 1962, Time called him "the most sought-after wizard in today's advertising industry". I studied about him in school and his books on the topic of advertising always were fascinating. Now think about this: there are 35 or so commercial passenger airports (Flughafen) in Germany, with Frankfurt and Munich being the two biggest.  Altogether, over 190 million passengers were facilitated by German airports in 2008, with 88 million of those in Frankfurt and Munich alone - sorry, I could not find any other statistics for following years, but I bet what you want on the fact that the number has increased significantly since then! What smarter way to adverstise products is there, than to do it in an airport with such amount of traffic?! The Munich airport is like a huge shopping mall, with facilities that I have not yet seen anywhere else - from multiple smoking lounge areas, wherever you turn, to bathrooom equiped (some) with showers, to lounge areas and reading spaces to chillout.
 “The consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife.” ― David Ogilvy, 
  Confessions of an Advertising Man
 “I don't know the rules of grammar. If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” ― David Ogilvy
I was thinking how Munich Airport encourages consumption in a gentle and non-forcing way. Let us say you are stranded in Munich for a few hours, between flights - not enough to get you to the city and back, but enough to press your nerves, thinking on what to do next... Let us say you are a smoker and 3-4 hours would be too much without having a puff... Well Munich airport comes to your aid! ;) You have comfortable lounges where you can smoke and enjoy the latest news on the screen, or have a look on the colorful Camel branded still-life-animals. Of course you will smoke your pack, while relaxing, but that is no issue as you can just jump by the duty free and have some more smokes. I must admit it! I took pictures of the Camel camels and I am not a smoker,but either way this post could be considered as advertising. The Instagram posts I have done with the camels are free advertising as well for the Camel brand... I know that, I am aware of that, I admit that I am against smoking yet I posted them... the irony! These beautiful colorful pictures attract and make you snap a photo of it. Well made and attractively designed they are there to remind you of the brand. My husband smokes Camel... maybe I was thinking of him when I took this picture, or maybe I should just blame it on the clever heads working on advertising and product placement - they really hit home-run with those! Good job!

DISCLAIMER - All pictures were taken with the camera from my Samsung Galaxy S4 - Copyrights reserved :)- Pictures were taken near the Smoking Lounges in the Munich Airport & the Duty Free Area of the same airport

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that was always fascinated about advertising
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Monday, 27 July 2015

La Traviata or... Moulin Rouge

My dear friends,


The performances of ‘Orpheus and Eurydice’ by Ch. W. Gluck concluded the 19th Krakow Opera Summer Festival, which took place from 14 June to 5 July. This year’s edition was rich in artistic events, including open-air events held in the enchanting scenery of the Arcade Courtyard at the Wawel Royal Castle.
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Undeniably, the most awaited highlight was the concert ‘World Opera Arias’ featuring the world renowned tenor Piotr Beczała accompanied by the Krakow Opera Orchestra under the baton of Łukasz Borowicz. The Krakow audience awarded the artist, who has been conquering all major stages in the world, with a triple standing ovation. 
The Festival Main Poster
The Wawel courtyard witnessed also a performance of C. Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ executed by an over 200-person artistic ensemble of the Krakow Opera and the flag-juggling group Griffin Guard. The oratorio was performed by soloists including Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha, Mariusz Godlewski, Stanisław Kufluk, and Adam Sobierajski, and a nearly 90-person choir prepared by Zygmunt Magiera, as well as the Krakow Opera Children’s Choir. The rousing music was complemented with choreographies by Emil Wesołowski. Tomasz Tokarczyk conducted the Artists and the Orchestra of the Krakow Opera. ‘Carmina Burana’ was also presented on the Market Square in Jasło as part of the 650th anniversary of obtaining city rights. 
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Iwona Socha has everything that an opera singer needs to have: beautiful voice, looks and charm. ‘Traviata’ earned yet another great performer, said editor Jacek Chodorkowski about the débutant soloist.
A view from the 3rd floor of the Opera House
The Krakow Opera Summer Festival was a spectacular finish of the closing artistic season. The average attendance at the Festival events amounted to 100.64%. The Opera presented 13 events which were seen by 12,331 spectators.

