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Monday, 30 November 2015

Krakow - Hamsa - Make Hummus NOT War

Good morning everyone!

"You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end." - Matthew 24:6

Sometimes it just feels like The End of the World is coming, like the Antichrist coming is knocking at our very own front door. There is not one day that goes by that I do not hear about war and rumours of wars. Just look at the recent events in Paris - starting with Charlie Hebdo... look at the closing of schools and metro lines in Brussels... Mass media is no help, no use, except getting people to feel even more frightened and provoke panic themselves. I wish people would stop hating and think more about giving love than making war. That is why I really like this place I will tell you about today: Hamsa Hummus and Happiness.
Hamsa is located in the very heart of Kazimierz - Kraków's Jewish district - on ulica Szeroka 2 or Miodowa 41 (you can enter the house from both sides,  from 2 different streets). The local is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 am till midnight & Saturday and Sunday from 9 am till midnight :) you can always make a reservation via phone at (+48) 515 150 145 or via email at - phone will be quicker though ;) Before you get there you can always check their menu online. They have a lively page in both English and Polish ;) so fret not!
Make Hummus Not War T-Shirts can be bought here ;)
Hamsa also has a seasonal menu so you need to make sure you test the local goodies on all seasons ;) They can also organise lunches and dinners for groups - wedding and christening parties included. But make sure you and the guest understand this is a special Jewish place that holds only 2 types of cuisine: contemporary Israeli cuisine and traditional Jewish cuisine from Galicia. The place can also organise dinners with live klezmer music ;) so take that into consideration. Last time I went there with friends was for a small brunch and I was in no mood for eating so I got only a fresh lemonade & dark chocolate cake - I must say that was a perfect combination! Sweet and sour work very nice together ;) 
Inside view of the Hamsa Restaurant in Kazimierz, Krakow
Prices (as of November 2015):
- lemonade (fresh made, it can be either hot or cold, as per your desire) = 12,90 zloty
- coca cola / sprite / fanta / tonic = 6,90 zloty
- coffee = maximum 10,90 zloty (it can be less, depends of the type of coffee you wish for)
- tea (different sortiments) = 8,90 zloty
- hummus = between 14,90 and 21, 50 zloty (depends on the ingredients)
- intensive chocolate cake (the one you can see in the picture below) with the addition of cardamom and rose water, served cold with whipped cream = 12,90 zloty. Don't miss it! It's a bomb!
Hamsa Hummus & Happiness Israeli Restobar is marked by TripAdvisor as #196 of 1026 restaurants in Krakow; #214 of 1102 places to eat in Krakow, as of November 2015. It also managed to score 4 out of 5 stars, with over 395 reviews (and counting!), where the atmosphere is counted around 4,5 points out of 5 ;)
Chocolate Cake @ Hamsa - Krakow (The picture has no filter whatsoever)
P.S. All pictures were taken with the Samsung Galaxy S4 camera, a present from my awesome hubby :) and they were taken early September. Some of them were modified with the freeware Picmonkey (great for collages!).

** This post was made out of love for great early autumn sweet treats. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! **

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to discover new places :)
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Friday, 27 November 2015

Daniel Craig's Last Bond Movie - Spectre

Dear friends,

**WARNING!!! This post contains a review of Spectre. 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; this piece comes with spoilers ;)**
After 4 films as the ideal "Bond. James Bond", Daniel Craig says goodbye to his wonderful character and establishes himself as the merciless killer with charm and amazing sense of humor. He is terrifying but at the same time smooth (seducing all the ladies of the movie) and timeless in his custom made tuxedos. Daniel Craig as Bond is a dark hero - mostly due to his job description: professional killer ("licensed to kill")

We did not go to the cinema for the premiere but we knew we wanted to see Spectre on the big screen. After waiting for the craziness to cool down we went 5 days after the Grand Opening in Poland.  We went to the Multikino and enjoyed seeing the lovely filmed action scenes on the big screen. If you are a Bond fan, like we are, and you have seen all the movies, I suggest you do the same. You will not like seeing it the first time on the small screen, at home. The feeling is not the same. Indeed it is not the best, not the worst, Bond Movie but I would recommend you to get your lay arses off and get to the cinema for it. 

The movie starts with the best opening scene I have seen in a Bond Movie,  to tell you the truth. James is in the magical Mexico City exactly on the Day of the Dead. We see him in the middle of the parade, trying to catch an Italian member of Spectre (we find later on about the Spectre association). The shot holds from the parade to the hotel and then launches us to a chase on the top of the buildings (amazing roofline continuous shot!). But that is not all! Insert some explosives and a building collapsing, only Bond and the villain getting out alive (of course!). All topping up with a helicopter flight - fight over the parade. It's ok! It's legal for Bond to jeopardise thousands of people just to kill someone and get his hands on a ring ;) 
Chasing scene at the beginning of the movie - Mexico City
Take that scene aside and some smaller ones and you will get some good stuff, but to tell you the truth (and I asked many of my friends of their opinion as well) Spectre does not raise up to the level of Skyfall.  The music was ok but not inspiring and I was missing both Madonna and Adele on the soundtrack... the credit scene was slippery... tentacles included! :/ 

Don't get me wrong, I quite like Daniel Craig as Bond but for me Bond will ALWAYS be Sean Connery. I go back a long way with him :) I remember watching movies with him since I was a wee lass. Of course it is the same story about Roger Moore = The Saint! Always! On the other hand I must admit now Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig are fighting for the 2nd place as Bond in my heart :) He plays 4 movies over 10 years and now he retires in almost all the glory it deserves. 

