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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Magia Cafe Bar - A Quiet Place To Hide

Dearest friends,

Today I am taking you into a magical journey into a coffee place/mini-restaurant right next to the lovely Mariacki church, in the Main Square of my beloved city Krakow. You can't miss it if you go from Florianska, take a left right next to the Saint Mary Church, like you would go to the Small Square and on Plac Mariacki 3 you will find the welcoming doors - and in the spring/summer/autumn you can even find places outside! - of the lovely Cafe Bar Magia :)
You can find them online both on their website and on their Facebook fan-page. Or you can just drop by their place and check out their cozy interior. The atmosphere is just magical, especially in the evening with the candles burning on each and every table. It is a wonderful place to warm up and have a rest, even though the service is not as prompt as one would want the place and the food makes it up for that in full! I recommend their tea (as they have quite a wide selection) and also the mulled wine with loads of spices and dried fruits. It is just heavenly!
Even if it is so close to the Main Market Square not many people bustle about it and there are many seats to choose from - be it indoor or outdoor. You can even have lunch there as they have sandwiches and pierogi and soups. If the soup of the day is the onion one, I recommend it wholeheartedly as it is one of the best things I ate in Krakow! It is not quite a soup, but more of a stew with loads of onions and vegetables and meat. Steamy hot it just warms you up perfectly when the nights are cold and you need something to make up for it ;)
The cakes are also quite good and they have creme brulee - but still the bets creme brulee I ate was at Charlotte. The sweets come with a price range between 6 zloty for cake with season fruits and 10 zloty for the cake with chocolate and sour cherries ;) The sandwiches are around 7-8 zloty each and the pierogi 10-11 zloty. It is definetely worth your time and you should totally check it out next time you are in the area ;) It is open daily from 8 am and it keeps its doors open till around 2 am. You can pay by card and if you are lucky you will catch a glimpse of the huge kitten living in the museum upstairs :) If you do manage to get there, let me know of your thoughts upon the place :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug
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Monday, 15 December 2014

Pierogarnia - Slow Or Fast Food?

Dear friends,

Here are the facts of the day: pierogi are boiled, baked or fried dumplings of unleavened dough traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. The word pierogies is popular in the U.S. and Canada because it underlines a ‘plurality’ of this well-known Polish food. However, this usage is not so appropriate since in fact the word ‘pierogi’ is already plural in Polish language.
Traditionally considered peasant food, they eventually gained popularity and spread throughout all social classes including nobles. Although Pierogi are still an important part of Polish culture and cuisine today, they are very popular in other European countries such as Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine. 
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Pierogi are served in a variety of forms and tastes (ranging from sweet to salty to spicy) in Polish cuisine, considered to be the Polish national dish. They are served at many festivals, playing an important role as a cultural dish. At the 2007 Pierogi Festival in Kraków, 30,000 pierogi were consumed daily.
When you visit Poland remember that in many Polish towns you can come across some Polish restaurants called "pierogarnia". These are places designed to offer pierogi in dozens of tastes. This is a great thing for every tourist going to Poland. Most of the pierogarnia also sell other popular Polish food. To be noted that the prices are quite low when you compare to other countries in Europe. For example, in the picture above you can see also the prices for each style of pierogi that you may wish to order.
The Pierogarnia from these pictures is located on the street called Slawkowska 32, right between ROSSMAN and the Restaurant Miod i Wino (as you can see in the below picture, taken from Google Maps) - it is usually open 24 hours so it is perfect for having a quick bite before/after/during a party in town :) You can find the same type of Pierogarnia in Krakow and in Warsaw as well - Pierogarnia Zapiecek.
Here you can find their Krakow menu. As I said, the prices are convenient and you can pay either by cash or by card - no limit instated. They specialise in pierogi, both boiled and fried, but they have soups and main dishes and sweets as well. I always have some fried meat pierogi with some home-made kompot (juice made out of boiled fruits, sweetened). The usual portions are of 10 pieces of pierogi, but the nice part about this place is that you can have half portions - in case you are just a bit hungry. And also you can mix, half of the portion can be pierogi with meat and half could be pierogi with fruits! :) The portion of 10 pierogi right now (12/15/2014) is maximum 12 zloty (around 3 euro) and the soups are around 1 euro per portion!
Cute small fact: The Guinness record in making pierogi belongs to ten students from a Catering School in Wroclaw, Poland. In 100 minutes they managed to make as many as 1663 dumplings! That was over 90 pounds. Their great result was officially written down in The Guinness Book of Records. After cooking and packing, the pierogi were sent to Wroclaw children's homes.
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Question: Would you consider pierogi fast food or slow food? I mean, it basically gets prepared in time, it gets frozen and then you can save it for weeks. When you need it, you just pull it out of the fridge and boil it or fry it... Slow or fast food? Hmmm... What say you?

