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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Another Penguin Bites The Dust

Dearest friends,

It is time for our dearly beloved Benedict Cumberbatch to get settled down and have his very own mini-Benedicts that would bless this earth with their beauty, radiance, brainy moment and indicent moments to have top class good looks. That's right, as all you hungry-for-knowledge fans already know, THE Sherlock Holmes of the century got engaged to Sophie Hunter and announced it very old-fashioned via a small ad in the London Times :) There was no need of shouting it via Internet - either way at the beginning of this month all Hell broke loose when it went viral! - and I loved how he tries to keep things private, no matter how much he loves his fans.
Benedict came to Krakow this year, during the Off Plus Camera Event :)
Odd enough, I was not the one who found out first. I remember it even now, we were in an Wednesday afternoon and my adorable husband came to me with the news. I just came from work and was browsing through my emails and Facebook when he came into the room, all a smile: "Guess what?!" - well I did not see that news coming. Especially from him :) But hey, miracles happen! And we both loved him in Sherlock Holmes so much that Mr. Cumberbatch just stuck like glue to us :) Hence I thought I may dedicate a short post on why we love him so much:
  1. He believes in long-lasting relationships and true love. His very first relationship was 12 years long, so I surely hope his engagement with Sophie turns out to be the big step into the relationship of his life. I love seeing couples that are in the music/film industry and yet they feel very much human and maintain normal and growing relationships :) They split in 2011 :(
  2. Benedict loved playing Sherlock - come on, tell me a person who didn't think he was brilliant in that character?! ‘It’s a rare challenge, both for the audience and an actor, to take part in something with this level of intelligence and wit,’ he says. ‘You have to really enjoy it. It’s a form of mental and physical gymnastics.’ Even Steven Spielberg calls him ‘the best Sherlock on screen’ and Harrison Ford is his fan :)
  3. Cumberbatch is in a very-far-weird-way connected to The Royal Family :) Benedict Cumberbatch's great-grandfather was Queen Victoria’s consul general.
  4. He loves family and believes in the idea of having children. He says: ‘I’ve realised the reality of children is you have to be in the right place with the right person.' ‘I would love to have children. Everyone wants to know when I'm going to settle down and who is going to be Mrs Cumberbatch. I can't wait to do an interview like this and just talk about my child.'
  5. Benedict believes in the idea of education - I’m all about giving youth an education, a voice and a chance to not take the wrong road,’ he says.
  6. He loves his friends and family. He hired Una Stubbs to play Sherlock's landlady because she's his mum's best friend in real life. Both his mum and his dad, Timothy Carlton, play Sherlock's parents in Sherlock. Should I also mention he called his dad right on the red carpet? :)
  7. Benedict is a true patriot and loves his roots - 'I love London. Culturally it's where my heart and soul are, as well as my roots.'
  8. Four films he starred in were nominated at the Oscars 2014. #talent #benedictrules
  9. He cannot - for the love of God! - pronounce the word "penguin" :) and it still sounds adorable no matter how long he tries and tries to get it right. He has his faults and he is human, as all of us. I can bet though that he can say #supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
  10. He met Professor Stephen Hawking twice before filming Hawking (2004) to prepare for the role. He then subsequently provided the voice of the physicist in "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking" in 2010 and "Stephen Hawking's Grand Design" in 2012 which both aired in Discovery Channel.
Now you may not know this, but Benedict was in Krakow this year at the Off Plus Camera festival. Unfortunately I could not go, as it was in the middle of the working week and I was swamped with work. I regret it and I am sad I could not go. I love though that each year the people who organize the event think of the ones who cannot make it so they take the hand-prints of the guests. Along the Vistula river, near the Wawel Castle, you can find the mould and take your very own picture ;) Have you seen Benedict this year? Don't you think that Sherlock's character fits him like a glove?! :) 

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Loves To Watch Sherlock ;) 
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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Guess Who's On Instagram Now?

My dear sweet hearts,

This is just a short update, a short shout out to you lovely people, to let you know that if you wish to join me on Instagram you can do so HERE! I know it took me some time to let you know, but it is up and running now for almost 2 weeks. I opened it up once I received an awesome present from my husband: Samsung Galaxy S4 - just FYI it has now a nickname, so I can tell its "family" already ;)
I thought this would be a step forward as one of my plans this winter season, until Christmas will dawn upon us, is to track all the changes in Krakow - be it window displays, garlands outside malls, scattered angels in the Main Square, places you could have mulled wine and God knows what :) It is easier to snap a shot on the go and upload it fast than take the camera with me, come home, download the picture and then post it. I know that I will not be able to put everything on the blog so I recommend you to check what I will find in 2 places:
Hope you will join me in this journey and I would love to know if you find anything interesting and Christmassy in town that I will not post :)
But why Instagram?
Well every blogger on the go has one and as I am so attached to photography and I always want to share with people what new things I found - be it news, places, people, architecture, events in Krakow or the places I am going to. I think this was the best option. I will not blog post all the info/pictures, but I will write news about that from time to time. If you wish to learn more of Krakow and the LadyBug I recommend you to Follow Me :) I think that Instagram is an awesome environment/platform. Did you know that 70% of the Instagram users check their feed at least once a day, 35 % several times a day? And that the number of likes per day is 1.2 billion; that’s 8500 likes per second :) I think this is a good step ;) See you there!

