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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Elections Belong To The People

Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Dear friends,

I choose to start this letter/post/entry with a quote from one of the fathers of the United States of America. Lincoln was a champion of human liberty and I believe he had a deep respect for the people who brought him to the White House, his goal being reuniting the people/the nation. He helped abolish slavery and I truly believe that he did care for the people. Maybe that is why the Americans see him still as one of the top 3 presidents of the USA.
***
Romania is facing presidential elections. The election will be held in two rounds, on 2 and 16 November, as decided by the government in February. Right now we still have as president Traian Basescu. The last presidential election was held in 2009 and he was sworn in for his second term on 21 December 2009. He is ineligible for a third term according to the Constitution. There are only 9 days left until the campaign stops. On the 2nd of November, between 7 a.m.–9 p.m., the first round of the presidential election is scheduled to be held. Over 18.3 million people in the country and 530,000 Romanians abroad are expected to go to the polls - that means me as well...
A few weeks back one of my Romanian expat friends, living here in Krakow, told me that for the first time there will be a chance to actually vote in Krakow and not go all the way up to Warsaw. The Romanian Embassy and Consulate is in Warsaw, on Chopin street, and I am very familiar with it as I needed to do all the paper for the marriage there + my new passport. I was thinking that is quite a road and I was not sure if I could make it, but now I am 100% sure that on the 2nd of November I will be saying #yeslavot - that is a small wordplay :) Romanian lads/lasses will get it for sure :)
 ***
I must admit that this time Romanian people in Poland that wish to vote have more options. Here are 3 places where they can speak up their mind and make their vote count:
  • Secția de votare nr. 193 VARŞOVIA – Ul. F. Chopina nr. 10, 00-559 (Ambasadă) - for Warsaw
  • Secția de votare nr. 194 CRACOVIA – Ul. RAJSKA nr.1, 31-124 (Biblioteca Voievodală) - for Krakow
  • Secția de votare nr. 195 POZNAN – Al. Niepodległości nr.16/18, 61-713 (Oficiul Voievodal) - for Poznan.
For more details you can always go here: http://www.mae.ro/prezidentiale-2014 
Being proactive, as usual, I wanted to let my friends know so I even created an open event, so if you wish to have a reminder ringing on your phone/pc, you can always join the event HERE.
 ***
As you know, every election is determined by the people who show up. We somehow have a thing about not attending meetings/gatherings and then complaining about the decisions made while we were not there. Well, the simple act of coming to the vote means a whole lot. You may not like any of the people on the list, you may not know them well or even heard of them, you may believe they are lunatic and they should not even be public. That does not matter! What matters is that you can choose - even if that means choosing the lesser evil. Is it better that the worst evil would win if you will not participate? If more people would actually come to the vote and choose the lesser evil maybe the world would be a bit better. We all know that votes can be manipulated and your vote can be used by a different person - been there, seen that happening in my country and it's no news! Is it not better just to go there for 15 minutes, maybe just have a long walk in the city and do a good deed? Your inner self will thank you and you will feel at peace with doing your moral and civil duty. Worst case scenario: you can always reject the vote and stamp your way through that paper, as long as you use your ID/passport and vote! So... Remember, remember the 2nd of November :) Be there or be square!

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Will Vote
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Monday, 20 October 2014

Warm Sunny Autumn Days

Dear sweet friends,

Show me a person who does not love Autumns and I will box that persons ears. I belive Autumn is the best time of the year. Autumn is not cold, not hot, has that warm fuzzy feeling about it :) and you still can go out without layering clothes upon your body, the sun shines bright and the leaves change their colors and move/dance with the wind. You can still eat icecream without being afraid to catch a cold and you can feel winter coming. Present season will knock on our doors soon, are you ready?! I believe Ned Stark was not joking when he was saying that Winter is coming!
Kidding aside, I may have a hot/soft spot for Autumn due to the fact that my birthday is in this lovely season. Guess what? This year my birthday will actually be in the same day I was born: Sunday :) Did I also mention that Sunday's rock? I don't know about you lads/lasses but on Friday one has to finish work, run errands around the house. Saturday all stops and I can get to sleep late - considering that each day I wake up around 5:30 AM, I consider waking up Saturday at 9-10 AM quite reasonable! So Sunday is the best day for me :) We get some energy in Saturday and we get to have fun on Sunday.
If you are reading this blog for quite a while, you may have noticed that we have a soft spot for a couple of places in town, where we feel very much like home. One of those places is  Bona - Ksiazka i kawa, where we like to spend the time out on the terrace - looking at people being fascinated by this beautiful city, carriages with horses well groomed, couple of newlyweds coming out of the church... The little bookstore/coffee shop is right next to the church St. Piotr and Pawel Church, the church where Marek and I got married :)
It is one of the first secret places I have found here in Krakow and I consider it as our own :) It has a lovely athmosphere and everything feels just right there. Sometimes it makes me feel as if I would be in another place or another time. For example, a week back (when we actually took the pictures in this blog post) when I entered the room I was greeted by the magical sounds of the soundtrack from Amelie. It made me think immediately of creme brulee and Audrey Tautou.
Everything I have ever tasted here was wonderful and even the thought of it makes my mouth water now, as I am writing this post. For example, last week Marek went with his favourite coffee Americano + the fruit salad with icecream and whipped cream. I chose the pineapple caramel rum icecream - whipped cream treat that was sweeter than pure honey from the bees :) Smooth, sweet, delicious, fresh, a true experience for the taste buds! By the way, did you know that the pineapple is not, strictly speaking, a fruit? Rather it is 100-200 fruitlets all fused together!
Oh! And did I mention I just love October? It may be because of my birthday again... or maybe because Halloween is coming? Or maybe because the trees are just losing their multicolored foliage... or maybe because one cannot simply get too much spiced pumpking latte! Either way, you have to feel it as well: tastebuds tingling due to the muchness of grapes, slow cooked stews, hearty soups, hot chocolate and warm cider/beer/mulled wine to keep you warm and cozy inside-out :) Oh, and is there anyone out that who doesn't like to snuggle with a good book, with a great book, like let's say Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer? Good books and good tea + warm blanket = best friends forever :)

