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Saturday, 22 July 2017

10 Things I Need To Explain Foreigners About Romania

Dearest hearts,

It's "a truth universally acknowledged" that we don't actually know much about the world until the world comes knocking at our door, or when we decide to get out arses moving and start travelling. Travel enlightens us, makes us see that there is more to life than accumulation of funds in a bank account or day in - day out going to work. I've been living in Krakow for more than 6 years now and when I say that I am an expat people ask from where am I. When I say that I am Romanian I get mixed signals: either "Oh! Your country is so beautiful! You have such pristine mountains!" or... "Oh! Romanian..." (smiling and moving along)... so... I feel the need to explain:
1. Romanian does not equal gypsies! Roma gypsies are said to have roots in India. They have a nomadic style of living and in the 13th century they have started their migration to Europe. Romania was very open towards them and the political parties gave them many rights - so they settled and started breeding heavily, raising their numbers and doing rather... mischevious and dirty deeds (around the world). Because they started travelling in the EU and because they steal and cheap and (unfortunately) they have Romanian ID's people assumed that everyone home is like that. Bollocks! Not all Romanian people have dark skin, steal and act unlike human beings :/
2. We are not all communists - it's been almost 28 years since communism collapsed yet everyone remembers the bad and the ugly rather than the good things... It's true, Romania was part of the communistic block, but hey! Theoretically we have democracy now and we get to choose our own leaders - even if they suck and don't give a hoot about the people, rather then their own pockets!
3. Our capital is Bucharest, not Budapest! Trust me, this is a common mistake that people across the ocean make... that and the fact that there is an actual country named Hungary - and yes, they are not hungry all the time! (*insert here rolling eyes*).
4. We don't live in trees and we don't eat it bananas, we also have Internet and it's not dial up! Some people from a certain State (or more united...) might belove that we just discovered the TV, the media and so on. Some may think we are a 3rd world country... Oh! The ignorance...
5. Romania is a country meant to be travelled- it has mountains, it has seaside, it has the Danube Delta, it has lakes and streams and waterfalls. It has loads of castles and palaces you could visit - at least one per each day of the year! 
6. We love Latin languages, we eat them for breakfast! Romanian language is a Latin based language, that makes us understand really easy all other Latin languages like Spanish, Italian and so on. Don't find it weird if you speak in your own language and we know you are gossiping ;)
7. Dracula was a real person but he did not drink blood, transform into a bat and lived for ages in a coffin... There was a true ruler, named Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler was the nickname, as he liked to Impale the people who would lie and cheat and steal - sounds fair to me!). He was also known as "Vlad Dracul", hence the name. He was one hard-core person! His rule was law and he was not take any wronging of his subjects. 
8. We DID score the very first PERFECT 10 at the Olympics! Nadia Comaneci, Olymipics at Montreal, gymnastics. She was absolutely glorious and perfect! Everyone knows her name, everyone who loves gymnastics understands her effort and her hard work and dedication. It took her strength and discipline to get there, to be PERFECT!
9. We do have "the world's best driving road", as Jeremy Clarkson put it. Thats the Transfagarasan highway, in the mountains, open it a few months per year during summertime. It was one of Ceausescu's creation - one that endures and makes everyone wonder and ponder upon its beauty. Indeed communism left over some things that are worth your time ;)
10. Pierogi is a traditional polish dish but the Romanian people have "coltunasi", which is more or less the same thing... it's just that the Polish people got more inventive when it comes to the fillings... after all... are we not all family? One big European family :)

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Her Heritage
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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Krakow: MilkBar Tomasza - a "must eat" place in the Old Town

Dearest sweethearts,

One of the best things in Poland are the "bar mleczny" (Polish for "milk bar"). You can find them in every city, every neighbourhood. They come in all shapes and sizes and some of them have different twists - the regular "bar mleczny" is a typical Polish communistic location to eat out with few money. Don't think you'll get something special! You have traditional dishes, served hot, in a canteen like environment. Most of the "bar mleczny" are push-the-tray style but some do also provide a waiter option - must frequent though are the ones where you order, take a number and wait to be called. The food is done in large quantities and sometimes you can get really lucky with finding a really good MilkBar.
MilkBar Tomasza (located on ulica Tomasza in Krakow) is quite a one of a kind "bar mleczny". It's a definite upgrade from the communistic type of MilkBars. It raises the bar so high that no other "bar mleczny" in Krakow can come even close to it! It's owner, an Irishman living in Krakow for quite a while now, manage to blend in his culture with the blood of Poland and created quite a magical place: MilkBar Tomasza, where you can listen amazingly good music like U2, Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and so on... On my first visit to MilkBar Tomasza I had a full hour of U2 (eating an Irish breakfast while listening to "The sweetest thing") and on my recent "trip" I had the pleasure of getting in tune with Annie.
The MilkBar Tomasza has a very clean and open and friendly environment. The seating options vary from table for 2 to benches and corner tables that allow more people to join in the fun. It's always very crowded with both foreigner and locals alike, even though it's in the Old Town but off the beaten track. The owner is also a cool here and he runs a tight an merry ship. You don't have any of the older generation ladies with a sour face, serving you like you are a bum smelling of piss... you DO have young students, fluent in English, that are more than glad to take your order and help you out in case you are not decided. It's not your average "bar mleczny" - MilkBar Tomasza should be crowned king of the MilkBars in Krakow (at least!)
There is plenty of natural light coming from the tall windows - there is a full wall of them, that also allows you to have a look on the street, watch the passer-by running from the rain, or simply enjoy the light while reading a book. The serving is fast and while you wait for your hot dish you can enjoy the Irish / British artists playing over the speakers.  Of course the Irish breakfast is a must, but if you are not a fan (are you an alien?! How can you not like that?!) You can't go wrong with the "daily special" (daily menu) - costs around 19 zloty and it has a soup and a hot meal/entree. You usually have at least 2-3 options to choose from - make sure to give a look at the chalkboard menu, it gets updated fast and you can always ask for more details. They even bring you the hot meal to the place you are seated!
The prices:
*Menu of the day = soup and hot dish = 19 zloty (no drinks included in the price, that's something extra you need to figure on your own). 
I chose, as it was a really warm day, a "cold soup" made with yogurt and apple and cinnamon - PL: chlodnik jablkowy z cynamonem. The hot dish I choose was chicken breast breaded with tzatzki sauce (typical Greek sauce, made out of yogurt and cucumber) with baby potatoes (with butter and herbs on top) and side salads - that was absolutely glorious and even now, as I think of It, my mouth waters... If ever in Krakow, in the Old Town, you are hungry as a wild wild and you want something good, fast, with a really unbeatable price, in a chilling environment, Milkbar Tomasza is your place ;) feels like home away from home, especially for the Brits in Krakow! 

