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Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art at Sukiennice

My dear sweet friends,

Where would we be without ART? Is it not ART, in its multiple forms, that sets our hearts beating faster, that makes us laugh and makes us cry? It is true, some people like museums - some don't, some consider them boring - others may like to spend their whole day there. Art is part of the core of each person, and sometimes Art makes us better beings. Have you ever surprised yourself smiling when looking at a very beautiful painting? I have to admit I have, and not just once. Maybe this is why I like museums that much - they allow oneself to be free and wonder of past life and what people thought or what did they feel when they did a certain thing / used a certain object exposed.
Ever since I was small I used to love playing make believe. My mum even now recalls how she would be able to leave me alone in the room and I would make up games / songs / stories for myselfs, to keep me company. What better friend one could have, then himself? :) Maybe that is also why I can totally understand the line played by Daniel Day Lewis - song "Guido's Song" in the movie "Nine" -
"I would like to have another me to
Travel along with myself.
I would even like to be able to sing a
Duet with myself."
Even that sounds a bit narcissistic, I still think it is brilliant and I would find that doing this would be uplifting and fascinating at the same time :) I know museums are "a tough burden to bare" for some people, but I delight in them. I wish I could go each week to the museum, yet I would most of the time wish I had someone with me. I have already visited at least 90% of the museums in Krakow with Marek (some of them twice, and some more than a dozen times!) but each time I revisit a museum I find something new!
One of my personal favourite museums in Krakow - a division of the National Museum of Krakow, Poland - is "The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art at Sukiennice", or roughly called "The Sukiennice Museum". Located on the second floor of the wonderful Sukiennice, you can get either the stairs or the elevator. Here is what In Your Pocket has to say about it: "This magnificent and historic exhibition inside the Cloth Hall covers Polish art from in and around the 19th century, and its major trends of portraiture and epic historical painting.
Apparently touching the toe brings good luck, else why would everyone do that?!
Comprising four rooms, the collection is refreshingly small, giving proper attention to each piece, some of which are enormous and all of which are gorgeously framed. Almost everything by Jan Matejko here is rightly considered a national treasure, and the collection also includes works by Jacek Malczewski, Józef Chełmoński and Stanisław Witkiewicz, as well as Władysław Podkowiński's famous 'Frenzy' from 1894. Like a small slice of the Louvre in Kraków, but without the crowds, one of the perks of a visit is access to the magnificent balcony overlooking the market square."
The Gallery holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand rooms. The majority of today’s collection at Sukiennice comprises gifts from collectors, artists and their families. The National Museum in Kraków was founded on October 7, 1879 by the decree of Kraków City Council following two-year-long renovations of the Sukiennice Cloth Hall under the direction of Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz. 
At a ceremonial ball of October 3, 1879 it was announced that artist Henryk Siemiradzki offered his monumental painting called the Nero’s Torches (Pochodnie Nerona) as gift to the city, with the intention of creating a brand new national gallery in the building. The new Museum elected Władysław Łuszczkiewicz, Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts as its first director. It was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened. The collection grew rapidly under the foreign partitions, with spontaneous donations pouring in from local gentry, as well as artists themselves.
Ladies details from paintings I love to watch, in the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery :)
By the late 1930s, the collections consisted of almost 300,000 items. The list of major benefactors grew exponentially bigger including many noble families. In 1920, the Museum acquired over 15,000 objects donated by a single collector, Feliks Manggha Jasieński, Dołęga coat-of arms. The construction of the Museum's contemporary New Main Building located at 3 Maja Street, started in 1934. All holdings ranging from antiquity to modern times were moved there.
The Gallery was closed to visitors from October 2006 till 2009 for major renovations; the bulk of the gallery's collections moved to Niepołomice Castle for temporary display. The Gallery re-opened in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout of the display, providing a broader view of Polish art of the time.
The gallery's arrangement resembles that of a 19th-century salon. Each of the four large exhibition halls is defined by historical period and the theme usually revolving around the one central painting extending into an entire artistic epoch. But there are not only paintings inside the Gallery, but also a few lovely sculptures. Sculptures include Pius Weloński’s "Gladiator", Walery Gadomski’s "Salome", Piotr Wójtowicz’s "Perseus With the Head of Medusa", Teodor Rygier’s "Bacchante"he is the author of Adam Mickiewicz Monument adorning the entrance to the Museum on the east side of Kraków Main Square; Antoni Pleszowski’s "Sadness", Piotr Michałowski’s "Napoleon on Horseback" and Stanisław Lewandowski’s "A Slav Breaking Chains". Among the collection of portrait sculptures are, Piotr Michałowski’s self-portraits, Antoni Kurzawa’s "Mickiewicz Awaking the Genius of Poetry", Antoni Madeyski’s "Portrait of Aleksander Gierymski", Wiktor Brodzki’s "Instigations of Love", Piotr Wójtowicz’s "After a Bath" and Antoni Madeyski’s "Greyhound".
Details from paintings I love :)
Prices:
- Admission 14/8zł for a normal/reduced ticket;
- Family ticket 26zł; 
- Kids 7-16 and students under 26 (with valid ID) 1zł;
- Kids under 7 free;
- Sundays the entrance is FREE- read more here about FREE DAYS for Krakow Museums ;)
Have you ever visited Kraków's Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art before? Which of these fine paitings do you remember seing? Which one did you like best? :) Tell me your story! Or if you never been to it before, tell me, would you like to try it out one day? I could be your guide ;) It is open between 10:00 - 18:00, each day; but it closes each Monday.