Yours truly,
A Warm Sunny Autumn Day Fan = The LadyBug
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Friday, 17 October 2014

Picture Perfect Movie: Everything Is Illuminated

Dearest friends,

If there is one film that really touched my heart in a very photographic way, than that film is Everything is Illuminated. The movie is done after a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, the first novel by the American writer, published in 2002. Starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hütz the film released in 2005. I first saw it during my second year of Uni, when I was part of a photographic circle. The teacher we had said one day that we would watch a movie that he believes reflects the best cinematography as being actually a series of images, a series of pictures in motion. I thought every movie actually is like that, but after I saw the movie I changed my mind totally. The lack of words compensates with the lanscapes and the closeup on the characters. I must admit that for a very long while, I had an image from the movie as my wallpaper and everyone would remark what a beautiful photo that is :) 
But here is the plot: Jonathan Foer, (Elijah Wood) a young American Jew, goes on a quest to find the woman, Augustina, sister of Lista (Laryssa Lauret), who saved his grandfather during the Holocaust in a small Ukrainian town called Trachimbrod that was wiped off the map when the Nazis liquidated Eastern European shtetls. His guides are a cranky, anti-semitic grandfather (Boris Leskin); his deranged Border collie named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.; and his over-enthusiastic grandson, Alex (Eugene Hutz), whose fractured command of English, passion for American pop culture, and constant chatter threaten to make the worst of every situation. But what starts out as the tour from hell turns into a meaningful journey, with an unexpected series of revelations that will change all of their lives.
American Chronicle recounted the film as one of the "rare films that encapsulate the emotion of discovery and drama with humor",while Time Out called it "an unbelievably assured debut as a director". Roger Ebert praised the film and gave it 3 and a half stars out of 4, and went to see it a second time 'to better understand the journey it takes'. The film lost money at the box office, as the gross receipts never surpassed even the small budget of the production. Right now, if you check it's rating on IMDB you will see that it is a 7,5 movie. I still believe it is terribly underrated and that all movie fans should watch it at least once!
The movie is a drama and a comedy rolled up in one. It has moments when your heart aches and you wish there could be a way to help the characters, there are moments when you want to laugh out loud so hard that you would scare your neighbours! It begins with placing a huge smile upon the face of the watcher and ends up granting you a heartache. Somehow the novel/writer/fate puts people together, that in any other moments in life would not be joined in. The landscapes shown of Ukraine are magnificent and heart-warming. The colors are alive and it is as if they would like to reach out to the watcher, grab you and drag you along in the main characters journey.
Jonathan is one of the main characters of the movie. I always saw him as "The Collector". He always has a ziplock bag about him and in order to have a track of his memories, his experiences, he collects things related to that experience. He accumulates the knowledge about people, places, stories; he marks them and places them under specific folders. He is neatly organized and he carefully labels everything. Jonathan enters his ultimate journey into finding more about his past - he has come to Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather's life. He is the pasive hero of the movie.
On the other side, Alex is all movement, all flow. He is vivid and engaging. Jonathan wears all black-white clothes, carefuly folds everything, all is neat and tidy - Alex is quite the opposite! He invents English words, wears sparkly gold necklaces, Adidas tracksuits and his tee inside out; he smiles and connects to people through his warmth of heart. Probably that is why Alex is the narrator for the movie :) Here is one quote from Alex that made me smile wide when I first heard it: Now I must tell you more of myself. I an unequivocally tall. I do not know any women who are taller than me. The women who *are* taller than me are lesbians, for whom 1969 was a very momentous year. For me, America is a first-rate place. Most of all, I am beloved of American movies, muscular cars, and hip-hop music. I also dig Negroes, most of all, Michael Jackson. He is a first-rate dancer, just like me. Many girls want to be carnal with me because I'm such a premium dancer
Here are some facts of the movie:
  • The shots of Ukraine are actually not done in Ukraine but in Czech Republic :) Which is lovely as you dont see any shops or gas stations and all is wilderness and rustic rural land. In this way they could take long range shots, landscape shots without being bothered by high-tech things jumping in and destroying the cut. 
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of the lovely novel, appears as the leaf blower at the beginning of the film. I adore the idea of the writers appearing as cameos in the adaptations of their books. Hey, to be fair, Peter Jackson always appears in the movies he directs :) I guess that is a nice bonus!
I have reflected many times upon our rigid search. It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside, looking out. Like you say, inside out. Jonathan, in this way, I will always be along the side of your life. And you will always be along the side of mine - Alex, Everything Is Illuminated.
***
I dedicated this movie to all my friends who love to take pictures, who believe photography is art, who believe that a picture can say a thousand words. I also dedicate this movie to all the Second World War - Jewish history fans out there. If you ever watched La Vita E Bella / Schindler's List / The Pianist / The Diary of Anne Frank, than for sure you will love watching this movie as well. It is heart-warming and makes you think of possible and unprobable connnections that appear in ones life... how life has its weird twists and turns and how one person could infulence anothers life for good or bad. I love this movie and I cherish it in my heart. Hope you will too :)

