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Monday, 31 March 2014

What You Should Eat While In Romania

Dear friends,

In order to distract you from the fact that today is Monday, I thought I may share with you a bit more about my country :) That's right! Today I shall tell you what you should eat while in Romania. What to eat, what to drink and what goodies you could buy to bring home with you. As an expat one of the things I miss the most here in Poland is the food - to be more precise the awesome dishes that my Granny prepares! I bet she could kick Jamie Olivers arse ;) So here I am, attempting to take you on a journey through Romania :)
Romanian cuisine is diverse and you have different dishes from which you could choose. We have been influenced by the Ottoman cuisine but also by German, Serbs, Bulgarians and Hungarians. Let us face it! Every country has its own influences from its neighbours - so do we! There are generic terms like ciorbă, which includes different types of soups with sour taste. The soups can be made out of meat and vegetables, tripe (ciorbă de burtă) and calf foot soups, or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or traditionally borş. The category ţuică (plum brandy) is a generic name for a strong alcoholic spirit in Romania, while in other countries, every flavour has a different name.
The most known traditional dish is the sărmăluţe cu mămăligă, a popular Romanian dish of stuffed cabbage rolls (sarmale), accompanied by sauerkraut and mămăligă. The cabbage rolls are usually garnished with sour cream, not lemon and olive. The sărmăluţe are made with rice and meat and vegetables and after the ingredients get mixed up it gets rolled with sauerkraut - the full leaf - or with vine tree leaf that went through the same process as the cabbage (water and salt so it would soften) they are set to boil.
Another dish I am madly in love with and thankfully enough I am able to reproduce the reciepequite easily is the liver with onion and mămăligă. It is done with a lot of onion and garlic and condiments and I have a special ingredient for the mămăligă ;) I managed to screw it up just once - the mămăligă - but that is because I was not paying enough attention to how much cornflower I was putting in... Silly me!
Mititei or mici (Romanian words meaning "small things") is a traditional Romanian dish of grilled ground meat rolls made from a mixture of beef, lamb and pork and spices such as garlic, black pepper, thyme, coriander, anise, savory and sometimes a touch of paprika. Sodium bicarbonate and broth or water are also added to the mixture. It is best served accompanied by mustard and beer. Ideally the mustard should not be overly tart, lest it interferes with the taste of the mititei.We usually eat that when we have festivals or picnics and they are always extremely tasty!
Another dish I love is the salată de vinete (Eggplant salad) or vinetta is both a Romanian and Hungarian mashed eggplant salad made of grilled, peeled and finely chopped eggplants, sunflower oil and chopped onions. The eggplants are grilled until they are covered with black ash crust. The crust is cleaned off and the remaining cooked eggplant is mashed with a blunt, thick wooden knife on a wooden platter (popular belief has it that using a metal knife will turn the eggplant flesh black). The eggplant mash is mixed in a bowl, stirring continuously, with sunflower oil, chopped onions and salt. The mix is beaten vigorously. Crushed garlic and ground pepper may be added too. Instead of oil, mayonnaise can be used. You can eat it spread on slices of bread it is perfect to be eaten while being fresh ;)
Oh! But let me tell you about the cheese! This is what I miss the most in Poland and even my husband admited that we have more types than here and that each time when we go there we need to bring some ;) The generic name for cheese in Romania is brânză, and it is considered to be of Dacian origin. Most of the cheeses are made of cow's or sheep's milk. Goat's milk is rarely used. Sheep cheese is considered "the real cheese", although in modern times some people refrain from consuming it due to its higher fat content and specific smell. Nevertheless I love it! The best is the brânză de burduf - a salty type of cheese, with sheep's-milk cheese, has a strong flavour and slightly soft in texture. To obtain it, sweet caş is cut into small pieces, salted and then hand-mixed in a large wooden bowl. The mixture is then placed in a sheep’s stomach, or into a sheep’s skin that has been carefully cleaned and sawed on the edges, or in a tube made of pine bark. The cheese can be consumed even if kept for a long time in a sheep’s stomach or in a sheep’s skin. If kept in pine bark, the cheese gets a specific pine resin flavour. The cheese is specific to southeastern Transylvania, Romania.
And of course I am saving the best for the last ;) Tochitură is a traditional Romanian dish like a stew made from beef and pork in tomato sauce, traditionally served with over-easy eggs and mămăligă. The tochitură moldovenească is is the Moldavian stew and the tochitură ardelenească is the Transylvanian stew. I - of course - prefer the Moldavian one ;) Tochitura is made in 2 main different ways: with or without tomatoes sauce. The stew with the tomatoes sauce is the most common and it is prepared in most restaurants, but is less 'traditional'. The one without is has a sauce of pork fat and juices from the parts of the meat. The traditional Romanian stew (tochitura)contains not only raw meat,but parts of internal organs of the animal (like liver, kidneys, heart, pork fat (slanina) or bacon and smoked sausages fried together. It is served with mamaligă (polenta)and salty sheep cheese called 'telemea' or sheep cheese kept in bellows, called 'brânză de burduf'.
Dear me! I already have my mouth watering! So I shall refrain myself from telling you about the sweets - maybe next time ;)  But I promised you I would tell you what you shoould buy in order to take with yourself home. I usually go with 2 things: wine VS. sweets. Romania is one of the world's largest wine producers, producing (as of 2009) around 610,000 tons of wine. In recent years, Romania has attracted many European business people and wine buyers, due to the affordable prices of both vineyards and wines compared to other wine producing nations such as France, Germany, and Italy. And tell you the truth I rather love the wines from my region ;)  Cotnari  is a village and the center of the eponymous commune in Iaşi County, Romania, in the historical region of Moldavia (that is from where I am from). It is located north-west of Iaşi and south of Hârlău (that is where I grew up), in a major wine-producing region of Romania, and is famous for the wine variety known as Grasă de Cotnari. It is a semi-sweet white wine that should have a distinct bouquet of apricot, walnut and almond and should be drunk chilled at about 10-12 degrees Celsius. Now that is a perfect gift! ;) and even wine lovers will immediately fall for it!
When it comes to sweets I have 3 items in my mind: ROM Chocolate & Făgăraş & Eugenia. For me they have the taste of childhood and my husband is madly in love with them :) He would eat the whole box in one day! ROM Chocolate & Făgăraş are both rum based choco bars that simply melt in your mouth... Eugenia is a combination of 2 biscuits with cream between them - it could be choco, it could be lemon :) Either way, try them both and let me know in time which you love most :)
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Hope you liked todays post and I would love to hear from my fellow expats what they miss most :) What kind of food can you not find where you live and what do you always bring from home?