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The 19th Krakow Opera Summer Festival provided music lovers with many emotions and attractions. The brilliant idea to hold some of the concerts at the Wawel Royal Castle, a unique place that simply loves music, proved once again to be flawless… The arcade courtyard is a truly magical setting for music… The repertoire including not only the most recent, but also older productions of our opera theatre reveals how great artists we have and how vast their abilities are.Anna Kańska-Małachowska, http://malanart.blogspot.com, 4 July 2015 (source)
The La Traviata Ticket
The festival always attracted me but I never got the chance and time to buy the tickets - the syncronisation was aweful and I was always too late... This year my awesome husband surprised me, enticed by the Film Music Festival in Krakow that we went in June & the moving Easter concert at the Ice Arena, he bought us tickets to the La Traviata performance. And not just any places, but the best places of the house, first row - middle - main balcony area - rating per person at 120 zloty (around 30 euro). We had been to the Opera House on Lubicz before, for the Swan Lake, but we did not have that kind of seating, so it was a pleasure to see the whole scene from a broader angle :) 
***
I am not sure if you ever went to the Opera and if you are fond of it, but I love it! I would do this on a weekly basis if possible and sometimes I really miss the University times, when I would be able to go each weekend and see Traviata or maybe a bit of ballet or just a cello concert... Here in Krakow things are not as easy as one would think, to get tickets for a show at the Opera. First you need to make a reservation, fill out a form, send the form via email and make a money transfer to the Opera account and after all is settled you need to wait for the email saying you can pick the tickets up from the Opera house... no direct transfer, no online tickets... and you MUST reserve tickets at least 2-3 months in advance! This is the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and there is no workaround it!
GOING UP! Taking the elevator up to the 3rd floor - Loza Marszalkowska
In the year 1853 Verdi had seen Alexander Dumas’ “La dame aux camélias”. It was interesting especially because of the society reasons. It was a story about the writer’s love to a famous Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis. He was so encharmed with her that he forgot about his strict rules and squandered his money. His financial status forced him to leave her. But after her death (she died of tuberculosis in the age of 23), his feeling flared up again. He dedicated one of his best romances to her – at first as a novel and later as a theatrical performance. 
 ***
Verdi was very brave to choose this romance for his new libretto. In sinful Paris the story had a taste of scandal, in religious Italy it was a scandal. The first performance was a failure. The audience couldn’t accept that the main character is an immoral courtesan and what’s more she is a likable person, the only positive in the play. It didn’t like that the opera took place in the present (they wanted orientalism and history) and that the heroine dies in a banal way – from tuberculosis, in her own bed. Those people didn’t see that it was a monument for one of the most important parts of life in Italy – the family. The courtesan Violetta lives together with Alfredo because she wants to have a family after the years of loneliness. She agrees to leave him only after she has been convinced by his father that it is for his own good. She sacrifices her love to rescue the family of her beloved. She knows that the family is the most important; she is understood better by Alfredo’s father than the boy himself. Their duet in which Violetta asks for holding her tight just as a father holds his daughter is the central part of the opera.
The view from the Loza (Balcony)
After the failure Verdi changed his work a little bit. He placed it at the beginning of XIXth century and he changed the title: from the irritating "La Traviata" ("The Fallen Woman") to a neutral "Violetta". This time, in Venece, it was a success (and only a year later!).
 ***
Today this opera is a quintessence of opera’s style. For example, the synopsis: a story of young people, who cannot be together because of the social conventions and the family of a boy. However it is encharming because of Verdi’s music: subtle, sometimes passionate. There are many popular parts in this opera, especially including a duet "Libiamo"!
The lovely ticket case & programme of the Festival
Here is the synopsis - SPOILER ALERT!!! - Paris, the second half of XIXth century. A beautiful courtesan Violetta abandons her happy but empty life and binds with s young nobleman Alfred Germont. His father demands that Violetta leaves, because this relationship disgraces the Germont family. Violetta agrees for Alfredo’s sake, however he doesn’t know the reason and offends her in public. Abandoned by everybody, poor and ill, Violetta is dying all alone. In her last moments the Germonts arrive – Alfred found out about everything and begs her to forgive him. Violetta dies. 
 ***
I had seen La Traviata before and head arias from it over and over again, at work when I was trying to relax, but I have to admit that I never made the connection between Alexandre Dumas's book, Verdi's music and the movie Moulin Rouge. Why would one make such a connection? For me, it was a shock to realise something that has slipped my mind before... Paris is the scene is all 3 mentioned operas and the lifeline of the main female character is the same: she is sick - she falls in love - she refuses the one she loves - the one she loves rebels against her - there is always the 3rd wheel duke... loving her - she dies... I know, it sounds brutal and short - but is that not how we all see life? a chain of events, one after another, leading us to the final moment: death! The bohemian revolution is upon us, yet there is somewhere this couple that was meant to be together but they are taken apart by death. 
 ***
It does not matter that love is strong, that she wishes to be cured, that they want to spent their whole lifetime with eachother. It seems as if someone else has a different plan for them. It is as if Alexandre Dumas is trying to tell us that, maybe, sometimes love is not all roses and butterflies and happiness... maybe sometimes it is dark, strange and it makes us do things that deep inside we do not wish to do - like run away from the ones we love, thinking that in this way we do not hurt them on the long term. We think the pain will pass and ease if we say we do not love them and we go away. We never want them to hear the bad news - that we are terminally ill... We refuse to be happy with the time that was given to us, we sacrifice ourself up to the very last moment. What I love the most in La Traviata is the end moment, when Violetta is on her deathbed yet she has hope that she will get better and be with Alfred. I find it fascinating how hope can move people. Hope and love! "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" - 1 Corinthians 13:13