Yours truly,
A Very Big Fan of Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated.
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Story About Love, Forgiveness And A LadyBug

Dearest friends,

More than a while ago... to be fair play, almost 3 years ago, my mother told me about a book called "The Shack". It was a book she loved and she dearly recommended it. I usually dont read books recommended unless I feel drawn to them, and in this case it did not spark my interest at all. I guess it did not help that mum gave it to me (in Romanian language) and to Marek (in English language) as a gift. Sometimes, things need to come naturaly so this seemed to me like a push. It took me 2 years to take the book Marek received into my hands and think of reading it. I always loved reading more in English, to tell you the truth... and to my shame, as the Romanian language can take a word a turn it upside down and give it a thousand meanings.
The book I will tell you a bit about today is The Shack. It is a Christian novel by Canadian author William P. Young, a former office manager and hotel night clerk, published in 2007. The novel was self-published but became a USA Today bestseller, having sold 1 million copies as of June 8, 2008. It was the #1 paperback trade fiction seller on The New York Times Best Seller list from June 2008 to early 2010, in a publishing partnership with Hachette Book Group USA's FaithWords imprint (Hodder & Stoughton in the UK). In 2009 it was awarded the "Diamond Award" for sales of over 10 million copies by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
 ***
The title of the book is a metaphor for “the house you build out of your own pain”, as Young explained in a telephone interview. He also told radio host talk show Drew Marshall that The Shack "is a metaphor for the places you get stuck, you get hurt, you get damaged...the thing where shame or hurt is centered."
The novel is intense and breathtaking and somehow you get lost in the story. You feel you are there with the main character, you feel his pain and you have the questions that he asks on the tip of your tongue. Mackenzie Phillips (also known to friends and family as Mack) takes his children camping and during the trip, his youngest daughter is abducted and murdered by a serial killer. I will not spoil the book for you, its questions / sorrows and its ending but I will tell you this: many Christians were upset with the novel's unconventional way of portraying the Trinity. God the Father was portrayed by an African American Women, Jesus as a Middle Eastern carpenter, and the Holy Spirit as an Asian women. I, on the other hand, believe that is very much appropriate! Considering the region where Adam and Eve came from, there is a very high possibility that they were not white at all! And who cares about the color of the skin anyway! I believe that we should focus on love and being open-minded.
***
The Shack makes me think of an idea that I had ever since I was a child, when I was taught that at the same time God is love but also vengeance. To be fair, The Bible does show God both loving and also coming down with anger. I was thinking that God is allpowerful and allknowing so even if he knows in advance what we will say or do, he still gives us free will. At the same time we are his children, so he loves us. He loves us differently than we love our own, and he holds no grudges as he is made all out of love. In Corinthians 13 we find out that from all the things in the world, only one thing will always remain: Love! and the book shows us just that :) 
***
In order not to spoil the book for you, but give you a taste of it, I thought I may share with you a few quotes that I really enjoyed:
  • Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to hold power over another is to choose to limit oneself - to serve. Humans often do this - in touching the infirm and sick, in serving the ones whose minds have left to wander, in relating to the poor, in loving the very old and the very young, or even in caring for the other who has assumed a position of power over them.
  • Mack, the world system is what it is. Institutions, systems, ideologies, and all the vain, futile efforts of humanity that go with them are everywhere, and interactions with all of it is unavoidable. But I can give you freedom to overcome any system of power in which you find yourself, be it religious, economic, social or political. You will grow in the freedom to be inside or outside all kinds of systems and to move freely between and amont them. Together, you and I can be in it and not of it.
  • Those who love me have come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims; some are Democrats, some Republicans and many don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers, some are bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters or my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.
  • You can kiss your family and friends goodbye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you - Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth
  • An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others - A.W.Tozer 
I recommend this book with all my heart. It made me want to cry but it also made me smile wide. I read it on the train to/from work and it surely did brighten up my day. If you get around reading it, let me know how you liked it :) 
Yours truly, 
A LadyBug That Loves God
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Friday, 10 October 2014