P.S. All pictures were taken with the Samsung Galaxy S4 camera, a present from my awesome hubby :)  and they were taken late November. Some of them were modified with the freeware Fotor Photo Editor (lately they changed it and it has a lot of glitches... so... I don't recommend it with fully all my heart; but I do hope it will be eventually stable as I liked it very much!)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Pierogi (the ones deep fried, with meat ;) )
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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Czestochowa - It's Clear (Panoramic Photo Post)

Dearest friends,

As you know I am in Poland now for more than 3 years and in those 3 years I heard multiple times how one day I should try and go to visit the monastery in Czestochowa. I should visit Jasna Gora, climb to the top of the tower of the monastery, enjoy the wonderful view and pray at the famous Black Madonna. Well, guess what?! I have made it, this November, with the great help of my awesome better half and husband, to go see Jasna Gora and even if we were there just a few hours, just to visit the monastery, we promised we would come back one day :)
The weather was cold and windy and foggy but still the view from the tower is amazing! and I managed to snap some quick panoramic photos with my new baby-toy from Marek - the awesome and very friendly Samsung Galaxy S4. True it will not replace my love for cameras and lenses but it does come in handy for short trips ;) and I recommend it with all my heart, especially when it comes to panoramic pictures ;) So stay put and check out the pictures below. The regular ones are done with the camera, no filter, and you will of course bump into the panoramic ones at the end. Still shaky a bit, as these actually are my first panoramas, but I will learn more :)
Jasna Gora
The motto of the city is: Jasne, że Częstochowa (Częstochowa it's clear). The name of Częstochowa means Częstoch's place and comes from a personal name of Częstoch mentioned in the medieval documents also as Częstobor and Częstomir.Variations of the name include Czanstochowa used in 1220, and Częstochow used in 1382 and 1558. 
A part of today's city called Częstochówka was a separate municipality mentioned in the 14th century as the Old Częstochowa (Antiquo Czanstochowa, 1382) and Częstochówka in 1470-80. The city was also known in German as Tschenstochau and in Russian as Ченстохов (Chenstokhov).
According to archaeological findings, the first Slavic settlement in the location of Częstochowa was established in the late 11th century. It was first mentioned in historical documents from 1220, when Bishop of Kraków Iwo Odrowąż made a list of properties of the Mstów monastery. Two villages, Częstochowa and Częstochówka were mentioned in the document. Both of them belonged to the basic territorial unit of Slavic tribes (opole), with its capital at Mstów.
Częstochówka was located on a hill on which the Jasna Góra Monastery was later built. In the late 13th century Częstochowa became the seat of a Roman Catholic parish church, which was subjected to the Lelów deanery. The village was located in northwestern corner of Kraków Land, Lesser Poland, near the Royal Castle at Olsztyn. Częstochowa lay along a busy merchant road from Lesser Poland to Greater Poland. 
The village was ruled by a starosta, who stayed at the Olsztyn Castle. It is not known when Częstochowa was granted town charter, as no documents have been preserved. It happened some time between 1356 - 1377. In 1502, King Alexander Jagiellon granted a new charter, based on Magdeburg rights to Częstochowa. 
In 1382 the Paulist monastery of Jasna Góra was founded by Vladislaus II of Opole - the Polish Piast prince of Upper Silesia. Two years later the monastery received its famous Black Madonna icon of the Virgin Mary and in subsequent years became a centre of pilgrimage, contributing to the growth of the adjacent town.
Huge posters depicting the late Pope John Paul 2nd are posted on the wall of the monastery
Częstochowa prospered in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, due to efforts of Sigismund I the Old, the future king of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At that time, Sigismund ruled the Duchy of Głogów, and frequently visited Częstochowa on his way to the Duchies of Silesia (1498, 1502, 1502, 1503, 1505, 1505, 1506). 
In 1504, Częstochowa was granted the right to collect tolls on the Warta river bridge. In 1508, Częstochowa was allowed to organize one fair a year; in 1564, the number of fairs was increased to three annually, and in 1639 to six. In the year 1631, Częstochowa had 399 houses, but at the same time, several residents died in a plague, after which 78 houses were abandoned.
In the first half of the 17th century, kings of the House of Vasa turned the Jasna Góra Monastery into a modern Dutch-style fortress, which was one of the pockets of Polish resistance against the Swedish armies during Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655
The town of Częstochowa itself was almost completely destroyed by Swedish soldiers. It has been estimated that the town lost 50% of population, and 60% of houses. Nevertheless, the destruction was less severe than at other towns in the area (Przyrów, Olsztyn and Mstów). It took several years for Częstochowa to recover from extensive losses. 
As late as in the 1680s there still were ruined houses in the town. At the same time, the Jasna Góra Monastery prospered. On February 27, 1670, the wedding of king Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki with princess Eleanor of Austria took place here.
Furthermore, in 1682 the celebration of 300 anniversary of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa brought thousands of pilgrims from both Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Silesia. The Jewish community in Częstochowa came into existence by about 1700.
