Image Map

Friday, 30 September 2016

Legends of Kraków: St. Mary's Church - The Hejnal

Dearest hearts,

Krakow is a magical city filled with legends at each and every footstep. All you need to do is listen to its stories with an open heart and its beauties will unfold. This takes time and takes commitment also from your side ;)  Nowdays people - when they travel - they do it absent mindedly. They focus on the main points of interest in the city, they stand in lines to buy tickets to the "must see"places, they take picture after picture after picture... and they do not enjoy the environment, they do not breathe in the true nature of the place they visit. Most of the times they just go through the "city break"without truly learning something. I, for one, love the legends and stories and myths connected to each place I visit. I wonder and I ask questions... I am that person in the group that always has to stand up and ask the embarassing/awkward/weird questions - that's me! That's why I know so many legends and stories about Krakow - like the one about Kosciol Mariacki and the 2 brothers. Well today I will tell you another story, also related to Kosciol Mariacki - St. Mary's Church in Krakow. 
If you ever visited Krakow than you must have heard the bugle call from the top of St. Mary's Church - the central church in the Main Market Square. You must have seen crowds gathering every hour to catch a glimpse of the golden trumpet that comes out of the most upper windows of the tallest tower. It first plays its song on the West window followed by the East, South and North. At noon the signal is always broadcasted by the national Polish radio station, ever since the 1920s. It's a sound that the Krakowians love and know by heart! 
It is said that the broken signal dates from the Middle Ages, when it would signal the opening and closing of the city gates - the tower gives a perfect view of the Florianska street and Florianska Gate leading further on to the Barbakan (the main entrance to the city, through its defence walls). The bugler on top of the tower would also play the song in case of fire or enemy attack. The song of the bugle that ends so abruptly is - it is said - due to a trumpeteer that lost its life during a mongol attack in 1241. It is said that an arrow pierced his throat while he was singing the warning alarm. This "celebration" of the trumpeteers bravery - the song being played on top of the St. Mary Church, in the higher tower - was done almost without any interruption for over 700 years! The Hejnal is played daily, each and every hour, by one of the fireman standing there on 12 hours shifts! They play it no matter the weather or any other circumstances and it is considered good luck if you wave to him and if he waves back ;) 

Interesting Facts: 
1) During the Second World War, a bugler from the 2nd Polish Corps played the tune to announce the Polish victory in the Battle of Monte Cassino on 18 May 1944. 
2) The longest-serving trumpeter was Adolf Śmietana, who played the Hejnał for 36 years beginning in 1926. The Kołton family has played the Hejnał for three consecutive generations. In October 2004, Jan Kołton retired after 33 years of service at the tower. His father had been a Hejnał bugler for 35 years previously, while his son is one of the four current buglers.

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves Kraków and it's legends and stories
Read more ...

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Travel Tuesday: Why Should One Visit Kraków?

Dearest travellers,
Dear friends,

You know that there are a few things that enriched us, that fill our souls with glee, you know that travelling is one of them. If you think about it, as you grow older and wiser, you realise that you don't need things that are material, what you really need and what your sould craves for are experiences and memories that you can never forget. You don't need a mansion, you need a weekend break in a place you have never been. In the end it's not like you will be able to take your Ferrari or your iPhone 7 to the grave... but you can take your thoughts and feelings and memories anywhere. And the best part is that no one can take them away from you. So... basically what I am saying here is that you should travel. Travel as much as you can and as often as you can. Check as many cities and countries as possible and in that way you will know more of the world but also of yourself! If you don't have the money or time for it, don't worry you don't have to go half way around the world: discover your city, your hometown, the regions around it... the places you have never been to ;)
This year due to the LadyBug Baby happening we have not been able to travel abroad that much so we have been blessed with a bit of travelling inside the Polish borders. Of course Warsaw was on the list a couple of times, especially with the Titanic Exhibition going on... and we also had a short day trip to charming Tarnow. But above them all I am still discovering bits and pieces of Kraków.  Even after more than 5 years there are parts that I have not yet put my finger on... Kraków is like that... magical :) and it unfolds itself slowly to the one who really cares for its stories and legends. So without any further ado let me tell you why one should visit Kraków:

1. Kraków is the city of the Polish kings. It is where most of the Kings of Poland had their coronation. That was performed on the Wawel hill, at the Wawel Cathedral - also the resting place of the Kings and Queens.

2. Kraków has the largest public main market square in Europe! (that gets overflooded by tourists each and every summer...)
3. Kraków has the oldest bookstore in Europe! That would be the Matras Bookstore and Coffee Shop at Rynek Główny nb. 23 - the bookstore changed names and ownership but it has always been at that address since 1610.