Make Your Life Magical

Dearest friends,

Guess what day is today? That's right, it's Friday :)  Everyone seems to be more and more cheerful as the weekend approaches and even at work all things go smoother when it's Friday. While on conference calls people joke and even you begin to feel the smile on their lips as they know rest time is coming. People somehow are in a mood for magical things only on weekends, during the week they are too serious and self-centered and very much grown up for funny things and for enjoying the moments that really matter in life.
Remember that one quote from Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll? The one that goes like “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Well, do tell me, how many impossible and magical things have you thought of before breakfast? How was today different than the other day or than the Friday a week or two ago? Sometimes I really believe that we are somehow caught up in a circle and every day is just like the other one: work - home - work + the happy weekends. How do you make your days special? How do you live your life? Do you leave time to just flow and take its regular course or do you take a step in front and turn proactive?
Last weekend I was taking a simple stroll in the park, trying to get home to my adorable husband as fast as I could. The stroll turned in a big smile when I bumped into an endless hopscotch painted on the path in the park. A piece of streetart that made me smile and think of my childhood. Further on there was a painted van and a group of people playing games. It reminded me how little we enjoy the small things in our life and how we leave time to just pass us by. We see Monday to Friday as grey, dark and colorless; we take refuge in weekend where all we do is lay down and rest. It seems so sad :(
***
I was trying to think of things that would make life magical and I thought I may share my thoughts with you. Maybe even find out from you new ways of bringing a smile on my face and for the ones I love and care about. Here are 10 ways to brighten up the day, that I came up with:
  1. Plan the trip of your lifetime, the kind that you would put on your Bucket List. Think of how you would get there and what you would do. Trail your thoughts from the place you would lay your head upon to where you would go eat and what souvenirs you would buy. Remember how even window-shopping makes you smile? Well thinking of beautiful places and learning more and more about them will surely boost up your morale ;) 
  2. Make the meal you would never forget - spend the day searching for the perfect ingredients, make sure everything is fresh and squeaky clean and knock that reciepe out! Even if you have no idea how to cook and at the end you would need to order in ;) Do it together with your better half and have fun. It doesn't have to end up perfectly, the important thing is that you are both in it together, sharing a moment :)
  3. Build a place just for the 2 of you (or for the non-couples, just for yourself) - depending on the place/space you have it may be a tent or just a piece of blanket under which both of you would hide from the world. Nobody hears you there or sees you so you can talk to your hearts contempt and noone will know about it! What is said under the blanket, remains under the blanket ;)
  4. Keep a diary - you need not do it everyday and you don't have to feel oblidged to used it. Just know it is there and it can record your thoughts even when the computer dies or the phone has no battery. The paper and pen can be your true friends. We only forgot how to use them. They are like that ragged doll that once you grew up you thrown away but after a while you came back to her, as she knew your deep fears and your stories. Plus, it is well known and it has been researched that writing with your own hands, with pen and paper, can be emotionaly healing.
  5. Be artsy, even though you have no inclination to it! You can start dancing, drawing, singing or even practice martial arts. Art and beauty has always been subjective. It is in the eye of the beholder. The important thing is to release the energies and do something from your heart. Your soul will truly thank you for it!
  6. Do some volunteering - if you have the time for it, you better stop being egocentric and think of only yourself. Go out and do some charity work! Find something you are good at and help raise awareness. I love taking photos so besides doing my job I love to volunteer at my company held events to take photos. It's a win-win situation! Remember the #PolandBusinessRun event I was telling you a while back? It was amazing being there, part of it, taking pictures - reward: the posting of the photos internaly :)
  7. Visit a new place - it needs not be an over-seas place, over-borders. It can even be a visit to the new cafe place around the corner, the newly opened cinema or the sushi place that you walk by each day, on your way to work. You do not need a special ocasion and you don't need to dress up. You can just get up from the bed one day and say: hey! let's do it today! or if you are a schedule freak, you can book a day once a month to have a bit of fun :) 
  8. Read a book that you never read before or a book that you already read but had so much fun with it that you just wanna read it again. It will be like visiting an old good friend ;) It can even be a comic book as look as it is something you can cuddle down with in a blanket and relax. No ebook readers allowed, though! You need to feel and smell the book, open all your senses. You can start by going to my books page and see what I like to read ;)
  9. Find another tune for your playlist. Have you realised that we go through life listening the same type of music over and over again? We like pop and we listen just to pop, we like rock and we listen just to rock. If someone comes listening a different type of music we dont stop and liten, we automatically reject the things we do not know. We love to label things and say no even from the start. Open up your mind and listen one day a week something different than anything you listened to until now. You can start my checking my playlist ;) If you like something, let me know - if you have something that you think I should try, pop me a line!
  10. Stop wasting time and get out there and do what you love! If you would ask me why I stop posting everyday and why I am on Facebook less than I used to be (when a post one an hour was extremely necessary) than I would tell you that I decided to live more outside. Outside the Internet borders that restrain us. I love my husband and I love my family. I wish to do my job the best I can and some things demand sacrifices. Letting go of the Internet is a sacrifice I am willing to take, in order to learn more. I decided not to post on a daily basis in order to come home and spend more time with my husband. Maybe you would like to spend time with your family more?
What about you lad/lass? What is your secret to smile, to make your day magical? Do you go through the week head down-shoulders crunched-empty eyes looking for the weekend, or do you make life worthwhile? Let me know how things go for you, I would love to hear what impossible things you think of before breakfast :)

Yours truly,
A LadyBug That Loves To Smile :)
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Monday, 6 October 2014

Who Doesn't Love Weddings?!