DISCLAIMER - Pictures were taken with the camera from my Samsung Galaxy S4 so I appologise if things get sometimes a bit fuzzy, I did not want to use the flash and the light was not brilliant but you guys are smart and get the picture ;) - Copyrights reserved :) 

P.S. The Opera Krakowska on Lubicz was founded in 1954 in post-war Kraków, Poland, although the tradition of opera in the city dates back to 1628 when the first full libretto in Polish was released by the local publishing house. The architectural style of the building is post-modern and it is hard to miss as it is located on the corner of one of the most circulated round-abouts + the building is all red ;) The 443 of the Big Scene includes: 18 trapdoors (including 2 collapsing to the pit, allowing for additional maneuvering space), revolving stage and a video projection apparatus. I have never seen the Small Scene but hopefully in the future I can tell you about it :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves the Opera
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Friday, 24 July 2015

Lajkonik - House of Bakery

Dearest hearts,

The Lajkonik is one of the unofficial symbols of the city of Kraków. It is represented as a bearded man resembling a Tatar in a characteristic pointed hat, dressed in Mongol attire, with a wooden horse around his waist (hobby horse). It is the subject of the Lajkonik Festival (Polish: Lajkoniki) that takes place each year on the first Thursday after the religious holiday of Corpus Christi. To no surprise there is a bakery shop, with the same name, here in Krakow - make that a chain of bakery shops, opened since 2012. The owner has shops both in Krakow and in the nearby industrial town - Katowice. But Lajkonik is not only a bakery, but a coffee house as well! The perfect combo, you can buy there fresh bread and wait for it to be cut into slices, while you have your morning cup of coffee / milkshake (in my case...).
Their asortiment has 5 main branches: bread, sandwiches & salads, beverages, sweet rolls & cookies, cakes & desserts. I especially like their milkshakes - with the fruits of the season. They make it right in front of you, with milk & fresh fruits (strawberries, usually, in my case) and the lovely part is they put in only brown sugar - of course, that does not make it very sweet but in this way you can actually feel the taste of the fruits and not the sugar. If you really want the extra sugar kick, you can always go to the table with the sugar - white & brown - and serve yourself to your hearts desire. The latest price for the milkshakes is around 10 zloty (almost 3 euros), and you can pay the check either with cash or by card (only Visa and MasterCard).
But I also suggest trying out their sweets: the fruit tarts are finger-licking good! and they cost around 12 zloty (about 3 euros). You can eat there - they always have nice spaces with good seating options, be it for couples or for groups - or you can takeout - pick and choose and eat in the town :) Also, a thing to be noted, is the fact that they have free WIFI - and not once, but a couple of times! have I seen teenagers doing their homeworks there, while having a sandwich. They also have a cute English - Polish presentation page of their products, which is quite nicely done :) but they are not active at all on Facebook, and that is a pitty... social media can do wonders in terms of advertising. If ever you are in the area of a Lajkonik and you need a refreshment, remember to go in and have a fresh milkshake & fruit tart ;) and then think of me fondly!
 
P.S. Pictures were taken with the Samsung S4 and I ate the sweets too fast so I cannot show you, but I guess you get the idea from the first picture, with the yummy yummy tarts :) For your information, there are 5 locations of Lajkonik in Krakow:
  • Kraków Basztowa Street 15 tel. +48 533 335 281 
  • Kraków Bratysławska Street 4 tel. 533 335 286  
  • Kraków Dominikański Square 2 tel. +48 533 335 282  
  • Kraków Karmelicka Street 22 tel. +48 533 335 284  
  • Kraków Starowiślna Street 1 tel. 533 335 287

**I didn't receive anything for this review, just wanted to share the love! Prices given were valid in July 2015 - but don't worry, the zloty is one of the most ferm and unchanging currencies and Poland loves to keep a good eye on its economy! so the prices will not change much. **

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Bakeries - They Always Smell So Good...
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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Krakow Makes It To CNNs Top Best Cities Of The World

Good day hearts!

