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Monday, 25 September 2017

Polish History - Stories from The Second World War

Dearest sweethearts,

Not all social media is bad and sometimes you can learn wonderful wonderous things by being part of certain Facebook groups. One such group that has grown on me for the past half year is the Polish Culture, Food and Traditions group. It is a group that strives to bring forward the beauty of Poland, even from the people abroad the country. #DidYouKnow that the second biggest Polish city, after Warsaw, is not actually located in Poland? It's in the USA: Chicago. But Polish people are spread throughout the world, and they have amazing stories to tell. A few days ago I bumped into this post done by Barbara Urbanowicz. She told the group the story of her Mama's journal. The story, like many from the Second World War, is heart breaking. I thought that you should read it as well. Read it, think about it and learn so we would not see history repeat itself.

"Today, 17 September 1939, the Russians invaded Poland and so, my Mama's tragic story, and that of many others, begins.

"Should I forget about them, You, God in heaven, forget about me."

A translation of my Mama's witness statement, which has been preserved by the Hoover Institution. She was 15 years old when she wrote it, 75 years ago.

Krystyna Słowik                  
                 30 December 1942
Class VIa
  
PAGES FROM MY JOURNAL

Following a twelve day battle on the outskirts of Lwów, a sinister silence descended. It lasted only one day. On the 22 September, 1939, tidings that the Russian army is entering the town. This was the most tragic moment of my life. They instructed our soldiers to assemble at the D.O.K. from where they would leave unharmed and armed, but the Moskals did not keep their word. Some they arrested and others they shot. This was the beginning of the persecution. Immediately on the next day they began to bring about the changes. In my school they threw out the Nun headteacher and in her place they put in a Moskal who lacked intelligence and knew nothing.
Mama, Krystyna Konecka, and her younger sister Haneczka (the little girl that died in Kazakhstan
My Grandfather, remained in our country estate (folwark - grange) in the Vovoideship of Wołyń. The gang (mob) wanted to murder him. They robbed all the livestock and agricultural machinery. In the main mansion house, the Ukrainian women ripped up the curtains and embroidered throws to make aprons and headscarves. All the crystal was smashed up with a frenzy. A man servant who tried to defend the house was badly beaten up and thrown into a ditch. My Grandfather lay hidden for two days in the cellar beneath a sheaf of hemp. One of the leaders of a gang which arrived later found him in the cellar and took him to the governor who did not wish to see him. During the next ten days Grandfather lived in the home of the stable groom. After ten days a visiting commissar gave him permission to travel to Lwów. Grandfather arrived looking thin, disheveled, his clothes torn.
We were just so happy to have him with us because we thought that we had lost him. Christmas was very sad. On Christmas Eve they nationalised our factory and forced us to move out. We rented accommodation in a convent and continued to live there until our deportation. Around Easter elections were held. Everyone, without exception, was forced to vote. In our district, the election took place in the apartment of the owner of the steam mill (the owner had been thrown out). My Parents also went to vote, but neither my Father nor my Mother placed their votes into the urn. Our governors promised a pleasant surprise after the elections and so it came to pass.
On 13 April, 1940 we were bundled into a cattle wagon. Father was away from home on business. In the morning we were waiting at the station. My Father came and wanted to join us in the cattle truck, but the train supervisor said that Father was the "rabbit" that had run away from them, which was clearly untrue. This was the day on which I saw my Father for the last time. On the 14 April the train set off, taking deportees to Siberia. God only knows why we were subjected to such cruelty.
In the first winter transport (10 February 1940), the little daughter of my Mother's cousin froze to death in the wagon. They had to dispose of her body through the window. No funeral, the poor little mite was left behind in a hostile land. We also were not certain as to our fate. The soldiers guarding the train spoke to us as if we were animals not human beings. They transported us in cattle trucks for 22 days and we were not allowed to alight at any time. In spite of this we were in good spirits. We arrived in an old Cossack hole named Semipalatinsk.
At the station we were greeted by the chief of the NKVD. They loaded us into vehicles and dispersed us into collectives and brickworks. On the third day they forced people to go to work at the brickworks. Payment was very meagre. Every so often, the NKVD chief would threaten us with prison. So amongst hostile people and in harsh working conditions, summer passed. Then came winter and the frosts. Lack of fuel was one of the greatest concerns, but somehow we managed. One of our ladies, mother of three young children, lived in a freezing outbuilding. At night time the bedding froze to the walls and the children were frozen to the bone. The distressed mother, despite knowing that stealing was punishable with imprisonment, filled a bucket with coal. She was seen by an old Cossack who reported her to the authorities. For this crime the woman was sentenced to a year in prison. Her children were each sent to a different Russian orphanage.
Babcia (Grandmother) Zosia Slowik, referred as "The Duchess" by the post owners friends 
This way they tried to wipe out the National identity of Polish children. We did the same as this poor woman. The extreme cold was very debilitating. We knew, of course, that our "carers" had stolen our lands, our wealth, and had cast us out to our fate. In spring, under orders from the town authorities, we were forced to move because of the threat of flooding. After the flood subsided we returned to the hard labour of the brickworks, wheeling around the clay and forming the bricks. Suddenly, there was a horrific accident which affected everyone at the brickworks. On the 24 June my younger sister and a friend, who was older than me, drowned. The Bolsheviks who were in a boat on the river saw how the girls kept coming to the surface. Another girl who was with them but remained on the bank begged them to rescue her friends but they said that they were not allowed. Yes, they were not able to. They were able to loot our country. They wanted less witnesses to their crimes. Their consciences were not clean. They knew that much innocent blood was calling for vengeance from heaven. After the funeral, life continued at its normal pace. In the meantime they arrested four Polish women who attempted to escape. The joyous day came of the signing of the pact between Poland and Russia. Everyone was waiting for their loved ones to be released from the prisons. Conditions at the brickworks improved. The authorities said that either we work or we leave our accommodation. We chose the latter and moved into Semipalatinsk. Many Poles remained at the brickworks. One old man was forced to work to the point where he ripped his insides and died. He lay outside for three days because the authorities would not provide a coffin. Christmas came, and immediately before we were informed that Father was in Turkistan. Days flashed by in an air of expectancy, then a card arrived from a delegate saying that Father had died of typhus. I was beside myself with grief and the desire for retribution gave me no peace, but in the end I was forced to come to terms with fate. Departure. After many hardships, our delegate got us a place in a wagon with an orphanage to Kitab. We remained there a few months and then left for Krasnovodsk and then by ship to Persia. After such harsh experiences, there was a glimmer of hope for our return to our beloved Poland."