Spectre was supposed to bring all the last movies of Daniel Craig as Bond together as one, but sometimes it fails... it would be good if you could, before watching Spectre, rewatch the other 3! During the movie there are quite a lot of references to them, and you may feel lost a bit if you never watched them before. On the bright side, we have the amazing villain Christoph Waltz - the alter ego of James?... I have mixed feelings about him. He was not as cool and frightening as Javier Bardem, but he was a nice and spicy addition nonetheless. 
Daniel Craig, Monica Belucci, Lea Seydoux @ London Premiere of Spectre
On the even more bright side we have Miss Seydoux - the first lady that almost got me thinking that she may be Bond's equal, even though they do not quite spend that much time together on screen :/ she does really point out some mean and true questions to Bond, in a psychoanalyst way, that gets him wondering. It's a good way to say goodbye to James Bond - Daniel Craig, as he catches the criminal and gets the girl in the end. They all live happily ever after... 

The very best part of Spectre - as almost in all James Bond movies - is the supporting team comprised of: Ralph Fiennes as the new M (loved him!), Naomi Harris as Money Penny (the first colored Money Penny - she is sparkling sweet and smart and reliable) and gorgeous Ben Whishaw as the tech - freak gadget - creator computer - hacker Q (I just love his character and how in Spectre they got him doing some field work as well!).

Overall I would grade Spectre 7 out of 10 stars - definitely not one of the best but for sure not one of the worst. Would I like to see it at the cinema (big screen) even after knowing this? Yes, I would. Would I pay for another ticket just to rewatch it on the big screen? Nope, not really - but I bet I will do that for the new Star Wars movie that is coming in less than a month! Have you seen Spectre? If so, did you pay up for the big screen (maybe even IMAX) experience? Did you feel you were cheated or did you think Daniel was a good Bond until the end? I believe he did quite a good job. He ain't no Sean Connery, that's true! but I do think he fitted in like a glove in those suits/tuxedos and was quite fluid in his movements when it came to the action scenes ;) Now you tell me your feelings!

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Will ALWAYS Enjoy a Bond. James Bond! Movie :)
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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Krakow - Sukiennice Kompania Kuflowa - Delicious food in Large Portions

Dearest hearts,

You know me: I love to share the things I enjoy, knowing that maybe one day you will enjoy it too! :) Since I started this blog I have been with my awesome other half and with dear friends to new places. I have searched and researched about them so I could tell you their story. Today I will share with you a place to which we have becomes regulars this year - not a month goes by without us visiting this place a couple of times.  
Have you ever heard about Kompania Kuflowa? If you ever lived in Kraków you surely have, and probably ate there a meal or two (possibly with your family or friends). You may also remember (especially if you are quite old readers of mine) me singing praises to the awesome chefs at Pod Wawelem. Well, Kompania Kuflowa owns both the Pod Wawelem (in Kraków since 1856, right in the Planty, next to the Wawel Castle) and the newly reopened Pod Sukienicce (in Kraków since 1875, in the Main Market Square). The menu is the same and the prices do not differ. The setting of the Pod Sukienicce though is more attractive to us :) and the place is more quiet and a bit more spacious. 
The type of food that Kompania Kuflowa serves is typically Polish / European food, the dishes mainly containing meat - be it chicken, veal, pork. When it comes to the drinks I strongly recommend going for the beer - tap is highly suggested, especially as it is Polish beer at a good price and quite decent taste. If you get beer, you will also be given (free of charge) the additional sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and pickled cucumber. You can never have beer on its own! There must always be an after-bite! Also, in their menu you will see a recommendation for either "frikadelle with mustard" (kinda like a bit meatball, slices to several pieces) or "oscypek" (mountain cheese from the grill). Both are delicious!
Today though, I will present to you an awesome dishes we have discovered just last month + an entre option that I really like :) The entre option that I love is the Cheese Board / Platter, that would make a good starter for even 4 grownups ;) it is a cold hors d'oeuvre, extremely tasty and filling - we are talking about several types of cheese here! It features a blend of cheeses typically Polish but also non-Polish: sheep cheese (bryndzy), Bulgarian cow cheese, dor blue, Gouda cheese and mountain cheese (oscypek) - type Camembert. Besides it, you will also get some apple, grapes and nuts + a small basket with bread. 
After that delicious treat, you can try out the "Ognista szpada" - translation: "Fiery sword". Apparently that is also one of their bestsellers - I cannot remember how many times I have seen it served, in both locations! You can choose between the 2 versions: pork and chicken, but we recommend you the pork as it is delicious. The chicken sometimes tends to be quite dry :/ but the pork is always finger-licking good. On the long "sword" you will find plums, apricots, onion, pepper, bacon (mouth watering!) and chicken or pork. As a side dish you have both rice and home style potatoes + cabbage + 3 types of sauces: tzatziki (my personal favourite), barbecue (2nd, but comes pretty close!) and ljutenica (hardly ever eat it...). The combination of tastes is amazing and when they bring the dish it is impressive as they bring it with a colored apple that is burning! :) there is about 400 gr of meat there and it is quite heavy, so one portion is recommended for 2 people ;)
All the dishes in Kompania Kuflowa are prepared individually and the ingredients are always fresh. We never ever had any problem with any meal, in any of the 2 locations. The main reviews complain about the waiting time, but you have to understand this is a large restaurant serving numerous customers + on their website and on their menus it specifically points out that the waiting time for warm dishes is at least 20 minutes! 