Did you know that CNN publishes every year a top of the best cities in the World? Well guess who made it into the list this year? No, it's not the capital Warsaw, nor the colorful Wroclaw, or the 3-Cities-Of-The-Sea (Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot), but the seat of the old kings: Krakow! The ranking was determined by Travel+Leisure 2015's World Best Awards. In order to make it on the list, cities had to take care of their cultural heritage, to be active in revitalising less popular neighbourhoods and to have a distinctive character. 
 ***
Kraków debuted on the list occupying spot number 7 - leaving behind cities like Barcelona, Cape Town and Jerusalem. The crown of the list was Kyoto, Japan. For more than 1,000 years, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan, and vestiges of this royal history remain in sites such as the Kyoto Gosho palace. But leaving the winner aside, as I do not live in Kyoto, I shall tell you what CNN wrote about lovely #7 - Krakow.
Krakow Rynek Glowny
"Poland's second city has been experiencing a quiet cultural revolution, and it's finally getting the attention it deserves.
This World's Best debut, known for Gothic fortifications and a laid-back, blase attitude, has enchanted travelers and overcome even stalwart favorites like Istanbul and New York.
Perhaps it's the marvels of the Old City, like Rynek Glowny -- the largest Medieval square in Europe -- and the Royal Castle of Wawel that have captivated intrepid travelers seeking something unfamiliar out of their explorations abroad.
In the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, where synagogues that survived WWII still stand, there's a notably bohemian vibe taking hold in new hip spots like Bar Propaganda, appropriately outfitted with a bust of Lenin.
Some, however, will tell you it's the mystic chakhra stone of Wawel Hill that has bewitched the world." (source)

How can one not be proud of living in a city like that? I am a long deep-hearted fan of CNN & BBC - British to the bone! - and I was extremely proud when I read the article and when I found Krakow to be on the list, for the very first time. This city deserves being called as one of the best cities in the World, as it constantly strives to create cultural revolution. For me, Krakow will always be the beating heart of Poland - its soul and its conscience as well! :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Celebrates Krakow Entering CNNs Top Best Cities Of The World List @ Magnificent Number 7 (popping up the champagne!)
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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Being An Expat - What to do when YOU miss someone?

Good morning dearests!