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to help travellers out there :)
Come to Kraków! It's a wonderfully magical place!
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Birthday Thoughts Of An Expat

My dear hearts,

I guess today we are celebrating 2 things here: my birthday (yes, I am growing old and eventually growing up, along the way...) and reaching 660 blog posts (I thought that celebrating 666 would be a bit too dark/morbid/hipster/ordinary/obvious - you pick the one that fits better, according to your view ;) ) ... 660 letters to you, lovely people :) and for my 660th letter I also get to share with you my opinions in regards to being an expat and celebrating birthdays home away from home.
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I love autumn and I cannot imagine a better season  to be born in. I cannot imagine the season without October's - when the weather is still a bit warm and the color of the trees gradually change... the smell of apple pie and freshly squeezed grape juice, along with the crispy sound of the leaves on the ground. In October I would already be in school and for my birthday I would bring candies. The teacher would make everyone stand up and sing happy birthday and I would pass by and give them candies. My Granny would bake glorious cookies and Grandpa would be all smiles and pinch my checks.  Mum and Dad would bring presents and the whole house would be full of laughter and song...
I love autumn and ever since I came to Poland I realise more and more what growing up really means. Being an expat is not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. It's true you get to travel and see different places and meet people, buy sometimes, especially at big holidays - like Easter and Christmas - and at birthdays - especially yours! - it will get tough. Especially if you were really really close to your family. We try to go home, to Romania, either at Christmas or Easter each year but I never manage to get there for my birthday, and maybe that is why I never wish to make a big fuss out of it...
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My first birthday in Poland was crazy, I had just turned 25! Now 25 is quite a fancy number and so I said I should do a big party. I cleaned and I cooked and I bought goodies... and then I got hammered and I cannot remember almost half of the party :/ to my shame! This was the second time in my life when I got drunk (the first was on my 18th birthday). Since then I tend to keep it low profile and celebrate with my lovely other half.
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As you grow old or grow up - you pick one! - you have other dream and expectations. Other plans. Maybe drinking the night away is not the best option - what will you gain out of this? Plus, you will see that once you get further in time people change, people separate and some relations get dry... you keep watering them, hoping they will live, but one day you wake up and all you can see is a dead plant. You will figure out that the best thing you can do - and you should do it, as fast as you can! - is invest in yourself and the ones who truly care about you.
Last year I was telling you about 10 things I have learned by the time I turned 28 years old. I am continuously learning that the best thing to do is collect memories rather then things. Collect dreams and experiences rather than physical objects. I would love to be able to fit my wardrobe in one suitcase - I still need to work on that! Build up your Bucket List and stick to doing the things that make you happy. That will also make your family and friends - the ones that truly care! - happy as well. It is true, in days like this - on my birthday, I would love to have my Mum & Dad, Granny & Big Sister next to me, munching on some homemade cake with 29 candles on it... but I chose to be an expat, and I chose to love an amazing Polish lad that makes me happy and makes me smile each day :) so don't worry! Life in 2 is perfect - sure it has ups and downs - and I am happy being an expat. Else, trust me, I would run away home. But hey! Here, in Kraków - Poland, this is my home away from home :)
***
Complaints are part of the Polish patrimonium ;)) and I think that quite rubbed on me as well... now I must admit life is not bad being an expat. People who care keep closer to you and you can tell that even from the Facebook "Happy birthday!" Posts ;) in time you learn to see things even through the writing of someone... it's a gift you develop in time ;) But I should not complain :) I already received the best gift for my 29th birthday - crossing off another city I wished to visit, off the list: Prague :) we went on a short city break - 23-25 October. Posts will come soon (hopefully!). Did I also mention that both me, and my awesome other half, are unable to withhold presents from one another and we need to give them as soon as we get them? Well... my first gift came at the very first week of October ;)) our first vinyl with Queen - yes, we bought a pickup ;) we are turning more and more old fashioned. So hipster of us! :o
***
To all the lovely expats out there... how do you celebrate your birthday home away from home? Does you significant other help you as well pass through the day? To tell you the truth, I could not imagine celebrating my bday without Marek :) and I guess that says a lot. Kocham cie kotek :* What are your tips & tricks? Huh! I just realised that next year I will be turning 30, changing the prefix! Any wild ideas on how to celebrate that? And don't say parachute jumping, as we have already done that for our first church wedding anniversary ;) Be creative and pop an idea in the comments section below!

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that turns 29 today ;)
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Friday, 23 October 2015

Movie Time: The Intern - Or How People Still Have Music In Them

Dear friends,

**WARNING!!! This post contains a review of The Intern. It may turn out to be an extensive post so please grab yourself a cup of tea and a warm blanket and Enjoy! Be careful and read not this post if you did not see the movie, it is a huge spoiler ;)**

As long as one has music in himself, in his soul, one cannot help playing. It is true, instrument players - professional players - do not retire. They live on their life's by making music everyday. It does not matter that they no longer do it on the stage, in front of people. They may give lessons for further generations but they never quit, they never drop their instrument once they retire. Music flows through their veins and it is a part of whom they are. They stop only when there is no more music in them. If there is one thing, for sure, that I will keep with myself after watching the movie The Intern, is the fact that we can always do something with our life, no matter the age, if you believe in yourself - you are kind - and you still "have music in you".
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I have watched the newly released movie, The Intern, at the beginning of this month at Cinema City in Kazimierz, with a dear sweet friend of mine. Some may name it a "chick flick" movie just because the main character is a lady running - successfully, if I may add - it's own company. Let me mark that down: an online shopping site that grew from a one lady - show to 200 employees. As Jules, the leading character played by the Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, was stating right in the middle of the movie, you cannot name a site sexist / feminist / chick's site just by generalising the fact that only women buy online! Same goes for chick flick movie status! I think it is a lovely comedy with 2 amazing actors that are terribly and wonderfully old-school: Anne Hathaway (Jules) & Robert de Niro (Ben).
***
I was surprised and saddened that they both were not the first choices for the part. The chemistry that they have on & off screen is lovely. You can see throughout the interviews the respect that they have for one another. The storyline is simple: Jules is a rising manager with a company in Brooklyn. She owns an Internet page for online shopping. Overall headcount of the company = 200 employees = a log of department and a lot of fuss for Jules. It was quite funny and sad at the same time seeing her ride the bike in the office (instead of walking) just to save time... The growth of the company makes people believe that they need a director to manage the things and keep Jules on the creative side.  The issue is that this might not be what Jules wants nor needs.
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Entering the scene Ben - male, widow, retired, around 70 years old. He tried everything to keep himself busy yet he cannot stand being alone in the house. Not while there is still music in him! Now one day, while grocery shopping, he sees an add for "Senior Internship" - that's right! At Jules company! He applies and he is one of the 4 new interns - 3 seniors and 1 regular you intern. But that is nit all, he gets to be Jules 's intern! And this is where all the fun begins!