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Loves Both Romanian & Polish Food ;)
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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Unfinished Song

Dear friends,

You probably have never heard about this movie before, so here I am! To tell you about a wonderful comedy-drama-music movie I watched last year. You may find it under 2 titles: "Unfinished Song" of "Song for Marion" (2012) - and it tells the story of a grumpy pensioner named Arthur who has a change of heart toward music. His wife's passion - Marion's passion - was singing in a local amateur choir and once she is gone, Arthur joins the group. The movie is truly a British drama - it will make you cry and it will make you laugh and in the end you will feel drained out of emotion but somehow also uplifted. Tell you the truth, only Brits can do that to you ;) 
Vanessa Redgrave is playing Marion awesomely. Marion is in one of the last stages of cancer and Arthur - her husband - played by Terence Stamp - is taking care of her. The live in one of those small towns in North England that is very quiet and settled down, yet a town that one falls in love with nonetheless.
The director of the choir, that Marion is part of, is none other than the wonderfully talented actress named Gemma Arterton - you might know her from movies like Prince of Persia, Hansel & Gretel, Quantum of Solace and Lizzie Bennet in Lost in Austen ;) She is very upbeat and talented herself and she knows how to handle the choir for old age pensioneers (The OAPz - "it's more street with the Z"). She brings them "fresh" music that makes them feel more alive even if they sing the songs with a twist, making them sound more classical by doing them acapella.
Marion continues to get worse yet she stubbornly wants to join the choir in the competitions. Arthur does not understand her but he supports her nonetheless. Bit by bit Arthur gets pulled into the group and Elizabeth - Gemma Arterton - even gives him an iPod with music so he could learn. I ain't gonna spoil the whole movie for you but let's just say that through music Arthur manages to find peace and even sets the connection with his son, James, back on track ;)
I truly loved the scene where Vanessa Redgrave plays "True colors". I dare you to try not to cry! I was in the small cinema with one of my dear friends and I could hear the whole room sobbing - not that I was doing anything else! Thank God I had a pull pack of tissues on me. That scene is so sad and so happy at the same time that at first you are not sure if you are crying of joy or of sadness of what is coming... Plus! You get to hear also Terence Stamp singing and even though he is not as awesome as Vanessa Redgrave he is still kick arse!
I sincerly recommend this movie with all my heart, but watch it with a full box of napkins next to you! It will tear up your heart but it will also make you feel like the world can be a better place.

Yours truly,
The Movie Fan LadyBug
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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Equal But Not Quite

