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Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Krakow: Bon Ami Coffee and Pastries

Dearest sweethearts,

The greatest moments in life are the moments we spend next to the ones we love. As we grow older we realise we don't need material things to make us happy, we need to have peace and quiet and the people we love by our side. We realise we would - somehow - like to keep them forever with us. Spending time with family and friends is always time well spent. That is why I enjoy immensely going out with my daughter, my mother and my granny out. Seeing things through the eye of a child can teach you so much more... learn to respect and worship the sun for smiling upon you, run after pidgeons trying to catch them (right after feeding them... pidgeons must also exercise!)... My Little LadyBug Baby Girl loves going out and discovering Krakow makes her happy - first she is afraid of new places and new things, and she cries,  but she still wants to test new food/deserts. If I have something on my plate and start eating, she will instantly be at my side asking to try out. That is how we realised she loves spaghetti Bolognese, for example ;) 
One of my favourite coffee shops in Krakow was Bona Kawa I Ksiaszka - located on ulica Kanonicza 11. Everybody whom has been to Krakow must have been on Kraków's oldest street, the most picturesque street in town: Kanonicza. It is a cobbled alley going towards the Wawel Castle. It holds lovely old buildings with amazing architectural elements and colorful murals and unique passageways leasing to hotels and restaurants that are one of a kind! Kanonicza street runs parallel to the Grodzka street and the 2 streets are joined together by the St. Maria Magdalene square (where Maria Magdalene church used to reside a couple dozen years back). This offers an amazing view of the St. Peter and Paul Church - my absolute favourite church in Krakow. 
In this particular spot there: St. Maria Magdalene square, there used to be the Bona Kawa I Ksiaszka. Due to some issues with the rent of the location, the coffee/bookshop closed and in October 2018, the Bon Ami Coffee and Pastries shop opened its doors. The Bon Ami is a sweets and pastry/coffee shop and - since October last year till now March 2019 - it has also brought in books to sell (mainly for kids or travel guides for Kraków). There are remnants of the old bookstore (the shelves in the first room, as you enter, but they are filled now with pots of flowers) and it still has a bohemian vibe about it: wooden chairs and tables & always fresh flowers and seasonal arrangements. There are a couple of seats outside, from late spring to late fall, when the weather clears up and there is plenty of sun and less rain in sight. 
The coffee-sweets shop has 2 main rooms but you can also rent special rooms in the cool and quiet basement for a party of your own ;) The sweets menu will be given to you as soon as you select your spot and menus are bilingual: Polish-English. You can choose sweets made by the renowned Starowicz Cukiernia (Cukiernia = Sweets Shop). There are plenty of traditional Polish sweets to choose from: kremowka (cream cake - the late Pope John Paul the 2nd's favourite sweet), szarlotka (apple pie with cinnamon), serniczek (the Polish cheesecake and my absolute favourite). They also have their own creations: Krolowa Bona (Queen Bona (Sforza)) or Krol Kazihmierz (King Kazimierz) or the famous Dzwon Zygmunta (Zigmund's Bell - like the main bell of the Wawel Cathedral, that is being wrung only at very special occasions). 
The team that serves is small so have patience if the place is filled to the brim. They are very nice and friendly and the place is pet and children friendly. They have a kids corner with puzzles and cars and wooden toys and books,  that my daughter loved from the very first moment she came to Bon Ami. The only minus (and it is a big one) is the fact that it has only one toilet room (both for women and men) and it is down the stairs - not reachable by people in wheelchairs. It always has toilet paper and paper to dry hands and soap and it is clean and has hot & cold water. It also has a small loo that your child may use, in case of emergency. There is no table to change the child, although, in case major things happen... Anyway, the Bon Ami is open daily between 10 AM and 8 PM. There are seasonal ofgers as well, like mulled wine or hot choco in winter or paczki and chrust (donuts and angel wings) for the lent period (before Easter). But without any further ado, here are some photos ( #PhonePhotography ) of the Bon Ami. Enjoy! 

