P.S. For those asking for rights to publish this, I have asked Barbara Urbanowicz if I may share this with you and she has kindly agreed. Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, Barbara. May God bless your family!

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Polish History and Fantastic Stories 
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Friday, 22 September 2017

Things I Miss About (My) Childhood

Dearest pumpkins,

Some might say that the best part of their life is their future (due to the fact that "life is like a box of candies and you never know what you're gonna get!"), some might say it's the present in which we live (no wonder it's called like that, life is a gift, a present in itself!), but eventually... all of us have a strong connection with our past. Past got us to the point we are now, made us to the grown-ups people now see. Childhood is such an important and magical time in someone's life, it should never be underestimated. I wish all children would have happy memories of their Childhood, I wish for them to be free and not have a care in the world... that should be left to grown-ups. And we always grow up so fast... Looking back to My Childhood I can't help to smile and think how much fun it was, how careless and free we're, without truly knowing. Now, thinking of that while I watch my little Ladybug Baby Girl makes we wonder about many things. It surfaced memories of My Childhood and the things I knew I missed but just passed them away from memory, lest I would tear up and wish to be a child again. Alas, we are no Peter Pan... so I thought I might share my list with you - we might have more in common then you know ;)
1. Believing in Santa Claus - I can't remember the time when I found out from colleagues at school that Santa ain't actually true, but I do remember my huge disappointment and disbelief in what I had heard. I kept telling myself for a long while that Santa Claus was actually true, that people were telling lies. Well... as Dr. House always lived to put it, everybody lies, but they were not telling a lie in this case. A part of a child innocence dies when they stop believing in fairies or in Santa Claus or in the stories that they read. 
2. Politics?! What's that?! - Socialists, Democrats, I had absolutely no clue which is which. Left or Right, what did it matter for a child? Politics are not important for them. Family is important, friends are important, making sure that they eat and play and have fun is important! Not the strings that some people pull to get higher. Not the corpses some people tread on in order to become more powerful. Childhood is the age of innocence.
3. No job, ocasional money - you don't have to wake up early everyday and think about going to work, being there for at least 1/3 or your day, making money to stay alive and feed yourself and cover bills.  No! Your "job" is to be happy, have fun, play games, smile and kiss your parents, have afternoon naps, do ocasional chores for which you get pocket money. Pocket money that you can spend for whatever your heart desires! 
4. Granny's / Mum's cooking - you don't have to cook daily, figure out ingredients, go to the market, buy them and carry them home (maybe after a full day of work, when you are tired), do the cooking... and by the time you can eat it you are already dead tired. When you were small there was always food "laying around" at the right time, when you would be hungry. Home made food by granny or mum, delicious, tasty, filling and always served with a smile and a kiss. Everyday. Best food ever!
5. Nap times in the afternoon - I remember there were times when I would fight... why do I need to have a nap? I want to go play, I want to read or draw or stay and talk with my friends, but naps were a must. I understand now that the body truly needs them. A time of peace and quiet when you can snuggle in a blanket, lay still and dream of magical and wonderous things. Naps in the afternoon relieved headaches, brought back good disposition and... allowed mum and granny to rest ;) plus, there is a research showing that things you have read before taking a nap get to your brain faster. 
6. Birthday parties - now you might not celebrate them big anymore, you might want them rather intimate: just with the ones you love, with family, a quiet spot for yourself. Childhood parties are colorful, joyful, boast of energy and games, great food and snacks that usually are not allowed, piles upon piles of presents, a big and tasty cake, blowing up candles while people sing "Happy Birthday!"... The fact that you had to prepare, do physical invitation and give them to your friends, choosing carefully whom you're having over and preparing your room, getting overly excited and counting the days until party time... When people would ask how old you are you would immediately answer... "I'm gonna be 6 next Friday!". Nowdays it takes me a couple of minutes to figure out... how old am I?!
7. The good old Cartoon Network - nowdays it's translated into the local language, back in my days it was all in English language and that's basically how kids would learn the language. Hear and repeat. The old Cartoon Network was not so heavily filled with violence and such ugly looking cartoons... I remember enjoying Tom and Jerry or The Wacky Races, The PowerPuff Girls or Dexter's Labratory. The lines were smooth, the music was enchanting and good always prevailed. Now I can't stand turning the channel on...
8. The time seemed never-ending... - when I would wake up it seemed the day was as long as a year. You could do so many things in one day! Now we are less than 3 months to Christmas and it feels like it's gonna be here tomorrow. Back then... it seemed like an eternity. It seemed like we has all the time in the world...
9. Invoices? What's that?! - buying things was more of mum and dad and grandpa and granny thing... I would just need something and it would magically appear by the grace of my family. Children take things for granted most of the time... I had a different childhood where I understood the value of money since I was a wee lass.  My grandpa from my mum's side was a brilliant accountant. I wanted to be just like him when I would grow up! So I've seen invoices even before kindergarden. But my first payed invoice was for my mobile phone sometime during high school.
10. The World was HUGE! - now Europe seems and feels like my pocket, trains and planes connecting everywhere... But when I was small even my country felt like a giant. The World was so big I could not believe I would ever get to see it all... But once you start travelling abroad, everything changes! And the other continents are just... "across the pond" ;)