Dear friends,

The quotation "All men are created equal" has been called an "immortal declaration", and "perhaps [the] single phrase" and popularized as "theory of prediction" of the United States Revolutionary period with the greatest "continuing importance". Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase in the Declaration of Independence. It was thereafter quoted or incorporated into speeches by a wide array of substantial figures in American political and social life in the United States. The final form of the phrase was stylized by Benjamin Franklin.
 ***
In 1776 the Second Continental Congress asked Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman to write the Declaration of Independence. The five men voted to have Thomas Jefferson write the document. After Jefferson finished he gave the document to Franklin to proof. Franklin suggested minor changes, but one of them stands out far more than the others. Jefferson had written, "We hold these truths to be sacred and un-deniable..." Franklin changed it to, "We hold these truths to be self-evident."
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The opening of the United States Declaration of Independence states as follows:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
Now take a look to the above GIF of lovely, adorable and down-to-Earth Jennifer Lawrence and let me know if you feel the same as she does. Sometimes I do... sometimes I loose faith in humanity and wonder if truly we are all created equal. If we are all created equal then how come some people are richer than other, how come some people are smarter than others, how come some people are more friendly than others, and the list can go on... Can we truly say we all are equal or are we not quite? Should we all say that we are all equal but not the same? Would that be more correct? We know from the Bible that we were created after the imagine of God, so how awesome are we?! Do you imagine the potential lurking in each and everyone of us? We are capable of great things if we would just believe in it! :)
But when you sit and look at the news, in the newspapers or if you open up the TV, you bump into horrific thing: people killing other people, people killing animals just for fun, plane crashes, car crashes, train wrecks and people who rule countries but care not of the people they rule, man fighting against man, mothers letting go of their babies or even not letting them live... People tend to be more and more self centered. Why marry? Why have a family? Why give birth to children? They would only ruin my career or drag me down... It is true, deep in my heart I know that some people are just not meant for family and for having children... but on the other hand I think that if they would give it a shot they would change... Who knows?! Maybe in a paralel universe they even have children ;)
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When you come to think of it, not even our brains are the same. True, the fundamentals are the same: everyone was 2 lobes and one is for the creative part and one for the analytical, but some have one of the parts more evolved than the other. Not to mention that recent statistics found striking differences in the neural wiring of men and women that’s lending credence to some commonly-held beliefs about their behavior.
"These maps show us a stark difference--and complementarity--in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others," said Ragini Verma, PhD, an associate professor in the department of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. For instance, on average, men are more likely better at learning and performing a single task at hand, like cycling or navigating directions, whereas women have superior memory and social cognition skills, making them more equipped for multitasking and creating solutions that work for a group. They have a mentalistic approach, so to speak.
 ***
I guess what I am trying to say here that the base is always the same. Our bodies work in the same way, have the same functions yet what we do with what God has given us it is entirely up to our choice with a combination of luck... considering that you would be born in a rich VS. poor family / Europe VS. America and so on... The thing about human beings is that we are rational and we are constantly learning and I can say about myself that travelling has broadened my mind and my ideeas about life. Once you start to travel and meet new people and see/experience the different cultures you will no longer make a difference between the religions / color of skin / number of digits of the bank account... You will be all the same, people wanting to learn more and develop yourself.
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I am proud to say I am an expat and that I am a Romanian girl married to a Polish lad, with friends that are black / white / yellow / gay / straight / bisexual / religious / atheist and so on. I am proud I met them and I am proud I heard their stories with an open eye and an open heart. It is everyones choice who they are and what they are like and even though you may have opinions of your own of what is wrong or right I believe that each person knows what is best for themselves. We are all equal but not the same :)

Yours truly,
An Open-Minded LadyBug
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Friday, 28 March 2014

Musical Friday: Friday I'm In Love

Dear friends,

You may know this song as it symbolises this lovely day we are in: FRIDAY! Friday for the win! So let me introduce you to the band who is playing this song as you may not know that ;) The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1976. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member. The Cure first began releasing music in the late 1970s with its debut album Three Imaginary Boys. Their second single, "Boys Don't Cry", became a hit; this, along with several early singles, placed the band as part of the post-punk and new wave movements that had sprung up in the wake of the punk rock revolution in the United Kingdom. During the early 1980s, the band's increasingly dark and tormented music helped form the gothic rock genre.
After the release of 1982's Pornography, the band's future was uncertain and Smith was keen to move past the gloomy reputation his band had acquired. With the single "Let's Go to Bed" released the same year, Smith began to place a pop sensibility into the band's music (as well as a unique stage look). The Cure's popularity increased as the decade wore on, especially in the United States where the songs "Just Like Heaven", "Lovesong" and "Friday I'm in Love" entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart. By the start of the 1990s, the Cure were one of the most popular alternative rock bands in the world. The band is estimated to have sold 27 million albums as of 2004. The Cure have released thirteen studio albums, ten EPs and over thirty singles during the course of their career.
"Friday I'm in Love" is a song and a worldwide hit by British rock band The Cure. It is the second single taken from the album Wish (1992). It won the award for European Viewer's Choice for Best Music Video at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. During the writing process, Robert Smith became convinced that he had inadvertently stolen the chord progression from somewhere, and this led him to a state of paranoia where he called everyone he could think of and played the song for them, asking if they heard it before. None of them had, and Robert realized that the melody was indeed his. The bassline and vocal phrasing do bear resemblance to New Order's song "All The Way" (1989), although this song's bassline and structure is, in return, very similar to "Just Like Heaven" (1987) by The Cure, predating both "Friday I'm in Love" (1992) and New Order's song "All The Way" (1989). The song was written to be a slower number than its upbeat final rendition. While the track was recorded in D major, the commercially released version sounds a quarter-tone lower than D major due to Robert Smith forgetting to turn off the vari-speed on the tape after toying with it before recording. When played live, the song is played in its original intended key as opposed to the one heard on the record. The track was produced by both David M. Allen and The Cure.
* All this lovely info I have taken from Wikipedia ;) 
Friday I'm In Love - The Cure

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's gray and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Oh, Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love

Saturday, wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday, never hesitate...