Dear friends,

How are you lovely bunnies doing? I know it's Monday, and Monday's are always painful... It's like the world is reaching out, screaming for yet another day of rest... But in order to make the day better I thought that I should talk about something that may make you smile. Today I will be talking about weddings. Once you speak of weddings, the first natural connection would be to think of family and friends. I don't know about you, but thinking of the loved ones always manages to put a smile on my face :)
On the last weekend of September we went to Marek's cousins wedding. It was my third wedding party attendance in Poland but my first 2-day wedding. And that was a whole different experience, and I must admit I was not ready for it. Remember what I told you previously about the traditional Polish weddings? Well this wedding was 100% Polish :) True blood, Polish Wedding. It was a lot of fun and I must admit it was even better than last time, as now I can understand a bit better Polish language and I manage to get the jokes/tricks better, without killing my awesome husband with 1000 questions about each small detail.
The location was some one hour drive from Krakow and we went there with Marek's smallest brother and his adorable other half. I love Asia, as she is funny, friendly and open-hearted. They make an adorable couple and it is lovely seeing them together. But back to the wedding... The church was small and intimate and very lovely. The colors and shapes used to ornament the church inside were a bit weird, like none I have ever seen, to tell you the truth... but I loved it :) The ceremony was very nice and the lady who was singing the songs had an extremely lovely and enchanting voice!
I love weddings in autumn, when you have all the colors changing and the weather is just right: not too cold and not too hot, not humid and somehow leaving you to breathe freely... The smell of autumn with its crunchy leaves and smell of mushrooms, grapes and pumpkin. It makes you all warm from inside, it makes you cuddle and dream but also boosts you up and makes you smile wide. We were all happy for Ula & Lukasz - the newly wedded couple.
The tradition calls that the bride is taken away from her house by the husband, along with the band that will play the music at the wedding. We did not make it for that part, we waited for them at the church. There we had the group picture and we stood in line to give the gifts. As I was telling you previously, the gifts for the couple are always given to them after the church ceremony - before the party itself, but if one forgets or does not make it to the church, the gift is given when they arrive at the party. Is is an extremely good precaution against forgetting to give the present, in case one has too much fun with the help of certain substances ;)
Here comes the Bride! :)
One custom that I did not mention when I was telling you about traditional Polish weddings, was the throwing of money and rice on the bride and groom, once they step outside of the church. Of course rice is commonly used at weddings as a symbol of wealth for the couple in their new life, but money would mean the same thing yet this custom is a bit tricky... here, in Poland, the couple must pick up all the money thrown at them so they would always have money and never want for anything else. As you can imagine, that takes quite a while :) as coins seem to have a mind of their own and roll out in a million directions
I love weddings as they provide the opportunity to meet up with family and friends. You get to have fun and talk to them at your hearts contempt, even if only for a night (or in our case, here, for 2 days). Everyone seems much more joyful and open hearted at weddings. And even though the couple undergoes a lot of stress and presssure previous to the wedding, somehow they manage to live through the day with a smile on their face. I always wondered how this can happen... you are tired and you can barely move, you have 1000 things on your mind, yet you smile with your heart. Why? The only answer I could find was Love and I believe that is the right answer :)
Getting married is a big step in the life of a couple and I believe that the fact that there are so many divorces in the world is the fact that people do not think things through. Society, culture and everything that surrounds us tells us that the track of life should be like this: you are given birth to - you receive education - you grow up - you get married - you have kids - you grow old - you die. Noone talks about Love as most of the times it is positioned on a lower scale in our lifes. In fact it should be the first thing. 
The humans are created with a great capacity to love and be loved. If we do not receive love we do not grow. We wither and die. It is better to love and not be loved in return, than never to be loved at all. A human being can develop completely only with love. Even tests were made upon that! 3 plants were placed under care: one was told constantly words of love and was spoken to all the time; the second was spoken to, but only with harsh words and treated badly; the 3rd one received no speaking treatment and was given just water like the other 2... Guess which one died first?
That's right! The one that was given only water died first! It is better to be spoken to bad words than to be ignored. Imagine that transposed into our life, as humans, and think of what Love can do! Getting married must be done out of love, else it has no real basis on which the couple can grow. From all the things that God has created, I believe the most beautiful thing he created was Love. It is love that makes us feel completed and it is love that brings us together. I love weddings as they are a show of love - the love of the couple, their love to their parents, the love for their friends.
Our Wedding Rings :)
This 2-day wedding came a bit like a surprise for me, as I was expecting we would not stay there for the second day. I knew that we were going for Saturday and coming home early on Sunday but somehow we ended back home in Krakow late Sunday evening, around 8-9 PM. It was just too much fun! The weather was lovely, the couple of newlyweds was adorable and we stayed for the second day as well... I must confess that I had the dress for the wedding but not for the second day, so both me and Marek went to the second part in blue-jeans and tshirt :( This will make me pack 2 dresses from now on, just in case! To tell you the truth I really felt bad about it, but the wedding was adorable and the couple wanted us just to have fun so in the end it was not such a big disaster in not being all fashionable dressed :)
The Traditional Village Table
Some Sweets :)
It made me think more and more that when you love someone and when you want people to have fun, being in a dress is not that important... People nowadays judge you by how you look and not by what is in your head and what you can actually do. People that normally would not be friends with eachother become best friends when you have a bigger salary or a bigger house. So much today is placed upon appearances and the fact that we are more and more thinking of just ourselves than the people that surround us. Ula & Lukasz wanted us to have fun and enjoy their wedding, they enjoyed being with us and they wanted us to feel welcomed. Lukasz was not afraid or ashamed to dance with me in blue jeans and noone made a fuss about it, even if the rest were dressed up.
I loved my first traditional 2-day Polish wedding. I loved the Love that Ula & Lukasz have for eachother and for their families. I love how people can be open hearted to eachother and I love how nationality does not matter. People need just to open their hearts and all the doors will be open as well. I am proud and happy to live amongst Polish people like Ula & Lukasz as they restore my faith in humanity, that not all is lost. People who know that you are a lady and you can be loved and admired not only when you are in a dress and wearing lipstick, but also when you are wearing jeans and have messy hairdo. People who look at your heart and not your wallet size. People who do not judge you for being an expat but who love that you had the courage to go out and face the world...
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How about you? How do you see/feel weddings? Are they a place of joy and love for you? Have you ever been to an expat wedding? Could you feel then that the couple was different or did they just have one heart? I believe that Love knows no borders and has only one language :) 