Yours very sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Her Childhood 
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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Travel Tuesday: Things You Might Not Know About Poland

Dearest sweethearts,

Any day is a good day to travel and any moment is a good moment to plan an escape. I believe that life is meant to be lived next to the ones you love, making memories and collecting precious moments. It's a plus if one gets to have a good job, in which they are comfortable living in 1/3 of the day. Bit let's face it, even if we love our job we still want a break from it, from time to time. We want a breath of fresh air, we want to see new places and learn new things. Being an expat helped me afford more breathes of fresh air, due to the fact that I am living in a different country, where I always find something new and interesting. Today is #traveltuesday and I wanted to share with you some things that you might not know about Poland - hopefully to churn your interest and make you come here ;) it's such a lovely country to visit, no matter the season! So... #DidYouKnow that...
Krakowian ladies, Krakow Old Town, Poland 
1. Poland shares borders with no less than 7 countries: (Mother) Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Germany. It also previously shared borders with Romania! My grandpa remembered the times when they were taught that ;) 
2. The Polish King Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk was known as "Father of Europe". He had 9 children that helped shape Europe as we know it today: one became a cardinal, 4 became kings, one was canonized and the 3 daughters were all married off (as the times demanded) and they became mothers of the heirs of the greatest dynasties in West Europe ;) Talk about lineage!
3. The only European country that never officially collaborated with the Nazis at any level was Poland! No Polish units fought alongside the Nazi army. Poland never officially surrendered to Germany. The largest resistance movement in Europe was the Polish resistance movement in the German occupied Poland, during the Second World War.
4. November 3rd, 1939 - the very first death sentence of the Second World War. It was passed by the Nazis on 2 Polish women who dared to defy the order and torn down Nazi placards.
Marie Curie
5. 17 Nobel Prizes were won by Polish people. That's more than Japan, China, India or Australia ;) not to brag... But... that's also 4 Peace prizes, 5 in Literature and 2 Nobel Prizes for the wonderfully talented Marie Curie!
6. The Jagiellonian University in Krakow was established by King Casimir III the Great. 1364 was the great year and it is the oldest Uni in Poland, 2nd oldest in Central Europe.
Wawel Castle - inner courtyard, Krakow, Poland
7. The oldest restaurant in Europe, opened in 1275 and still functioning, is located in Wroclaw - "Piwnica Swidnicka".
8. The first European constitution and the 2nd one worldwide, after the one in the USA on the 3rd of May 1791, was the Polish Constitution. It had effects only 14 months and 3 weeks, being the "last will and testament of the expiring Country" and of Polish sovereignty, right before Poland entered into the 123 years of partition.
9. The magical city of Krakow, in which I'm proudly living, was the headquarter and the place of coronation of Polish kings & the nation's capital from 1038 until it moved to Warsaw in 1596.
Displays of human possessions, Auschwitz, Poland 
10. This very day, 19th September 1940, Witold Pilecki was voluntarily captured and sent to Auschwitz to smuggle out information and start a resistance?