I don't care if Mondays black
Tuesday, Wednesday - heart attack
Thursday, never looking back
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday, you can hold your head
Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed
Or Thursday - watch the walls instead
It's Friday, I'm in love

Saturday, wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday, never hesitate...

Dressed up to the eyes
It's a wonderful surprise
To see your shoes and your spirits rise
Throwing out your frown
And just smiling at the sound
And as sleek as a sheik
Spinning round and round
Always take a big bite
It's such a gorgeous sight
To see you eat in the middle of the night
You can never get enough
Enough of this stuff
It's Friday, I'm in love

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's gray and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love
 
Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Is In Love With Fridays :)
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How I Love Spring

Dear friends,

I dunno about you lads and lasses but I can feel spring in the air. Last week spring surely made her first steps into this year. The First Day of Spring Vernal Equinox, which is also called the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, fell on March 20 at 12:57 P.M. EDT. I just love March! and I adore the coming of the spring, bringing new life onto this world. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” All over the world, days and nights are approximately equal. Today, the Sun rose exactly in the east and it will set exactly in the west. I know I am a bit late with this tale, but I got all caught up with telling you about other interesting things - like how I got a Liebster Award, or how we should all live like butterflies or even about the wonderful and dark Cathedral of Koln/Cologne, amongst many other things :)
 One swallow does not make a spring.
Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring.
In spring, no one thinks of the snow that fell last year.
Don’t say that spring has come until you can put your foot on nine daisies.
Spring-time sweet!
The whole Earth smiles, thy coming to greet.
I love how the whole flora and fauna comes to life! Just last week, as I was going to work, on Friday I saw small snails running about the place in the fresh grass. It was such a beautiful sight for me! I always loved snails and I always loved when it rained and after the rain they would come out for a walk. I would always save them by putting them on the right side of the road so they would not be crushed by a car. I think their queen/king was very proud of me :) I also love seeing the daffodils and the dandelions come to life. The grass gets greener and flowers begin to appear one by one! There is more sun and people are much more happy and feel more alive. They say goodbye to winter and welcome to spring and for a brief moment, while gazing at the sun and clear blue sky, they might even forget of their troubles :)

Take your time, smile wide and look at the skies above. And tell me what you see :)

Yours truly,
The LadyBug Who Loves Spring :)
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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Free Walking Tour Krakow - StreetArt