The Prices:
- cakes (multiple models and flavours) - 12 zloty per serving piece 
- a small plate of chrust (chrust = angel wings, pictured above, specific Polish treat for Lent period) = 7 zloty 
- lemonade = 9 zloty (very good. I recommend if you are in a group to get a "jug of lemonade" instead - it is more than enough for 3 people and costs 25 zloty)
- szarlotka (apple pie) = 10 zloty
- serniczek (cheesecake) = 10 zloty 
- hot cocoa = 6 zloty 
- tea (good one, fresh fruit and leaves, not bags! I recommend the fruity ones) = 8 zloty (the pot holds 2 drinks) 

***I was not payed to write my opinion, nor did I receive anything else. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the Bon Ami Coffee and Pastries shop  ;) hope you will like it too and let me know your thoughts and feelings in the comments sector below***

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Krakow
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Friday, 8 March 2019

What Makes YOU Happy You Are A Woman?

Dearest sweethearts,

Today the world is celebrating the International Women's Day - 8th of March. The company I work for has many CSR initiatives that are meant for people to feel more included in the company. One such initiative is actually a very cool network called Poland Diversity and Inclusion network. For this month, for this wonderful date, International Women's Day, on this occasion they wanted to write an article with few quotes and pictures of employees. I have been chosen as one of the women for the article and if I was asked to answer the below two questions:
1.What makes you happy that you are a woman?
2.What would you like to share with other women?
Those are not 2 straightforward questions and you could talk ages on that subject or have nothing to say at all... where does one begin explaining why one loves it's own nature... But I tried and I wanted to share with you my answers. I would really really appreciate it if you could tell me your thoughts as well :)
1. Being a Woman makes me happy due to several things :) Let me just point a few: 
1) it is in our way, that we were constructed, to be able to make babies - to create life and let us be the ones that take care of the continuity of life on Earth (and beyond). That also implies that we become mother, grandmother and if we are lucky and live well, even gran-grandmothers. That allows us to mold life, to see children grow and educate them to be the best version of themselves; 
2) I can be a Strong Woman in a Men's World - not more than a few dozen of years ago, men were seen as the one who ruled the world. I think that is a misconception and as a wise person said, behind every powerful man there is a powerful woman ;) So I am happy I am a woman, I am happy that I have worked in IT (that is still being seen as a "Men only department"). If a woman sets her mind to something she will conquer the world. 
3) Women can change the world - We have, throughout time, increased the power to change. Take for example the wonderful Marie Curie Sklodowska - she is thethe first person and only woman to win twice, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. Not very long ago the women were not even accepted in Universities and now they reach out to every level of every science and every job possible. We understand the world both on a detailed and "Grand picture" way, we can multitask, we can do things from scratch and make miracles ;) 
But being happy to be something, someone, is such a complicated issue - are you happy? that is a complicated question in itself. Happiness is different for women and different for men, different according to age - location - culture... But in the end, what makes us happy? Men verbalize things more and women ruminate over things before speaking out loud. We get constant moods and we love to express happiness, warmth and we enjoy social bonding. Men, research shows, display more anger, pride and contempt... I guess this is why the world needs us - to be the smile for those in need, the handkerchief when you need a shoulder to cry on. Women are that helping hand that is always reached out. That is why I love being a woman - because we are always there, to save the world :)
2. What would I like to share to other women.... let me think :)
“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” - Marilyn Monroe
I've always loved this quote and I think that it shows fully how women are. They are often underappreciated and often they underappreciate themselves. Most don't know their true worth and due to that they guide themselves by some rules they see on the Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter... you name it!). They get their souls sucked out by following the herd and trying to be popular, famous, posh, good looking, hoping that with looks they can buy fame, fortune or a good husband. They measure themselves through other people eyes, not their own. What I would like to share today, and I wish everyone that reads these lines will also understand this, is the fact that we all are beautiful, we all are perfect in our own way, with our own imperfections. The key of being happy is knowing yourself and respecting and understanding what you truly want from life. Understanding what you are worth and never settling for less than you deserve. Because The One might or might not eventually come, but when he does, he will love you at your best but also at your worst. Loving someone does not come in halves - when you love someone you love them all the way, for every things that they do. So love yourself - fully - and appreciate your real value. Nobody will raise you a statue if you don't believe yourself that you are of value!