What I loved about this movie:
- the actuality of it - I felt for Ben when he was trying to open up the Mac for the first time... I am extremely proud to say that my mum and granny both have smartphones and tablets. They have their very own Facebook accounts that they use on a daily basis - both for fun/ pleasure but also for keeping in touch with me and my sister, as we live abroad. I know how hard it is for people to change from one system to another. But I was told that precisely this is what keeps the brain alive :)
- the somewhat - continuity of Ben's job - I loved Ben's connection with the old Brooklyn brick house where Jules 's company is currently residing. Ben used to work in the same building for several dozen if years, until he retired - they used to do phone books there. He knows every nook of the place and now he has come back to it. It must feel very much like home...
- Ben's old fashioned way of being - I love the old school chivalry, when men would escorted women, open the door for them, bring them flowers and smile delicately. There is a scene I really love when Ben explains why men carry around with themselves handkerchiefs. They never use them themselves so why do they bother? The handkerchiefs are carried for the ladies, in case they would need help - the delicate sex will always cry at a sentimental movie, for example :) I also love the scene where we get to see Ben's house, and especially his wardrobe - spotless and neatly arranged, with drawers and hangers that display all items. The way he chooses his wardrobe each evening and prepares it for the next day... people don't do that anymore!
- the difference between men and boys - or the difference between Ben and all his other colleges that have no clue what style is, even though they work in the fashion online environment. Wear s shirt, tuck it in, use a tie! Those are some of the things that Ben teaches them ;) even Jules asks the question that for a long while was in my mind as well: "where are the men nowdays?" where are the men like Cary Grant or Harrison Ford? And why are we breeding only "boys"? Sad, but true, isn't it?
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What I didn't like about this movie:
- the script, on some parts of the movie... it seemed a bit lacking even though the story is definintely credible / plausible and attractive to a wide audience (from baby boomers to millenia children)
- the sexist jokes - it seems nowdays that if one movie does not show any sex or nudity in it,  at least one has to simulate it. Cue to the lively and lovely masseuse that helps Ben to relax... enough said!
- the ending - I had the impression that somehow Nancy Myers wanted to transform this into a fairytale and make sure everyone lives happily ever after. To tell you the truth, this is not how I imagine it would end... SPOILER ALERT! It is true that Jules loves her daughter and I can see she loves and respects her husband as well; but let's face it: Matt cheated on her... what gives her the guarantee he will not do it again!? Looking at Jules I would say that she would have dumped him after being such an arse. On the other side, he WAS the rising star and he dropped it all and became house - mum just so Jules could run the company... who knows! It just that the ending felt somehow wrong for me...

Overall I really recommend the movie. It is light and funny and Anne Hathaway and Robert de Niro make an amazing pair. You rarely see nowdays couples men - woman together, as friends. Everyone presumes that something is happening and there must be something going on that one does not know of... not the same with these 2! For me they quite look like Grandpa and Niece, to tell you the truth. Have you watched The Intern yet? I would love to hear your opinion on it! What are the next movies you are planning to watch on the big screen. We have: November for Spectre & The Mockingjay part 2; December for the movie I have been waiting for years now... Star Wars - The Force Awakens. Are you excited? I know I am :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves movies (especially on the big screen)
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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