Yours very sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Great Eat-out Places
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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tough Points of Motherhood: Self-esteem

Dearest mothers,
Dearest family members,

Did you know that psychologists actually found out - through extensive research - that mothers self-esteem lowers drastically up to 3 years after birth?! I was thinking of Motherhood - as I often do nowadays - and how both myself and my friends who have had a baby, or more, changed along time.  I mean, bottom line you are the same person... I still love Star Wars, travelling, taking photos and writing on my blog... yet some things fundamentally change inside of you. You don't know when it happens, but it does. You carry a little, constantly growing, human being inside of you for 9 months and then there is the whole giving birth process... and then... then is when it hits you, when the baby is out: post partum! It's out, it's screaming, it's crying, it's constantly in want of your attention and it's taking your whole time, your whole life... but also your whole heart! Some people don't feel the need to have a bundle of joy and excitement in their life, they choose a different path, and I respect that and understand it. But everyone should also understand that, sometimes, women do need more attention/concern, especially if they are mothers, if they have birth.
This study was done in Netherlands, by the University of Tilburg, on 84.000 Norwegian women between 1999 and 2008 (that's 9 years!). The women completed multiple surveys along this time: 2 during pregnancy and 3 after the delivery, last one being when the baby turned 3 years (36 months after birth). A part of the women even completed the same survey before and after the birth of the 2nd-3rd-4th child. I think besides the main point of the study, showing that women having kids will have low self esteem for a very long while, it also shows (or at least that's what I think!) the degree of endurance that women have. Either that or we are too sentimental about the procreation... it shows that even though you go through hell being pregnant and delivering, even though you don't get much sleep or rest in the first months/years (depending on the baby), women are still able to carry on and take a deep breath and say... heck! Let's do this again! (They do look simply adorable when they are wee small! And the baby smell... priceless! - and I don't mean the poo!).
The team of researchers from the Uni in Tilburg found a pattern: during the pregnancy women experience a decline in their self esteem. It does come back (partially) after 6 months after giving birth, but immediately after it plunges again deep down and it never comes back to the T0 (T zero) point. Even after 3 years after birth it does not come back to its original state! Sad part is... researchers did not collect data further on so they can't say if women ever go back to that original moment, but women who had another child do manage to come back to that T0 moments before the cycle starts again. Now the causes can be multiple, ranging from physical changes to the body (growing with the baby and then handling the after birth weight), hormones, stress (about how the baby is developing, about the decisions one makes for the babies heath and wellbeing, about the future of the baby and the family in general). Add to that the additional stress you might experience from being an expat mum, being home away from home... that's a whole another level of stress being added.
You won't be able to have the fast flow exchange of info with the doctor / nurse / midwife, you might not understand 100% everything that is done, you won't have your family next to you... it's hard, but try to do an exercise of the things you DO have, the things that give you strength at that point: the fact that you DO understand the language, the fact that there IS medical care, the fact that you ARE in a sterile environment, that fact that the little bundle of joy is well and so are YOU! There are many tought points about motherhood that nobody tells you about (maybe not even your mother!) but that shouldn't stop you! You are stronger than you think! You are a Wonder Woman - you just need to rediscover yourself. Some of my friends laugh and say you can DO that once they turn 18-21... well... I surely hope I can prove they are wrong! Who's with me?!