I was thinking about it lately, that indeed what makes a home are the people and not the places. You could be alone in the most beautiful place in the world, but if you would have none to share it with your joy will be diminished. We are born into this world having a need for other people to surround us and accept us. We need the approval and we search for it, even if we like it or not - it is in our blood! I love my family, I love the people, and sometimes - as an expat - is quite hard to feel at home when your heart is separated in so many corners of this wide world! 
***
My Mum / Dad / Granny are in Romania, my amazingly smart and talented sister is having an internship in Brussels & I live in Poland with my adorable proud Polish husband. One would think it is quite hard to catchup with eachother - you will be then surprised to know all members of the family actually have Facebook and we frequently have group chats there ;) That's right! Even my Granny - by the way have I ever told you how awesome my Grandma is?!? :)
A Peony For Your Thoughts... - made by #thetwistedredladybug
Considering the fact that we have so much technology at our little finger and the fact that Internet has spread its spider-web net all over this world, why not use it in a positive way and keep up with your friends and family?! Social media can be Heaven and Hell all wrapped in one, but I must admit that in times like this it does come in handy ;) That is why today I was thinking of sharing with you - dear expats and future expats - ways in which you can keep in touch with your loved ones:
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1. Having a blog - One of the reasons I have started this blog was keeping in touch with people I love, people that are scattered around the world. I wanted to be able to convey the information fast to as many people as I could. They wanted to know how I was, what did I see new and what were my plans for the future. At a certain point I ended up replying via email or Facebook, to the same question, over a dozen times... speaking with different people. Some wanted details, some wanted to see the pictures and others wanted the juicy bits, the tips and tricks. Now I can write a single post with everything and everyone is happy :) they know that at least one every other day I will be online, alive and kicking, telling some new story of my life.
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2. Facebook - I think it is pointless and superfluous to admit that this platform was one of the best inventions of the century. Zuckerberg had a brilliant idea and he knew how to sell it. Everybody now days has a Facebook account, and even that is not necessarily a good thing - accounting to the Big Brother who knows it all and stores your data for further usage and reuse... - it has its positive side by bringing together people from all the corners of the world. My Granny has her own tablet and Facebook account and together with Mum and my sister we do conferences on Facebook in real time. Now I ask you: how cool is that?! :) I have a very high-tech family ;)
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3.WhatsApp - Very similar to Skype and very helpful if one has a 24/7 internet connection and a good Android phone. You can call anyone for free, if they have installed the app on their phone as well. All you need to do is register through the phone and give your number and you can have it for free, for testing, for a year - after that you need to pay, but not much, especially if you get the hang of it and you constantly text and call though it. My friends use it a lot, so I was - in a way - forced to join in, but I must admit it ain't that bad :)
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4. Skype - Have not used it for quite a while now, I must admit, as I switched to WhatsApp, but before that it was easy to call friends and family through it. Now come to think of it, I still use it when I do calls though the Facebook platform as that is actually a Skype type connection. Smart this young Zuckerberg is ;)))
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5. (Regular) Phone Calls - I must admit, I rather have them then make them... (blushing). The Polish mobile network companies have absolutely no offer that would help expats. For example, in Romania all the mobile companies have at least one kind of subscription that allows to make calls inside the EU (and some even for Canada and US) for free, up to a certain amount of minutes (usually around 30 minutes). That is why most of the times Mum and Granny call me :)
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6. Letters / Postcards - Well, to tell you the truth, this is my favourite part. I love that my husband has a thing for postcards as well. He has been collecting them for quite a while and since we are together that collection grew. Each time we visit a place we buy postcards: one for us and one for Granny & Mum & Dad. Even if we do not manage to send it from the place we bought it (like the one from Brussels), we still send it nonetheless. I know that makes them smile and the thought of them smiling makes me happy :)
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7. Packages send through friends that visit / live in the area - Being an expat you connect with other expats as well, and it is even better when they come from the same country / region / city. You begin to form connections and sometimes you will even send packages through eachother and do small shoppings - it's natural! The lovely part is when you start doing packages for the ones abroad, that you love, and you know you need to have something for everyone but you need to make it small so the person carrying it would not be bothered. It's a challenge but when you think of the end game: knowing your Mum would smile at the thought of the surprise... it's worth it! :)
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8. Visiting them (unexpected) - Oh, I am quite a master in that! At least one a year I manage to get home unexpected; or if they do expect me I always tell them a different date. After 4 years of me doing that, they got used to it and now they know they can expect us anytime ;))) Sweet surprise!
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9. Hosting them - If you have friends and you love them, and you wat to see them, you will host them! :) Our door is ALWAYS open for our friends and family and each year we have at least half a dozen people sleeping over our place - I act as a tour guide, I show them Krakow, and Marek is the amazing and fun cook of the day (he is perfect!). We already have friends who came here a couple of times and they still wish to come and see us :) This August, for example, Mum will be visiting us and I can hardly wait for that! (I only wish Granny could come too... but I know it is a long road.) Did I mention we started a Guest Book? ;)))
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10. Sending them a pidgeon with a scrolled message on his leg - OK! I might not have tried that YET! but it would be fun to see, would it not?! :)

How do YOU - the expats reading this - keep in touch with the ones you care about? What is your secret receipe? If I am missing any way of keeping in touch I would love to hear from you :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug Expat That Loves Social Media :)
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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

On Faith And Mother Nature's Power

My dear friends,

Do you sometimes get in awe of Nature? Of the way God created us small and powerful yet insignificant in the face of real life events... Almost a week ago I woke up bright and early - as always - around 5:30 am. While in the shower, watter running and all and me trying to wakeup, I started to hear this loud banging sounds, like the walls of the house were crashing upon us. It took me a few seconds to realise that I am in a ferm and high building block, on the 7th floor, in a non - seismic country, and that no roof was going to fall upon me! I continued the shower, somewhat rushed, and went outside to find Marek out for a smoke. He asked me to come out on the balcony with him... it was dark!
Usually at around 6 am there is quite a lot of light and no electricity is needed but now it was as dark as in the late evening. We went outside, on the balcony, and you could not see a thing from the pouring rain. It was as if giants were having waterbucket challenges! There was a constant curtain of water and strong wind... I think the storm lasted for half an hour but coming out of the house after it gave me quite a sight to behold... everywhere fallen and broken trees... their bodies pulled from the ground, with their roots up in the air - searching for the last breath... it was a sad sight!
All along the way, going to work, I could see both old and young trees pulled from their homes. The trains and buses were late, electricity got cut down in several locations throughout the city. People who did not have cars and relied on the public transport were late several minutes (even hours) getting to work. On the positive side, in less than 2 hours after the fury of nature, most of the trees were placed again in the ground - in the Kraków Business Park - so I admire the promptness! 
Mother Nature has moments in which she shows us what God is capable of. The fury, the power and the destructive energy is something that we - as mere mortals, humans - cannot face. In moments like this you either close your eyes and wait for it to pass or you embrace it with all your heart. I believe that then you will be able to find peace, as you know you cannot control it, you have no power of it, so there is no point to stress over it :) Knowing your limits will help you overcome your fears. For me things like storms and oceans make me feel at home and at peace. Of course I know they can turn against me and a hurricane may come or a tidal wave may flush in, but having faith helps rest your soul and face the world with a smile.
***
Mother Nature is only God's way of telling us he is there, watching over us. I think it's his way of showing us that what peace we believe we have is not complete without Him. You need to have faith and be strong. You need to build your house on the rock, not on sand but on solid ground, so you would not feel that the walls coming down when storm will come upon you. Where did you build your house? Mine is on a cliff, overlooking the ocean, on a strong and firm rock. How about yours? :)