How To... Survive The Polish Winter

My dearest travellers,

Well, In case you were not in Poland last week, you may not know that Winter is Coming! was the word of the day for last Monday - George Martin should be proud of how much this catch-phrase is used! The weekend of 10-11 October was quite cold but on the 12th, Monday morning, as I woke up I saw the fields white. It snowed continuously throughout the day... Guess how much Instagram cracked on #winteriscoming hashtag for Poland! We had a long and warm and sunny summer so it is clear that winter will be long as well, so you need to be prepared for that, if you wish to visit Poland ;) It is true, there will be some nice autumn days from time to time, but don't hope for much!
Winter (zima, in Polish language) is back and with a vengeance! Winter is quite special in Poland, as I have not yet seem anywhere else... It couples with dry air and wind that howls and makes you lose your way. Frostbite is something very common here so people tend to layer up during winter (and autumn), just like onions. I still do not get the hang of that, even after 4 years of living in Poland - but I guess that is why my husband barely ever gets sick and I have continuously running nose... But if you are settled on visiting Poland, and you wish to make the most of it, you may want to read the below Tips & Tricks ;)
 ***
 1. Don't get outside! Stick to the indoor activities! There are a lot of museums that one could visit, in every Polish city - no need to get outside where it's really cold and windy. You might have even troubles breathing properly! When it comes to public transport there are also slight delays (trams/buses) and bigger delays (especially when it comes to trains!). When the wintery snow came last Monday, the airport was closed for several hours and all planes were delayed... take that into consideration!
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2. If you go outside, please make sure you layer up properly! That means gloves (usually without the tops of the fingers so you can easily handle money and tickets...), hat, scarf(es), t-shirt, blouse, winter jacket, overalls, long johns, normal pants, huge winterboots... you name it! Locals are used to the temperature by now, and you may see them with less clothes, but don't be fooled by the sun outside shining on the fresh snow! If the wind will hit you, you will NOT be able to catch your breath! Also make sure you have good boots, as you may bump into some icy portions of the road and you will start doing involuntary ballet ;) I was also told that a proper Polish winter can tell mens from boys! (but hell... I think you would rather gear up than cough all year round!)
Wintery display @ AlmiDecor - December 2014
3. If you have a car, and you wish to use it during winter in Poland, be careful! Make sure you have winter tires and be careful about the plows - they run non stop during winter and it is good to make sure you don't remain stuck in a small street behind them ;) Make sure also that you have enough distance between the car in front and back as the streets tend to get icy and you may have issues with the breaks (a good friend, a very good driver by-the-way, had an accident like this, so don't underestimate this! and don't drive like it's summer!). 
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4. Try to exercise as much as you can! - this will keep you warm! It does not matter if you are not a pro. Try and try again until you succeed. And even if you will not succeed, you will still manage one main thing: you will keep warm and you will not freeze! :) There are many options of what one can do during winter in Poland. For example, each city has in its main square a ice-ring where you can skate. If you are not into skating, that is perfectly ok! You can have a ride in the moutains - learn how to ski or do snowboard ;) if not... there is also running - and even a marathon during the 31st of December, where people dress up Halloween like ;)
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5. Drink a lot of warm fluids! This is a must every day of the year, but during autumn and winter this should be everyones priority! Hot liquids will instantly warm your body up and generate heat. I think that tea with lemon and honey is the best treat in winter (lemon = vitamin C + honey - keeps the sickness away!). Each winter there are Christmas fairs in the big cities and a must is the mulled wine and mulled beer (specific Polish!). Trust me, after a couple of sips you will feel ready to take on the world! (until the next wind stroke will come...). Also, if you are not that much into alcohol or tea, you can always get super-high on sugar and try out some hot chocolate ;) 
6. Make yourself warm and keep the rooms warm as well - don't switch beteen hot-cold temperatures as this will bring you down! This, and the stupid air conditioning in the hotels :/ I think one of the main causes I get sick, during autumn/wintertime (and the reason why I got sick just last week!) is the bloody air-conditioning that is always ON at work. The body is trying to adjust from one temperature to another and the changes are so quick that it becomes confused - then, BAM! the flu hits you! Try to maintain your body temperature at the same level - the layers will help you on this one ;) Buy some warm fluffy socks, and a nice long warm shawl, get a cup of tea and enjoy the snowflakes from afar :) It is not good for the house to have different temperatures throughout and you will see this on your throat, when you will start speaking funny!
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7. Be prepared for a snowdown apocalypse! It is true, winter does manage to surprise everyone, each year! I don't know how people manage to sneak off with this remark: "we were caught by surprise by the amount of snow"... It is winter! What did you think it was coming? An avalanche of daisies and poppies?! Anyway, it will happen, and you may get stranded. The plane may not be able to take off due to the amount of snow on the runway... it is true, so be prepared! You migh even have a power loss - due to the high winds, the trees may break or be up-rooted, and power lines may be affected. This also happens during summer storms, so don't worry! 
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Overall, it's not that bad to come to Poland during wintertime. It's quite lovely when the wind does not blow and takes the life out of you. The Christmas markets are lovely and the view of the cities under snow is just magical. It is true, I rather like Poland in autumn & the tourists like it during summer, but I think that you should try and see Poland in winter as well. Just be prepared and layer up! (onion style is the proper style). Have you ever been to Poland in winter? I have a dear friend of mine that always visited me during wintertime, and she always loved it :)
Embrace the subject and read one of the articles below - How To... In Poland
  1. Do Shopping In Poland - Currency
  2. Pick The Best Time To Visit Poland
  3. Get To Poland - Transit
  4. Eat Like The Locals 
  5. Spend One Day In Krakow 
  6. Be Prepared For Coming To Poland
  7. Recognize Tourists In Poland
  8. Maintain Work-Life Balance In Poland
  9. Books/Films/Music In Poland 
  10. Survive The Polish Weddings  
  11. Survive The Polish Winter - today's letter, to you lovely travellers :)
Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to help travelers out there & expats finding their way to the proud Polish land
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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Krakow - September's Last Icecream - Delikatesowo Kraków

Good day lovely people!

You know the playword the little kids have: "I scream, you scream, we all scream for icecream!" - I love this play especially during summertime. There are 2 great places in Krakow to have some icecream and one of these 2 places - to my shame - I have found out about only after 4 years living in this beautiful city. Both places have homemade icecream and truly it is hard for me to tell which one is better. For me both locations have the best icecream I ever ate, since I was a wee lass :) One is in Kazimierz (Jewish Area) and one is in Podgorze, as you cross the pedestrian bridge (the one with the love locks). Today I will tell you about this years last icecream I ate, in a lovely warm September day...
Apparently each year people vote for the best icecream place in the Lesser Poland region (Malopolska). It seems that this year Delikatesowo Kraków won again first place, with almost 2500 voices pro this homemade local shop. Continuously since 2005 in Krakow, the shop tries to meet the clients expectations by serving natural homemade ice cream - and other products as well ;) The shop can be found on Brodzińskiego 1 - open Mondays to Fridays from 6:30 am to 8 pm; Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm & Sundays between 10 am and 5 pm.
With no presence - as far as I could research - on TripAdvisor, mostly local people know about this magical place. All the traffic is here by locals, word-of-mouth advertising & the helpful hand of the team from FreeWalkingTourKrakow, that sometimes (during summer) takes the visitors of Krakow on the Krakow Food Tour, to this lovely place :) The presence online is very good, both from the Internet Page (Polish only) and for the Facebook Page (Polish only) - over 3400 people like their page and the 57 reviews rated this place 4.9 out of 5 stars! The icecream is truly homemade, you can feel that as soon as you take the first lick! The lady serving is very nice but she does not speak English - you an point things out for her and smile ;) she will help you! I recommend the one made out of roses & the one made out of lemons - the contrast is amazing and the rose one has pieces of sugared rose petals in it ;))) Enjoy!
Prices:
Inside the Delikatesowo Krakow, in Podgorze, you can pay only cash. Make sure you have enough money extracted from an ATM machine. A cup of homemade icecream costs 2,50 zloty (less than an euro). Once you finish it, come by and let me know if you liked it :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Home-Made Icecream
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Friday, 16 October 2015

Krakow - La Petite France

Good morning everyone!