Yours always very sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Her Ladybug Baby Girl 
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Thursday, 13 July 2017

SAAL Photobooks - true beauty coming to life

Dearest sweethearts,

I'm a huge fan of photos - be it taking photos, watching photos and even sometimes having pictures taken of myself by photographers of my choosing, photographers I learned to trust, photographers I can call friends. I do take unlimited amounts of photos, that's true, but I also think I am one of the few that still prints then out on a regularly basis. Watching photos on a screen is not as personal as having the photo in your own hands, enjoying it's colours and contrasts. I print also because it's easier to take a photo album from the shelve than searching through folders on the laptop. Some might call it waste of paper, waste of money but I call myself old-fashioned and still prefer the proper prints. 
The freshly received package with the photobook
One day, while I was browsing on Facebook, I bumped into SAAL Digital page that advertised an opportunity for Polish bloggers / bloggers living in Poland. It was about testing the SAAL Photobook - the blogger would received a code valued at 200 zloty and they would be able to pick and choose the number of pages, style, format and if it would be over the value the bloggers would pay the rest. All for reviewing the SAAL Photobook. Count me in! I quickly filled out the online form and waited to see if I was lucky - and I Was! I was so happy to get to try It! The code came via the email I had filled out the form in - all communication was done in Polish language but it's quite intuitive and if you're stuck, use Google translate! ;)
The email received from the team stated I had a certain code worth 200 zloty and as soon as I would have the review I should forward it to the team. To be noted that if you win the Photobook you need to use the coupon, you can't have the money, and there is a deadline as well for doing the selection and using the coupon - 14 days since you receive the email. The email comes with a direct link where you can download the SAAL Digital app, in order to start creating the Photobook. Fear not if you are a Mac user, there is an app for you as well ;) or if you prefer to use another app or Photoshop, you can get in contact with the SAAL Digital team and they can work something out. 
I am a Windows user and I selected the app download. It was fast and in no time I was able to start designing it. The huge minus of the app is the fact that it is Polish language only. Fear Not! If ever you used an app for creating Photobooks it's very intuitive and easy to use. You'll have to select what type of Photobook you want to design, the format - be it landscape or vertical or square format (maybe for the Instagram fans out there...), the type of page (I usually prefer my photos to be printed "matte" option rather than the "glossy" one). You can also choose if you want a richer, fuller cover and if you wish to give it as a gift you can choose a wrapping option. Also you get to select if you want the company logo to appear at the end - it's so small it did not bother me so I left it there. 
Once you have the format selected you can add the pictures you have from your hard drive and start collating the pictures. I had selected the option for 32 pages at the price of 193 zloty, vertical format of 21×28. I used the "Allrounder szablon" as it had a nice black-white classic feel about it. From there on its quite easy - you can drag and drop the pics you took from your pc into the app and place them in the location on the page appropriate to your wish. I had more unregular shaped photos - from my phone camera - and I found it easier to delete the shape prefigured for the photos and drag and drop it myself there and just adjust it by using the corners of the photo. You can also enrich your Photobook with clipart (Kliparty) - both colourful and neutral shapes and objects (for example baby carriages, Christmas trees, flowers and babies). 
Once you are done, click on the Shopping cart (Dodaj do kosza) and finalise the transaction. You need to put in your name, address, postal code, phone number and email address so you can be contacted for the pickup. The company uses a very reliable transport agency - DHL - and they are always on time, with the right package, in perfect shape. Standard fee for the transport, in Poland, in 20 zloty; bringing us to 213 zloty total. Once you pay for the product, an automatic email comes to the email address you have given and notifies you over the transaction. It so gives you a tracking number and a tracking page for SAAL Digital Polska packages. DHL will also contact you, the day after, by text on your phone and by email, giving you a tracking ID and an approximate time of arrival. Mine came in 2 working days and it was picture perfect! 
I really and wholeheartedly recommend this product! It's very well known amongst photographers and they usually use it in order to show off their portfolio. It's also used for photo sessions for weddings - the finishing touches of the Photobook are so delicate and soft yet durable, that for sure they are able to withstand ages. It's not the regular Photobook you can do anywhere! Oh, no! It truly pays off the money you invest in it. The pages are safe and you can't get a papercut as they are thick and sturdy. It's also a perfect idea of a gift! Memories are made to be shared and remembered - not to be kept on a hard drive... getting dust to settle on it. Now go get your groove on, select a couple of the dearest pictures you have and head over to your laptop on the SAAL Digital Polska page and check out their offers!
Picture perfect moments -inside photos taken by Bellove
The perfect gift for the ones you love!
Yours very much sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Photography
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Monday, 10 July 2017