Yours truly,
The LadyBug Who Loves Weddings
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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Crime In Art Expo @MOCAK

Dearest hearts,

A week ago I had the pleasure of taking a tour with my lovely husband at MOCAK. You may ask yourself, if you never were in Poland/Krakow, what is MOCAK. Well, my friends, MOCAK = Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow. This lovely place opened its gates on the 1st of February 2010 and even though I lived in Krakow for more than 3 years now, I managed to visit it (partially) just now. Each time I was going to the Schindler's Factory - which is the building right next to it, on Lipowa 4 - I said that I would go in, but each time something would come up...
MOCAK - picture was not taken by me, unfortunately :(
The project of creating a Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, which had been discussed for years both within the artistic community and local government, finally became reality towards the end of 2004, when Gmina Miejska Kraków (the Municipality of Kraków) took over and bought the land and buildings on the site of the former Schindler’s Factory at Lipowa Street 4, with the intention of providing a home for the future institution. 
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In 2007, an 11-strong jury, led by Professor Konrad Kucz-Kuczyński, concluded the competition for the design of the Museum building by selecting the design by Claudio Nardi and Leonard Maria Proli. The project, produced by the architectural office Claudio Nardi Architetto, involves erecting a new building on the site of the old Schindler’s Factory, and adapting six other existing buildings. The design will provide a total of about 10 000 m2 of usable floor space.
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On the 19th May 2011 a formal opening of the Museum took place, as well as the presentation of the first six exhibitions. Thousands of visitors came to MOCAK on the day, including the President of Poland - Bronisław Komorowski.
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If you wish to visit the museum, you can always buy a combo ticket Schindler's Factory + MOCAK => I, for one, really recommend that as Schindler's Museum is my personal fav :) But if you are interested only in Modern Art and you wish to visit only MOCAK, you may want to know that a normal tickets costs about 10 zloty (at the date the post was published). A group ticket for minimum 7 persons costs 5 zloty, so the more the merry :) Children under 7 go in for free. If you wish to have a guided tour, you can pick from 3 languages: Polish, English and German (Polish for 50 zloty and English/German for 80 zloty).
The Exhibition that we went to is a temporary one. It is called Crime in Art and it is the 4th exhibition to date in MOCAK’s series which combines art with the most significant civilisational themes such as history, sport, science and religion. To date, three exhibitions have taken place: History in Art, Sport in Art and Economics in Art. The series aims to demonstrate how many creative inspirations and how much symbolic potential there lurks in the everyday reality. The most recent show, where we shall see works of 40 Polish and foreign artists, reveals various thematic, symbolic and critical possibilities that crime contains.
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The exhibition features, among other works, a collection of police portraits dating back to early 20th century, which documents criminals from one of Sydney's poor districts. The photographs do not reveal their offences, leaving room for speculation. Andy Warhol's prints from the Electric Chair series (1971), in turn, constitute a presentation of a specific witness of crime: an object set up in an empty execution room, which becomes a symbol of violence and loneliness of death. Warhol found the photograph of an electric chair so fascinating that he used it in many of his works. A special place in the exhibition will be occupied by the works of the Belgian artist Danny Devos, whose art reveals fascination with the theme of crime and serial murder. Among his other works the exhibition presents those referring to Ed Gein, a serial killer, who made utilitarian objects from dissected corpses, Ted Bundy, Dean Corll known as Candyman and an installation referring to the much-publicized case of actress Elizabeth Short, nicknamed The Black Dahlia, murder.
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We were part of a 10 people guided tour and it was interesting to hear the stories behind the pictures/paintings/works of art. Some I really liked and I found touching. It was a pleasure seeing an Andy Warhol. And I found very interesting the story of The Black Dahlia and her smile that was streching from one ear to the other... it is true that the expo was not made for the weak-hearted and some stories would make your skin prickle and your hir stand up straight so I will not tell them here. 
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Another piece I really liked was Cops and Robbers - a series of pictures taken from a police manual. Taken out of the context you cannot figure out if the cop is defending himself or if he is beating sonmeone. This draws the image that someone can be, in turns, both good and bad. As the game cops and robbers was played... when one was caught, they would exchange places... But that is enough for today :) You let me know if you are planning on going to check out MOCAK. I know I shall, as I want to check out the regular expo :) 

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Very Much Interested In Art
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Monday, 29 September 2014