The Prices:
Kompania Kuflowa accepts only Visa Cards or regular cash pay.
- Cheese Platter = "Deska series z orzechami I winogronami" = 23 zloty
- Fiery sword = "Ognista szpada z kurczaka lub wieprzowiny z boczkiem" = 34 zloty
- Tyskie beer - 1 litre = 15 zloty
- Pilsner Urquell - 1 litre = 18 zloty
- water 0.25 l = 5 zloty 
- Hot tea = 6 zloty 
- coffee = 6 zloty 
- latte = 9 zloty (never tried it but I heard it has a lot of coffeine in it...)
They also have seasonal "kompot" made out of sour cherries or pears - 200 ml for 9 zloty 
The Restauracja Sukiennice - Kompania Kuflowa has 69 reviews on TripAdvisor and scores 4 stars out of 5. It is also listed as #245 of 1021 restaurants in Kraków and #268 of 1102 places to eat in Kraków

Tips and tricks:
#1 If it is your bday that day and you have the ID with you, and you tell them that from the start, they will come sing happy birthday to you and bring you the complimentary piece of chocolate cake - free of charge! :) (this year I tasted it and it was delicious and very sweet!)
#2 Wait for them to bring the check. Don't go to the counter and pay - it is not customary and you will lose the sour cherry vodka shot. You get that one for free ;) just be patient!

My dearest hearts, have you ever tried one of Kompania Kuflowa 's locations? If so, I would love to hear your opinion on it. I never had a bad experience with the waiters or the food and unless you are a vegetarian, I suggest you try this place out :) it's  central location, wonderful view, good food and nice serving people really recommends itself!

** This post was made out of love for good food. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! **  

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves Kompania Kuflowa
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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Krakow - Choco Cafe - A Little Wonder

Good day everyone!

I hope you are feeling well today, ready to take on the challenges of the world. If not, don't you worry! I bet you have enough strength in you to smile. Smiling always will make you feel better, especially if you mean it. Maybe at first you won't, but then maybe a small child will smile back at you, or you will see a beautifully colored tree against the setting sky and then you will truly smile :) if everything else fails... well then... don't you worry! There is always a yummy thing called CHOCOLATE that will make you smile wide :) and today I will share with you a "little wonder" that we have discovered in Kraków with the help of 2 sweet friends - thank you Ania and Lukasz :*
Our dear friends came over for a day-two (for a concert in Kraków, and they came early to see us) and we enjoyed a Sunday together. I always love it when friends dear to us sleepover. We can get to talk to them and plan new outings, at leisure. Sunday we went out and ate at our very favourite Pod Sukienicce (you remember Pod Wawelem, of course, they are from the same chain of restaurants). Ania, when she was studying in Kraków, worked at a very nice coffee/hot chocolate shop and she hadn't been there in years. Even though we were full from the awesome meal at Pod Sukienicce, we could not say no to trying a new place out :)
Small details @ Choco Cafe Krakow
That is how we ended out in Choco Cafe on Wislna 8. I must admit I have passed that street a couple of times and I have never seen it... it did not jump out and scream: "Come here!" Yet the place is extremely cosy and constantly full. The Choco Cafe has 4 rooms connected to eachother, with stairs from one room to the other. As you enter, you can see the counter/bar area and to the right you have small 2 people tables with a continuous couch. There is a special 2 person table, a bit above the ground level, with a view outside - the couple would constantly be watched by people outside, or maybe they will watch the passer-by people?... depends how you look on it! We stayed in the next rooms, quite small, with only 2 tables - one for 4 and one for 2. Take 2-3 stairs up and you can get to 2 more other small salons - children friendly ;)
I had the Bailey's Ice - 3 scoops of icecream, topped with Bailey's Irish whiskey, whipped cream and a lot of forest nuts that went delicious with the whole composition. Marek - my awesome other half - had a Royal Chocolate and was very impressed of the combination of tastes. He agreed that we must go again and try new things from the menu. Ania had a white chocolate with strawberry syrup and whipped cream - extremely smooth and creamy and delicious and sweet... that was one caloric bomb! I would say this place is not recommended for people with diabetes ;) Lukasz wanted some sernik (= polish cheesecake) but they were all out... that is what I think I will try next! :) he told me it was finger licking glorious...
Inside view - first room @ Choco Cafe Krakow
The Facebook page was launched in 2013, but I am unsure if the Choco Cafe was not open even before that! This lovely, cozy and very warm place is open Monday through Sunday between 08:00-22:00. As "Cuisine" they are listed as "Breakfast, Delis and Sandwiches", but I would treat them more as a very nice desserts place, for family and friends. The Choco Cafe takes bookings, walk-ins, groups or parties. It is a place more for table service but you can also go to the counter and order there, if you really wish to - but please be nice and leave the 10% tip for the very nice ladies ;) For the full menu you can go on their bilingual Internet page, but unfortunately the menu is only on the Polish version and it has no translation :( It would be nice if they would invest some time / money and do that in English as well, considering the amount of foreign students and visitors coming in Krakow. They also have a Google Plus Page, also maintained in Polish language, in case you wish to follow them out and see what goodies they will have next ;)
Choco po krolewsku @ Choco Cafe Krakow
- Bailey's Ice (my sweet treat) - 17 zloty
- Choco Po Krolewsku (translated: Royal Chocolate > my awesome husband's treat) - 17 zloty
- Shakes - 14 zloty
- Yogurt Cocktails - 10 zloty 
- Hot chocolate > goes from almost 8 zloty to around 15 zloty (depends what you add to it - whipped cream, fruits, dried fruits, nuts... you name it!)
- Cakes - around 8 zloty per portion (I heard the Cheesecake here is the best, so I need to go again and try that one day)