Krakow: Redberry - Frozen Yogurt And More

Dearest sweethearts,

Life is too short so it's better to enjoy the precious little moments you can have with the ones you love. It's important to let the ones you care about how much you love them, how much you care, how much they mean for you. Any day can be a holiday and a reason to celebrate. I love having the ones I care about next to me, I wish it would always be like that. I'm grateful for the 4 generations living under one rooftop. It's a proud moment each time I go out with my mum, granny and my little Ladybug Baby Girl.  On one such outing we went to the Galeria Krakowska to buy some clothes for the incoming baptism of the small one. We wanted to have something good and sweet as a treat and I proposed Redberry Premium Frozen Yogurt. I had never tried it but I did hear rumours it was tasty ;)
Both granny and mum choose to try out the strawberry smoothie yogurt but unfortunately they were out of strawberry. Instead they choose the banana flavoured one. I had the typical frozen yogurt - size big, with 3 addings of your own choice; I choose watermelon, yellow melon and peaches. It was a perfect size for one person and I even gave some of the fruits to the little one, though she was way more interested if the banana smoothie yogurt. We gave her to try it out and she couldn't get enough of it! She was eating it spoon after spoon! She never tried the combination of milk and banana - we always gave it to her separately - and she loved it!
The Redberry Premium Frozen Yogurt is a concept that came from America and they are now leaders on the polish market when it comes to the frozen yogurt sector. The products have low calories and low fat and are quite popular with stars like David Beckham, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton... and I have to admit it, especially when there is not weather outside, the frozen yogurt is indeed a nice treat! Cold and smooth and fruity, it refreshes you up in an instant! The yogurt contains less than 3% fat and 98 kcal per 100 grams of product. Did I mention how yummy and refreshing it was?! Hmmmm... #yumyummyinmytummy 💗
The prices:
- the smoothie yogurt size large = 13,90 zloty ( the middle version is 11,90 zloty; the mint version in both sizes is 1 zloty more than the regular price). The flavours are: strawberry, banana, mango.
- the frozen yogurt: 1 adding, small size = 6,9 zloty; 2 addings, middle size = 8,9 zloty; 3 addings, size large (what I had) = 10,9 zloty; xxl size and unlimited addings = 17,9 zloty (must try that one, one day!)
They also have fruit salads and juices made fresh out of fruits and veggies. It's a great option for a fresh and healthy snack on the go! ;) I'm going to go there again and try new stuff!

Yours very much sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves...
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Friday, 7 July 2017

Things I Am Thankful For - June 2017

Dearest sweethearts,

If you've been reading my blog this year you must have noticed the challenge I have proposed for this year. It's hard sometimes to see the bright side of life. Even when looking at a glass of water we tend to see the empty half, nor the part filled with water. In fact, all that is relatively as the glass is never empty - the other half is filled with air! So what I proposed was that at the beginning of each month we should think of the things we are thankful for.  It might be hard at first but you'll get better as time passes. Train yourself to see the beauty in the little things in life. Start with 5 things/Moments and work up from there ;) Here's my take until now for the month of January, FebruaryMarchApril and May. For June am thankful for many things, but here are 5 picks:
Picture taken by Bellove
1) My very own Wonder Women - I am blessed to have a wonderful and supporting family. Every decision I made in my life was backed up by my parents, my grandparents and my husband. Even when I was not sure myself then would encourage me. I grew up with amazing women around me - my Granny is a #wonderwoman in full rights, mum is a great lady filled with love and soul and my sister is a kick arse kitten that I am always very proud of. They are the brains, heart and soul. Now I have a tiny warrior in the making, my little Ladybug Baby Girl.
One of the first Ladybug Baby Girl photos, taken by Bellove
2) My very own amazing photographer - that I am proud to call my friend - Iza from Bellove is based in Krakow, and if you ever need a great photographer for yourself or for your family Photo shoots, I really recommend her. She is great with kids, she works lovely with natural light, managed to make you comfortable even though you might have just met her a second ago. In June we had a "4 Generations" photo shoot - me, my little lady, mum and granny. I had to translate to mum and granny as they don't speak neither English or Polish, but they absolutely loved her and loved her work - once we received the photos.
3) 6 years in Poland! That's unbelievable how time flies... it still feels like yesterday I moved to Krakow, rented my own room, took the jump of my life and... in a blink of an eye everything went FFW and here I am, settled down, married with a little Ladybug Baby Girl almost 1 year old! I have learned so much being an expat, I have learned to love and how to forgive and I've also learned that regrets don't help you and that you can only help someone if they truly let you. I have learned to value the small but important things. 6 years can teach you a lot! ;)
4) Interviewed by The Northern Irishman in Poland - he started in June a new series called "Why do we love Poland?" and I was the lucky lady who gave the first interview. He is also an expat like myself, he lives in Poland (as his blog title also points out) and he is an editor for Hello Poland (Facebook page) as well. It's lovely connecting with expats all over Poland, who share the same love for this amazing country.
5) The Dzien Dobry TVN Interview got broadcasted - you can see it in the link attached, the second video. It's in polish language but that shouldn't stop you :p both me and Doreen (the lovely Indian lady who is a blogger living in Krakow as well!) loved doing this interview and it came as a very pleasant surprise for us. First being featured in the regional newspaper and then on the national TV... we enjoyed it immensely! Hope to do that again one day ;)

Yours very much sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Wants To Be Thankful For All The Lovely Things Life Brings Us
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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Travel Tuesday: Why Visit Poland?