Dear friends,

Last Saturday I had one of the nicest Walking Tours in my life! It was organised by the young and awesome team from Free Walking Tour Krakow - you can find them on Facebook or on their website or you can just call them at +48 513 875 814. They generally provide city tours in Polish, English & Spanish. Here are the main offers for Krakow:
  • Old Town - everyday APR-OCT 10:00am and 3:30pm (10:30 am in Spanish), NOV-MAR 10:00 am;
  • Jewish Kraków - everyday APR-OCT 11:00am and 3:00 pm (3:00 pm in Spanish), NOV-MAR: 1:30 pm.
The starting point is always the same: Saint Mary Church - the biggest church on the main market square so it is easy to spot and hard to miss. Just ask for Mariacki and people will show you the way. They also provide special tours like: Krakow Macabre (Monday, Saturday 6:00 PM) or the Free Walking Specials (changing themes each Saturday at 13:00). Last Saturday it was the Krakow StreetArt Tour in English and this week, if you wanna join in, you can have the Pope John 2nd Free Walking Tour In English :)
I was always interested in StreetArt and as you know I have done a couple of posts with the streetart in Krakow & Warsaw - let us recap: 1st post, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th post and it is the first on Warsaw art, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th with more Warsaw and lucky number 13th with some hussars ;) When I saw their event post on FB I noted it down as "Maybe" but it transformed into YES! last Saturday morning when I saw the lovely weather outside. We had over 24 degrees Celsius that day! Clear sky, loads of sun brining natural vitamin C, birds sining on the trees, flowers blooming and children laughing... It was actually my first day this year when I could not stand it any longer and had to use sunglasses! :o
I met Liudka in front of the Mariacki church at 12:45 just to make sure we are there in time, and guess what? Our guide was there just a few moments later. Her name was Alicja and she is a tour guide for the Free Walking Tour Krakow for more than 2 years. She made us all present ourselves - what country we are from, if we are tourists / Erasmus students or if we are working in Krakow. She tried somehow to put us together so we would also communicate with others - even if you come alone or you come with someone you end up making new friends and that is always fun! The tour started after the buglar call from Mariacki, telling us it is straight 1 PM. We made our way through the first piece of StreetArt and the only one from the City Center - the Trololo situated on the back of the church, in the entrance of the Szpitalna street. It is hard to miss it and it is quite famous through the youngsters ;)
Next we went to take the tram from the station in front of the Main Postal Office. For this tour you need to be ready and have with you a 20 minutes ticket as the tram will take you for 3 stations and after that you will need to jump off. Once you get to Kazimierz if is basically walk by foot until the end. The distances are so close to eachother and you can get to see so many things along the way that is very pleasant! Even if - per total - I knew about more than half of the StreetArt presented it was very nice to hear their story and secrets. For example I found out that the first streetart mural was done in Poland, in Warsaw, when a boy - a highschool boy - started painting shadows on the wall. It was a rudimentary line drawing of the shadows of people on walls. That was done somewhere during Second World War and people said that those shadows were the shadows of the people that lived there...
In case you did not know, each year Krakow has a StreetArt festival. Each year street artists fight for sponsors in order to get their masterpieces shown to the large audience, to the public. Each piece of art has a story to tell and each piece of art is done so it would complement the place where it is positioned. It can be a container with 10 m2 of the air of Krakow in Winter - the time when it is most poluted, it can be a pig floating on a small island on the Vistula river, it can be a bunch of crazy rabbits in all colours and in all possible face expressions all over the city, it can be a scrabble table on the wall... people here get creative and want to leave a imprint on the city :)
Taken from the awesome FB page of the Free Walking Tour Krakow
We were a large group, I must admit, I think around 30 people. We passed through various locations from the city center and ending up next to Krakow Mound. By the way, Krakus Mound (or Kopiec Krakusa) is one of two prehistoric monumental mounds in the city and is also its highest point, providing incredible panoramic views from its worn summit. It is the oldest one ;)
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Sixteen metres high, sixty metres wide at the base and eight metres wide at the top, Kopiec Krakusa stands in scruffy contrast to the manicured modern mounds elsewhere in the city, with a muddy path winding around to a bald peak. The site of pagan ritual for centuries, the mound retains an ancient, evocative atmosphere amplified by the surroundings of the cliffs of Krzemionki, the green rolling fields of Płaszów, the grim Liban quarry and the Podgórze cemetery. With incredible views of the city, Krakus Mound lies at the centre of one of Kraków's least explored and most captivating areas and should be visited by anyone looking to take a rewarding detour from the beaten path.
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It can be approached most easily from the major intersection of Al. Powstańców Wielopolskich and ul. Wielicka via ul. Robotnicza to the steps of al. Pod Kopcem (K-5), or by following ul. Dembowskiego (J-5) to the pedestrian bridge over al. Powstańców Wielopolskich to the base of the mound.
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It was my first time seeing it up close and personal and I loved it! I did not get to go on the top so I have to visit it one more time but we had a rest at its base. You could see whole Krakow from there. People were relaxing, enjoying the sun, kids were flying kites, everything was so relaxing and zen :) But thinking of the human effort put into building this mound I remembered the movie "The Englishman that went up a hill and came down a mountain
I have to say a big thank you for our awesome kick arse guide Alicja who did her best in the rough weather and the loud noises in some of the places we have been. I hope her voice was ok after :) She deserves a huge THANK YOU! and I hope she will be my guide in the next tour I am planning to attend. She is funny and she came with a lot of interesting information. Even though she would not tell me who was the one who placed the bunnies all around town I learned from her may other new data :) Don't forget at the end of the tour to leave something for the guide, to show your appreciation. Of course the guide is free and you can go without paying a penny but I think the nice thing to do is at least show you appreciation by giving the guide at least money for a beer so she/he could relax later on ;)
Another THANK YOU! goes to my lovely friend, Liudka, who was brave enough to join me in the quest for StreetArt. She was also kind enough to carry my LadyBug. The LadyBug was jumping all over the place in the morning, saying that the weather is too nice and that she wants to go for a walk as well... so... I had to take her ;)))  By the way, during my walk to the City Center I had a LadyBug crawling on my sleeve. When I tried to take a picture for you lads/lasses it flew away so you have to believe my honest word ;)
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At this Walking Tour I bumped into 2 Romanian people :) The world is indeed small. One of them is an Erasmus student and he is here for 1 year to study history and archeology. The lady is here for a year as well but she is working in one of the corporations here. We had a bit of fun and relaxing after the tour. We stayed on the grass at the Krakow Mound and talked a bit about Polish people/ Polish cities and what we know of Poland. We moved the conversation after a while to the pub named Propaganda (you can see our fuzzy picture taken in the dirty/rusty window somewhere above ;) ) and we agreed that we should all go for some more tours together :) It's a deal! ;)