"There is an admirable fact about the psychology of France: she knows no half measures, loathsome or sublime, she forges the thought and the beauty of a world or of a dung heap; her destiny is never to be mediocre" - Josephin Peldon
When you think about Poland and visiting it, you also think about trying the traditional, local food. But if you stay longer, if you are an expat like myself, you will want to sometimes change and try something different. Or maybe, let's say you come from France and after a day of traditional meals in Kraków you find out that it is not quite your thing and you wish to get back to some light nibbling, you may want to try out the Charlotte (my personal favourite place for creme brulee) or La Petite France.
La Petite France is located extremely close to the Main Market Square, so wherever you are hosted it is easy to reach.  The street is called Saint Thomas ( ul. Swietego Tomasza ) number 25th. The bistro is open Mondays to Fridays between 9 am to 10 pm & Saturdays to Sundays from 9 am to 11 pm! :) The place is described by the locals as "a small French bistro in the heart of Kraków" and you can find all the times locals dropping by for some sandwich or a coffee.
La Petite France is open for breakfast - lunch - dinner and anything in between! The bistro is located on one of the less crowded and less circulated small cobblestoned streets that leads to the Planty area. It has a minimalistic decor that somehow makes you feel at peace and welcomed. There are small tables - for 2 or 4 - but also a bar area with small tables merged with the window, where you can enjoy looking at the passer-by people - that is what I love doing :) The walls are decors with black and white photos of bistros and there are shelves with French products - from wine to sweets. There are also huge fridges with several types of cheeses and you can order a platter ;) I also love the music there - one time they were playing Zaz's new cd and another time they were playing Frank Sinatra's best hits... magical!
During the summertime you can also sit outside. The small tables are perfect for 2, but I always prefer the inside location, at the bar table. The portions are not huge but the food is good and the serving is nice and the waitresses know English language. As it was breakfast time, this time, I took the scrambled eggs - if you wish for bread you must order it and pay extra 2 zloty - and a tea. I heard though that the best choice, also if you like something sweet, is to try the "cafe gourmant" - 3 little deserts and a coffee. I heard only good things about that one, so I must come again to try it! (even if I don't like coffee that much)...
Prices:
- scrambled eggs, omelette - 12 zloty
- toast, baguette - for the eggs - extra 2 zloty
- cafe gourmant - 15 zloty
I payed cash but I saw you could also pay by card. La Petite France holds on TripAdvisor the #228 of 988 Restaurants in Kraków and #247 of 1062 places to eat in Kraków. With 53 reviews it holds 4.5 stars out of 5!

P.S. The sandwiches always look amazing & fresh and they cost between 12 and 15 zloty. They look like a quick-good-bite-to-go :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug
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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

How To... Survive The Polish Weddings

My dearest travellers,

It is possible you may have reached Poland due to various causes: maybe you just got here by travelling through and stopped to see this beautiful and rich architectural cities, maybe you actually planned this through thoroughly and wish to see as much as you can of Poland and then go back home, or maybe it is just a few day trip - weekend city break maybe? - just for the shopping (or booze, especially for people in England). But maybe there are other causes, maybe you are dropping by for a friend's wedding :)
Outside the church, after the ceremony, the bride and groom are welcomes with flower petals, rice & money (coins)
Since I moved to Poland, more than 4 years ago, I have met several couple - married or engaged - that were half Polish and half expat. Just like Marek and myself :) the problem here, with friends and family, is the fact that even though both countries may be part of the European Union, the culture will always be - at least - slightly different. You may have read the letters I wrote to you during the time of my 3 wedding celebrations - with the same awesome man, who is my husband - my thoughts and feelings on the subject. You can read them again here.
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Today I wanted to share with you some tips and tricks on how one can survive a Polish wedding. I had the chance of being present to both a typical and also an untypical wedding, before celebrating ours, so I can say I was quite prepared. If besides the below 10 tips & tricks / useful info about the Polish weddings, you will wish to know more, you can also check out the Tips & Tricks For The Big Polish-Romanian Wedding (=our wedding):
  • Things You Should Never Try With A Polish Person - first thing first: Don't tell them Polish language is similar to Russian else you wanna enter a fight!
  • A Few Polish Words - just in case sign language would not be enough, you can print this out and point what you want to say with the finger, but just so you know, you are resposible for the answer you will get ;)
1) The wedding invitation - have a good look on the invite and figure out if you were invited to the wedding party or the church ceremony. The church ceremony is called "slub" and the party "wesele". If you are invited to the "wesele" you better get your self ready for one hell of a ride! Dress code is business professional and hairdo is a must. One thing you need to make sure is nit to look better than the couple. Also girls should not wear white, in order to outshine the bride and "steal her thunder"!
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2) The Gates - complete strangers or family / friends throwing themselves in from of the couple before / after the ceremony, trying to stop the couple in their way. They will demand a ransom in money or alcohol. I even heard about a firetruck being in the middle of the road, stopping everyone, making sure the bride does not get to church in time! Crazy people, I tell you ;)
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3) The church ceremony = the civil wedding in Poland. So if you are not invited for the civil wedding it is probably because there is none.  Vatican City accepted that Poland marriages done in the Catholic Church be accepted also as civil weddings. Also, there are no maids or men of honor, but the pair gets to have 2 witnesses ;) and they sign papers as well and stay behind the couple through all the ceremony.
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4) The presents - are usually given right after the church ceremony. After the mess the couple and friends/family go outside, sit in a queue and hugging and kissing commence.  It is also then when the presents (money, flowers - you name it!) Must be handed over to the couple.  The ones that come only to the party will give the present to the couple when they reach the restaurant (not at the end!).
The fresh, ice cold, vodka is a must!
5) The welcoming - as per European culture, bread and salt is a must! Bread = vital and magical properties + salt = faithfulness and repels bad spirits.  Also the couple must drink the champagne, raise the first toast and then throw the glasses behind themselves. If they crash, they will have good luck - so glass glasses are always used ;)
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6) The food and drinking - is almost impossible to explain how unlimited that is... let's start by saying that for our wedding in Poland, when we were calculating the among of vodka to be bought, we were calculating 0.75 l per head! + the additional beer/wine... you name it! The truth is that in Poland, on weddings, the alcohol that is being drinked the most is vodka - without a doubt! Usually the fathers of the couple make tours around the tables, making sure the vodka bottles are always cold and they feel flowing... To counteract the huge amounts of alcohol there is also a lot of food, very well done and in huge portions. Be prepared, your glass and plate will never be empty!
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7) The "throwing of the bouquet" - usually around midnight. First the bride throws the bouquet ans then the group the bow / tie. More traditionally would be for the bride to throw the veil - that is what I did in Poland; in Romania I thrown the bouquet. The lady / lad that catch the veil / bow must dance together and the saying is that they will get married ( not necessary with eachother ) the year to come.
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8) The "oczepiny" - the games - are hard to miss and sometimes quite painful and / or embarrassing  for the participants. Dancing around chairs the number of participants minus 1 until there is a fight only between 2, recognising partners with covered eyes and touching ones knee... or just simple dancing contest... you name it! They got it!
At the end of the church ceremony the papers are signed off. We had both a civil and a church wedding
9) The singing - usually there is a band, or if you are lucky: a DJ. There is a lot of folk music danced in couples until your remain breathless and you simply drop off your feet. A night at a Polish wedding could be equal to a week of Zumba intensive classes... There will also be moments, throughout the day/night that spontaneously people will start singing "Sto Lat" (Happy birthday in Poland), several hundred times! Be prepared!
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10) The after party - it is not unusual, but it is very traditional, to have the wedding extended throughout the weekend. It is also known as "poprawiny" and people come dressed as posh as ever but they are more and more relaxed. The couple does not need to wear the wedding dress / costume but they still have to look their best ;) the main idea for the 2nd day is to speak more with the participants and eat/drink the "leftover".
***
Have you ever been to a Polish wedding? Or maybe a wedding in Poland ;) Do you have any questions I could help you with? Are you planning to come to Poland soon? I would be glad to help you immerse in their culture. Let me know what you think I should write next in my "How To... In Poland" letter :) I would be excited to hear from you.