DISCLAIMER - All pictures were taken with the camera from my Samsung Galaxy S4, no filter and no modification - Copyrights reserved :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves Mother Nature's Power
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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Cafe Szal - Frenzy of Exultations

Dearest hearts,

Have you ever heard of the painting, “Frenzy of Exultations” by Podkowinski Wladyslaw? Podkowiński started to paint in Warsaw between 1893 and 1894. The creation process lasted at least three months and according to a friend: at the end he was painting from his bed. The painting was shown at the Zachęta exhibition on 18 March 1894. The exhibition was accompanied by an atmosphere of sensationalism and scandal but around 12,000 people saw the picture, making nearly 350 rubles for the gallery. Despite the success of the painting, it couldn’t find a buyer: 3000 rubles was offered but the artist asked for 10,000.
On the morning of 24 April 1894 (37 days since the exhibition opening), just before the planned end, the painting was cut with a knife by its creator. The reasons for this act are unclear. The artist’s decision may have contributed to the rumors that the image portrayed a woman towards which the artist had an unfulfilled affection. The destruction of the image, and Podkowinski’s death fueled the speculation, adding to the legend of a suicide. Providing a rationale for this explanation are the traces of cuts on the canvas showing that only the image of the woman was under attack. The object of the artist’s feelings could be Ewa Kotarbińska, whom he met during his summer stay in a palace near Warsaw. She was a brunette, but some record that her family saw a similarity between her and the woman in the painting and harshly condemned him.
After Podkowinski’s death the painting was restored by Witold Urbański. The restored work was lent to other exhibitions in Łódź, Kraków, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Finally, the canvas was purchased by Feliks Jasieński in 1901 for 1,000 rubles, and in 1904 was given to the National Museum in Kraków. (source) Now the paiting can be found on the 2nd floor of the Sukienicce, at the National Museum - The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art at Sukiennice. I always admired it, ever since I first lay my eyes on it, back in 2013. The colors, the brush, the emotion of the lady, the crazyness of the steed... it all seems very appealing and hard to pass by it without noticing it!
Cafe Szal - making refference to the lovely piece of art I was telling you about - is located on the 1st floor of the Sukienicce. The place is positively for non-smokers and it offers one of the best views of the main market square. The entrace is the same as you would go to The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art at Sukiennice but instead going up to 2nd floor you stay at the 1st one. There is indoor and outdoor seating so you can enjoy the sun (like we did!) or run away from the rain. The opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 11 pm, and you can have there a small lunch or just coffee & drinks. If you do not have currency with you, do not worry! as they accept credit cards as well (American Express included!).
I just loved our waitress here! She was very polite and smiling and she was right on time with taking the order, bringing the products and bringing the check & change - we did not have to wait and waste one second! :) The wave of people coming in is quite frequent so the rotation on the tables is quite fast. Kudos to the ladies working there! The prices are the same as the terraces below, in the Sukienicce's sides, so if you are in the area go upstairs for the upgrade of the view (on no cost!) - I had a milk cocktail with blueberries and it was cold, refreshing, smooth, filling and yummy and it cost only 12 zloty (around 3 euros). Smoothies are also more or less the same price and that is what I am planning to try next time ;) Marek had an iced coffee - chocolate - whipped cream treat (with extra biscuit on the side!) and that was on the same price. How he manages to pick the sweetest things in the menu, I will never know ;))) I recommend this place on a summer afternoon - sit underneath the big umbrellas, enjoy the breeze and watch the people in the Main Square :) Relax!