P.S. Did I mention that in less than 2 weeks I have 49 followers? :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug
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Thursday, 20 November 2014

My life story is the story of everyone I've ever met...

My dearest friends,

Today I shall be telling you about the second novel of Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. You may have not read his books but for sure you have watched or even heard of the adaptations of his novels. A week of two ago I was telling you about the movie Everything is Illuminated - adaptation after his first novel, a story about a collector of stories/memories who wishes to learn more about his grandfathers past.
As in Everything is Illuminated, the 2nd novel also tells a story about the adventure into the unknown: the hero of the book, a 9 year old boy named Oskar Schell, goes in search of the owner of an old key he found in his Dad's wardrobe. I believe that he hopes, inside his heart, that in this way he would have peace with the notion that his father died in the September 11th tragedy in New York. You can feel his grief and sorrow through every page of the book, but also his optimism and his resolve to face the unknown and face his fears. 
The book shows how much our lifes are intertwined with eachother, even though we do not know this. The secondary plan of the book relates the relationship between Oskar's Grandmother and Grandpa and their series of letters between eachother and also the letters of Oskar's Grandpa to Oskar's father - letters that he always meant to send but never did so. The novel is also about secrets - the fact that Oskar kept a secret that he heard the phone messages from his father, the day the plane crashed; the fact that Oskar's Grandma keeps his Grandpa a secret from everyone, saying he is just a renter... Everyone in the book seems to hold a secret of his/her own.
Did you know that there are aproximately 43 ‘Incrediblys’ and 63 ‘Extremelys’ within this book? Jonathan Safran Foer has a way of writing about sad and serious things and also at the same time knows how to pick you up from there and put a smile on your face. You know that Oskar is down in "heavy boots" but then he starts saying something like being in a good mood -‘that was One Hundred Dollars’ mood - and everything becomes smooth again :)

The novel also brings into our attention that there are events in the world that scar us and leave a stamp upon our lifes. This happens every generation! In Everything is Illuminated you read about the Second World War and how it changed lifes of many and still continues to leave a track on further generations. In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close you read about the attack from September 11th. If you will ask people what they were doing at that time they will surely be able to tell you, with details. When the first plane crashed into WTC I was home, in Romania - Iasi. My Mum and my Sister were in the living room and they were watching the latest news. They could not believe their eyes and thought it was a shot from an action movie. I came from the room next door, and that is when the 2nd plane hit... over thousand of people saw the 2nd hit live, on their very own living rooms... it is horrible when you come and think of what media can do.
“Finally, I found the pictures of the falling body. Was it Dad? Maybe. Whoever it was, it was somebody. I ripped the pages out of the book. I reversed the order, so that the last one was first, and the first was last. When I flipped through them, it looked like the man was floating up through the sky.” (325)
Oskar's relationship with his father is a strong and loving one. He is the one who helps Oskar develop into the growing man. They shared the intelligence and his father always challenged him with games. I love how Oskar says he never watched TV - as a side-note, our kids will also not be allowed to TV and PC until they reach a more mature age! - there are so many things nowadays that media shows and harms children! Oskar would go to sleep each night with the voice of his father reading him the New York Times and circling the errors they found in red ink. 
I really love Oskar's character and I believe he may have a touch of Autism or Asperger's Syndrome in him. He is bright and inventive but he does have an issue with bonding to people - he is very akward when it comes to human relations. He tracks his daily life and the events that come in touch with him rigurously in his very own journal. He lives his life through other people's stories and when he finds the key he immediately believes that the answer to his pain would be following its trail, even if that would mean years of wondering through New York and finsing the right Mr./Mrs. Black. And - SPOILER ALERT! - he eventually does find the owner of the key ;)
From DeviantArt
And now I shall leave you with a few of my favourite quotes from this heart-breaking book I have learned to love:
*“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.”
*“Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are. And the more you wage war.”
*“What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone's heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone's hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don't really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn't have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war.”
* “In bed that night I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York, and would connect to the reservoir. Whenever people cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weatherman could report if the water level of the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down, and you could know if New York is in heavy boots.”
*“Fo Black lives on Canal Street, which used to be a real canal. He didn't speak very good English, because he hadn't left Chinatown since he came from Taiwan, because there was no reason for him to. The whole time I talked to him I imagined water on the other side of the window, like we were in an aquarium. He offered me a cup of tea, but I didn't feel like it, but I drank it anyway, to be polite. I asked him did he really love New York or was he just wearing the shirt. He smiles, like he was nervous. I could tell he didn't understand, which made me feel guilty for speaking English, for some reason. I pointed at his shirt. "Do? You? Really? Love? New? York?" He said, "New York?" I said, "Your. Shirt." He looked at his shirt. I pointed at the N and said "New," and the Y and said "York." He looked confused, or embarrassed, or surprised, or maybe even made. I couldn't tell what he was feeling, because I couldn't speak the language of his feelings. "I not know was New York. In Chinese, ny mean 'you.' Thought was 'I love you.'" It was then that I noticed the "I♥NY" poster on the wall, and the "I♥NY" flag over the door, and the "I♥NY" dishtowels, and the "I♥NY" lunchbox on the kitchen table. I asked him, "Well, then why do you love everybody so much?”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close  

Yours truly,
A LadyBug very much in love with Jonathan Safran Foer's stories
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Monday, 17 November 2014

So you *do* love me, little thing!