** I made this post out of love! I was not payed in any way and I really enjoyed the StreetArt Tour made by Alicja from the Free Walking Tour Krakow. I reccommend it from all my heart! You will walk a bit but you will see many interesting things! **

Yours truly,
The LadyBug Who Very Much Enjoyed The StreetArt Tour :)
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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Éowyn Should Have Been The Leading Lady

Dear friends,

I am sure that a fair part of you lads/lasses have watched The Lord Of The Rings before. If you have not, well... what on Earth have you been waiting for and under what rock were you hidded for so long?! I was one of the lucky persons who got to love Tolkien through his books and later on saw the adaptations. Even though they somewhat go sideways from the book I still love them with all my heart and I consider them as work of art. Take from example the fact that in the books the relationship between Arwen and Aragorn is not that extensive and Arwen is just a minor character.
My Very Own Sketch Of Eowyn, Lady Of Rohan
One thing I was sure from the very beginning I lay my eyes on the description of Éowyn: I would love her with all my heart and I would wish I would be her and say the most awesome line of the book "I am no man!". Miranda Otto plays Éowyn so brilliantly that you think that she was born for that part! Éowyn is the one that never once disappointed the readers. She was the one who would join the battle and fight the Witch King. And win! Now think of that: the book was first published in the 1950's so the idea of a women - actually almost a girl, a young lass that was not even married - on the battlefield, fighting side by side with the most fearsome war heroes, and winning against all odds was quite an extraordinary thing! I have to say Tolkien was quite a visionary :)
 You might not have known this but in Tolkien's first drafts of LotR, he intended for Éowyn (called "Éowyn Elfsheen") to marry Aragorn and become Queen of Gondor. Below are a few of the passages that highlight Tolkien's first thoughts on A/E. These are published in The History of Middle Earth series edited by Christopher Tolkien. The first plans for A/E appear in The Treason of Isengard, and the rest appear in The War of the Ring. Parts in italics are Christopher Tolkien's commentary; the rest is Tolkien's writing.
 ***
From the first draft of "The King of the Golden Hall"
Éowyn Elfsheen daughter of Éomund?
Very fair and slender she seemed. Her face was filled with gentle pity, and her eyes shone with unshed tears. So Aragorn saw her for the first time in the light of day, and after she was gone he stood still, looking at the dark doors and taking little heed of other things.
Aragorn was silent, but his eyes followed Éowyn
Long she looked upon Aragorn, and long he looked upon her
And after Théoden’s words, Aragorn says: ‘If I live, I will come, Lady Éowyn, and then maybe we will ride together.’ Then Éowyn ‘smiled and bent her head gravely.’
Aragorn weds Éowyn sister of Éomer (who becomes Lord of Rohan) and becomes King of Gondor.
***
Tolkien's notes on the chapter:
? Cut out the love story of Aragorn and Éowyn. Aragorn is too old and lordly and grim. Make Éowyn a stern amazon woman.
If so, alter the message of Galadriel:
    Elfstone, Elfstone, bearer of my green stone,
    In the south under snow a green stone thou shalt see.
    Look well, Elfstone! In the shadow of the dark throne
    Then the hour is at hand that long hath awaited thee.
The green stone was borne on Théoden’s brow (a diamond in the final version), and Éowyn would stand "in the shadow of the dark throne." Probably Éowyn should die to avenge or save Théoden.
But my father added in a hasty scribble the possibility that Aragorn did indeed love Éowyn, and never wedded after her death.
Random passages and notes:
They strike the Dunharrow ravine on the second day. Aragorn rides with Éowyn.
Aragorn had already arrived and greets King Théoden side by side with Éowyn.
Aragorn and Éowyn meet the King. They say that Riders are mustering at Dun Harrow.
Éowyn says that women must ride now, as they did in a like evil time.
On either side of the King were Éowyn and Éomer, and Aragorn beside Éowyn.
Original version of Éowyn slaying the Witch-King:
But Théoden was not alone. One had followed him: Éowyn daughter of Éomund, and all had feared the light of her face, shunning her as night fowl turn from the day. Now she leapt from her horse and stood before the shadow; her sword was in her hand.
"Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey," said a cold voice, "or he will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness where thy flesh shall be devoured and thy shrivelled mind be left naked."
She stood still and did not blanch. "I do not fear thee, Shadow," she said. "Nor him that devoured thee. Go back to him and report that his shadows and dwimor-lakes are powerless even to frighten women." The great bird flapped its wings and leapt into the air, leaving the king’s body, and falling upon her with beak and claw. Like a shaft of searing light a pale sword cold as ice was raised above her head.
She raised her shield, and with a swift and sudden stroke, smote off the bird’s head. It fell, its vast wings outspread crumpled and helpless on the earth. About Éowyn the light of day fell bright and clear. With a clamour of dismay the hosts of Harad turned and fled . . . Éowyn stepped to the king. "Alas, Théoden son of Thengel," she said. "But you have turned the tide. See, they fly. The enemy is broken by fear. Never did an old Lord of Men die better. You shall sleep well, and no Shadow nor foul thing assail your bed."
There is no suggestion that Éowyn was in any way hurt in the encounter with the Lord of the Nazgûl or after . . . no part was foreseen for Merry in the great event.
I hope you find this as entertaining as I did :) And do tell me, what are your thoughts upon the Lady Of Rohan, the fair Éowyn? Are you proud of her ruling and being the one who killed the Witch King? I know I was, I was cheering up and smiling, saying "You go girl!" :)