My dearest fellow travellers, 

We all know that once you start visiting new places, discovering new countries, it's hard to come back to a static life in front of the computer with an 8+ hours a day shift. We want more, we thirst for more, we sometimes fall in love with a place and... we might even become expats, immigrate. I choose Poland and it was an odd choice to make, according to my friends. I never saw it as such, I always saw Poland as an opportunity, a lovely place filled with history and remarkable stories; beautiful architecture and fattening dishes that go well with the local vodka ;) Each time one of my friends would ask why I choose Poland, Krakow, I would invite them to come and see with their own eyes. That's also why I write about Poland in this blog - I write about Poland as I wish everyone knew it at least as I do: up close and personal.
Mural in Warsaw
When people ask me why they should visit Poland I start telling them about it's beauty and you could get me talking for hours without end... so I'll try my best to be very brief and to the point today. I'll even use bullet points to try and keep it simple. Fingers crossed! So without further delay, I give you my #twistedredladybug reasons why you should visit Poland:
1) The Second World War history steps - starting with a painful (But necessary, #lestweforget !) tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau, followed by a visit to the Schindler Museum on Lipowa 4 in Krakow & a walking Jewish tour of Kazimierz. If you get to Warsaw make sure you are there on the 1st of August, when all the city stands still for one minute, at the hour when the Warsaw Uprising started.
Inside the Wieliczka Salt Mine
2) The wonderfully refreshing Salt Mines - Wieliczka Salt Mine is part of the UNESCO world heritage sites so it's a must! But you should also visit Bochnia - it's bigger, less crowded and you can do a boat tour on the inner salted lake ;)
3) The capital - Warsaw - is ways a good idea even for a day trip. We love doing That, as there is a pendolino train that connects Krakow to Warsaw and goes further on to Gdansk and Gdynia and Sopot (The tri-city at the seaside). If you are a fan of music you can go pay your respects to Chopin's heart, placed in one if the churches in Warsaw Old Town or visit the Chopin Museum. If you love history you will thoroughly enjoy the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Even if you don't like that... there are still plenty of shopping malls of nice cafes and restaurants that you might try ;)
Zakopane, Poland
4) The mountains - being in Poland and not visiting the mountains would be a waste... of course you might try Zakopane but during the season you might find it rather crowded... but that's not the only place you should visit. The Tatra's have spectacular views and places one could climb - if you are into climbing... well they are a must! 
5) The Eagle Nest Trail - a trail of castles that are mostly ruins but nevertheless impressive and majestic in their size and form. They have lovely stories to tell about the Polish history and not only. "Discover Cracow" team does a mean your that takes one full day, starting in Krakow, and takes you to see some if the prettiest ones, like: Ogrodzieniec, Bobolice and Ojcow.
Ogrodzieniec Ruins, Poland 
6) The castles and palaces throughout the country - it would be wrong of me not to mention the majestic Malbork Castle. The structure is the largest brick structure in Europe! It was destroyed partially during the Second World War but it had major renovation since then. There are guided tours available in English and you can surely make a day trip from Gdansk/Gdnia/Sopot. 
7) Krakow's Main Market Square - I may sound impartial, considering that I live in Krakow for over 6 years now... but who cafes! It's one of the most beautiful main squares in the world and it's the biggest one in Europe! It also holds the location of the first bookstore open in Europe as well.
8) The amazingly warm and friendly people - people who say otherwise have no clue what they speak of. In my 6 years in Poland I never felt threatened or misguided or offended in any way. People are nice and helpful and If you try to speak the language they will be ever more grateful - they know how hard their language is and they feel proud that one tries to study and speak it. 
9) The fattening dishes that go well with the local vodka - Oh! Don't get me started on that topic... It's all about meat, fat, potatoes and salads. And amazing soups, be it hot (like Rosol - chicken broth, Zurek - cream soup with eggs, sausage, potatoes and sometimes mushrooms) or cold (like the summer soups made out of strawberry or apple with cinnamon). Trying pierogi is a must! - my fave are with meat, fried, with pieces of bacon (boczek) on top. I generally prefer the fried ones than the boiled.
Boiled pork knuckle @ Pod Sukiennice, Krakow, Poland 
10) The holidays, the celebrations and the festivities - one things for sure, Polish people like good parties and long celebrations. Just take for example last month, June - June is the celebration month for Krakow. The city days combined with the Dragon Parade, Lajkonik (simbol of the city) Parade, Wianki Festival, The Air Show Picnic along with other smaller celebrations, sums up to the whole month filled with fireworks display, good music and amazing atmosphere. 
Now don't you go thinking I have only 10 reasons why you should visit Poland. Oh, no! I just don't want to overwhelm you... yet! I'll keep more mysteries for when you'll decide to come. If you do decide to come, please feel free to contact me via the Facebook Page. I would be more than happy to help you with tips and tricks about Poland ;) you just need to make up your mind - not "if" but "when" ;) hope to hear from you soon!

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Her Poland 
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Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Polish Kamasutra Master