During the Great Northern War, Częstochowa was captured by Swedish army on August 11, 1702. In February 1703 Swedes besieged the monastery, but failed to seize it. In April 1705 the Swedes returned, and appeared at the monastery again in September 1709. Unable to capture the fortified stronghold, they looted villages in the area, set Częstochowa on fire and left towards Wieluń. At that time, a village of Częstochówk also existed next to Częstochowa. 
The village belonged to the monastery and quickly developed. In 1717 it was granted town charter, and its name was changed into Nowa Częstochowa (New Częstochowa). The town was completely destroyed during the Bar Confederation. On February 8, 1769, the monastery was seized by rebels of the Bar Confederation, commanded by Kazimierz Pułaski. Soon the stronghold was besieged by Russians under German-born General Johann von Drewitz. The Russians gave up on January 15, 1771.
In the Polish Defensive War of 1939, Częstochowa was defended by the 7th Infantry Division, part of northern wing of Kraków Army. After the Battle of Mokra and other battles, Polish forces withdrew, and the Wehrmacht entered the city on Sunday, September 3, 1939. Częstochowa was renamed into Tschenstochau, and incorporated into the General Government.
Monday, September 4, 1939, became known as Bloody Monday, when 227 people (205 ethnic Poles and 22 Jews) were killed by the Germans (some estimates of victims put the number at more than 1,000; 990 ethnic Poles and 110 Jews). German occupiers from the very beginning initiated a plan of cultural and physical extermination of the Polish nation.
Finished the panoramas, now Marek can take the lead :)
Częstochowa was a city county (Stadkreis Tschenstochau), part of Radom District of the General Government. The city was located near the border with Upper Silesia Province, and in its area operated units of the Home Army and National Armed Forces (NSZ). On April 20, 1943, a NZS unit attacked local office of the Bank Emisyjny w Polsce.
After the collapse of the Warsaw Uprising, Częstochowa briefly was the capital of the Polish Underground State. In the autumn 1944, Germans fortified the city, preparing for a lengthy defence. On January 16, 1945, however, the Wehrmacht retreated after one day of fighting.
On April 9, 1941, a ghetto for Jews was created. During World War II approximately 45,000 of Częstochowa's Jews, almost the entire Jewish community living here, were killed by the Germans. 
Life in Nazi-occupied Częstochowa is depicted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, by Art Spiegelman, the son of a Jewish Częstochowa resident. Before the Holocaust, Częstochowa was considered a great Jewish center in Poland. By the end of WWII, the town was essentially Judenrein.
Due to the communist idea of fast industrialisation, the inefficient steel mill was significantly expanded and named after Bolesław Bierut. This, combined with the growing tourist movement, led to yet another period of fast city growth, concluded in 1975 with the creation of a separate Częstochowa Voivodeship.
In the immediate post-war period, Częstochowa belonged to Kielce Voivodeship (1945–1950), and then the city was transferred to Katowice Voivodeship. In the People's Republic of Poland, Częstochowa emerged not only as an industrial, but also academic center of the region.
The city expanded, with first tram lines opened in 1959. On January 1, 1977, several villages and settlements were annexed by Częstochowa. As a result, the area of the city expanded from 90 to 160 square kilometres (35 to 62 sq mi).
In modern times, Pope John Paul II, a native son of Poland, prayed before the Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Częstochowa in 1983 and again in 1987, 1991, 1997 and 1999. On August 15, 1991, John Paul II was named Honorary Citizen of Czestochowa. On May 26, 2006, the city was visited by Pope Benedict XVI.
A View From The Tower
Currently the city is one of the main tourist attractions of the area and is sometimes called the little Nuremberg because of the number of souvenir shops. It attracts millions (4.5 mln - 2005) of tourists and pilgrims every year. The Black Madonna of Częstochowa, housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery, is a particularly popular attraction.
Throughout the centuries, many buildings have been erected, most of them now have status of tourist attractions and historical monuments since Częstochowa was established already in the Middle Ages. Among those attractions are old townhouses and the urban core of the city centre. The most popular with religious tourism as mentioned above is the Jasna Góra Monastery.
There are typically numerous pilgrims and tourists at Jasna Góra Monastery, and the volume of excited voices can be high. However, upon entering the Monastery, it is expected etiquette for visitors to be silent or as quiet as possible out of respect.
Often, there is a long line of people who wait to approach the shrine of Our Lady. Upon arriving at the location of the shrine where one would pass in front of the icon of Our Lady, it is expected and a sign of respect for pilgrims to drop to their knees, and traverse the anterior of the shrine on their knees.
DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that all text and information concerning the historical dates and facts were taken from Wikipedia but can also be found in the Jasna Góra Monastery museum, which is quite extensive and should be visited if ever you are in the area. 
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As a downside, you will not be able to take pictures or record anything but you will be able to see pieces that not even the Wawel Castles treasury does not hold! Not to mention the entrance was for free and we spent around 2-3 hours in the monastery :) If you are with kids, they may get bored as they would not be allowed to touch anything, but if you are into history, I recommend it with all my heart!