With this being said, I would like to say: Happy happy birthday to all the lovely, amazing, strong women out there. You are important and special and loved, each and every one of you! Stay creative, stay kind and most important: be yourselves and be happy for what you are and what you have achieved! You are perfect in your own imperfections :*

Yours very very very sincerely, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug 
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Friday, 8 February 2019

Top 14 Things To Do In Krakow For Valentine's (For Couples)

Dearest sweethearts,

It's obvious February is here and Valentine's day is closing in on us. It's being shouted upon us on the radio, on the TV, on the internet. Valentine's, like Halloween, is a very commercial holiday, a celebration made for consumerist behaviour, at least to my humble opinion. It's a fashionable celebration as well, and people live to show off of their love. I feel lately that it's more of what I can do and buy in order to put on the social media and show off... maybe it escapes me why love should be "shared on a wall" rather than savoured personally, privately, with the one you love. Some people feel the need to show things but maybe I am old fashioned... I like things private. I like long walks hand it hand, I love going together for a dinner and a movie, I live for love in 2. Don't you? 
Well... considering that Valentine's day is knocking on our door, I thought I might make a small guide for Kraków. A list of "Top 14 Things To Do In Krakow For Valentine's day (for couples):
English Breakfast option at Bunkier Sztuki Cafe, Krakow
1. Start the day with a Romantic Breakfast in 2 at one of the lovely, cozy and intimate cafe's in the Old Town. If you're into French cuisine you can try Charlotte in Plac Szcepanski (careful, it's always quite crowded and they don't take reservations). If you wish to have a nice view of the Planty (the green park belt around the Old Town) I cannot recommend Bunkier Sztuki Cafe highly enough - the Eggs Benedict are to die for!
Some love locks from Kladka Bernatka Bridge, Krakow
2. Love locks on Kladka Bernatka Bridge - you can't miss the only pedestrian crossing between Kazimierz and Podgorska. Everyone knows the lovely bridge with the suspended sculptures, that lights up during night time. It's quite a popular place to take photos of couples... why?! It's obvious, it's a "Love Lock Bridge". Why not write your own story there and put a distinctive lock? Don't forget to throw the key in the Wisla river, once you lock it!
The first time I saw the coloured stairs was during a #FreeWalkingTourKrakow on StreetArt in Krakow - you can see me down in the first row :) 
3. Colourful stairs in the Podgorze district - once you get to the other side of the bridge, in Podgorze, it would be wrong to miss the sight of the "Colorful Stairs". Each stair is coloured in a different colour, each of them has a different quote you can discover. The stairs are on the Tatrzanska street, between the streets and the square Lasota Andrzej Potebni.
4. This one you need to do a bit before the 14th, Valentine's Day, but this one is particularly for the fit couples out there: Krakowski Bieg Walentynkowy - Krakow's Valentine's Run - the 4th edition. It will take place on the 10th of February 2019, in the Jordana Park (close to the National Museum). All you need is RUN! (Forset, RUN!). The event is addressed to lovers but not only. You can run in couple or by yourself and race against your other half ;) The track is shaped as a heart ❤ around the Blonia and it's a 5 km run. Easy-peasy! Break and sweat and then celebrate together your achievement ;)
The diploma and my own Obwarzanek, after the workshop at Museum of Obwarzanek in Krakow 
5. Learn how to do a traditional cuisine masterpiece together: create your own Obwarzanek from scratch! I know! It's not exactly amazing cuisine but you do get to work with your own hands and create your very own traditional Krakowian "pretzel". You'll get to learn about the history behind it and you will get at the end a diploma: you will be a small specialist on that ;) The course is run by the Museum of Obwarzanek and its a lot of fun for couples and kids alike.
During the Pottery Workshop at Manufaktura Porcelany 
6. Recreate the "Ghost" scene with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore at a pottery workshop - Manufaktura Porcelany (located in the Podgorze district) organises workshops for single and multiple users. They do have special sessions for couples. Liliana does the workshops and she is fun to be around and you can get an instant connection with her. Of course there is a lot of manual work and you will get dirty but you will have great fun as well and you won't feel time passing by!
7. Couple photo shoot in Old Town and/or Jewish Quarter - Krakow is such a lovely, photogenic city, no matter the season. A lot of couples fly in from the UK to take photos here on their wedding, not to mention spending the bachelor/Bachelorette party in this never-asleep city. You get ladies from UK in short skirts and high-heels throughout the winter and Scots in Kilts and white socks only... I have no clue how they don't get frostbite! Anyway, I love photography and I tell you: get a photo shoot in Krakow. You won't forget it! Ask me anything about it - I have a list of my favourite local photographers ;)