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Polish History
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Saturday, 16 September 2017

Famous Polish (Related) People: Fahrenheit

Dearest sweethearts,

#DidYouKnow that Fahrenheit, the Pioneer of exact thermometry, was born in Danzig/Gdansk? It was a predominantly German speaking city, located in the Pomeranian Voivodship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He lived most of his life in the Dutch Republic (1701-1736) and is noted as one of the most important representatives in the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology.
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit is noted down in history as German - born on the 24th of May 1686 & dies this very day, 16 September 1736. He was a physicist, an inventor and a scientific instrument maker. Fahrenheit later the foundations for the era of precision thermometry by inventing the mercury in glass thermometer. To this day I remember my granny and mum taking my temperature with a mercury thermometer. They were fragile and you had to shake them well after you used them, so the temperature would drop again. Nowdays you have the touchless ones or the battery enabled ones, that beep once they are done controlling the temperature. Anyway... Fahrenheit was also the one who invented the Fahrenheit scale (still widely used over the ocean) - first standardized temperature scale to be widely used.

P.S. it's not safe to use mercury, so if you still have a mercury in glass thermometer be careful! Don't drop it and if it breaks, don't touch it with bare hands! Fahrenheit died from mercury poisoning.

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Polish History
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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

How To Get A Polish Person Mad/Upset

Dearest hearts,

Poland feels very much like home, and it has always felt a place I could call home from the very first vacation I spent here. I was always very much in awe with cities brimming with culture and history at every step, and Krakow always gas something new to offer. But even if I lived in Poland for more than 6 years and a half, even if I am in love with their History, even if I have a Polish husband, I still make mistakes that eventually lead other people to find out I an not Polish.
Along time I have bumped into situations that made me realise what makes Polish people tick, what makes them upset, what makes them mad and lose their temper. If you lived long enough here, you might know some or have a few points of your own. If you just entered this fine land though, you might want to read this carefully and make notes ;) so without any further ado... here is how you can get a Polish person mad / upset:
1. Suggest that other nation had it worse than Poland - and I'm not referring here only to the Second World War and how they had German Nazi occupation, after which they had to endure the Communists, The Red Army destroying everything and killing heroes of the war. I'm referring to the point where several countries decided to rip Poland up and take it away from the maps of the world from the 18th century till a century later. Poland was ripped, torn apart, but came back strong and proud. And that's how Polish people are: strong and proud (of their history). 
2. Dare to say that their language sounds like Russian - No way! What are you saying?! There is ABSOLUTELY no resemblance! Of course not... That's why they both are Slavic languages and have words that sound the same or slightly the same and have the same meaning... suuuuure... But I do understand them, the past (Communist party) hurts them still and the time when they were under Stalin's heel is not that far away. Also... never say they have blue eyes and blonde hair like the Russians... it's typical Slavic, just say that instead ;) 
Wodka @ Polish weddings - calculate 1 litre per head of guest ;)
3. Think that you can outdrink a Polak - nope... don't even suggest that Russians might be able to do that! Instead you can say that the Hungarians might come close. Why? "Polak, Węgier, dwa bratanki / I do szabli, i do szklanki / Oba zuchy, oba żwawi / Niech im Pan Bóg błogosławi." - Pole, Hungarian — two good friends, together they battle and drink their wine." It's been recorded that Poles can have the highest grade of alcohol in their blood and yet drive a car ;) Don't try to beat that!
4. Try to show off by "understanding Polish people" just by looking at the very close history: Second World War and Communist times - Oh, Poland is much more than that! Read about Kosciuszko and his links to the USA and the Independence War, read about the Hussaria (The Winged Cavalry) that made everyone tremble, read more! Read Norman David's books! They are in English and they can help you understand more! 
5. Referring to the Nazi camps as Polish Death Camps - NO! Don't make this mistake! Even myself, a non-polish person, get really upset when people talk about "Polish Death Camps", like Auschwitz and Birkenau and Treblinka, when in fact they were build by the German Nazi people who occupated Poland and took it for their own. It was not the will of the Polish population even if it was on Polish land, and saying different is degrading towards the ancestors of all the Polish people brave enough to help the ones that escaped the horrors of the camps. Did you know that for each Nazi killed there was a law instated that 10 Poles mist die? Now think about that next time you think about saying that. Learn the truth, so that you may not lie!

The series is named "How To... In Poland" and focuses on giving as much help and as much information about Poland to the lovely future traveler. The articles will be published during #traveltuesday - so stay tuned for more.