4. It is said that the Florianska street in Kraków is the most expensive street (when it comes to buying & renting) in Europe... now that may be possible as it's a fully pedestrian street that is always full of people, no matter the time of day or the weather or... anything ;)))

5. The well preserved Barbakan - the beginning of Kraków's Royal Route. The Barbakan of this magical city is one of the 3 structures of its kind still standing in Europe (that is not a reconstruction!) and it's the best preserved one. You can visit it along with the last part of the defence wall that still stands - Florianska gate.

6. Mankind made mounds - have you ever saw the movie "The Man That Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain"? I always think of that when I visit one of Kraków's mounds. It has 4 of them and to should visit them all, but the best views are offered by the Pilsudski Mound (180 degrees view over entire Kraków) and Krakus Mound (view over Podgorze and Kazimierz district).
7. The Royal Route - coming from the Barbakan, going under the Florianska gate, on to Florianska street until it reaches the St. Mary Church (Kosciol Mariacki) and you can see the great Main Market Square, on to Grodzka street until the end, where you reach the Wawel hill with the castle andthe cathedral.

8. The Wawel Cathedral - resting place of the Kings and Queens of old. It also holds the largest bell in the city, and as far as I know the biggest one in Poland! It's name is Sigismund Bell and it takes several people to manage to get it ringing! It is said that if you touch it you will have good luck and if you are a maiden you will get married soon ;) Also, at the entrance of the Cathedral you can see the famous dragon bones being hung up - there is a legend about the Kraków dragon ;)

9. Kazimierz district - the most full of energy, life and joy place you will ever find! Be it night or day, be it sunny or rainy day, Kazimierz is considered "the place to be" if you wish to have a good time. It is the former Jewish district - filled with small streets and colorful kamienice that hold a lot of handmade shops. You can easily get lost there...
10. The Wisla (Vistula) river - one of its best views is provided from the Wawel hill, the outer courtyard of the Wawel Castle. In the summertime or in late spring - early autumn when the weather is fine you can take a water tram and enjoy slowly the views of the 2 banks of the river. It's quite an interesting site even when it heavily rains! It gets bigger and bigger and sometimes we even have floods so that the pedestrian walkway is taken over by the water - but that's still an interesting sight to behold! The power of nature!
Czartoryski Museum
11. The Kraków National Museum - if you are a fan of art or history than you must check out at least one of the branches of the Kraków National Museum. For the ones in love with paintings I recommend the Jan Matejko House on Florianska and the 19th Century Polish Art Museum on the 2nd floor of the Sukienicce. For the ones that love history - the Central Museum next to the Blonia. For the ones in love with Egypt and Greece and The Book of Dead - a must see is the Czartoryski Museum next to the Florianska gate.

12. Blonia - a vast land piece, long and wide, used for patriotic manifestation and picnics or just walks with the dogs or the little ones. It was used the Pope Paul the 2nd and Pope Francis were here. It's one of the few places that can hold thousands in the open air. Plus it's very close to the Old Town and it's located next to the Park Jordana (Kraków's version of Central Park).
Charlotte's 7th Heaven Breakfast
13. Amazing places to have breakfast/ lunch/ dinner - let me tell you about the best breakfast options in the Old Town (in my humble opinion). Good food at a low / fair price can be found easily. And you can have a coffee or a sweet treat in a 15th century cellar!

14. Collegium Maius - the old campus that is built on the old Jewish district. It is also the place where Marie Curie wanted to study but she was not accepted as she was a girl :( but Pope John Paul the 2nd did ;) If you reach the inner courtyard at 11, 13 or 15 o'clock you can also hear the clock chime and sing Gaudeamus Igitur and one of the Polish traditional songs. A very small version of the Prague astronomy clock ;)))
15. One of the 7 chakra points in the world - located in the inner courtyard of the Wawel Castle, at the corner where you would enter to see the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. If you believe in that kind of energies than for sure you know of it. People come from all over the world to touch the wall in that corner ;)

16. The Lady With The Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci's - the second most well known painting done by this great artist. I also believe it's better than Mona Lisa - but I'm not a specialist... you visit it and let me know what you think!