P.S. And I am glad she did not end up with Aragorn but rather with Faramir. For me Faramir was much more of a man and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay underestimated by everyone, including his father! He would totally be my pick of a man, so way to go Éowy, you made the right choice! He will love and cherish you forever!

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Eowyn & Rohan Fan :)
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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A Dark And Gloomy Cathedral

Dear friends,

I don't know how you feel about Cathedrals but I always was in love with them! They seem to be the only objects that I can touch in real life and feel small, with their great height towering above me. I had this experience a few times: first it was the joyful, delicate, earth-modelled and very bright lighted Sagrada Familia in Barcelona - I was shocked that it was so hard to make a picture of the full cathedral, no matter how much I crawled and tried different positions, I would have to be really far to catch it whole! The second was the Notre Dame de Paris with its beautiful 2 towers - one for entering and one for exiting. It was dark and delicate and yet so very full of life and light! It was a place of contrast for me :) And I fell in love with it immediately!
The third one on the list was the Cologne Cathedral - or the Dom - that stole my heart and my breath ;))) the first moment I have seen it! It was Tuesday evening, the 25th of February, and Dana came to pick me and my adorable husband from the Main Station (bus and train) located just next to the Cathedral. As Dana took us downstairs to the U-Bahn section of the Station I caught a glimpse of the Cathedral, by night. I was under shock for a few minutes and I could not breath. It was so beautiful I could cry. Dark yet so very rough and powerful. I took a deep breath and settled that morrow, first thing, SHE will be the first one whom I shall visit with my dear husband and lovely soul half.
And we were in for quite a treat. Again the Cathedral would not fit in the camera frame and it would feel larger than life. Yet again my heart would skip a beat at the sight of it... I asked Dana if she still has these WOW! moments when she is astonished of how beautiful the Cathedral is - She still does :) and let's face it, it is hard not to look upon it and admire its glorious forms. It is made out of special dark rock material that gives her this dark and unpolished look. They are cleaning it constantly but this rock will always turn dark. I guess that is part of her charm :) That is why I fell in love with her - her truly dark, gloomy look (no matter the weather). She is dark and twisted and somehow she feels evil and non-responsive, yet she is a beauty that captures your heart ;)
Building of the Cologne Cathedral commenced in 1248 and was finished in 1880, 632 years later.Originally the cathedral was built to house the Three Wise Men’s shrine.The height of the northern tower of the Cologne Cathedral is 157,38 meters, while the height of the southern tower is 6 cm below that (ain't that weird?! why are they not both the same?). The external length of the cathedral is 144,58 meters and the width is 86.25 meters. 
The Cologne Cathedral was the tallest building in the world between 1880 and 1884. It was preceded by the Rouen Cathedral and succeeded by the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower. Cologne Cathedral was hit by 14 bombs during World War II, but the building did not fall. It is believed that the Cathedral was not completely destroyed by bombs because it served as an easily recognizable landmark for pilots.
Part Of The Entrance
More details of the Entrance :)
The present Cathedral structure is the third structure built on this location. During the fourth century a Roman temple was erected, and in the year 818 a second religious structure was placed here. When this church burned down in 1248, the present cathedral structure was started on the same spot. The current Cologne Cathedral was originally intended as a place for the relics of the Magi. These relics were presented to Rainald von Dassel, who was the Archbishop of Cologne, by the Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa in the year 1164.
Rhine River cruises offer an excellent way to view the cathedral, which was reconstructed after being hit 14 times during World War II by bombs. None of these hits caused any serious damage though, and the reconstruction was finished in the year 1956.
The Cologne Cathedral includes the Gero Cross, which dates back to the year 970 and is the oldest crucifix of this size anywhere north of the Alps region.
Also, in case you did not know..., the Cathedral is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site. It is Germany's most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day. Now the building is extremely impressive! Inside - Out! And the tough part that will get your heart pupming insanely will be the flight of no less than 533 stairs to the top! (that is around 100 more than the Notre Dame de Paris, but who's counting?!) I thought my heart would just burst out flying from my chest!...
I just loved the colorful stained glass with all the saints and motives from the Scriptures. Not to mention the mosaic floors and the lovely details that each arch had. I think I would have stayed there for a full day just wondering upon the minds that created all that. They were truly inspired and blessed to have created such wonderous things!
The nave has many 19th century stained glass windows. A set of five on the south side is called the Bayernfenster, and were a gift from Ludwig I of Bavaria, and strongly represent the painterly German style of that date.