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
Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Is An Expat In Krakow For More Than 6 Years & 1/2 ;)
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Sunday, 10 September 2017

A Piece of Polish History: The Polish Thermopylae

Dearest hearts,

Today I'm going to share with you a little piece of Polish history related to the Second World War and this month. #DidYouKnow that Polish history had it's very own Polish Thermopylae, called The Battle of Wizna. The Battle of Wizna was fought between 6th and 10th of September 1939, between the Polish forces and the Germans during the initial stages of taking over Poland. It is connected to the Thermopylae battle where 300 Spartans bravely stood up against the entire Persian army.
Lessen Moczulski, Polish historian, claims that a group of Polish people between 350 and 720 managed to defend a fortified line from the German troops - about 40.000 of them! Wladyslaw Raginis, captain, is the hero of the Battle and the commanding officer of the Polish troops. He made an oath to hold position and fight against the Germans for as long as he would live. The Polish forces fought bravely for 3 days without any rest, without any sleep. Captain Raginis, started to see that they would loose the Battle so he asked his troops to surrender and he committed suicide by throwing himself of a grenade, fulfilling his oath.
Here are the statistics:
Polish forces:
720 men (20 officers)
Six 76 mm guns
42 MGs – machine guns
2 URs – antitank rifles
German forces:
42,200 men
350 tanks
657 mortars, guns and grenade launchers
Aircraft support
The Poles were outmanned 60:1! The exact Polish losses are unknown, due to the fact that very little is known about the POW (Prisoners of War) taken by the Germans. German losses are also not known. In his diary, Heinz Guderian understated the number of German soldiers killed in actions. It is known though that at least 10 tanks and several other AFVs were destroyed in the struggle. Polish people are very proud of their history and even if the Battle was won by the Germans it is still seen as a victory in spirit. Few people would show such bravery as the ones that stood 60:1!

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Polish History
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Thursday, 7 September 2017

Tadeusz Pankiewicz's Pharmacy - Apteka Pod Orlem

Dear friends,

If ever you were in Krakow and went to Schindlers Museum or took part of any Jewish trail tour, for sure you have been told about the "Apteka Pod Orlem" (The Pharmacy Under the Eagle) and it's brave owner Tadeusz Pankiewicz. The Apteka (polish for Pharmacy) was established by Jozef Pankiewicz on Zgody Square in 1909. A very short while after the World War 2 started, his son, Tadeusz, took over as manager. In 1941 when Krakow Ghetto was build, the farmacy was enclosed inside the ghetto. He was the only Polish non-Jewish person that choose to stay inside and willingly gave a helping hand to those who needed it most. He could have chosen to get his business relocated, instead he continued to operate and distribute medicine for the residents of the ghetto. 
Tadeusz, along with his associates - Irena Drozdzikowska, Helena Krywaniuk and Aurelia Danek-Czort - decided to provide active aid in different forms to the people inside the ghetto. This is how Apteka Pod Orlem became a place where the residents could meet and exchange information, a place where they could send-receive illegal correspondence and money, a place where many Jewish people left valuable family belongings - like Torah scrolls and family mementos. After the war, Tadeusz Pankiewicz wrote about the time in the ghetto in his memoir book "The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto" (Apteka w getcie krakowskim). In 1983 he was awarded the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations. 
The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow owns The Eagle Pharmacy now, located on Plac Bohaterow Getta (The Square of the Heroes of the Ghetto) #18, Krakow - Podgorze. Getting there is best done by tram, and the square is hard to miss, as you will see a place with many tall chairs. It's an installation that serves as a reminder for the Jewish people perished - each chair symbolises 1000 people. Let that sink in for a bit, before you walk over to the corner where the Pharmacy is located. The opening hours are: Monday from 10 am to 2 pm, free admission; Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on the second Tuesday of the month. Admission price is 8/10 zloty (with discount/without). You can also buy a "Memory trail" ticket that allows you to access Schindlers Museum, Apteka Pod Orlem and the Gestapo Holding Cells at Dom Slaski on Ulica Pomorska. The ticket is valid 7 days.
The purpose begin the exhibition "Tadeusz Pankiewicz's Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto", is to bring back the history of the Holocaust of Krakow Jews during the Second World War and the memory of the brave group lead by Tadeusz. Only fragments of the period furnishings remain, so the furniture and the objects have been reconstructed as closely as possible to the original ones. The visitors can browse through drawers, hiding places, cabinets and so on, searching for documents, photographs and testimonies of witnesses of the horrors of war.
Apteka Pod Orlem - the museum - is split in 2 main parts. As you enter, to your left, there is the ticket office and the educational facilities - the ticket office, the toilet, the education room and the administrative office for the team that handles the museum. As you enter, to your right, there is the exhibition venue - presenting the dispensing room, the prescription room, the duty room, the materials room, the Holocaust room and the laboratory. Throughout these rooms there are multiple film and multimedia presentations. I believe that the pivotal part of the expo is the "duty room" that holds the original desk from Apteka Pod Orlem and the very first edition of Pankiewicz's memoir, with the authors handwritten notes.
After the war, a the communists settled in, in 1951 Pankiewicz's Pharmacy was nationalised and in 1967 it was closed down. The Historical place was turned, sadly, into a bar! That did not change until 1983, when, thanks to Pankiewicz's friends efforts, the Apteka Pod Orlem was granted the status of national memorial. Since 2003, by decision of the municipality of Krakow, The Eagle Pharmacy has been a branch of the Historical Museum of Krakow. Rightly so, and about time, I say! 