Dear sweet hearts,

** This is a review of the movie made after the lovely book written by E. M. Forster. Pay attention to spoilers, as I shall be telling you about A Room With A View - a delightful 1985 movie directed by James Ivory **

This movie was in fact the first cinema film of Helena Bonham Carter and it is one of the first movies I did see, as a wee lass, with her. Here is a short review from IMDB that I quite enjoyed: 
Lucy Honeychurch, a young Englishwoman, makes her first visit to Florence, Italy in the early 1900's. There, she meets a quiet yet eccentric young man named George Emerson. Upon her return to England, Lucy must decide whether to follow through with her marriage to her stoic fiance, Cecil, or follow her heart and her growing attraction to George. - Written by Liza Esser <>
I regret that I did not get to watch this movie on the big screen - considering the fact that I was not even born at that time, that would have proved to be quite difficult... - but I am happy I managed to watched it still, when I grew up. It is one one of the period movies that stucks to your heart, especially if you are a young lass growing up and expecting true love to pop from just around the corner. It is a period drama movie, with costumes well done. The settings are lovely and all looks spit-spot perfect. Like someone was watching every scene with a magnifying glass...
It is a pleasure seeing Maggie Smith as Aunt Charlotte - a role totally different than how we see her in day-to-day life. She has no control over Lucy and in many times Lucy shuts her up in a way that makes me come up with retorts that only Dame M. Smith would do... nonetheless in this movie she is no Professor McGonagall or even Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham... she feels to me like dust in the wind. Which is brilliant! as it shows one more time what an amazing actress she is! :)  
I love the chemistry between the 2 main characters of the movie: Lucy (played by HBC) and George (played by Julian Sands). Daniel Day-Lewis's Cecil Vyse is brilliantly played/colored and it really makes you hate him so much that you just wish Lucy would fling to George the very instant! The cast is all British and very well selected.
The soundtrack is heart-melting with pieces of Puccini arias and Beethoven piano sonatas that know exactly when to start and when to end :) The settings are amazing and the movie is just made to be seen on the big screen and not on a laptop... it kinda diminishes the warmth... The movie always made me think of Italy and how I would love just to spent a whole summer there, basking in the light and feeling nature up close.
A Room With A View - the movie - is funny, romantic and style oriented. Tell you the truth, I would love to have Lucy's wardrobe even for a week. Those outfits are just perfect. No wonder gentleman treated ladies differently in those days :) That does not mean that Lucy's impromptu kiss with George in the fields was nevertheless shocking and outrageous - for those times ;) And just for the record, the movie took 3 Oscars home and one was for Best Costume Design ;)
I always loved this movie also for the idea that it brings to the audience: one must have the courage to face his/her own feelings! George always speaks up his mind and acts according to his heart. I alays thought that refreshing! On the other hand Cecil is the gentleman who will never show his feelings, never talk about love, always do the right/correct thing according to society. Now Lucy needs to choose between marrying someone for the pure pleasure of making her family/the society happy VS. making herself happy and allowing her the chance of being truly loved and loving someone in return. Now please don't go around throwing stones at me! I am not saying that Cecil does not care for Lucy. Maybe even he cares deeply, but he is just not knowledgeable enough to show it! Cecil wants Lucy as an expo - to look at her and see her in her beauty. George wants Lucy "to have ideas and thoughts and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms." 
Now while you ponder if you should/should not rent this lovely movie, I will share with you a few quotes:
*Mr. Emerson: I don't care what I see outside. My vision is within! Here is where the birds sing! Here is where the sky is blue!
*Charlotte Bartlett: I shall never forgive myself.
Lucy Honeychurch: You always say that, Charlotte, but you always do forgive yourself. 
*George Emerson: He's the sort who can't know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn't know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at, like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn't want you to be real, and to think and to live. He doesn't love you. But I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms. 
*Cecil Vyse: You must forgive me if I say stupid things. My brain has gone to pieces. 
 *Cecil Vyse: So you *do* love me, little thing!
*Freddy Honeychurch: Come and have a bathe.
George Emerson: I'd like that.
Reverend Beebe: [laughs] That's the best conversation opening I've ever heard. "How do you do. Come and have a bathe."
*Cecil Vyse: You don't love me, evidently. I dare say you're right not to, but... it would help a little, hurt a little less, if I knew why.
Lucy Honeychurch: Because you're the sort who can't know anyone intimately, least of all a woman.
[Cecil looks taken aback and hurt]
Lucy Honeychurch: Well, I don't mean exactly that, but you will go on asking questions! 