Dearest hearts,

Did you know that Poland can boast (if they are not too shy on the topic) of being the first country in the world that had a licensed sexologist? His name was Kazimierz Imielinski. He was the very first leader of the "school of sexology" (How odd is to have a school for that!). The schools was very active in the 1960-1980s when the team created original scientific concepts for people's sexual life. They have also educated thousands of patients and millions of readers (of course there are more readers! People consider this topic tabu!). It's a interesting thing that Kazimierz and his team managed that, considering that in Poland (As well in my homeland, in Romania) people would not talk about "those things".
Even though with the installation of the communists thing became even more Tabu than tabu... The demand for advice on this topic was high. The book by Michalina Wiślocka is one of the biggest bestsellers in Polish literary history. She wrote in her diary in 1964: "I don't give a shit about a PhD that will oh give me a title on my grave". She wanted to break the rules, break the mould, help people who needed guidance. It took her over 10 years to publish the book - after it spent several years in the censorship office. The title of the book, translated, is "On The Art of Loving" - it sold over 7 million copies! (Allegedly!). There was no method back then to track them out but it is a we'll know fact that they were copied, home printed and shared in any way possible. It was a hot topic! Reportedly every household had a copy ;)
Due to the fact that the publishing process took so long due to the censorship, anything sexual was a NO! and this book was considered a sex manual. The official date it was publish and listed was in 1976, but the book On The Art of Loving was already sold in the black market. There is even a legend connected to that... It's being said that the very first copy done was made by one of censors wife's who stole the manuscript. The story of Michalina Wiślocka and getting her book published came on the big screen this year - "The Art of Love: The Story of Michalina Wiślocka".
Michalina Anna Wiślocka was born on this very same day, 1st of July 1921 - she passed away in February 2005. She was a Polish gynecologist, sexologist and writer. She wrote "Sztuka kochania" ("On The Art of Loving"; English editions come under the name "A practical guide to marital bliss"), the first guide to sexual life in the communist countries! But that's not all... She also was a co-founder of the Society of Sensible Maternity - she worked there on fertility treatment and birth control. I don't know about You, if YOU ever experienced communist times, but it takes a lot of guts and courage to pull out something like this. It's ground-breaking in its own way, and maybe not everyone knows Michalina's story but I'm sure gynecologist and specialists in the domain understand what she brought, with her work. I did not know about her until recently and I believe it's wonderful, for her time, to be a woman and accomplish that. I believe she is a #famouspolish lady, an example of confidence in a way... and an adept of naturalism. She said there is no need for a trip around the world or diamonds to make a lady feel nice - take her out for dinner and maybe a movie, bring her flowers.  It's all in the little things that show love. Show love to your better half. Show it everyday in the little things!

Yours very very very sincerly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Her Better Half Everyday - Forever!
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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

How To... Survive A Polish Party

Dearest sweethearts,

Polish people do love to party and it's very common / natural even, to go out after work for a beer or two. Especially if it's Friday! It's a normal attitude to get out and socialise with your team mates and friends. It's a normal thing for Polish people, as they do know how to hold their alcohol. They eat well and are well versed into drinking, so don't even think about going hand in hand with them - take your own sweet time. You don't need to prove yourself, even though they might push you into it - I repeat: they are better trained and have this in their blood, in their genes. Unless if you are Russian; then you might try ;) you guys are hard-core drinkers / party people as well. But let's start from the very beginning - a very good place to start... Polish parties can be done on a daily basis, reasons varying from a birthday or a celebration at work or even the fact that there is good weather outside and a nice pub garden just opened. Every reason is a good reason to have a party and relax with friends. I remember my first year in Poland where there would be a party at least every second day. Now when I say party I mean more of a gathering, not necessarily a pub or a club with a DJ or a band. When I say party I could also mean going to someone's place, where everyone brings their own drinks and there is a laptop / pc somewhere playing some good music to chill out on. The concept of party / gathering is somehow similar to what we have in Romania as well... just taken to a higher level ;) Now I've been to hundreds of parties in Poland - both weddings, baptisms, regular DJ parties, home parties... you name it! And I've been living in Krakow for more than 6 years now, so hear my words of wisdom on How To Survive A Polish Party:
Reflections of Small Square Krakow
  1. Getting to the party: Make sure you come in time - the people who invite you will most certainly give you full address and of it is a club/pub involved you will get their Facebook / Internet Page as well (via email or Facebook) to make sure you get to the right place. Polish people like to be on time (even before that) and they like the others to be on time as well. For Latin people that might be an issue... but if you are running late the advisable / proper thing to do is ring them and let them know when you will be there. Of course, for weddings and baptisms be sure you are on time, the ceremony will start and will not wait for you. If you are going to a family meeting or if you are going for lunch with someone make sure you are in time as well as most probably there will be food waiting for you and Polish people are picky when it comes to Food and the right temperature of the Polish dishes. 