8. Valentine's Day Concert at the Krakow Philarmonic - set on Friday, February 15th, at 7:30 pm - some send anonymous love notes, some buy roses, others go for a Romantic film out + dinner and a walk... why not get out of the ordinary and take your better half out to a celebration of Valentine's Day at the Krakow Philarmonic? You can hear Constantin Hartwig, winner of the German Music Competition in Bonn and the Aeolus International Competition for Wind Instruments in Dusseldorf. The concert will close with the wonderful piece by George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue.
9. This one is the free version of the point above ;) On the 14th February, at the Florianka Recital Hall (on ulica Basztowa 8), at 6:00 pm, you can hear music of Baroque composers from France, Germany and England (including Francois Couperin and Georg Philipp Telemann). The admission is free and the name in Polish is: Koncert Katedry Muzyki Dawnej - ul. Sereno Fenn'a 15, Aula Florianka).
Ulica Kanonicza, the oldest in Krakow, with a view of the Wawel Castle and Cathedral
10. Walk along the Royal Route in a carriage drawn by horses - you can take a carriage from the Old Town Main Market Square (the corner with St. Mary's Basilica - kosciol Mariacki - and Florianska street). The prices are fixed but sometimes you can negotiate them ;) they can take you (in the light of the sunset) through the Royal Route: The Barbakan - Saint Florian's Gate - Florianska street - Main Square - Grodza... up to the Wawel Castle. Enjoy the views cuddled up under a blanket. There are carriages with roofs, so don't worry about the rain or any potential snow.
11. Have a hot cup of chocolate to warm yourselves up :) - you can either go the posh version and take her to Pijalnia Czekolady Wedel in the Main Market Square and be served with traditional handmade chocolate (Polish recipe) or go to the best choco place in town IMHO and get to Bracka at Nowa Prowincja. The place is always very crowded and extremely rustic, the locals love it! This place has an artistic soul :) Nowa Prowincja is a self-service place, so pick a place and then leave your lady and get the drinks. I highly recommend the hot chocolate with sour cherry liquor and whipped cream - it's a local specialty.
No matter the season, it's always a wonderful view :)
12. Enjoy a beautiful view of the Main Market Square of Krakow at the Cafe Szal, on the 1st floor of Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) - You may have heard the story of the name of the place from me before - Cafe Szal gets its name after a painting located on the 2nd floor of the Sukienicce (the 19th century Polish Art Museum). I love this place late spring and early autumn, when it's not crowded. There is a perfect view of half of the Main Market Square: Saint Mary's Basilica, the Adam Mickiewicz statue, St. Adalbert Church (oldest church in Krakow)... everything between Florianska and Grodzka. You can stay there to hear the Bugle call - they play it at every hour from the tallest tower of St. Mary's.
Photo of the inner courtyard, Wawel Castle, Krakow
13. For the spiritual seekers out there, I recommend a lovely walk to the Wawel Castle,  in order to discover one of the most powerful Chakras in the world. You need to get into the Castles inner court and, as you enter, to your left, get to the corner. Its hard to miss, as you will see the wall darker than the rest - people can't help touching in, in order to feel the energies flowing. This chakra’s center is said to be beneath St. Gereon’s chapel, an 11th-century structure wedged between the Krakow Royal Castle and the cathedral. So... if you're both into New Age... have it a go!
14. It's Valentine's Day... a movie is in order ;) I suggest a runner for the Oscars, a movie that is highly praised and it has many merits. I have already seen it a couple of times and I would watch it again and again. It's Polish, it's exceptionally good, it's filmed black & white and it's extremely old-school: Cold War (Zimna Wojna). What is it about?! A passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the film depicts an impossible love story in impossible times. Where to see it: Kino Pod Baranami in the Main Market Square, on the 14th of February, at 13:45 or 15:00. Don't miss it! 

SPECIAL BONUS:
Lovers dictionary as per Varia School
How to confess love in a rather...Polish way: 
Kocham Cię – I love you
Jesteś Śliczna/y – You are beautiful
Jesteś całym moim światem – You are my whole world
Gotujesz lepiej niż moja mama – You cook better than my mom
Jesteś przystojny jak Marcin Dorociński (polski odpowiednik Brada Pitta :)) – You are as handsome as Marcin Dorociński (Polish version of Brad Pitt)

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Krakow
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