P.S. I really, truly, with-all-my-heart, think you should all see this lovely movie :) If ever you were in love with Italy, if ever you liked period movies/books, if ever you enjoyed seeing Helena on the big screen, you need to get yourself a copy of A Room With A View :)

Yours truly,
A LadyBug In Love With Good Period Movies :)
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Friday, 14 November 2014

When I was your age, television was called books...

Dearest friends,

Today I will share with you some thoughts upon a book I borrowed from a dear sweet friend - thank you Siepka for it, one more time :* I love books, my adorable Polish husband even makes fun of me and tells me that I do not read them, I rather eat/devour them. I sometimes think he might have a point there, considering the amount of books I read each year and how many books I still buy. Recently I have been refraining myself as there is not much more place I could store them - hence borrowing books from friends, when they recommend me some :)  
Even my Goodreads account shows me I went way overboard! Last year/beginning of this year, I setup a Reading challenge: 12 books in 12 months. Well guess what? Here is my status of the day: We love an overachiever! You have read 20 of 12 books - 10 books ahead of schedule - 167% of what I promised :) And that is just because I put a break and I am reading only on my train to/from work + the bus... 
The book of the day is The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern and abridged by Goldman :) What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex. In short, it's about everything :) 
The Princess Bride starts with Goldman telling us that this is the book of his childhood, the booked that saved him from death (from pneumonia) twice in his life. He also shares with us that the book by Morgenstern has both good parts and boring parts - we are instructed that for our very own benefit, the boring parts are cut out, but tell you the truth it makes me wonder how the book would be with the boring parts as well... it makes me feel that I would have rather skipped it than someone cutting it out for me. If you feel that you might know the title from somewhere you are not mistaken ;) the book was adapted into a movie with the dashing Cary Elwes (whom you might know from Robin Hood - Men in Tights) and Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, House of Cards).
The story starts with Buttercup - not yet a princess - and takes us from her being the 20th most beautiful woman in the world to the first place. She falls in love with the farm boy but figures it out only too late. Westley - whom, to his defence, always loved Buttercup - hears her confess her love and makes up his mind to run to America and make a fortune and come back to win her hand. Later on we find that the ship he boarded was taken in by The Dreaded Pirate Roberts and that he leaves no survivors => Westley is dead => Buttercup is heartbroken and vows never to love again.
The Princess Bride is engaging and easy to read - though it has almost 400 pages it took me less than a week to finish it off and that is good timing, considering I read daily around 40 minutes (total time on the train to/from work). Everyone will have a favourite in the book: be it Buttercup, the lovely suave princess in need of saving; be it The Man In Black/The Dreaded Pirate Roberts/Westley who is just gorgeous and dashing and knows how to escape with his wits & strenght combined; be it the lovely and heart-warming giant Fezzik who is so strong that he can pull up a cliff 3 people at the same time; be it - my very own favourite - the Spaniard Inigo Montoya who does not have hands but rather the sword would be the more logical termination of its limbs for him :)
If you are lucky, you will read the book before seeing the movie; but if you already watched the movie, the book cannot do you harm. It will only make the story richer and more full, and next time you will watch the movie you will see the characters in a different light. I leave you to think of buying/renting/downloading the book, while you enjoy with me a few quotes I love:
  • “When I was your age, television was called books.” 
  • “Life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death, that's all.”  
  • “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!” - my personal fav <3
  • "I love you,' Buttercup said. 'I know this must come as something of a surprise to you, since all I've ever done is scorn you and degrade you and taunt you, but I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more. I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any woman has ever loved a man, but a half hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm. Your eyes are like that, did you know? Well they are. How many minutes ago was I? Twenty? Had I brought my feelings up to then? It doesn't matter.' Buttercup still could not look at him. The sun was rising behind her now; she could feel the heat on her back, and it gave her courage. 'I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there cannot be comparison. I love you so much more now then when you opened your hovel door, there cannot be comparison. There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, my knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey. Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that. Do you want me to crawl? I will crawl. I will be quiet for you or sing for you, or if you are hungry, let me bring you food, or if you have thirst and nothing will quench it but Arabian wine, I will go to Araby, even though it is across the world, and bring a bottle back for your lunch. Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, I will learn to do. I know I cannot compete with the Countess in skills or wisdom or appeal, and I saw the way she looked at you. And I saw the way you looked at her. But remember, please, that she is old and has other interests, while I am seventeen and for me there is only you. Dearest Westley--I've never called you that before, have I?--Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley,--darling Westley, adored Westley, sweet perfect Westley, whisper that I have a chance to win your love.' And with that, she dared the bravest thing she'd ever done; she looked right into his eyes.” 
  • “Inconceivable!"
    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”  
  • “Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” 
  • “I am your Prince and you will marry me," Humperdinck said.
    Buttercup whispered, "I am your servant and I refuse."
    "I am you Prince and you cannot refuse."
    "I am your loyal servant and I just did."
    "Refusal means death."
    "Kill me then.”  
  • "I've been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn't listen. Every time you said 'Farm Boy do this' you thought I was answering 'As you wish' but that's only because you were hearing wrong. 'I love you' was what it was, but you never heard.” 
  • “You seem a decent fellow," Inigo said. "I hate to kill you."
    You seem a decent fellow," answered the man in black. "I hate to die.”  
P.S. Did you know that you can actually visit Florin (Florin derives from the city of Florence - or Firenze - in Italy ) & Guilder and that this is a real story? :) There is even a museum where you can see live the six-fingered-sword of the lovely Inigo!