* NOTE TO YOU, LOVELY PEOPLE: Inside it is usually quite hot, so dress light! 
You will most probably spend around 17-20 zloty per person here, which is a decent price, especially considering the location - very close to the Main Market Square and the Krakow Planty (park area). You can pay cash but also by Visa, American Express, Mastercard. On TripAdvisor, the Choco Cafe is listed as #454 of 1013 Restaurants in Krakow and #494 of 1088 Places To Eat in Krakow - 4 out of 5 stars and 71 reviews (November 2015).
Bailey's Ice @ Choco Cafe Krakow
Have you ever been to the Choco Cafe on Wislna 8 in Krakow? Have you tried anything on their delicious menu? Are you very fond of travelling and you are planning to come to Krakow soon? Thinking of a sweet place to have a small break while in this lovely town? Look no further than Choco Cafe. Even I think of coming back and trying some more of these goodies ;) so if you get there before I do, please share your thoughts and feelings! I would love to hear from you!

** This post was made out of love for good places to hang out with friends. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! **

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover New Places With Friends :) 
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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Things That Money Can't Buy

Good morning sweethearts,

Do you ever wake up in the morning with that feeling that you can rule the world if only you put your mind into it? Then you surely have those moments as well, when along the day, the positive vibes drop and you end up thinking that the world cannot be ruled. Alright, maybe you would be able to rule it a bit if you would have more money. You know all the people say that truly it is the money that makes the world go around...
So you wake up the next day, ready to give your best, earn as much money as you can, thinking that would buy you approval from your family / friends / society. As you earn more you need more, and the wheels of the consumerism keep turning and turning... You no longer live in a dorm, you moved to a flat. From the rented flat you buy the apartment, you sign the 30 years contract for the money lease... and the you have kids and want a house so you exchange the apartment for the house and get more credit... You can be 18 but you may nit be able to live without the latest iPhone and spend your past time in taking "artistic" photos with the newest model of Canon / Nikon DSLR - pick your poison!...
We live in order to consume and we hoard things without even knowing, without considering what we are doing. Sometimes we might stop and reconsider and throw things away or give for charity... but we quickly come back to the old habits. I think it is hard, fighting with ourself each day. Some seem to make it better than other, but I guess all is relative in the eye of the beholder. Maybe what we should all look forward is being content with ourself. Being at peace with yourself is the first step. Being at peace with the people around you is the next one. The fact that you cannot change the world, but only yourself... this idea, this truth, should sink in us and be part of our DNA.
Instead of looking into this moment we always focalize either on the past or the future. That is when we start complaining and seeing the grass greener on the other side... I shall try my best to stop my rant here, and share with you some of the things I believe you cannot buy... some things are just not made to be bought with money, some things you cannot measure their value and put a price on it... For me, here is the top 3 of those "things":
Astronomical Clock - Prague - Czech Republic - made by #twistedredladybug
1. Money can't buy you time - there was no time machine created, as much as we would love to have such an opportunity to see your future and how humanity would look like in the next dozen years... The is no price you can pay to stop time and make you stop aging, nor will you be able to get more time with the ones you love once they will die. You cannot reverse time and you cannot put a price on the time you lost... make the most out of it and make each second count.
2. Money can't buy you love - it may buy you some kind of popularity or influence but it will not buy you the love of the people around you. Take for example Queen Marie Antoinette... she had all the money and jewels and dresses/shoes, horses... she would wish for, she was popular, yet she was not loved by the French people. She died not knowing that what was most important was to have the heart of her people. Now take for example Princess Diana - also named worldwide The Queen of Hearts. She gave herself to helping people, she understood the need of each person she met and she dedicated herself to love the people she was surrounded by. She was (and is) loved and not for her bank account.
3. Money can't buy you happiness - I have seen more people with less money that they were more happy than many people with larger bank account details... People stubbornly believe that a bigger house and a newer car and a fat bank account would make them happy and they chase their whole life away this false god that they make. They cloud their vision with parties and fake friendships that would go down the drain if they would become bankrupt... they do not see that being happy lies in each of us. A dormant power connected to love, family and friendship. 

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Knows Money Can't Buy Everything!
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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Marvel Illustrated Classics Jane Austen Adaptations