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves History
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Monday, 4 September 2017

Things I Am Thankful For - August 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, FebruaryMarchAprilMayJune and July. For August I am thankful for many things, but here are 5 picks:
Picture taken by Bellove - 4 Generations
1. My Little Ladybug Baby Girl turned 1 year old! I have no idea where time flies like that, I have no idea when she grew up so big and strong and handsome. Just yesterday she was a little bundle that came out into the light, in our arms. The first months were tough, everything was so new and unexpected, yet we managed it, little one! We managed it together. You are our greatest blessing and we pray that we are your blessing as well. You make us happy every day, you made the world a brighter place with your smiles and giggles and laughter. You laugh with all your heart and soul. You shine bright, you are our little star and I won't stop thanking God for You, our greatest gift!
2. 3 year anniversary of the Church Wedding - on our first wedding anniversary we took a tandem parachute jump, on our second anniversary we took a different kind of jump... a jump.of faith, and the small Lady was born. This year, on the 3rd anniversary we celebrated in 3 - family complete. White roses, chocolate and raspberry cake and kisses. I am blessed with an amazing and caring husband, which I love to the moon and back again! Kocham cie Marek! 💗
2 of my sweetest ladies 🐞💗
3. Granny's  Birthday - I have several dearly loved people that are born under the zodiacsign of the lion, but my favourite 3 lioness are my little Ladybug Baby, my dear sweet sister and my amazing, strong and caring Granny. Her birthday is close to my Church Wedding anniversary so... The month of August is a huge "celebration time" month. August brings one birthday to another and then wedding anniversary on top. But we would not be here without Granny. She is the one that gave birth to Mummy dearest and she in turn gave birth to me and my sister, and then Emilia Elena was born. One blessing after another. I wish I would be like Granny when I grow up, strong and caring and gentle. She is a true lady, a noble heart and a brilliant mind. I wish many more years to come for us together, so that the small Lady would remember her.
4. Mother's  Birthday - it's a tough one to get out with the Little Ladybug Baby Girl, in town, and have lunch, but we managed! I wanted to take Mum out somewhere special, somewhere nice where she's never been before. At the same time it could not be crowded and noisy and  it would have been perfect if it were outside, fresh air included. Well... I don't know if you ever heard of Meho Cafe - Bar & Garden, but if ever in Krakow Old Town... Well... this place is heavenly during summertime - early autumn! I'm so glad that Mum enjoyed this place! I wanted her to relax and have a different day than usual. I bought her yellow flowers - she loves yellow flowers, as they are so happy, like the sun, optimistic. I wish her to be happy always, and healthy, next to us, enjoying Emilia's growth.
5. Dzien Rumunii/Day of Romania in Krakow - it was my greatest pleasure to take Granny and Mum and the Little Ladybug Baby out, to the Main Market Square, and see the 41st yearly event that lasts a week and is hosted by Krakow in collaboration with Cepelia. This year these was the first "Dzien Rumunii" and I was happy to be there. We, all 4 generations, enjoyed it immensely! We had traditional cheese and "slanina" (lard) and we bought some lavender syrup for our water. It's delicious! The small one had great fun and even had a nap during the display of traditional dances. It was a success!  

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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Friday, 1 September 2017

Motherhood Rants: Childhood Games Children Don't Play Anymore

Dearest hearts,

#DidYouKnow that a research done in 2016 showed that 3/4 of children in the UK spend less time outdoor than prison inmates?! 
4 Generations
I remember reading an article a year ago about how childhood changed only just recently. The Guardian noted down that children nowdays spend outside only half of the time that their parents did. This is mainly due to the usage of tablets, PCs and the Internet with all its addictive wonders. Children nowdays just don't "work" the way we used to, every generation is different - not necessary better or wiser, even if the information is just out there and all you have to do is stretch out your hand. Children don't play anymore the games previous generations played - not even in the term of computer games like Mario Bros. Take this even further, to someone who was born and raised in the fifties and you'll start seeing huge differences. Back in the 50s, for example in good old Great Britain (and not only!), there were streets dedicated for children to play - there were no playgrounds back then, kids could play in front of the block if they wished so. The traffic was not as insane as nowdays and the dedicated streets were used only by the locals living on it. Now it's a common thing to have enclosed playgrounds, for the sake of the children's safety. I sometimes think they act more like cages and we are being introduced to these cages at a ripe age, so we can get used to it and not feel restricted later on when you have a cubicle at work.