Embrace the subject and read one of the articles below - How To... In Poland
  1. Do Shopping In Poland - Currency
  2. Pick The Best Time To Visit Poland
  3. Get To Poland - Transit
  4. Eat Like The Locals 
  5. Spend One Day In Krakow 
  6. Be Prepared For Coming To Poland
  7. Recognize Tourists In Poland
  8. Maintain Work-Life Balance In Poland
  9. Books/Films/Music In Poland 
  10. Survive The Polish Weddings - today's letter, to you lovely travellers :)
Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to help travelers out there & expats finding their way to the proud Polish land
Read more ...

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Krakow - Genji Premium Sushi

My dear honey buns,

You know how much I love to experiment and try new places. Today I will tell you about the best restaurant I found until now, when it comes to Japanese food. I will tell you today about the Genji Premium Sushi restaurant, located on Dietla. It is the only restaurant of its kind in Kraków but it is very special in its own way.
My dear friend Alex was asking me why / how come the Polish people have this passion for Japanese food and culture. I was not sure what to reply but I pointed our that this connection is actually going both ways. I know many people who studied Japanese culture and many friends who took upon themselves to learn the dialects. I also realised, while living in Kraków for more than 4 years now, that there are a lot of Japanese students and also tourists coming here each year.
To be noted out that the Japanese people are the quickest I have ever seen into picking up the Polish language and speaking it like a pro. I have also never met a Japanese person that was not in live with Chopin and Polish culture and I believe that could be a sign why so many good restaurants of this kind were open here, in Kraków - but also in general, in Poland.
Genji Sushi Premium in Kraków is a 2 level restaurant that will magically become one of your favourite - trust me ;) The ground floor is a spacious area with small tables for 2 to 4 persons but also with a bar where you can stay and watch the Japanese sushi master chefs doing their thing! The cellar though is my personal favourite as it has several small rooms, separated, perfect for private meetings. The Genji Restaurant is filled with decorations that create an oriental feel.
The rooms for 4 people
The name of the restaurant comes from a Japanese book from the 11th century, considered the oldest novel in the world! "Genji Monogatari" or "The Tale of Genji" tells the story of the affairs of Prince Genji written by a Japanese noblewoman, Murasaki Shikibu. It is a tale of life and love, but I will leave you to Google for it if you wish to know more ;)
Ramen Seafood and the additional salad
If you wish to know in advance what you would like to eat, you can always check out their lovely Facebook page (in Polish language) or the Internet page (bilingual). The lovely thing about the menu is that it comes also with pictures, as a quick preview. The waitresses speak Polish and English and the menus are also in both languages. As you come down the stair to the cellar, the waitresses will lead you to a room fitting to the number of people in your party. Once you are seated you will receive the menu and be left in peace to decide on the drinks / food.
The Tea Serving - Jasmin Tea
I really love the service - the waitresses - as they are always smiling and eager to her,  though the time to get the food is a huge issue - even if the restaurant is almost empty! I guess that is why the ratings of the place are quite low, even if the food is absolutely delicious! When you need anything all you need to do is use the classic Korean service bell - everyone was actually fighting to ring it! ;)) there might have been some jokes referring to a certain "red button" and Putin...
Baked Green Mussels - Entre
There is also a special room that we simply love: the tatami room, with the low table and where you can enjoy a traditional meal being also seated in a traditional manner, without the regular chairs. You have to take off your shoes and place them outside the entrance and stay seated with crossed legs. Up to 8 people can have the room but I think it is perfect for 4 people to have spacious room ans enjoy their time. The music is always also very precious to me - they have recordings of regular popular songs but played with the traditional string musical Japanese instruments. Addictive! :)