Dearest hearts,

What better way to spend the day, than having a book by your side and a cup of tea. This reminds me of the lovely quote by C.S. Lewis: "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Back home, in Iasi, we have books in every room and I have always been fond of books, ever since I was a wee lass. I would go every month and borrow from the National Library items in Romanian & English. When I went to the USA, in 2007, half of the luggage was filled with gifts & clothes and half was filled with books. In my bag, at any given time, I need to have a book - I read while I commute: on the bus, on the train... you name it! Here, home, in Krakow our library keeps growing so I thought it through recently and I realised my hunger for books and for a book long enough to suit me, will never stop. Somehow I had to work around this!
I have always loved period/classical books. I feel I have always been attracted to the drama, the old way of thinking and behaving. If I would have to attach myself to a Downton Abbey type of environment and time, for sure I would be like Sybil - I would always speak up my mind and get into trouble. But that would totally be worth it, as she gets True Love in the end :) I grew up reading and re-reading Jane Austen books and bit by bit my collection of books and movies grew more and more. Now I am a huge fan of BBC adaptations and I can firmly say to everyone that they represent the fairest view over any book they put into play! They have attention to details and nothing falls short! 
But what do you do if you love books, you love movies, you love to collect yet you do not want to have to rent another house, just to live in, so you could have space for all the things you wish? Does that not also contradict with the wish I have to travel more and be able to live from just one suicase?! Well... I must admit, there is a long way to go! But I am redirecting my thoughts / attention / money more and more from books and into comic books... or maybe I am experiencing a second childhood? :) Who can tell?! I always wanted to have the Marvel Illustrated Classics Jane Austen Adaptations ever since I heard they were on the shelve... Come on! Let us face it: even if Jane Austen's stories have more than 200 years, they are as lovely and as funny and charming as ever! And imagine the novels in a comic book form! I was intrigued when I saw this at first, and then I knew that one day... I would have them all :) 
Northanger Abbey - Marvel Illustrated Classics
Nancy Butler is the genius behind these lovely adaptations. In the intro of each comic book you can see clearly the work and the deep thought she put into it. Reading what she has to say about the novel and the way she brought them to life, makes you think she must really love the novels as you do! Marvel has reimagined (so far) Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. Each is abridged by writer Nancy Butler but there are different teams of artists working on the panels. Of course, creating a comic book out of a novel is a hard work - what to cut, what to condense, what to leave as it is... what makes the novel be the hit that it is, even hundreds of years. What is that something that appeals to the audience - both now and then?
I almost have them all - only Pride and Prejudice is missing... - and I must admit that my favourite is the Sense and Sensibility Classic Adaptation. The coloring is soft and delicate (pink and pastels, very girly!) and the cover is perfect match. Quite text heavy, it still has a couple of panels that work marvelously without any wording. Of course, in the case of all the comic books listed above, it is better to read the novel so you would understand more - else the comics might make you feel you need a bit more... Either way, I really consider the Marvel Illustrated Classics Jane Austen Adaptations as a must for every Janeite (aka Jane Austen fan). 
Emma - Marvel Illustrated Classics
Northanger Abbey - Marvel Illustrated Classics
If you love comic books, if you love period drama, if you love Jane Austen, you will love these Marvel adaptations and you will be twice as happy to have them as they are easy to read - easy to store. Paperback bound, with the dimensions of 144.78 x 223.52 x 15.24mm | 226.8g - they are easy to carry around. The 128 pages can be read at one go, but if you are like me you will fight with yourself to put the book down so you could enjoy it a bit the next day ;) Or, again as in my case, you will find yourself reading and re-reading it, while admiring the panels. You will find something new each time you will have a look in them and you would wish Jane Austen could have wrote more novels... God bless her soul! :) Her main characters indeed had everything she lacked of - true love fulfilled. 

Have you read any of the Jane Austen novels? Have you tried the Marvel comic books? Or maybe you had no clue that they existed until now, and this comes as a shock?! :o Now you can run to the closest bookstore and see if they have it. If not, for sure Book Depository has them - that is where I bought them from, and they came in great condition ;) Good luck and happy reading, dearests! :)

** This post was made out of love for period books/comics and great stories told by Jane Austen. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! **

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug In Love With Jane Austen's World
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Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Dark Side Of Kraków - Negative Aspects

My dear friends,

I was just doing a count of the posts and guess what? Today I reached the terrible and highly discussed number of 666 posts. I was thinking maybe I should tall about the meaning of life or about something deep that would burn in you like fire and make you realise that you need to be the best person you can be... then I realised I am not a brilliant writer and probably you know that life is worth living, even if it punches you in the guts from time to time... that is just how things go! Some people call it karma...
Not sure where I took this one from, but it is EXTREMELY fitting! If you know whom created this, let me know so I can mark them down - and KUDOS! to the artist :) Great job!
Still, I wanted to share with you something different today, and I realised that until now I have painted - mostly - quite a warm, fuzzy, sunny picture of Kraków and Poland in general... Mea culpa! Every city and even country has both its good, bad and ugly parts. Well... today is the day when justice will be made. Get a cup of tea and get back here to read what you can also expect from Kraków (Poland). But this time, The Dark Side!
Early Morning, November 2015 - Kraków - Poland 
1. The Kraków Smog - I have recently read that a top of the most polluted cities in Europe was made, and Kraków was on the 3rd place! (Right after 2 other cities in Bulgaria). The smog usually has 3 main causes, as far as I researched: a) the high usage of coal as a way of heating the houses (cheap but also very unhealthy); b) the valley like area of the city - without any wind, the fog / smog will stay put for days and become more and more dense!; c) add to that the fact that less than a hour away, by highway, you have Katowice - the most industrial city in Poland - and that when the wind blows there, everything migrates to Kraków... and you have one hell of a nightmare!
That usually happens between  autumn and winter, when the rains stop, people begin heating their homes and the air becomes unbreathable... I believe November is the worst month... one day you just wake up and you just can't see the sun anymore... everything is just a milky foamy dark grey mass of unhealthiest toxins you can ever imagine... suddenly you can no longer see the block of flats next door and you have a feeling that the fog is so dense you could cit it with a knife...
There is even a bilingual Web page that focuses on the bad effects of smog in Kraków and applications that show how unhealthy some regions of the city are - color coded: green = good air, yellow = medium, red = bad air (try to stay indoor and don't move much outside).  I would say to tourists not to come to Krakow in November... Even though the Wawel Castle is always free then ;) better to stay indoors! Better safe than sorry!
Main Square - Krakow - Poland
2) Pidgeons - "The flying rats" - I may get touchy in regards to this subject, as I dearly love birds and I like feeding them. I had both nice and frightening - Hitchcock like experiences - with pidgeons. Back home, in Union Square (Piata Unirii) there are always flocks of pidgeons and there are small children and parents alike feeding them... I even have a picture when I was a wee lass, with my sister, in the middle of the group of birds. If you move slow, they will come to you :)
Here, in Kraków, pidgeons are of a whole different level. It's like they are no longer afraid of people. I blame that on the huge amount of tourists and locals feeding them... I have also never seen Pidgeons like here! They are fat and big and uncaring of what happens around them... Did you know that pidgeons are the ONLY animals (birds) that do not know when to stop when they are eating? They can and will continue to do so until their stomachs will burst!
People here - to tell you the truth, mostly tourists - feed them... The city (council and society) have banned the feeding of pidgeons and they have installed spikes all other the castle / old buildings / houses and new flats. Let's face it, they may be nice but their poo is toxic and they carry out a lot of diseases. Did you know histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease that may be fatal and it is carried by those small lovely pidgeons?! Not to mention: cryptococcal meningitis, salmonella and listeria, viral encephalitis and E. Coli! Stop feeding them!
More about ethnic minorities in Poland
3) The Tolerance Level To Black / Muslim / Indian people - I must admit it is quite low... As I have mentioned numerous times before, Polish people are a proud and nationalistic nation. They are free spirited and kind yet very restrictive when it comes to welcoming foreigners. If you cut them, they will bleed history and red and white love. They are proud of their history and all along they have fought for their country to be free.
It is not hard to understand then why they like to keep with themselves, but once you befriend a Polish person (usually) that person will be your friend for life. Now with all the issue in Ukraine there are a lot of Ukrainians that came to Poland - to work and find a better living. But what about the wave of immigrants that spreads across Europe?
What about giving each immigrant each month money for not working... well let's just take the example of Wroclaw. Yesterday was 11th of November - settled as a independence day here in Poland. IBM has issued an announcement a week before the event, stating that - as usual - demonstrations and gatherings will be held to celebrate the day, but the foreigners should stay clear out of it as it may turn against them. From 41 cases of disturbance in regards to foreigners (in Wroclaw) in 2013, there were 10 extra in 2014 and the number keeps growing this year. But let us be clear, I still think Poland is a peaceful country, all that they wish is to live in peace!