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Fan of Inigo Montoya - Prepare to die!
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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Narodowe Święto Niepodległości

Dearest friends,

Narodowe Święto Niepodległości or The National Independence Day of Poland is celebrated in this very same day. Hence, this a day off from work and I have the pleasure of walking arm-in-arm with my adorable Polish husband, to the Main Market Square, where we will be watching the celebrations for the day. On November 11th the proud Polish people commemorate the anniversary of having Poland again on the map of Europe; Poland being again a state. This happened in 1918 after 123 years of split. 
The split was done by 3 great powers at that time: the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire. The 3 nations just figured out they needed to have a tea and there was no cake so Poland was chosen to be the sweet and each of the nations took a piece, that stayed with them over 100 years. This is the saddest moment that the Polish people have been through, yet they maintained their faith that one day their homeland will be reunited and Poland will be strong once more.
I have to hand it to them for being so optimistic, considering that Russia and Prussia were not at all friendly - the schools and insitutes banned Polish language and there was even death penalty for using it. Only the Habsburg Empire was friendly and thankfully enough Krakow maintained its position as the beating heart of the nation. Krakow was always the conscience, the Jiminy Cricket if you will, of the nation. It was always the coeur of Poland. 
On the 11th November 1918, Piłsudski was appointed Commander in Chief by the Regency Council and was entrusted with creating a national government for the restored Polish State. 16 November – Józef Piłsudski signed a telegram notifying the creation of an independent Polish State. The telegram was sent by radio to the leaders of the superpowers and to all of the warring or neutral governments three days later with the use of equipment from the Warsaw Citadel, just after exiting the German troops.
Krakow, we could say, was always a step ahead when it comes to changes. Although The National Independence Day is celebrated today, Krakow had its celebration much earlier. On the 31st of October 1918 it was the first occupied city in Poland that regained its independence from 3 the super-powers.What can I say? I love Krakow and I respect its ways :) As an expat I can say with all my heart that from all the countries I have visited, from all the people I have met and know personally, no other nation seems to me as strong and nationalistic and very proud of being so! than the Polish people. No other nation will tell you about their history, art and culture with so much passion! I still think that in their veins flows history and passion for their country. I believe that the Polish people have red & white blood flowing in their veins. I believe that they are strong as they love their country! I am proud to be an expat living in Poland, being married to a Polish lad :) Now I am off to the celebrations, and I recommend you to do the same ;)

Yours truly, 
The LadyBug In Love With Patriotic Poland
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Saturday, 8 November 2014