**I didn't receive anything for this review, just wanted to share the love! Prices given were valid in July 2015 - but don't worry, the zloty is one of the most ferm and unchanging currencies and Poland loves to keep a good eye on its economy! so the prices will not change much. **

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Beautiful Views Provided By Coffee Shops
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Thursday, 9 July 2015

House of (Cards) Donuts

My dearest friends,

Donuts. Is there anything they can't do? - Matt Groening
Sometimes I wonder how the world gets split between (usually) two sides: either you are a Pepsi fan or a Coca Cola fan, either you love period books or you don't, either you feel like your soul would die without travelling or you are more of a groundhog and stay in the house, either you love donuts or you don't! I must admit I love donuts and it was hard to settled down with the donuts here in Poland - which are round, fluffy & usually filled with some kind of sweet stuffing & have no hole... sorry but for me there will be no better donuts than the ones made at Dunkin Donuts!
Unfortunately there is no Dunkin Donuts in Poland so I have to make do... That is why everywhere I see donuts I feel the need to try them out thoroughly! (usually more than once, and with more than one flavour!) I am always happy to bump into a new place and just a few days ago, on a very warm and sunny Sunday afternoon, Marek and I were walking on Saint John street (Sw. Jana 2) when we saw this small little place called "House of Donuts". We looked at eachother and we went in - the idea was for me to have a donut and that was all... somehow we each got a donut + an iced coffee on the side (listening to the nice and smiling Ukrainian waitress). She was cute and smiling so that was again a plus. The place was empty at that time, weirdly enough! (around 1 PM Sunday) but I really hope they will get some attention!
House of Donuts is an authentic American sweets-shop and as you can realise from the title & the pictures, their specialty resides in creating wonderfully colorful and creative donuts. The products are freshly baked everyday and they are specially designed for people struggling with various food intolerances. House of Donuts also created other sweet treats low in gluten and ingredients of animal origin - cakes can also be found here. I also feel the need to mention there are few placed where you can find Häagen-Dazs icecream and this is one of them! :) (an ice cream brand, established by Reuben and Rose Mattus in the Bronx, New York, in 1961).
House of Donuts proudly states on their FB Page that it is a place not only for lovers of American sweets, but also for vegans or people eating gluten-free products. The grand opening of the place on St. John's street (which is right in the city center, on one of the streets on the Sukiennice side, very close to the Discover Cracow offices) was on the 17th of March 2015. The place is open Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 21:00 & Saturday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00. You can pay both by card or cash & you can also place orders in advance. There is also free WIFI with the password written on the blackboard behind the counter ;)  pretty stable in case you need it for a bit. 
 Between the optimist and the pessimist, the difference is droll. The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist the hole! – Oscar Wilde
I had a peanut butter donut with Oreo crumbles & an iced coffee. The donut was yummy and you could feel it was less sugary and more vegan :)  and the iced coffee was smooth and with a kick of energy - I bet my sister will love this place when she will visit me! She is a newly vegetarian so this place would be perfect for her :) did I mention she has a sweet tooth? Both the iced tea & the donut were very refreshing treats for a very hot summer afternoon. The nice thing was the iced coffee was "To Go" and we could take out drinks with us and have a walk further on :) I would like to go there again one day and try another type of donut & fresh squeezed juice - it's on my list now! I love how they thought as well of combo's > for the morning there is "School Breakfast" = donut + flavoured milk = 10 zloty (almost 3 euros), or "Combo" = donut + large coffee/latte = 15 zloty. Or just have some juice for 7 zloty - carrots, grapes, kiwi... you pick! OR maybe just some tea and a donut... your pick from the choices of the day ;)

 **I didn't receive anything for this review, just wanted to share the love! Prices given were valid in July 2015 - but don't worry, the zloty is one of the most ferm and unchanging currencies and Poland loves to keep a good eye on its economy! so the prices will not change much. **

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Donuts
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Monday, 6 July 2015

LadyBug's 5 Places To Visit In Brussels

Dearest friends,

Brussels is a gay little city that lies as bright within its girdle of woodland 
as any butterfly that rests upon moss - Ouida