Have you visited / lived in Kraków? I would love to hear if you have experienced any racial issues or if you have discovered any other parts of the #darksideofkrakow ;))) I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings and I would love to hear your stories connected to the 3 faults I listed here. Is this your top 3 as well? 

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Chooses To See Krakow In Bright Colors (Most OF The Days...)
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Monday, 9 November 2015

Krakow - Sphinx Restaurant

Dearest friends,

Here we are, at the beginning of a new week, counting again the days until Star Wars Episode 7 (I still believe I am not psychologically ready to see Han & Leia & Luke & Chewie without bursting out loud and crying my eyes off!). Let's face it! This year it topped up counting the days till Christmas! Social media got flooded by the events and countdowns to the moment when we will see on the screen the moment that surely will take our breath away... "Chewie, we're home!"... but until then, let us redirect our thoughts to a more domestic environment, and bare with me while I will present to you today one of the restaurants part of a chain here in Poland.
The Sphinx Restaurants can be found all over Poland. Part of the chain of restaurants found in different Polish cities, including Kraków and Warsaw, it is a good choice if you are really hungry and all you wish for is huge portions & quite quick service. You should not be very picky though! Even if the menu is quite extensive, from pasta dishes to stakes and Shoarma (pork, beef or chicken), you will not find exquisite things. I would even dare place it towards a fast food type of place, hinting a bit to the Mc Donald / KFC taste (especially when it comes to the French fries - shaworma burger thingie....
There are various locations in Kraków that you can choose from - including the one in the city center, Galeria Krakowska ;) but I heard there the service may be a bit slower... We tested the one in Factory Kraków, on Profesora Adama Rozanskiego 32. That would be ground floor, close to the C&A outlet shop. The service was extremely friendly, the place was fully booked, we had to wait a few minutes until a table was clear for us, but the waiter was nice. Plus the prices are quite affordable. It is true, it may be slightly a bit more expensive than  Babcia Malina but it is about the same price as Restauracja Pod Wawelem - and if I could choose, I would have chosen Pod Wawelem / Pod Sukienicce but that was too far off :( Sphinx gets to 30-35 per meal, including a drink.
To be fair, Restauracja Sphinx has quite a ok rating also on the TripAdvisor - reaching #574 out of 1085 places to eat in Kraków & #525 out if 1010 restaurants in Kraków, with 3.5 stars out of 5 and 109 reviews (November 2015). As far as I could see, there were families with kids (even small ones) so I guess it can be considered as a children friendly place. On their main website they do have a section directed especially "dla dzieci" - for kids - where they have special food & portions for the small ones.

Opening hours are between 9 am to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday & Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm.
- Lemonade (very nice, cold and sour, just as I like it!) + Shoarma = around 30 zloty :)

I would really appreciate if you could share your experience in regards to the Sphinx Restaurant chain. I have heard and read so many combined opinions I am not sure what to believe. We had a nice experience, the restaurant was full, we were hungry and we ate everything, yet we were not impresssed... how about you? Would you, after reading this, think about giving it a go?
** This post was made out of love for good food. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! ** 

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug - scouting for the #foodsofkrakow
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Friday, 6 November 2015