Trail of the Eagles' Nests - Bobolice

My dear friends,

This is the 3rd post I will make about the lovely trip I had with my husband, to The Trail of the Eagles' Nest - courtesy of Discover Cracow :) The 3 castles visited (on foot) by us were: Ojców National Park & Castle Ruins + Ogrodzieniec + (last but not least) Bobolice Castle. The trip lasted for 8 hours - including the drive there and back + the one hour break in the afternoon, for lunch. The driver/tourist guide was adorable, the day started with dense fog (the kinda you cut with a knife...) but bloomed up into a lovely sunny afternoon :)
Along the way we also caught a glimpse of other castles - like Pieskowa Skała (on the way from Ojców - hopefully it will open up to visitors back in 2016) or Mirow (right next to Bobolice). The tour was amazing and I loved every minute of it! It really felt like a mini-vacation and a late present for my bday - thank you again Discover Cracow for the lovely gift :) I recommend this tour with all my heart and it is even better if you will manage to do this with your significant other :)  you will be able to consider it as a date ;) 
Be careful of The Lady In White...
The Royal Castle in Bobolice was built during the reign of Kazimierz III the Great, in the second half of the 14th century, most probably around 1350-1352. It was part of the defensive system of royal fortresses which protected the western border of the state on the Silesian side, and was known as the Eagles' Nests.
The castle rose from a steep and rocky hill, its round tower soaring above it. This superb observation point allowed the knights of Bobolice to communicate with their twin stronghold, Mirów Castle. In 1370, on the occasion of his coronation, King Ludwig of Hungary handed Bobolice Castle over to his nephew, Władysław Opolczyk. In 1379, he, in turn, handed it on to his courtier, the Hungarian, Andrzej Schoeny of Barlabas. He used it to garrison a crew which attacked and robbed the merchants and local inhabitants whose way took them close to the castle. In 1391, King Władysław Jagiełło took it back by force of arms and it became a royal possession once more.
The ownership of the castle changed hands time and time again. During the late 14th, and the 15th centuries, it belonged to the Szafraniec, Trestka and Kreza families, while later times saw it in the hands of the Chodakowski, Męciński and Myszkowski families. It was during the invasion of Poland by Archduke Maximilian III of Habsburg, in 1587, that the castle was first conquered, suffering heavy damage in the process. However, it was swiftly retaken by the Polish army, commanded by Jan Zamoyski, and was restored by its owners.
The castle's years of splendour were to last until 1657, when it was almost totally destroyed by the Swedes. In the 17th and 18th centuries, following the wars with Sweden, the castle fell into an ever greater state of disrepair. In 1683, when King Jan III Sobieski broke his journey at Bobolice Castle as he was making his way to Krakow, the location of the military build-up prior to the relief of Vienna, he was forced to spend the night in a tent. He was probably accompanied at the time by Hrehory Lasecki. A constitution (as the laws enacted in the Sejm at that time were known) of 1677 makes mention of the fact that he was imprisoned by Moscow for his loyalty to the Republic, and king Jan III Sobieski intervened on his behalf.
During the 17th century, the castle was no more than partially inhabited. An inventory from 1700 shows it to have been in a fairly dire state of repair. Despite attempts to rectify matters, it slowly but surely collapsed into ruins.
In the 19th century, an immense treasure was discovered beneath the castle. The treasure seekers put the final touches to the devastation. There are those who believe to this day that not all the treasure was found and that the main part of it still lies in the tunnels connecting Bobolice Castle and Mirów Castle.
Following the Second World War, the castle walls were partly demolished and put to use in building the road linking Bobolice and Mirów.
At the end of the last century, the castle's current owners, the Lasecki family, undertook the challenge of saving this beautiful historical building from complete annihilation. Archaeological work, commissioned by the family's representatives, Senator Jarosław W. Lasecki, and his brother, Dariusz Lasecki, is being carried out with the assistance of Poland's leading scholars, as is work on securing and reconstructing the castle, with the aim of saving this, an historical building of national significance.
Once upon a time and countless years ago, the twin castles of Mirów and Bobolice belonged to two brothers, Mir and Bobol, from whom the strongholds took their names. Under the brothers' rule, the castles grew in power and strength and the local people prospered and thrived. The brothers went to war together, returning with wagons overflowing with wondrous spoils, which they then divided fairly between them.
Wishing to keep their many treasures safe and sound, the brothers hewed an underground tunnel out of the rock, and thus their two strongholds were linked. They set a terrible witch on guard. With her red eyes, she smote all who dared aspire to venture after the brothers' treasure, petrifying them with her glance. She was aided in this by her companion, a fearful black dog. Thus protected, the tunnel was soon brimming with tremendous riches.
One year, on the King's orders, Bobol set out to war with Russia. Many months went by without his return and with neither sight nor sound of him. This good lord was missed not only by his brother, but also by his servants and the local people. Then, one day, a retinue led by the Lord of Bobolice arrived at the castle.
The wagonloads of treasure seemed to stretch further than the eye could see. Yet there was no treasure to compare with the grace and beauty of the captive woman Bobol had brought back with him. In honour of his brother's return, Mir held a wonderful feast in his castle, inviting all his liege subjects. There was dancing and revelry without end.
The following day, as was their wont, the brothers set about dividing the spoils between them. As ever, they were in perfect accord, until it came to the moment when they must share out the beautiful woman. They had both fallen in love with her at first sight. Unable to find a solution, they decided to draw lots for her. Fortune favoured Bobol, and in the twinkling of an eye, the princess had become his wife.
But sadly, she had fallen in love with the second of the two brothers. To avoid even so much as the merest whisper of suspicion, the princess and Mir met in the tunnel beneath the rocks whenever the witch flew off to attend a Sabbath. During one such rapturous night, the lovers awoke the sleeping hell-hound. His infernal barking roused Bobol from his sleep.
Seeing that his wife was gone, he began to seek her. Led to the tunnel by echoes, he spied Mir there, Mir and his own wife. Consumed with rage, he drew his sword, smiting his brother's breast, then ordered that the captive woman be walled up in the tunnel guarded by the witch.
And to this very day, on the night of the Witches' Sabbath, when the witch departs from the tunnel, the figure of the woman can be seen, casting sorrow-filled glances toward Mirów from the tower of Bobolice Castle.
Another legend of Bobolice Castle has it that a White Lady appears on a stone balcony. The White Lady is connected with the niece of a representative of the Kreza family who, according to 15th century legends, abducted a woman and held her captive in Bobolice Castle.
In the 19th century, an immense treasure was discovered beneath the castle. It is highly likely that this was a part of the treasure which, as countless legends would have it, lies largely in the tunnel running between Boblice and Mir.
Before starting reconstruction work on Bobolice Castle, archaeological and architectural research was conducted, over a period of several years, by the distinguished experts, Waldermar Niewalda, Ph.D., Sławomir Dryja, Ph.D. and Stanisław Karczmarczyk, Ph.D., Eng.
The results of their expert appraisement were presented to the Historical Sites Preservation service, in reports on the 1st and 2nd phases in 2001 and 2002 respectively. The research demonstrated that malformation of the rock floor threatened the outer and inner walls of the castle with collapse.
Attention was also drawn to the enormous difficulty of securing the remaining walls, which are around 10m high, by the means favoured by the Historical Sites Preservation service, namely external cantilevers, as well as to the dangers this would pose to visitors.
Giving due consideration to these, and to many other factors, it was therefore decided that the only effective way of saving the remaining historical substance would be the reconstruction of Bobolice Castle.
Once the restoration of the walls and gatehouses was complete, work began on the reconstruction of the upper castle. The necessity of accepting every detail put forward by the Department for the Preservation of Historical Sites, as well as the plethora of administrative procedures connected with this, caused the restoration process to be significantly protracted.
The owners' tenacity and determination meant that, despite enormous difficulties, it proved possible to plough through these obstacles in order for Bobolice Castle, so many years on, to finally regain its former glory.
It is thanks to the investment of commitment and effort that Bobolice Castle will shortly be in a condition which will enable tourists to discover for themselves its interior spaces and the defensive role it filled. A tourist service point is being set up at the castle, and the reconstructed interiors will house historical apartments and a museum.
DISCLAIMER: All information taken about the history of the castle, the misteries and legends, the reconstruction work on Bobolice was taken from the bilingual site maintained - you can also check more information out here and also have a virtual walk inside ;)