17. Traces of the Communist times - take a tour of the Nowa Huta district. Why are all the blocks of flats the same? Everyone had to be equal and everyone working in the industry had to have the same type of housing,  the same salary, the same conditions. Everyone knows the Ronald Reagan square and if you are a fan of the "oldies and goldies" you can book a tour in a Lada car ;)
18. The Milk Bar - a typical Polish thing ;) coming from the Communist times as well. Cheap and good meals for everyone. Self service places with standard meal options ans traditional style Polish food. One of the best ones in Kraków can be found on Sw. Tomasza, in the Old Town. Milkbar Tomasza has also the best English Breakfast in town - it has been agreed by the English expats living in Kraków.
19. The Hejnal - is one of the first things that one experiences in Kraków. The trumpet on top of the St. Mary Church (Kosciol Mariacki) plays it each hour. The shifts are 12 hours and the ones that play are volunteers from the fire brigade/ department. The trumpeter plays 4 times per hour, once in each and every corner: north - east - south - west. Wave to him ans if he waves back you will have good luck ;)

20. The wooden painted altar made by Veit Stoss - stolen and taken into pieces by the Nazis when they took over Poland,  it was found and reconditioned ans brought back to its original place. It is also the largest Gothic altarpiece in the World and a national treasure of Poland.

There are many more reasons why someone should visit Kraków, but some are meant for you to discover them on their own. Kraków is magical, one of a kind, and it unfolds itself to each and every one in a different way. If you wish to know more or if you have any questions... let me know :) I would be happy to help you discover Kraków's beauties!

Yours very sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves Kraków
Read more ...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Warsaw - Titanic Expo

Dearest friends,

I wanted to tell you about this exhibition for a long while but I never got the chance to settle down and write about it. Then time went by and the LadyBug Baby happened... then she turned 1 month old! And I figured out that soon it will be half a year since I went to this lovely expo and it will be closed soon... and I did not manage to tell you my thoughts and feelings about it. You can still but tickets and get on a car/tram/bus/plane to Warsaw to catch it! And it's totally worth every zloty and groszy (aka "every penny"). The exhibition I wish to tell you about is the Titanic Exhibition in Warsaw. It's located inside the Palace of Culture and you should book from 2 to 3 hours to go through it thoroughly. If you are a fan of the "Unsinkable" that sank story or even if you are just a fan of history you will enjoy this expo immensely! No, it's not about the movie with Jack and Rose, but it's about the true story of the souls that got lost to the sea and the story of the ones that survived.
The lines were long since the very beginning when they opened the expo so be prepared to wait for a while. Usually there is no queue for the buying of the tickets (which you can also do online) but there is always a queue for waiting the time on the ticket to be your turn. There is a limited amount of people that can get in per hour, due to how the expo is done and how many people cat fit in the chain of rooms of the expo. But trust me, it's worth the waiting time ;) There is no photography allowed on the premises of the Titanic Exhibition but when I went online on Instagram I could see pictures from the expo, from inside, so I must tell you security is not that tight - especially when it comes to private phones where you can be fast about it and very silent and not conspicuous. But scratch taking pictured! Enjoy the items exhibited and the stories that you will hear along the way - they are truly heartbreaking and beautiful.
Seating Chair replica from the Titanic Exhibition
The tour starts by taking your own audioguide that comes in multiple languages - Marek took the Polish version and I had the English version. Then you can take a souvenir picture of yourself boarding the Titanic, with a handful of vintage luggage to choose from as prop. At the end of the tour you can pick it up - I believe it was 20 zloty for one copy. As soon as you enter the first room the story telling starts... The Titanic Exhibition is presented along a chain of rooms and corridors displaying the history of how the project was made, how the "Unsinkable" was built, it's maiden voyage towards New York (a hope for a new and better life for those in 2nd and 3rd class), the opulence of the 1st class settings, the mistake of lowering the number of safe boats in order to make more room for the promenade... every choice leading towards the tragical end: the abrupt meeting with an iceberg.
First Class Room - reproduction from the Titanic Exhibition
There are stories of the ones that made it through and the ones who deliberately stayed behind (like the whole band / orchestra who stayed on the deck and played on until the ship sank). The last rooms are dedicated to the shipwreck - pictures and movies and model parts of the ship + a bench that was "saved" from the wreckage. What really got me crying hard was the very end, the very last room, where the names of those who perished are written on the walls. Divided by class you can see how - increasing - the casualties rise from the 1st class to the 3rd. Along their names is the age as well. To think of the ones that we lost in such a great tragedy... who knows what great minds, what geniuses we would have had. That's my thought also when I think of the Second World War and Auschwitz... We hurt ourself deliberately. We always end up losing on the long run...
Titanic Exhibition - a model of the Titanic, setioned, for the display of the inner rooms
Titanic Exhibition - the famous inner stairs with the amazing clock and the beautiful wooden work
Where: The Palace of Culture in Warsaw, Poland - right next to the Warsawa Centralna  (Warsaw Central) train station - 4th floor (you can take the stairs or one of the elevators).
When: The Exhibition was opened on the 9th of April and it will remain so only until the 9th of October - be fast and book a ticket now!
How much: The full priced ticket can be 40-50 zloty according to the day of the week that you plan to visit the expo - of course in the weekend it is more expensive. There are reduced price tickets for children and the elderly. Also you can buy the tickets online but we preferred to buy it there as the physical ticket given at the premises is lovely and displayed as a "boarding pass" - we love such mementos. Later on you can use it as a fine bookmark ;)
Why should I go?! Because it's a worldwide exhibition that has received praises in every country it has been to & because this expo is one of the kind through the very fact that it has around 200 original items retrieved from the Titanic! Originals on display!