I remember my childhood and the games we used to play. I played a lot with my sister and my cousins yet I must admit that I never quite interacted with kids my age from the same block of flats when I started 5th grade and further on. I remember warmly the early days of kindergarden and primary school - a wide smile and peacefulness comes over me:
1) Make believe - it's something children nowdays don't seem to develop. We had colour tv and we had foreign stations but we had limited time in front of the TV and it was always a pleasure and something we would hardly wait for. In the free time kids would run, sing, play and read. Reading develops your brain in wonderful ways. We first would read and then imagine what we have read. If you did not understand a word you would take the dictionary in your hand and manually search for the meaning of the word (or ask mum or granny). You would again start the process of imagination. We were not force fed the image. Having read The Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter before seeing the movies was a thing of wonder - to see what I imagined come to life. Make believe is when you take straws and break them with your hands and put them on a big leaf, imagining you are making salad and serving it to your friends. Make believe is closing your eyes and letting your imagination run wild, never in a negative way.
2) The ducks and the hunters - we just loved to.play this one with our door to door neighbours. You usually do this in two pairs of 2 people but you can extend the team adding as many as you like. The idea is to have a team of hunters, split in two, and a group of ducks in the middle - between them. The hunters have a large ball (football, basketball) and they throw it at their prey - whoever gets hit must get out and not play anymore until all the ducks are caught. Of course the ducks can sway left or right so the ball does not touch them. The hunter must stay at least 2 meters away from the line of ducks. It's always great fun! 
3) Frog - this was not a ladies thing to play but the girls played it nonetheless! It was a fast game to show of who's better at jumping. Someone would crouch, assuming the position of a frog. The others would line up a few meters away, start running and then as he would get to the "frog" the kid would use it as a jumping spot and jump over the "frog". The bigger the jump, the better ;) and more applause and ovations from the line waiting for their turn. 
4) Hopscotch - I do see this game being played but not very often and not in the multitude of options that I have seen played in my childhood. All you needed was a piece of chalk of a piece of stone that could "write" on the pavement. It's a game that can be played alone, in pairs or in a group. It involves hopping and jumping from one square to another, with various other rules added to it - according to the person who plays it ;)
5) The telephone without cord (RO: telefonul fara fir) - my generation saw a boom in electronics and the FFW type of development of mobile phones. When I was small everyone had a home phone number, there was no such thing as mobile phones, the phones had a cord and some models even had the circle with numbers that you had to turn - if you screwed a number up you had to hang the phone up and do it again. This game was played with everyone, and as the games above, needed not many things to start off. The children would form a line and the beginning of the line person would say a word or a phrase, whispering it to the next one, making sure no-one else hears it. That person wpuld have to pass it along in the same way until it reached the end of the queue. The last one had to say it out loud and see if it was the same as the first person said it. The more kids the bigger the distortion and the fun ;)

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Had A Wonderful and Wonderous Childhood without Internet
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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Travel Tuesday: International Meet Up Event: How to be a foreigner in Poland?

Dearest hearts,

It's true that there are not as many multicultural events in English language as I would like, and it's true also that Krakow does host many international events. Krakow, as all Poland, is a paradox within itself. It is both warm and inviting for foreigners and it makes one feel like Home, especially if you are from the Balkan region, but at the same time some might find it frightening and intimidating, especially if people have a different colour of skin. When I first came here, more than 7 years ago... I did not know much about Poland, but my friends and colleagues here were so open and inviting and friendly, that I never thought myself out if place. I've been living in Krakow for more than for over 6 years and a half and not once have I ever questioned my safety here. It is also true that, being part of the expat groups on Facebook, I do hear the odd story of people feeling uncomfortable... but I guess that happens in all countries, around the globe. 
I feel that having gatherings with people who are expats loke yourself is always beneficial. It does not have to be someone from your homeland even, but someone who's going through the same needs and wants as you. That's why I always keep a lookout for fresh events in Krakow. Just the other day one of my expat friends was interested in one such event and I quickly picked up the trail. It sounded interesting and it's a free Event, so please feel free to register yourself. Maybe I'll see you there and you can tell me it was me who gave you the idea to join! As I always say: Sharing is Caring! ;) so without any further ado, let me tell you about it. 

We invite all foreigners living and working in Poland for our first International Meetup.
How to be a foreigner in Poland?
Talks, Discussions, Legal Advice, Networking & Fun

Network with the international crowd of Krakow and listen to the stories of our special guests, Brian Scott and Elsi Adajew. Our guests have spent many years in Poland, became Polish citizens, and have lots of tips to help you adapt to the life in Poland. They will share with you all the information they wish they knew when they arrived in Poland.