If you wish to read more of the delightful posts I have done in collaboration with Discover Cracow, I recommend with all my heart all the below listed:

Yours truly,
The LadyBug very much in love with the Eagles's Nest Trail :)
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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Trail of the Eagles' Nests - Ogrodzieniec

Dearest friends,

A few days ago I was telling you about Ojców Castle - well more likely the ruins - and the trip that Discover Cracow lovingly shared with me and my adorable husband. The day tour that the company hosts takes around 8 hours and it brings you face to face with 3 of castles from the Trail of Eagles' Nests. I loved the trip and I took so many shots that I wanted to share with you, so I decided to split the post in 3 and do one for each castle :) You will not be disappointed!
First view up close @ Ogrodzieniec
Ogrodzieniec is a town in Zawiercie County, Silesian Voivodeship, Poland, with 4,499 inhabitants (2004). It is noted for the extensive ruins of a medieval castle, damaged during the Swedish invasion of Poland (1655 - 1660).
Regulation/Rules & the history of the castle
Ogrodzieniec, which is part of Lesser Poland, received its Magdeburg rights town charter in 1386. Until the Partitions of Poland, it belonged to Kraków Voivodeship, and in 1815 it became part of Russian-controlled Congress Poland. After the January Uprising, Ogrodzieniec, like many other locations of Lesser Poland, lost its town charter (1870) and remained a village until 1973. 
Ogrodzieniec lies among the hills of Małopolska Upland, on the outskirts of Zagłębie Dąbrowskie. The town has an area of 28 km2, and is located approximately 400 meters above sea level. In the south and west, Ogrodzieniec is surrounded by forests.
The origins of the town date back to the 11th century. It was a forest settlement, with a wooden castle built along the border of Lesser Poland and Silesia. In 1241, during Mongol invasion of Poland, the village and the castle were burned, and afterwards, a new, stone castle was built. Ogrodzieniec received its town charter in 1386. It was a local trade center, with merchants and artisans, many of them Jewish. 
Furthermore, enormous forests attracted noble hunters, including Polish kings. In 1346, Ogrodzieniec Roman Catholic parish church was first mentioned. In the mid-16th century, it was turned into a Calvinist prayer house, and remained so until circa 1630, when it was returned to the Catholics. In the first half of the 18th century, a new, stone church was built, but it was not completed until 1787.
Until 1795, Ogrodzieniec belonged to Kraków Voivodeship. After the third partition, it was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, and belonged to New Silesia. Since 1815, it belonged to Russian-controlled Congress Poland, and in 1888, when already a village, Ogrodzieniec had 162 houses (most of them wooden), with app. 1,000 inhabitants.
In the Second Polish Republic, Ogrodzieniec belonged to Kielce Voivodeship, and in 1939, the village was annexed directly into the Third Reich. German occupiers planned to change its name into Bonerburg. After the war, until 1956, Ogrodzieniec belonged to Olkusz County of Kraków Voivodeship, then it was moved to Zawiercie County.
Due to the existence of the Ogrodzieniec Castle, the town is a popular tourist center, located on the Trail of the Eagles' Nests (note: the castle itself does not administratively belong to the town, it lies in the village of Podzamcze, 2 kilometers east of Ogrodzieniec). The castle was built in the 14th century by the Sulimczyk family. It is located on Góra Zamkowa, the highest hill of the Polish Jura (515 meters above sea level).
First stronghold was built here in the early 12th century, during the reign of Bolesław Krzywousty. In 1241, during the Mongol invasion of Poland, it was burned and destroyed, and in the mid-14th century, new, stone complex of a mighty Gothic castle was built here. The castle guarded western border of Lesser Poland, and in 1470 it was purchased by the Salomon family, merchants from Kraków.
Great location for wedding pictures - we saw 2 couples and it was Tuesday late morning!
It then changed hands several times, belonging to the Rzeszowskis, Pileckis, Chełmińskis and finally, the Boner family (since 1523). In 1530 - 1545, Seweryn Boner turned the Gothic stronghold into a Renaissance residence. 
In 1562, Boner’s daughter Zofia married Jan Firlej, and the castle, as a dowry, changed hands once more. In 1587, it was captured by Maximilian III, during the War of the Polish Succession.
In 1655, it was seized by Swedes. Swedish garrison stayed at the castle for two years, which resulted in its extensive damage. In 1669, the castle was partially restored by its new owner, castellan of Kraków Stanisław Warszycki.
In 1695 it was purchased by the Męciński family, and in 1702, once again it was destroyed by Swedish soldiers, during the Great Northern War.
After the destruction, the castle remained a ruin, and its subsequent owners could not afford to rebuild the complex. It remained inhabited until circa 1810.