The Complete Maus By Art Spiegelman

Dearest hearts,

Remember how a while back I was telling you about this wonderful comic book I read? I was telling you back then about Marzi, written by Marzena Sowa. She was recalling her childhood from the communistic Poland. Today I wanted to share with you yet another comic book close to my heart, due to the subject it is touching. I have always loved reading history books and from everything the Second World War was the most interesting part for me... it could be subconsiously the reason I decided to give Krakow a change and stay here :) The book that I wish to tell you about today is named MAUS - The Complete Maus By Art Spiegelman to be more precise (maus = mouse in German language - the jews are portrait in the comic book always as mice.
Combined for the first time in 2003, The Complete Works include Maus I: A Survivor's Tale and Maus II - the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler's Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival - and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.
The comic book is dark and serious but very touching. Known worldwide it has achieved the wonderful feat of being the only comic book awarded with the Pulitzer Prize in 1992!  FYI: The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by Hungarian-American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City. According to the administrators of the Pulitzer Prize the correct pronunciation of the name should sound like the verb pull, as in "Pull it, sir". The Pulitzer Committee frankly stated they found the work difficult to classify. "Maus" remains the only comic strip to be so honored.
Reading the book is an experience in itself. It transposes you into Art's place and makes you understand the relationship he has with his father. This is a story about survival and love. Love inside a family, the kind of love that makes you never to let go. You would never let go of your family if you love them. Art shows his guilt - that probably was rooted deep and stayed with him all his life... - when it come to the relationship with his father. Also, I believe it takes a great deal of courage to face the world and show everyone how ones relationships truly were. We always have the dendency to hide and to lie that we are ok, we are fine, when in fact we have deep holes inside of us... that hurt!
I loved how in  the second part, the one about New York and about the period after the war, we can actually see a picture of Art's father. It is a warm and full image of a young man that although he has faced the horrors of war, still has the strenght and the positivism to look forward. I loved Art's father, I loved Vladek, and they way he always choose to see the bright side of life. He was cautios and he was always thinking of the future and the future of the ones he loved. 
The book is not only about the extremely hurtful experience of living in Poland during the time when jews were persecuted but it also extends to the future. We see Vladek being marked by the experiences he has been through... he collects thing, scraps and odd bits and ends and feels the need to attach himself more to objects. He fears that history will repeat itself. That is why he even shows Art how he would build a safe place, just in case he will need it one day. He shows him how to create fake walls and ilusions and teaches him the tips and tricks on getting along with the guards and stealing trades. As Vladek said... it is always good to know how to do a bit of everything. The events that Vladek has been through not only affect his parents and himself but also the generations after. Art was born in the Sweden and lives in the States, yet he feels the influence still. 
Art Spiegelman uses animals to represent different races and nationalities. It's a very effective metaphor. Jews are drawn as mice, which reflects back to the anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews being subhuman rats. Germans are cats; they prey on Jewish mice. Americans are dogs, they fight the German cats. The French are frogs. The Polish are pigs; Nazis considered the Polish people to be pigs. Jewish Mice sometimes pretend to be Polish pigs to hide from the German Cats. They do this by wearing pigs masks. 
I recommend reading this comic book with all my heart. If you are a fan of history and if you are not, if you are a fan of comic books and if you are not. Surely this book will touch you and make you think of the horrors passed and the power that people truly have inside themselves. For me this book is also about courage, endurance and love. Let me know what you think of it as soon as you finish it ;) I would love to hear your opinions!

Yours truly,
The LadyBug Who Is A Fan Of History/Comic Books 
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Friday, 26 September 2014

Wieliczka - The Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland

My dearest friends,

**The opinions in this post are my own 100%. Nobody told me what I should or should not write. I have always written from my heart! Discover Cracow invited me on this tour free of charge. In exchange, as a lovely lass, I am offering them my feedback as a happy customer. I must admit this is a new experience for me but I loved it and I would do it again anytime!**