Why I Love/Hate Career Fairs

Dearest hearts,

How many of you have done voluntary work, social work? Nowdays it's a trend to do it just because it's posh or it's the right thing to do. I met only few people in my life that genuinely did it because they cared for that specific topic. I started doing a lot of voluntary work in my University years, when I joined the League of Economic Students. It was fun and also at the same time you had the feeling that you were doing something good not only for yourself but also for society.
As you grow up maybe you will start looking around you and see that you are not alone in this world. You will maybe see that with the knowledge you have, you can help people, guide them along the way. I love how my company allows people to experiment with voluntary work and sustains different/diverse projects that would allow everyone to have their pick. I like to help in all, if I can have time, through taking pictures of the projects.
This year, at the very beginning, you may remember me mentioning about a Career Fair. We do this kind of presentations at least twice a year - spring and autumn - in Kraków, Wroclaw and Warsaw. I always like to go to the Kraków one. Just last week, on Thursday, there was the Absolvent Talent Day, again in ICE Kraków Arena. I was glad and at the same time disturbed to be part of it... let me tell you why I have this love-hate relationship with this type of events...
The Coca-Cola interactive stand
The Love - it comes from the very awesome idea to bring in one place all the potential recruiters from all the companies, with all their job openings and opportunities for internship, and allowing people to ask openly questions about the work/company/benefits and apply for a new job.  It comes from the idea that youngsters and older people alike are allowed freely in a market place of jobs where they can look around and see what the market has to offer and in what domain they could centralise their power and will to learn more. Did I also mention the entrance is always free? ;)
The Hate - it comes from the human nature that has its flaws... not everyone is responsible enough or thinks of how things work in this world. There may be a few - or maybe more, in this last fair I have been... - that come to see only the things that they can get for free... and that is saddening.  I did not see this so clear the other times but during the Absolvent Talent Day this year I just wanted to shout out (maybe even box the ears of some....).
The Goodies of my company :)
You know how companies, at fairs, bring gadgets that they can handout (notebooks, pencils, pens, brooches, pins, umbrellas, tote bags... with the company logo)... well there are people whom, I believe, come in to the fair just for that! We were talking to people about the company, I turned the back to the desk, and poof... the whole cup (mug) filled with pencils disappeared.  Cup included! And I actually saw this happening on more than one stand... people just grabbing things away and not caring about the fair itself...
What is the purpose of having a career fair only for people to come and grab the free things? Maybe this could be avoided by having a 10 zloty entrance fee. In that way everyone who is truly and genuinely interested would pay and come in. On the other hand... if they pay 10 zloty would they not be even more interested to see "what they can get out of it" and then drag the whole stands apart?
The catering was much better this edition ;)
I am confused over the way the mind of some people works... why would you need 100 pens... what will you do with them? Does grabbing them qualify as stealing if they were actually setup for the audience... I love Career Fairs, don't get me wrong! I take pictures until my arm hurts & I speak about the company from 10 to 5 until my throat is in pins... but why is human nature failing us... why can we not act responsible? What is your opinion on this? Have you ever been to a career fair? Did you see this behaviour as well? Tell me your thoughts on this...

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to volunteer
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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

How To... Know You Are (Most Probably) Talking To Someone Who's Polish

Good day my dear sweethearts!

Have you welcomed the lovely month of November yet? Counting the days until the coming of the new Star Wars movie & Christmas? I know I am :)  I can hardly wait for that... I keep looking at the calendar and I feel the months and days slipping through my fingers, like the sands of time. It was spring just yesterday, where did it all go away? On the bright side, today we are back with another "How To... In Poland" session. 
How Do You Recognise The Polish Lads/Lasses From The Crowd?!
This is a helpful session for those travellers who may bump into other people while travelling, and might wish to know more about the regular Polish lad/lass. Even if thery will not say they are from Poland (which is impossible, as they are very proud and nationalistic, and love to talk of their country!) you will still be able to figure them out with a little help from the list below. So, without further ado, let me tell you a few signs that would show if someone is Polish or not (or if he/she has Polish roots):
  1. First of all, the accent may be perfectly British (most of the Polish friends I have speak English with a perfect British accent!) but when they will speak with their friends/family they will automatically switch and you will not recognise them anymore! Be prepared for a lot of weird sounds (that sound very much like parseltongue...) like sz, cz...
  2. Second of all (or maybe even first, to tell you the truth!)... OMG! I have never seen a nation complain more :))) and it is so damn contagious! I see myself doing that more and more! The complaining over anything and everything is a conversation started and everyone does it! It's like a national sport...
  3. The kissing - always 3 times! Left - Right - Left cheek! and for ladies, from gentleman, you will receive a lovely kiss on the right hand. Very gentleman like ;)
  4. Are they telling you stories of weekends with the family, where they would wake up in the smell of freshly baked cookies (they may even mention the magical word "ciasto") & they would have the traditional lunch with everyone. Lunch would always include "rosol" = chicken soup + potatoes with salad and meat. If they visit you in the weekend, for lunch, and you don't have that... they may be surprised or wait for more ;)
  5. There is no celebrating of Halloween, but there is the All Saints Day! That would be the day of prayer for all the souls... The first day of November is a holiday in Poland. As many people make journeys to visit the burial places of their relatives, heavy traffic develops and accident statistics peak. Most commercial activity also ceases. Cities set up special bus lines which travel between traffic hubs and cemetaries. Streets are filled with silent and solemn crowds, and cemeteries glow with thousands of candles, presenting a unique and picturesque scene. So if they are not around during that time... you know why ;)
  6. When it comes to Christmas celebrations, get ready if they ever invite you! Especially if they invite you to their very own home - family included! Christmas dinner = 12 dishes (like the 12 apostols, that's right!) and you also need to share good wishes with the family. The whole family!
  7. They tend not to celebrate their birth date but their namesake. So don't worry if you forget their birthday (even if Facebook will remind you of that!) as they rather enjoy celebrating their name day. 
  8. You will be served tea - without milk - no matter the time when you will visit. It's morning, you drop by for a small chat - first question: would you like some tea? Afternoon, you drop by, maybe you wish to tell him of a bad news... - first reaction: let me put the kettle on for some tea! Evening, you come just to say hi - it's so dark outside, let's have some tea! ;))) I am kidding here, but trust me, they will always offer your tea! There is nothing a warm cup of tea can't fix!
  9. The resistency to heavy drinking - especially beer & vodka. I have not seen another nation - except the Russian people - that can handle this large amounts of beer / vodka without looking affected by it. I blame that on the rather colder weather in Poland... but still... I think it may be something in their genes! They will be the ones not bringing beer to the parties, but bringing the bottle of vodka with the small vodka shot! ;)
  10. The helping hand - they may not know you but they will jump in and give you a helping hand. Of course, complaining all along, but they will help. They are not afraid of hard work and once they become your friend (and it takes time for them to accept you 100% as friend) they will always be there for you!
Do you feek there is any other tendency / subject / items that gives them away? How do you recognise a Polish person from the crowd - and don't say blue eyes & blonde hair & tall stature... I would love to hear your opinion on this :)
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 
  12. Know You Are (Most Probably) Talking To Someone Who's Polish - today's letter to you :)
If you feel you would like me to treat a specific subject, please feel free to Contact Me :) 
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, 1 November 2015