As you walk though this marvel we call the Cologne Cathedral you have to make sure you check each and every corner. Each piece of the floor, each piece of cieling, each arch and each sculpture. It is wonderful as a whole but also taken into small pieces that form that whole image of dark lady.
More details of the lovely inside
The light from the candles just attracted me to take this picture :)
A part of the indoor floor
The lovely painted arch and ceiling attracted my view before going down under the Cathedral.
Be careful as you walk and mind your head if you are tall ;)
The inside of the small chapel inside the Cathedral, just below ground level - don't forget to see that!
Now just have a look at those acrhes, they instantly made me feel small...
How perfect they are and long and majestic, towering above you and yet protecting you :)
I also fell in love with the details of the door. Just have a look at that lion handle! I just had to have a picture with it! It made me think of Charles Dickens and A Christmas Story, made me think of E. Scrooge's house and the handle that transformed itself into the ghost of his ex-partner Marley...
Fear not, it did not transform ;)
In order to get to the top and see the bells and the eagle-eye view over lovely Koln you need to be brave and face the 533 stairs. The entrance is on the right side of the Cathedral and the entrance fee is 3 euros (8 if you wanna visit some expo as well but we went just for the towers as this was our thing ;) ).
It was quite a ride as the stairs go narrower and narrower into the spiral case - 2 people have to squeeze in order to pass and even if you are not claustrophobic you may experience hyperventilation!
In Notre Dame de Paris you would go up one tower and exit through the other one. Well... not the same here so you have to mind the trafic... people in your back and in your front + the extra ammount of people who want to go down/up against the flow... It may be quite a ride if you visit with children so be careful of them and don't let them run loose...
The view on top is worth the trouble! Totally! Your heart will race and you will be red or white when you reach the top but you will be happy in your heart as the view is so pleasant. It ain't as miraculous as Paris but it is quite a beautiful city and you can see the Rhine and the Hohenzollern Bridge quite well ;)
Sorry for the non-artistic pictures I took... My hand was shaking and I was panting by the time I got up and I was dizzy from the seashell staircase... totally not trained, I tell you! I was just fine when I did the Notre Dame and look at me now... 100 stairs extra and I am going balistic here... Shame on me!
The 3 Muscheteers On Top Of The Koln Cathedral :)
Of  course the upper side, as in Paris Cathedral, is covered and taken care of so people would not fall off so taking pictures can be quite a challenge so I focused rather on the inside where thousand of people wrote their name and dates when they visited this lovely place :)
The weather was a bit dull while we were up but later on we had sun and we did awesome pictures on the Hohenzollern Bridge but I shall tell you more on that next Tuesday ;) So stay put, lovely colorful pictures are coming soon ;)
While in the tower you will find the most funny stickers so keep your eyes open ;)
If you want you can also view more upon the area through the special binoculars ;)
It also seems some people started applying their love locks to the tower as well. As you can well see my husband is kind enough to give us the Pope's wave ;)
More details for you :)
And even more crystal clear glass ;)))
And 2 loving pidgeons cooing eachother :)
Claire Bear here's looking at you kid! When I saw this I instantly thought of you :*
As you can see, after going up and down 533 stairs... we were quite tired so we had a short break as we were no longer going straight... what can I say, we ain't getting younger :p
So my awesome lovely husband went off to buy water and we shamelessly sat on the staires. He also took really really nice pictures of me and Dana fooling around so we bow to him for his greatness :*
People preparing for the Carnival
Main Station outside clock
Lovely Eastery display in the window of a Florist Shop :)
I really really loved those Ritter Chocolate stairs that were leading to one of the train lines...
God related stickers are apparently very trendy in Germany
We could have easily concluded the day with just the Cathedral on the list but this was completed with a wonderful walk to the Hohenzollern Bridge, and I will show you the pictures and tell you more about it next week at the #traveltuesday post ;)
If you liked this post you may enjoy the below posts as well related to Koln/Bonn - Germany:

  • What Would You Visit In Koln - thoughts upon what one could see in Koln, ideeas at the beginning of the journey
  • Germany, Ich Liebe Dich - Koln/Cologne & Bonn through BB pictures + 2 dear pictures that my best friend Dana took :) - a short intro to our trip in Germany
  • The Flight Travel Bug - or how I love to fly and I am glad my husband choose Lufthansa for our trip to Koln/Cologne 
  • Krakow-Cologne. How do I get there? - on how we managed to get from Poland to Germany: flight + ICE Train, and a little extra on the side: chinese food for dinner :) 
 And stay close for more Koln/Bonn adventures - coming each Tuesday :) Next week: Hohenzollern Bridge & The Love Locks 

Hope you liked today's post and pictures and let me know if you were in Koln ever and if you had problems with those 533 stairs... They really made my day! :)))

Yours truly,
The LadyBug In Love With Koln Cathedral
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