A day or two ago I was telling how Discover Cracow began a collaboration with your very on Twisted Red LadyBug. We first went to Auschwitz I and II on Saturday 20th. A day after I had the pleasure of taking my lovely husband to the Salt Mines. Have you ever heard about Wieliczka? The Wieliczka Salt Mine is located in the town with the same name, very close to Krakow - make it maximum 30 minutes by car. The mine build there produced salt until 2007 and is one of the oldest salt mines still in operation.
There are about 1.2 million people who visit the mines annually. The Wieliczka salt mine reaches a depth of 327 metres (1,073 ft) and is over 287 kilometres (178 mi) long. We had the guided tour inside the mine done by a wonderful lady - her name was Ewa - whom we were informed that she was a professional guide who was also a minor!
Inside the mine there are machines that take your picture and you can send it to yourself via email!
The Entrance To The Salt Mine
UNESCO Patrimonium
As I said, getting to Wieliczka does not take long. We started at 9:10 am from the city center and by 9:40 we were already in the bus station, taking off and heading to the Salt Mine. I must tell you that you need to be prepared for the 378 stairs you will have to go down in order to reach the first level. That would be aproximately 64 meters down. The tour, in total, takes up to 2 hours and a half and by the end, one will be 135 meters under ground.
Princess Kinga
Make sure that you pack some warm clothes in your backpack/bag. The temperature inside the Salt Mine is constant and it is between 14 and 16 degrees Celsius - no matter the season and time of day. So if you are planning on coming in spring and summer and you are in shorts and a tee, I bet you will freeze of, so be careful about that!
Also, if you are planning on having the camera with you and taking pictures everywhere, make sure you buy the 10 zloty extra ticket pass for the audio/video. You can also purchase it inside, when you will reach the St. Kinga Chapel. Trust me, sometimes if I miss certain places, I like to look at the pictures, and would you like to tell your family and friends that you have none, just because u did not have the extra ticket? Also, if you buy it inside, make sure you have change as you cannot pay with your card.
The Wieliczka mine is often referred to as "The Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland." In 1978 it was placed on the original UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites. Even the crystals of the chandeliers are made from rock salt that has been dissolved and reconstituted to achieve a clear, glass-like appearance. It also houses a private rehabilitation and wellness complex.
There is a legend about Princess Kinga, associated with the Wieliczka mine. The Hungarian noblewoman was about to be married to Bolesław V the Chaste, the Prince of Kraków. As part of her dowry, she asked her father for a lump of salt, since salt was prizeworthy in Poland. 
Her father King Béla took her to a salt mine in Máramaros. She threw her engagement ring from Bolesław in one of the shafts before leaving for Poland. On arriving in Kraków, she asked the miners to dig a deep pit until they come upon a rock.
The people found a lump of salt in there and when they split it in two, discovered the princess's ring. Kinga had thus become the patron saint of salt miners in and around the Polish capital. Inside the mine, there is a special chamber where you can see Princess Kinga sculpted out of salt :)
Notable visitors to this site have included Nicolaus Copernicus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Alexander von Humboldt, Fryderyk Chopin, Dmitri Mendeleyev, Bolesław Prus, Ignacy Paderewski, Robert Baden-Powell, Jacob Bronowski (who filmed segments of The Ascent of Man in the mine), Karol Wojtyła (later, Pope John Paul II), former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and many others.
 A 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) tour features corridors, chapels, statues, and underground lake, 135 metres (443 ft) underground. An elevator returns visitors to the surface; the elevator holds 36 persons (nine per car) and takes some 30 seconds to make the trip. If you are claustrofobic, try to somehow reason with the tourguide and tell him/her about it.
When I say that 9 people per car go in the elevator, I must admit that one can barely drop a needle in the car. You try to move as less as you can and try to suck all the air out of you... you somehow feel like sardines packed in a tin box... and this actually made me think of Auschwitz. It might be also due to the fact that the day before I did go to Auschwitz... but it made me think of people in the standing cells, 4 in a box that barely one person would fit in...
The tour actually consists - as the tour guide also said - of less than 5% of the Salt Mine. Wieliczka Salt Mine consists of 2,000 excavated chambers.
Along the way there are fascinating sculptures made out of salt. Due to the corrosive nature of the salt and the humidity levels which have to be monitored, when the Salt Mine is busy some of the chapels are not visitable due to the sheer number of people. Breathing raises the humidity and things start to melt down. If you look closely at some statues, that is very visible.
In the Josefa Pilsudskiego, a couple of dozens years ago, people could actually have a bot tour in the underground lakes, but as now they have a yearly number of visitors of 1.2 that is totally impossible. But I believe that must have been very original and romantic :) Especially if you would have done it with your significant other :)
The best for people whom would like to have a tour and learn more about the mine is to actually buy a tour. The queues for the individual users are quite huge and people need to wait until a certain number is reached to get a guide from the Salt Mine. It is even harder when you are an English speaker, as there are a lot of Polish visitors.
At the end, there is a brand new chamber, well at least for me... The first time I visited Wieliczka was 3 years ago. About the same time I actually visited Auschwitz. I can see the changes and it was lovely seeing this new room. It was a visual and audio room, with a 3D animation done on the salt wall of the room. I loved the room as I could visualize a huge ball being held there. The floors are perfect for it! :) and smooth and shiny... delightful!
Another lovely addition to the Salt Mine are the photo-machines placed in 2 rooms - as far as I could observe, as they were pretty well hidden ;) All you have to do it accept the regulation, take the photo and input your email. Autumatically and immediately an email will reach the inbox selected and you will have the picture there. I think that is brilliant as couples don't usually have the chance to take a picture together :)
Reaching The End Of The Tour
This is where one of the machines is located - see one of the first pictures of the post to see how the picture would look like
The location is also very popular and posh nowadays. People can have weddings there. It gets expensive and it has high standards but hey! One does the wedding for a lifetime, so why not? The menu, in case you are interested, is over 500 zloty per head. There is a lovely cafeneria/self-service place where you can grab something to eat. I can't tell if the food is good but it did smell good ;) We had only 15 min break and I am sorry, I am not a fast eater...
The Exit, That Leads To The Corridor/Stairs To The Elevator Shaft
I would like to thank Discover Cracow one more time for this opportunity. It was lovely collaborating with them and if ever someone would ask me of a tour guide for Auschwitz or for Wieliczka for sure I would point them out to the City Center, on Jana street number 2, at the blue & white team. The tour guides are nice and they smile a lot, they are helpful and they answer to any questions you may have.
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And I tell you, if you would ever be near Krakow, you need to take a few hours off and to to Wieliczka. It does wonders on your mood and miracles on your lungs ;)

Yours truly,
A LadyBug That Loves Salt Mines
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