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves the tragic story of the Titanic. We must learn from our mistakes so we won't repeat them!
Read more ...

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Happy 1 Month Old, Emilia Elena!

Dearest hearts,

This one goes to all the mums and mums to be out there. You heard me ranting about how natural birth is hard but you need to know it's totally worth it. You will always remember the pain - it does not go away that easily from your memory and most probably the first month you will swear to yourself that you won't go through this ordeal again, that one child is enough. But guess what? Seeing your baby for the first time will fill you with such immense joy that you will want to shout out from the rooftops! The first smile will win your heart and each time you will see your baby you will know that you would do anything for him/her. You will love your little bundle of joy more and more even when she cries and does not sleep at night, transforming you into a zombie for the next day. You will be afraid to lift him/her for fear of "not breaking". Our little bundle of joy turned 1 month yesterday - I still get afraid daily for not holding her right, lifting her properly... it's the first child so everything is new both for him/her and for you! You learn a lot in a month together and I must admit whom said that extra help is needed was right.  I had the fortune of having my mum and granny over and that brought us hours of extra sleep/rest that we would not have otherwise. Plus they have the wisdom and knowledge that we can only gain in time.
Magnificent shot of my 2 great loves - done by amazing Iza from Bellove Moments
Dearest LadyBug,

Emilia Elena, Mum and Daddy and Granny and Grandgranny and the Aunties and Uncles love you dearly. We have been blessed with you, a sweet and sometimes noisy angel. We know that you are a strong lady and we know that we have been blessed to receive you, an angel. You are 1 month old and you are loved dearly. I can hardly wait for you to grow up, to speak to us and tell us more easily what are your dreams and wishes. I can hardly wait to take you up for a walk, hand in hand. I will tell you why the sky is blue, why the autumn's smells like apple pie and crushed leaves, why the Wawel Castle has a dragon... I will tell you all the legends of Kraków and I will take you to my homeland, to Romania, and tell you the legends from there as well - including the vampire ones ;) Mum and Daddy love you dearly and you are the apple of our eye. May you be blessed with love and happiness and wisdom and knowledge and strength - may all your wishes come true :* Happy happy happy glorious sunshined birthday for always, sweet LadyBug Baby!

Yours with love,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Her LadyBug Baby
Read more ...

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Made in Poland: Gliniana Kura - The Products Made With Love