Bibimbap

When  it comes to the food I must shout out that each time I have been there the ingredients were fresh and the dishes tasted awesomely.  My taste buds were in 7th Heaven! Especially after the Ramen Seafood - topped with 2 huge mussels but inside it has several types of seafood... fingerlicking good and extremely satious - I needed nothing more after eating it. I also enjoyed the Bibimbap - steamed rice with beef and vegetables (mushrooms included) in a stoneware pot, with a fried egg on top. Also I can recommend you as an entre the Baked Green Mussels - marinated, with rice and fish eggs on top, they are you but last time we were there it took the chef about an hour to make them... so I ended up eating them at the same time with the main dish :( I must admit I have not yet tried the sushi there, but the time is not lost and I will go there again ;)

TO BE NOTED: Genji Sushi Premium has also a Membership Card that gives it's owner a 5% discount.

Currently in TripAdvisor the Genji Sushi Premium is listed as #307 of 988 Restaurants in Kraków and #336 of 1062 places to eat in Kraków, with a total of 42 reviews and 4 stars out of 5.

Tips and tricks:
  • I suggest making a reservation if you wish to have the special tatami room ;)
  • If you have the membership card it is better to say that out to the waitresses before you order the food
Prices:
- Miso Soup - 5 zloty
- Kimchi Salad - 9 zloty
- Seafood Salad - 22 zloty
- Baked Green Mussels - 15 zloty for 3 pieces
- Seafood Ramen - 28 zloty
- Bibimbap - 38 zloty
- Apple tempura - 15 zloty
- Jasmine tea = my personal favourite drink - 8 zloty
For more prices on the Genji menu please check online here.
The prices are all in Polish Zloty ( local currency ) when 1 Polish Zloty = 0.24 Euro.

Please let me know how you liked it and what you have tried. If you wish to know more about other Restaurants in Kraków that serve Japanese food - especially sushi - you can check also the below:
Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Japanese Food :)
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Friday, 9 October 2015

World Youth Day 2016

My dear hearts,

Did you know that next year Krakow will host the World Youth Day? In 1984 at the close of the Holy Year of Redemption, over 300,000 young people from around the world responded to the invitation of His Holiness John Paul II for an International Jubilee of youth on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s square. Looking out to the crowds who answered his invitation he said, “What a fantastic spectacle is presented on this stage by your gathering here today! Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?” It was at this gathering that the Holy Father entrusted to the youth what is now known as the World Youth Day Cross, to be carried throughout the world as a symbol of the love of Christ for humanity.
The following Palm Sunday, coinciding with the United Nation’s International Year of the Youth, Pope John Paul the 2nd took the opportunity to welcome the youth of the world to Rome again. Later, announcing the institution of World Youth Day on December 20, 1985, and the first official WYD was held in 1986.
 ***
In Toronto, the last International WYD in which JPII was present he told the 800,000 gathered with him at the vigil, “When, back in 1985, I wanted to start the World Youth Days… I imagined a powerful moment in which the young people of the world could meet Christ, who is eternally young, and could learn from him how to be bearers of the Gospel to other young people. This evening, together with you, I praise God and give thanks to him for the gift bestowed on the Church through the World Youth Days. Millions of young people have taken part, and as a result have become better and more committed Christian witnesses.”
***
John Paul II left a legacy for the youth in his institution of World Youth Day, which Pope Benedict XVI has faithfully continued, carrying on the hope of His predecessor for the youth of the world, inviting them and commissioning them as Christ’s disciples to be faithful living witnesses.
Countdown clock on the St. Mary Church - Main Square - Krakow - Poland (source)

World Youth Day will be held in Krakow, Poland July 25 – 31, 2016. The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) is hard at work planning the many important and interesting events which make up the WYD festivities. You can track the LOC’s progress in Latest News on their official site. There is also a brand new site created especially for the World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow. These 2 sites are the official sources and are always up-to-date with the latest news. They also have a lot of tips & tricks for the people who have never been to Poland (or Krakow). But if you are for the first time in Poland, I recommend you to drop by my What To Visit In Poland Page ;) and if you wish to know more about How To... do things in Poland also drop there and check out my tips & tricks ;)
Countdown clock on the St. Mary Church - Main Square - Krakow - Poland (source)
A Countdown Clock was placed right above the entrance to the St. Mary Church (Mariacki Kosciol) that shows how many days-hours-minutes-seconds there still remain until the World Youth Day 2016 Krakow. Also the city is getting more and more prepared by improving the road and rail links. This year Krakow also bought a fleet of the newest model of trams and buses & the International John Paul 2nd Airport has been redone - new terminal with the additional fast train line from the airport to the city center (Galeria Krakowska). World Youth Day organizers expect the 13th international event will attract more than 2 million people from around the world. How about you? Are you planning to come to Krakow next year? Do you have any questions that I could help you with? :)


Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Wonders How Many People Will Come In For The WYD Next Year
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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