P.S. If you manage to get to Jasna Góra Monastery make sure you see: the Black Madonna, the museums inside the monastery, the small crypts, take a tour of the monastery and see the 12 stops of the cross (you will pass by the canons and by the stand where the Pope blessed the people) and make sure you save the best for last - the view from the tower! Take a deep breath and climb those stairs! and once done, enjoy the view, even if it is windy :) trust me, if you did the Koln Cathedral this tower will be a piece of cake ;)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug Who Loves Towers :)
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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Thoughts Upon The Upcoming Christmas

My dearest friends,

For a while now I have been taking pictures of Krakow facing Winter with a smile upon her face. How does one do that when outside is so cold, so chilly and windy that your bone marrow freezes? Well... here is how I put a smile on my face: I think of my beloved ones and I think of Christmas. I like to think of happy things, things that make me warm inside-out... like when I was small and everything was a game. When little things mattered more than money and time and deadlines.
I love having long walks and at Christmas time, when everything is well prepared and decorated, its a pleasure to have the camera with you to see what else came up. Due to my awesome husband now I no longer have to carry the camera with me. With my new Samsung Galaxy S4 I can do photos good enough to quickly upload on my new Instagram profile or on my Facebook Page :) On Facebook I already have an album dedicated especially to the Christmas/Winter season of 2014. I try to upload things on a daily basis, when I find a new #windowdisplay that catches my eye :)
Everybody was rushing in head on into the holidays! Ever since beginning of November... Actually, to tell you the truth, once Halloween is over and then Thanksgiving Day, everybody starts thinking of Christmas. I can already see the counters of how many days till Christmas remain... It is a bit of madness there, but hey! Who am I to judge? I wish Christmas could stay all year round! With more than a month to go until Christmas, the shops/stores were competing whom will have the most fancy look so I thought I might give it a go and record them :)
It's odd, you know, that only at Christmas we open up more. We are more warm and caring to one another. Like we would like to take out all the generosity in the world and fill it in only 31 days... Only in December people could care, people would buy gifts for others and care for anyone else then their person. Its sad how we forget the principles of forgive and forget in our day-to-day but we miraculously pop them out of our pocket when December comes...
Christmas was always a special time in my heart and December was always close to my heart. Of course having the Civil Wedding in December helps it get to the top of my favourite months :) As Dr. Seuss said, Christmas does not come from a store. Christmas means more than lovely decorations, kick-arse window displays, rushing into malls and buying dozen of gifts (most of the times at the last moment, as we are all so very busy nowadays...). Christmas for me = love.
Christmas for me is a time to love and be loved. Of course, you may object and say that actually we should love eachother and ourself at each moment of our lifes. I can totally agree with that but what I would like to underline is that less and less people think nowadays about love in its more true and pure form: God. Christmas should be a celebration where we speak of the love that God had for us, to come to Earth, be as us, and teach us about the true love.
Bob Hope once said "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" - I can agree with him. God created us so we could love and be loved in return. We live in a world where people forgot what Christmas really is and what we really are celebrating. It is sad how far away we always seem to move from the truth...
Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder
Christmas Fair At The Main Market Square
I was also thinking this month, as we were packing things to move into our new home - oh, yes, this is a surprise for you guys, but we are not ready yet to tell you more :) - I was thinking about how many things that we actually do not need, we store during our life... on the possibility that one day we may need it or it may come in handy. I remember my mum telling me about a friend of hers who would buy per season 2-3 pieces of clothing that she would give away at the end to get new ones... she never had a full closet but she always looked gorgeous. On the other hand, I watch Downton Abbey and you see all those wardrobes with so many clothes and accessories... the temptation is so big, so how do you actually fight that?!
Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
So many different thoughts and feelings come to me, as Christmas closes in. Not to mention the end of the year and closing the book, checking statistics and figuring out if the year was good... All these mixed up emotions between the material and the imaterial in life... I hope you will celebrate Christmas nonetheless and I hope you believe in God. We tend to forget that Christmas comes for Christ. Maybe we should put a sticky note on our forhead with that :) In the meanwhile, I for sure, will keep you posted on my new Instagram profile and on my Facebook Page on how Krakow looks. How it transformed for Christmas, how it transformed for Winter and the Holidays :) 

Yours truly,
A Passionate LadyBug
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