Dearest hearts,

Recently I was telling you about the awesome story of the ladies from Gliniana Kura. Gliniana Kura is a project created by 2 lovely ladies from the seaside city of Gdansk. It is a #madeinpoland #madeinkrakow eye-catching project that focuses on handmade products with illustrations printed on them. Illustrations (sketches) created by one of the leading ladies from the Gliniana Kura project. I bump into a lot of things on the internet, a lot of items that are handmade, a lot of items made in this fine country, but this project made me smile when I saw the pictures and when I got the products... well... I fell in love yet again, with the finished product!
Gliniana Kura project created a line of products that one can use in the day-to-day life and brighten ones day. You can choose from buying the mugs with the Tricity (Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot) sketches or with sketches from magical Krakow. As you can see, there are options to choose from: a black-white-orange version of the Wawel Castle and the Vistula river or a black-white-light blue version of the Cloth Hall with the statue of the famous Adam Mickiewicz. My favourite is the one with Adam Mickiewicz and the two lovers at its base. It speaks to me more and it's one of the first items I fell in love with - it's the cup I drink most often from now... I must admit it's on top of the most used items on my shelf ;))) and it works nicely with the dishwashing machine as well - the colors are as bright and vivid as in the first day!
 Krakow is one of my favorite places on earth. It is a medieval city full of young people. A wonderful, striking combination. (Jonathan Carroll)
The tote bag options are impressive and the range is even more extensive than of the mugs. The tote bags are 100% cotton and they wash well if you keep up to the instructions on the tag attached to it. They versions for Krakow come in a dark blue background and dark green - of course my personal favourite is the dark green one ;) for 2 reasons: I love the green color + the sketch on the dark green version is the same one as the mug I love - the Cloth Hall and the Adam Mickiewicz statue. They come well pressed and folded in square packages tied up with strings - made me think of the song "My Favourite Things" from the movie "The Sound of Music".
 It has been said that Poland is dead, exhausted, enslaved, but here is the proof of her life and triumph. Henryk Sienkiewicz
It has been said that Poland is dead, exhausted, enslaved, but here is the proof of her life and triumph. Henryk Sienkiewicz
Read more at:
It has been said that Poland is dead, exhausted, enslaved, but here is the proof of her life and triumph. Henryk Sienkiewicz
Read more at:
The Gliniana Kura Tote Bags
 Marie Curie is my hero. Few people have accomplished something so rare - changing science. And as hard as that is, she had to do it against the tide of the culture at the time - the prejudice against her as a foreigner, because she was born in Poland and worked in France. And the prejudice against her as a woman. Alan Alda
Marie Curie is my hero. Few people have accomplished something so rare - changing science. And as hard as that is, she had to do it against the tide of the culture at the time - the prejudice against her as a foreigner, because she was born in Poland and worked in France. And the prejudice against her as a woman. Alan Alda
Read more at:
But that's not all! Gliniana Kura project has items for the book fans as well: bookmarks with sketches of the Tricity and Krakow. Perfectly cut from strong paper and designed in black-white + 1-2 extra colors that bring a finishing touch to the masterpiece. The design focuses on the key trademarks of the cities represented - for Krakow we have the Krakow Dragon, the famous Lajkonik, the yummy Krakow pretzel (obwarzanek krakowski) or architecture landmarks like the Wawel Castle.
 It was a small room with dim light coming in the window, reminiscent of old Polish films. 
Magnets, bookmarks, notebooks with Krakow sketches - made by awesome Gliniana Kura
Magnets, bookmarks, notebooks with Krakow sketches - made by awesome Gliniana Kura
There are also postcards to choose from and small notebooks for your purse, with the same sketches reflected on the mugs and tote bags. You can also have manets with the representation of the old style trams that ran in Krakow. Pick a postcard and send it to your family or friends or even yourself ;)  they are a treat! You can also start to have a postcard collection and from the most interesting ones you could do a collage and place it on one of your empty walls. One of these postcards would be a great fit there ;)  they are all gorgeous and the colors match perfectly!
I must admit the Gliniana Kura project captured my heart and made a fan out of me. Don't consider this post as free advertising. If I would not have liked the products I would have said so, but I tried them and I found them highly satisfying. I saw them first online and then I bumped into one of Krakow's stores that selled them - my beloved Bona Cafe. I went there, touched them, looked at them and wanted to buy them immediately. It was love at first sight! And at second sight as well ;))) and it's hard not to fall in love with such high quality products that last (after dishwashing and machine clothes washing a couple of times, they look like new!).
I really recommend Gliniana Kura project items if you wish to buy something Polish and also support the local community, the local producers. Instead of buying something ordinary that you can find in every shop, something probably made in China or Taiwan, better buy something organic, something that has been worked upon with love, something from Gliniana Kura project!
The Lovely Tote Bags from Gliniana Kura
You can always buy a matching set with the same sketches or you can mix and combine. For example, my favourite items are the ones with the Cloth Hall - Adam Mickiewicz - carriage drawn by horses sketch. They are in black-white-green when it comes to the postcard and the tote bag & black-white-light blue when it comes to the mug and the small notebook for ones purse. But all 4 items are a match made in heaven! You can find the similar type of match with the Wawel Castle-Vistula sketch. Your choice ;)
I was very glad to hear that Gliniana Kura project also thinks about extending its market and introducing more sketches from more cities. I can hardly wait to see the beauties that these ladies will produce. Probably the next city will be Warsaw and hopefully (I hope for that!) the next one will be WrocLove - Wroclaw :) I really love that city! It's such a colorful and happy city (with over 300 dwarfes spread throughout it!)! There is a lot of potential for sketching ;)
You can check out Gliniana Kura's latest illustrations and homemade products online - they keep a very active and colorful Facebook and Instagram Page & they are currently building a Polish/English Internet Site for The Clay Hen ;) As said in the interview I had with the team, you can buy their products in Krakow at Księgarnia pod Globusem, Księgarnia Bona, Absurdalia on Grodzka Street and Krakuska on Szewska but you can also buy them online on their Facebook Page with connection to DaWanda.
Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Was Most Pleasantly Impressed By Gliniana Kura's Story and Delicate and Eye-catching Products (I would take them all home!)
Read more ...