After World War II, the castle was nationalized, and its walls were strengthened in 1949 - 1973, which prevented total collapse of the complex. It now has a status of permanent ruin, and is open to visitors. (The works aimed at preserving the ruins and opening them to the visitors were started in 1949 and finished in 1973)
The castle is popular among film makers; in 1973, some episodes of the TV series Janosik were made here, and in 2001, Andrzej Wajda shot The Revenge here. Furthermore, in 1984 the castle was presented in Iron Maiden’s video Behind the Iron Curtain, in the song "Hallowed Be Thy Name".
Interior court
According to some investigators of paranormal phenomena, the Ogrodzieniec Castle is a place haunted by mighty dark powers. There have been locally famous reports of the "Black Dog of Ogrodzieniec" being seen prowling the ruins in the night-time.
The mighty Hussars <3
Witnesses have claimed that the spectre is a black dog much larger than an ordinary dog, and is supposed to have burning eyes and pull away a heavy chain. The dog is believed to be the soul of the Castellan of Cracow, Stanisław Warszycki. Interestingly, his soul also haunts the ruins of the Dańków Castle, where it appears as a headless horseman.
The Replica Of A Hussar Suit
 On the bottom floor, fragments of the renaissance frescos of lilies are still visible.
Close to the castle, on the market of Podzamcze village, there is a chapel built out of the castle's architectural elements (portal, volutes, cornice). 
Inside the chapel, there are original elements of the castle chapel: the vault keystone, round shot, which is said to have fallen into the castle during the Swedish Deluge (1655–1660) and the renaissance Our Lady sculpture.
Unfortunately, the sculpture has been painted in the folk style (with oil-paint) by the locals, which makes it rather difficult to notice its original beauty.
On the rooftop of one of the highest towers :)
I really recommend taking your time on this trip and asking as many questions as you have :)  The tour guide was nice and he explained to us each room we passed through. It is up to your choice if you wish to go up in the tower and if you are a bit claustrofobic and afraid of hights you may have an issue... But we love that, so we took the spiral staircase and we went through the steep last flight of stairs and we enjoyed the lovely view from the top. I loved it! :)
Wouldn't you have liked to live there?
Unlike the first castle visited on this tour - unlike Ojców Castle - this is lovely as you get to go inside and climb and see some rooms as they used to be. You can find traces of the old stairways made out of solid rock and that is lovely! You feel more in touch with what things were than just looking at the ruins and the deserted space.
The Castle grounds are very popular and each summer/autumn you have medieval fairs hosted and people get to do archery and fight with swords... like small tournaments of the old ages :) Maybe one day I will get to go there during a fair. I would love that! I would buy a pint of beer and a pork chop or a roasted leg and pretend I own the castle :))) 
The Castle has also on its grounds, in a separate chamber attached to the outer wall, a place for instruments of torture used in those ages. The space is quite small but it has a lot of exhibits. You may recognize there the Iron Maiden or the very-much-used Chair of Torture. People were very inventive during that times, in how they could make someone suffer... for an indefinite time... until they would die...
There are captions in 3 languages: English / Deutsch / Polish
After a lovely walk in the castle and its court, the driver/tour-guide asked us if we would like to have a lunch break now or before visiting the 3rd castle. There are around 40 km between Ogrodzieniec and the 3rd castle on the list, Bobolice. We choose to stop there and then and at the end of the road from the castle there is a local Karczma (Pub/Restaurant) that accepts VISA cards ;) It was unexpectantly good and very warm and cozy inside :)
Karczma Jurajska - as I found later on the Internet - is quite popular. It has a site in both English and Polish and you can rent a room for the night, if ever you are in the area and you wanna visit the castle more than one day. Maybe during the medieval fairs? :)
I had some traditional Zurek (soup with sausage and eggs and potatoes + mushrooms) and Marek had beetroot soup with the traditional meat roll. Second course was potatoes with cabbage & bacon and lovely pork schnitzel. It was delightful and it all simply melted happily into my mouth :) I recommend it with all my heart! And Marek loved it as well ;)  I really would like everyone to visit The Trail of the Eagles' Nest and Ogrodzieniec Castle - if ever you are or were there, please let me know how the trip went for you :) 

If you wish to see my previous post on The Trail of the Eagles' Nests - Ojców please click on the link :) In a day or two I will post about the 3rd castle of our trip: Bobolice ;) So stay alert!

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Loves Castles & The Day-Trips from Discover Cracow
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