Come to this meeting if:
  • You have just moved to Poland from abroad
  • You are a foreign professional living and working in Krakow
  • You want to know more about the Polish culture and the foreigners' life in Poland
  • You are looking for a legal advice connected to your life as a foreigner in Poland
  • You are looking for a job within IT industry, and want to meet with Sabre recruiters
  • You want to network with other foreigners in Krakow

Agenda:
18:30 Welcome from Sabre
18:45 Brian Scott Talk
19:15 Elsji Adajew Talk
19:45 Q&A with our special guests
20:15 Open Space Networking
21:00 Thank you
Additionally, throughout the whole meeting:
  • Come to the "Interkulturalni" stand for legal advice connected to your life in Poland
  • Buy Brian Scott's book (in Polish) titled "Pierwszy Murzyn RP" with the autograph of the author
  • Meet with Sabre Recruiters to talk about career opportunities for speakers of foreign languages and IT professionals

Special guests:
Brian Scott - born in Gujana, a journalist, filmmaker, a teacher, and a Polish citizen living in Poland for over 30 years
Elsi Adajew - born in Chechnya, a teacher and chairman of the Sintar Foundation, and a Polish citizen living in Poland for over 16 years

Date: 7 September 2017, 18:30
Place: Pauza In Garden, ul. Rajska 12, Kraków
Free tickets via Evenea website
SPONSOR: Sabre
Register today and invite your friends!

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Will Go To The Event ;)
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Saturday, 26 August 2017

Krakow: Crepes - Nalesniki Francuskie

Dearest sweethearts,

Isn't it a fabulous time to have something sweet? It's always a good time to enjoy some sweet treat. I, myself, am not a huge fan of sweets but pancakes are always a great idea, don't you think?! Of course the French people call them "crepes", and it does sound a bit more fancy... anyway, the French love their pastries and sweets so it's normal that pancakes/crepes are in their culinary delights menu. 
The pancakes of the past were not like the crepes of modern times, of nowdays, consisting of flour, eggs and milk. The version of today appeared for the first time in ancient Rome. In medieval Europe, crepes/pancakes became popular on Shrove Tuesday - that's the day before the Christian Lenten season begins. Why, you may ask! Well... fasting for Easter was in order but everyone had plenty of eggs and fats in their house, that they needed to get rid of, else they would expire. Hence the actual version of the pancakes came to life. 
Different countries have different versions and names for crepes. For example, the Italians call them crespelle, the Jewish people have blitzed, the Russians have blinis, the Greeks have kreps, the Romanian people call them clatite. Clatite - present in the life of every Romanian child, as a sweet treat. I, for one, love them with sour cherry jam or the ones with cheese and raisins and sour cream, done in the oven. They are fingerlicking amazing!
Due to the fact that crepes come in both a sweet version but they can also be a main meal, it's an easy treat to cook and everyone will like it. You can have a variety of fillings and make everyone happy with building up their own "formula". I, for one, like the most the versions with fruits or a combination of fruits and soft creamy cheese. With a proper pancake/crepe you can handle even a full day without eating ;) so never underestimate the power of a proper pancake!
Krakow is famous for its fast food good truck experiences. Kazimierz is the "go to" place where you can find all that your heart desires. Including pancakes ;) For example, just next to Galeria Kazimierz, in front of its entrance, there is a truck of "Kocham Nalesniki". It's the best place I could find in town, up to this moment, that does sweet pancakes with cheese and fruits. The ones that remind me of my childhood and make me smile wide while munching on them, hoping that they would never end.
The "Kocham Nalesniki" idea is really well welcomed and if you look on their Facebook page you can see that the votes that people gave them raise to 4.9 out of 5 stars. Everyone is happy on the taste, the look, the of minus - from time to time - comes from the people who serve, but I never once had an issue. The ladies serving me were always very nice and encouraging - my broken Polish always shows I'm not from around. I also give the team the benefit of the doubt, as all the ones who serve at students and they do switch a lot, around the year. Training them on customer care is not the primary focus. 
I always loved food trucks as you can see your food and how they prepare it. I always found it fascinating to watch how people do crepes on the huge frying pan - the continuous circular fast movement and the way the flip it without dropping it to the ground... that takes practice and skill! The "Kocham Nalesniki" team has a couple of trucks in stable positions in Kazimerz but also has a black sleek van that corporations can use during their picnic time in the summertime. Marek's former employer had one at their party and the queue was endless - needless to say that people are willing to stay in the rain, for over an hour an a half, to get their treat! 

You can pay both by credit card and cash and I think you can even order them out online - never tried that though... I tried the Nutella one and I must say it's quite a caloric bomb! I could not manage to eat even half of it - it was very sweet, very much to Marek's taste but not mine. I prefer the one with cottage cheese and some kind of seasonal fruits - 1st place goes to peaches and 2nd to strawberry, banana ones are good as well but much too filling for my taste. I admired the team also for their choice of packaging, which is very helpful while eating it on the go - and not having a knife and fork or spoon at hand. The package unwraps itself bit by bit, allowing you to eat the delicious treat at your own fine pace, without getting dirty. Dotted lines will help you tear it up ;) 
Peaches and soft creamy cheese - mmm... yummy!
The prices:
- espresso - 4 zloty
- Americano - 4,5 zloty
- Lungo  - 5 zloty
- Cappucino - 6 zloty
- Latte - 6,5 zloty
- Pancakes/Crepes prices can range from 6,5 to 15 zloty but they are totally worth your time and money! Highly recommended! 

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Pancakes
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