Brussels is indeed a lovely place to visit with the one you love. It's true it is no Paris or Venice but Brussels makes up in other things and shines like a bright star - I have not met a city, yet, that made me smile as much. But that may be also due to the fact that my wonderful sister is living there - she has an intership at the European Parliament. For as long as I can remember, she always made me feel the place I was in - with her - was brighter and much more beautiful than if I would have been there alone.
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The pluses of this city are quite numerous: it is the heart of Europe and you can actually get everywhere in Europe just in a few hours, for a few euros; it has numerous parks and recreational spaces; architecture worth to take pictures of; it is filled with streetart (murals are my love, in case you did not know!) & has great places to hang out with friends/family. On the downside it is always crowded and it is extremely dirty! People just throw away stuff, carelessly, anywhere they go - ok, it's true it is not as in the dark ages where people would throw the menure out the window, and yet the city does not smell bad, but the streets are quite unclean. Taken that aside, I have to admit I would like to come again to Brussels one day :) so you can see it was not bad :p I thought I may share with you my top 5 places to visit + a bonus entry that is a must ;)
Nothing beats the sights of these shiny marble balls :)
1. The Atomium - originally constructed for Expo 58, the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, it stands 102 m (335 ft) tall. Its nine 18 m (59 ft) diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It is a museum that is totally worth to visit - it was both mine and Marek's favourite ;)
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Tubes connect the spheres along the 12 edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the centre. They enclose escalators and a lift to allow access to the five habitable spheres which contain exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere provides a panoramic view of Brussels. CNN named it Europe's most bizarre building.
The Goodies shop, on the ground floor, holds an impressive collection of comics :)
2. Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée - The Belgian Comic Strip Center chronicles the history of Belgian comics. Housed in a former department store, the Magasins Waucquez, built in 1906 in Brussels' business district, it exhibits examples of comic strips in French, Dutch and English. The museum opened in 1989. The full range of comic art is covered, including science fiction, wild west, crime and politics, as well as children's comics such as The Smurfs.
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It has several exhibits on Belgium's most famous comic series The Adventures of Tintin and its creator Hergé. The style of the Tintin comics and their history is examined, including life-size models of characters and sets from Tintin's adventures. There is a shop, research library, and restaurant on the ground floor of the historic building, which was designed by the Belgian art nouveau architect Victor Horta. This was the MUST on my list and we both enjoyed it immensly!
3. The European Parliament - he Espace Léopold  is the complex of parliament buildings in Brussels (Belgium) housing the European Parliament, a legislative chamber of the European Union (EU). It consists of a number of buildings, primarily the oldest, the Paul-Henri Spaak building, which houses the debating chamber and the President's offices, and the Altiero Spinelli building which is the largest. The buildings are located in the European quarter in the east of Brussels, with building starting in 1989.
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The complex is not the official seat of Parliament, which is the Immeuble Louise Weiss in Strasbourg, France, but as most of the other institutions of the European Union are in Brussels, Parliament built the Brussels complex to be closer to their activities. A majority of the Parliament's work is now geared to its Brussels site, but it is legally bound to keep Strasbourg as its official home.
The Arc du Cinquantenaire and us :)
4. Arc du Cinquantenaire - Arcade du Cinquantenaire or Arcades du Cinquantenaire is a monumental triple arch in the center of the Cinquantenaire park. It is topped by a bronze quadriga sculptural group with a woman charioteer, representing Brabant raising the national flag. The columns echo the original layout of Avenue de Tervuren, which was once divided into three roadways lined with a double row of trees. 
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The sidewalls feature personifications of Belgian provinces: Brabant being represented by the quadriga, East Flanders, West Flanders, Antwerp, Liège, Hainaut, Limburg, Namur and Luxembourg. Twelve spandrels are decorated with allegories of Arts and Industry. TIP: Now this is the perfect place to spend the day & have a picnic ;) relax and take a book or your other half and stroll about the place!
5. St Michael and St Gudule Church - is a Roman Catholic church. The church was given cathedral status in 1962 and has since been the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, together with St. Rumbold's Cathedral in Mechelen. A chapel dedicated to St. Michael was probably built on the Treurenberg hill as early as the 9th century. In the 11th century it was replaced by a Romanesque church. In 1047, Lambert II, Count of Leuven founded a chapter in this church and organized the transportation of the relics of the martyr St. Gudula, housed before then in Saint Gaugericus Church on Saint-Géry Island. The patron saints of the church, St. Michael and St. Gudula, are also the patron saints of the city of Brussels.
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In the thirteenth century, Henry I, Duke of Brabant ordered two round towers to be added to the church. Henry II, Duke of Brabant instructed the building of a Gothic collegiate church in 1226. The choir was constructed between 1226 and 1276. It took about 300 years to complete the entire church. It was completed just before the reign of the emperor Charles V commenced in 1519.

+ BONUS PLACE: The Manneken pis - is a landmark small bronze sculpture in Brussels, depicting a naked little boy urinating into a fountain's basin. It was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder and put in place in 1618 or 1619. The famous statue is located at the junction of Rue de l'Étuve/Stoofstraat and Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat. To find it, one takes the left lane next to the Brussels Town Hall from the famous Grand Place and walks a few hundred metres southwest via Rue Charles Buls/Karel Bulsstraat.

DISCLAIMER: Information about the locations was also taken from Wikipedia so if I got any names or dates wrong please don't kill me ;)))

Have you ever been to Brussels? What were your top 5 places to visit? Do you have any tips and tricks for out next trip? Please share :)

Yours truly,
The LadyBug That Enjoyed Brussels Immensely :)
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