    First communion in Poland
  2. First impressions - I hope you were on time! Else that will be a negative indicator for your behaviour to the host. If it's your first time going into a house it's proper to bring the lady of the house some candies or flowers and to the man some vodka. If there are kids it would be nice to bring them a small something as well - Kinder eggs are my "go to gift". In a Polish wedding you should also give the gifts at the end of the church ceremony - if you were not there you can give them at the wedding party. You will give the money gift + the flower / wine / lotto coupons for the newlyweds. Also, once introduced the proper greeting between ladies is kissing on the cheek - 3 times: right-left-right. Men might kiss the ladies hand and men will always shake hands. 
  3. The house tour - if it's your first time in the house, most certainly you will get a tour of it. Polish people are open hearted once you make the connection and they love to share what they have. I don't know... maybe they do that also to let you know that there are boundaries as well... here is the whole house, now you know where the toilet is in case you need to take a leak, the kitchen in case you want to get your beer from the fridge, the balcony in case you want to have a smoke and the living room for the party... everything else is restricted area! Kidding aside, I never had that - all my friends houses / apartments were as open as people on a Gay parade! P.S. if you don't get a house tour don't be offended, just ask for it ;)
  4. Breaking the ice - when it comes to foreigners, to expats living in Poland, I have ways hear from the Polish people how pleasurable it is to hear us try and speak the language. They know it's one of the toughest one in the world and they will appreciate you trying to learn even a bit. Says "Dzien Dobry!" (Good Morning!) to someone can actually make their morning good. You will see them smile, and smiling is not an usual Polish trait ;)
  5. Food / Eating together - if you are between close friends or at a home made party you will probably have some chips and paluszki (salty sticks) and maybe some coreczki (small toothpicks with meat and cheese and olives combined; they go great with beer or vodka). You may also chip in and but some large pizzas. But if you are invited to a family meeting / dinner or a wedding / baptism party... well that's a whole different story! You can speak she the dishes are served bit not too much, as it is customary for the dishes to come one by one and people wait to eat the next one until everyone else is finished. It's proper to try something out of each dish. You can even compliment the cook if you really enjoyed it ;)
  6. Don't get into politics, religious topics or sexual orientation remarks - I believe politics is always a touchy subject, so beware and tread carefully. Religious topics - you are in a Catholic country where people are not that find of other religions / denominations. You might even find that Muslims are a hot subject even though there are mosques in Poland and there are quite a few people of that faith. Don't get into sexual orientation remarks as well... LGBT is a touchy subject... You might even know the action  with the rainbow from Warsaw that was set on fire. Twice...
  7. Leave when you know you are still holding the reigns of your senses - don't make a fool of yourself and make sure you know your limits when handling alcohol. Did you know Poland has this smart "one night - extremely expensive - very safe - handled by doctors - hotels"? When police people catch a drunk person on the street, an unresponsive one, they take them to this "hospitals" where you get a room for the night, you are closely monitored by doctors not to get into an alcoholic coma, and you are released the next day after you pay an amount of money (more than the regular hotels charge). They do this to keep the streets clean and make sure everyone stays out if trouble. 
    Old Town Krakow, Poland
  8. Don't be the last one to leave - no-one likes it when a party is past its expiration date and everyone of us knows at least one case of a person who just didn't let the party die. Come on! We are not robots! The newlyweds want to sleep as well and they have plenty more things to do / wrap up before they will manage to get a nap. The host wants to have some quiet time to clean up the house - maybe a good idea would be, if you want to stay longer, to help the host clean up a bit. You shared the fun, now share the responsibility! 
  9. Thankfulness - don't forget to tell the host how much you enjoyed it. Be very sincere and do it from your heart! Polish people love compliments as much as they love to complain ;) so don't be a d**k and share some love. You will get invited again and you will have a great time again and again. Also, you can show how thankful you are by staying and helping clean things out - if you are in a proper stage, not drunk / tipsy like an elephant in a China shop! It's also a common thing to return the invitation: if you were to someone's wedding that someone should come as well, if you go to a house party you should host a party home as well... unless you have a small apartment... then it might get crazy!
  10. Don't be a stranger - once you are part of the Polish people friendship group you will want to be there all the time. It's ways great fun to hang around with them. They make wonderful jokes, they even know how to make jokes of themselves, they share a lot once you enter their circle. They are warm and friendly and caring. Once you make friends they will be there to stay. Don't run away and get scared, they are great! You can discuss with them everything and anything, they will always give a helping hand, they will stay true and tell you their mind - and I love them for that! 