Romania - Iasi: Jassyro - Timeless Coffee Shop

Good morning everyone!

What better way to start the day, to start the month ;))) some people may say, than speaking about coffee - be frank! you may have a cup of coffee just now in your hand! Europe has the highest per capita coffee consumption in the world. The EU consumes 2.5 million tons coffee per year, which equates to 4 kilos of roasted coffee per EU inhabitant per year. Every day some 725 million cups of coffee are drunk in the EU.  
The history of coffee goes at least as far back as the 10th century, with a number of reports and legends surrounding its first use. The native (undomesticated) origin of coffee is thought to have been Ethiopia. The earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, Horn of Africa, and northern Africa. Coffee then spread to the Balkans, Italy and to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia and then to America.
The first thing that my husband does, when he wakes up in the morning, is to put the kettle on - in order to make a cup of fresh coffee. He is the only one who drinks coffee in this house... I dont drink it (except for weddings) but I love its smell. Especially in the morning :) It reminds me of home, of childhood - yes, my Mum & Granny & Dad are also huge consumers of coffee. My Granny does not have breakfast. For her, breakfast = fresh coffee, hot & a piece of good chocolate. My husband does not have breakfast either. For him, breakfast = fresh coffee, hot & a good smoke ;))) I preffer my real breakfast but I understand how some people just cannot get out of bed without coffee - it can get addictive!
While at home, this September, I went out with my dearest friend Catalina. She wanted to introduce me to "the best coffee place in town!" but as I do not drink coffee, she took me either way and introduced me to the best white tea I have ever had! I had a white tea with spirulina. Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on Earth. In fact, this blue-green microalgae is partly responsible for producing the oxygen in the planet's atmosphere that billions of years ago allowed the planet's originating life forms to develop. Spirulina is the world's first superfood, and one of the most nutrient-rich foods on Earth.
Spirulina provides a wide range of health benefits almost immediately upon ingestion. It provides a near-instantaneous boost to one's energy, while helping to improve endurance and reduce fatigue. It helps improve the immune system, and provides exceptional support for the heart, liver, and kidneys. Spirulina is also a natural detoxifier, oxygenating the blood, and helping cleanse the body of toxins and other impurities that may be causing illnesses or other health complications.
Anyway, enough info on spirulina now :p Bottom line is the tea was just amazing! But I would like to tell you more about the place Catalina took me. The small shop is called JassyRo and it is on the Stefan cel Mare street - the one that leads from Piata Unirii (Union Square) to the Palace of Culture. You may pass it and not notice it, as it is quite small and it has only outside seatings, on the stairs leading to the entrance. But pay attention and notice it! As you enter you will be at first scared of how crowded it is + relaxed from the smiles of the people inside + the smell of coffee will overwhelm you and put a smile on your face as well (even though you may not drink coffee, as I don't). JassyRo has now over 1 year existence and was developed by a lovely couple - Dana & Silviu - who is very much in love with coffee & coffee making. For them coffee always has a story to tell ;) 
They are open and friendly, and most of the customers that come to them are now their friends as well, and regulars to the shop. The shop creates a very home-like, friendly experience. But if you are not a coffee lover, worry not! as they serve also several types of tea (white, green and black), fresh natural juices (from Poland!), hot chocolate, milk, wine & some delicously looking cookies. You can check their prices online & you can order the coffee/tea in advance (10 min and then you can pick it up). 

Prices @November 2015:
- white tea with spirulina = 6 RON
- hot chocolate white with milk = 7 RON
- cookies (different types) = 3.5 RON
* Where 1 EURO = 4.42 RON
JassyRo is a CASH ONLY place, so don't bring your card! They are listed as #1 of 118 Restaurants in Iasi, on TripAdvisor - with 44 reviews and 5 stars out of  5! 

Opening hours:
Mon - Fri 7:30 am - 2:00 pm
4:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Sat - Sun 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
If ever in Iasi, Romania, and in need for a coffee/tea/hot choco, I really recommend this place! Too bad it has no indoor seating & toilet... but hey! not everything can be perfect! And this is more "on the go" kind of place, so don't complain and smile :) 

** This post was made out of love for great places and good tea. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! **

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug
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