How To... Books/Films/Music in Poland

My dearest travellers,

Once you will set your feet in this lovely country called Poland, you should know a bit about its culture. And what better way to know its culture, except deep diving into the folklor / food / natives than to check out the books/films(movies)/music that Poland has produced? As I was talking to you earlier on, saying that there are a lot of American bands with Polish roots, and probably in a similar way there are many people that you are not aware of them having Polish background. I am here today to tell you what you should read/watch/listen in order to understand more how Polish people think ;) 
Poland is quite popular in the international market for its contribution to the cinema, having a couple of renowned directors rising after the Second World War. The contribution to literature is not that well known as there are few translations made on the great books (be it novel or poetry) that they have.  When it comes to music, I think there is no classical music lover that knows not of Chopin! And if ever you are in Poland, for sure that you will find a Chopin concert ;) (take for example Krakow, where at least once a day there must be a concert somewhere, with a piece by him - either in a church or in a specially dedicated place)
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Movies/Film
I think the greatest international knowledge of Poland comes through the movies made by the great Polish directors like Roman Polanski, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Andrzej Wajda. In Lodz there is the greatest School of Cinematography and also there you can find the only museum dedicated to cinematography (in Poland). Of the three, Polanski is probably the best-known abroad (though Kieslowski rates a close second), both for his films and his tragic and stormy personal life. Now if Polanski's name is not familiar to you, you should truly be ashamed and get craking by renting/buying his movies. You may possibly know Frantic (1987), starring Harrison Ford, and 2002's critically acclaimed The Pianist, with Adrien Brody in the lead role of Warsaw Jewish ghetto survivor Władysław Szpilman. That movie earned Polanski an Oscar for Best Director. Krzysztof Kieslowski is best known abroad for his Three Colors movies: Blue (1993), White (1994), and Red (1994). Kieslowski made the films based on the French virtues of liberty, equality, and fraternity after he had moved to France. Andrzej Wajda may be less well known to those outside Poland, but within the country, he's widely considered the most important director to emerge after World War II. He earned his reputation in the 1950s, with unsparing movies about World War I.
In addition to the Polish directors, there are also movies made about Poland - especially the Second World War - that you should know. The best known of these is Steven Spielberg's 1993 epic Schindler's List. The movie depicts the efforts of German industrialist Oskar Schindler to shield his Jewish factory workers from deportation to the concentration camps and his subsequent actions that saved 1,000 people from a certain death at Auschwitz. Much of the movie was filmed in and around Kraków's former Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, and Schindler's factory, now a museum, is still standing. Janusz Kaminski, Spielberg's Polish cameraman for Schindler's List and then later for Saving Private Ryan, won Oscars for both films.

While living in Poland for 4 years, one tends to pick things up and check out the local favorites of Polish people. It is a custom that every Polish person should watch the trilogy made after Henryk Sienkiewicz books: 
Also, recently made series Czas Honoru that speaks of the Second World War and the Underground Army, is also highly popular. Czas honoru (English: Days of Honour) was a Polish World War II television drama series, broadcast on TVP2 since 7 September 2008 to 23 November 2014, on STV Glasgow from 2 June 2014 and STV Edinburgh from 16 January 2015. 
I, for one, love this series! I love the way it is made, the way they filmed it, the way they chose the actors that are fitting for their roles... I cannot recall how many times I cried and laughed wacthing the episodes. There is also quite a huge fan club that keeps everyone updated with the latest news - like concerts with the music from the series, which is absolutely wonderful! 
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Books
Polish literature, with few exceptions, remains largely unknown to people outside the country, due mainly to publishers' reluctance to invest in translating the books into English rather than to a lack of literary merit. Poland, in fact, has four Nobel Prize winners for literature: Henryk Sienkiewicz (1905), the author of Quo Vadis; Wadysaw Reymont (1924), a now-forgotten journalist who won the prize for the book Chopi (Peasants); and poets Czesaw Miosz (1980) and Wisawa Szymborska (1996). There are also two Jewish Nobel prize laureates who it could be argued have some connection to Poland: Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1966) and I. B. Singer (1978). You might even make a case for a seventh Nobel by including German writer Günter Grass, who was born and raised in Gdansk when the city was part of Germany and known as Danzig.
 
I would also like to point out here a book, a comic book that called out to me. The story is told from a young girl’s perspective, Marzena Sowa’s memoir of a childhood shaped by politics feels remarkably fresh and immediate. Structured as a series of vignettes that build on one another, Marzi is a compelling and powerful coming-of-age story that portrays the harsh realities of life behind the Iron Curtain while maintaining the everyday wonders and curiosity of childhood. With open and engaging art by Sylvain Savoia, Marzi is a moving and resonant story of an ordinary girl in turbulent, changing times.
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Music
Though Poland has a rich musical tradition going back centuries, it's probably best known for two contributions: the polka and Frédéric Chopin. Crediting Poland with the polka is actually a common error, probably because of the similarity of the names. Though the polka is as popular in Poland as anywhere else in Central Europe, it actually comes from Bohemia, in the modern-day Czech Republic. Poles have a more legitimate claim on Chopin, though another country, France, is involved there too. Though Chopin was born in the village of Zelazowa Wola, not far from Warsaw, to a Polish mother, his father was French, and the composer spent much of his short life in Paris (and even for a time became a French citizen). To bolster the French claim, he also had a stormy affair with French intellectual George Sand (female). But when he was buried, he asked that his heart would always remain with his homeland. Shortly before his death, as the story goes, Chopin asked that his heart be moved to the country of his birth. Complying with his wishes, doctors removed the composer's heart after he died, and it was taken to Warsaw by his sister. Now you can "visit", pay homages and see where his heart resides, in Holy Cross Church (Kosció Swietego Krzyza) in Warsaw :)
The helpful sources for today's letter to you, dear friend, was Wikipedia and Frommers
 
Embrace the subject and read one of the articles below - How To... In Poland
  1. Do Shopping In Poland - Currency
  2. Pick The Best Time To Visit Poland
  3. Get To Poland - Transit
  4. Eat Like The Locals 
  5. Spend One Day In Krakow 
  6. Be Prepared For Coming To Poland
  7. Recognize Tourists In Poland
  8. Maintain Work-Life Balance In Poland
  9. Books/Films/Music In Poland - today's letter to you, lovely travelers :)
Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to help travelers out there & expats finding their way to the proud Polish land
Read more ...