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
  13. Survive A Trip To Poland
  14. Survive World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow
  15. Survive A Polish Party 
If you feel you would like me to treat a specific subject, please feel free to Contact Me :)

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves To Give A Helping Hand
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Sunday, 25 June 2017

6 Years In Poland, As An Expat

Dearest hearts,

Sometimes, in life, you don't always get what you want but rather what you need. I'm sure that's God's way of working his mysterious ways, getting all worked up for nothing but rewarding us to our hearts content. I wasn't one of those girls who wanted to go out, see the world; I've always loved my family and family for me was always number 1. It's true, I've always loved to travel and see new places, meet new people and get into all sorts of new situations / experiences. Something new was always exciting, good, even if it scared me. I've always thought that the best way to destroy your fears was by facing them. There was no need to beat behind the Bush, if I knew something was wrong I would say it, if I had a question I would ask it, if I would disagree on an idea I would prove my point as best as I could. It's important to stay strong by your opinions and faith. We should not be like the willow in the wind. Experiencing life abroad, being all by yourself, maintaining your own budget and taking care of the house/apartment by yourself, it's a challenge! A challenge that will make you trust yourself more and develop skills you never thought you had. There might be moments when you would have to survive only on soup or pasta with tomatoes... but you'll make it through! And what's more important: you will learn!
No-one wants to be an expat due to the amazing conditions one has home, in their homeland. Everyone has a choice that they made, everyone faced a decision bringing them on the path of being an expat - some did it to get a better job, others to see the world and experience new cultures, some did it because they got better played or because they have better benefits, others (like myself) did it just for the opportunity that arose at a certain point in their life, some (like my Ukrainean friends) did this because of the economical/political situation in their country... Everyone has a reason, but I think the common denominator of what everyone truly misses, when they become an expat, is the FAMILY. You might jump in and say you can move your family with you, you can start a new family in the country you made yourself stable... that's true, but you can never move your entire family, your whole roots, your family tree with you - can you?! I'm lucky I have found my better half here, in Krakow; we have a family together an a little Ladybug Baby Girl that we love dearly. I'm more than happy that this year my mum and granny came to Poland, to stay and help with the wee one. I feel as if truly I am Home. But I have to thank God for that - many expats throughout the world have to manage it all by themselves.
6 years ago to this day, I had moved to Krakow. I was both excited and thrilled. Now, in retrospect, I see that I was not scared even a bit... it was all a big adventure! I never once thought about all the consequences and I think, weirdly enough, that's what got me through it a in such a positive attitude. I am grateful I had already great, warm and caring friends here - the first month I was actually hosted my my awesome Team Leader, Magda. I was "ciocia" (Polish version for Auntie) for her 2 bundles of joy (Now she has 3!). I would wake up in the morning, with her little boy standing over my bed, watching me sleep, telling me I look like a princess (I used to let down my hair while I was asleep, to let it dry after washing it). What wake up is sweeter than that?! Being payed compliments early in the morning, by a little boy (kids never lie! They tell the truth, the world, as they see it!), that truly brightens up your day. How can one not be upbeat and positive?! We would have long talks into the night, with loads of gossips and laughs - listening to Polish language back then was a terrific experience and it sounded to me so much like J.K.Rowling's developed parseltongue... it was like snake language with all those consonants... and groups like sz or cz or rz... it looked like a language without vowels!
Then I started to listen more and more... I would of course speak only English and do shopping in big shops and supermarkets - avoiding the social contact with people who spoke Polish 24/7. In time, by listening, I started to understand the sounds and how certain letters would sound as well. I started to figure out where a sentence started and where it finished. The next step was understanding words. Then remembering certain words and asking their meaning to my friends. Then I would, if people talked slowly and not in dialect, to understand the meaning of a phrase. That made me thrilled! To know I accomplished that on my own, without having any language course whatsoever and without watching TV; just by listening to people talk. Active listening! It worked for me ;) I remember a  dear friend coming to Krakow, 2 years and a bit after I settled in... and he was very surprised I could already understand most things, without having a tutor. 6 years in, I'm not afraid anymore to talk Polish even though I know I'm screwing grammar really bad - there are so many exceptions to the rules! I understand almost 90% if people don't speak very fast and they don't start using archaisms... I'm good with doing any kind of shopping, ordering in the restaurant, watching kids movies :p and giving birth in a public hospital while speaking with the doctor, nurses and midwives.
If there is something  that Poland, that Krakow, that life as an expat / being an expat taught me this past 6 years... Well... there is a list, but I'll just choose 10 things that might make you consider trying it out:
  1. You become independent & you trust yourself more and more - no more mummy and daddy helping out, your wings can spread out and even if you fall (and you will!) You will be the one picking yourself up, and that makes you stronger!
  2. You learn that you can handle a household by yourself - you might have some problem the first month(s) but in time you'll get a hang of it. You'll understand why paying bills is so important and...
  3. You'll learn the true value of money - you might have lived with mum and dad before, so no costs for the housing not the food (most probably). Once you move out on your own, you'll figure put what it takes to live/survive through the month. You'll learn that you don't actually need 12 pairs of trousers or that new bag you saw in the shop (you already have 10!)... You'll realise how much you get payed, how much you need for housing, food and for entertainment. You'll figure out your salary needs deriving from that as well. 
  4. You're going to find balance - you're going to figure out eventually that you need to split your day in 3 big chunks of 8 hours: one for work, one for rest (not necessarily sleep) and one for play. You're going to find balance in your working day - you will juggle a bit at the beginning but you'll find your way through ;) have faith! 
  5. You will make new friends and a couple of lasting friendships, you might also get your heart broken (maybe even by expats like yourself) but you'll live ;) You are in a country that does not speak your language, might have different customs and you will start your life from scratch, having to learn all the rules and laws of the country. Hang on, it gets better and easier in time! Mingle with your workmates, get a hobby/craft and talk to the locals! It helps!
  6. You will travel, discover new places and you might even fall in love and feel at home in a certain city you pass through. You might even want to relocate there - if you work in a corporation you might find it even easier to do a change like that, if they have multiple locations. I fell in love with Krakow, got proposed the job and said Yes! in a heartbeat. 
  7. You will learn a new language - it's not a must, as many countries speak English and of you work in a corporate environment you use English language in official communications. But... in Poland it's quite a positive thing if you try to learn the language. In smaller cities and even in big cities, not in the city centre, people might have issues understanding you. Of course polish people are warm and sign language never fails, but... they love it when you make an effort and you try and speak Polish. You get extra points for that ;)
  8. You will learn that you can do things you never thought you could do: you will push your limits! You can do whatever you set your mind to, whatever you can believe and visualise you can do. You are strong and capable and you can be thrown in any situation: you will prevail! 
  9. You will learn to discriminate less. In the end, it one God made us and we are all brothers and sisters on this world. You will learn to care and keep and open mind. You will find surprising how warm and gentle and caring people can be. You will learn that home is where your heart is, and if your heart left a piece along the world than you will love everyone. 
    Limanowa, Poland
  10. You learn that you are not defined by things but by experiences and you will learn not to get attached to physical things. You will not be able to take many physical things with you anywhere (including the grave!), but you will always carry with you the experiences, the memories and the feelings you have. Invest in that! Invest in things that last!
Happy anniversary / celebration to all those expats throughout the world, who celebrate victoriously each year! You are brave, you are bold, you are strong enough to face any challenge life throws at you!

P.S. You might wanna read the post I did when I celebrated my 2nd year in Krakow, Poland. 

Yours always sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Poland
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