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Monday, 26 February 2018

Malopolska Development: New Shopping Gallery in Wieliczka

Dearest sweethearts,

A new gallery will be opening up soon! 42 thousand square meters for the shopping fans in the Malopolska Region, in Wieliczka. Finally Wieliczka will feel as a fulfilled city ;))) 3 km away from the A4 Wieliczka junction there will be a new building: Galeria Wieliczka! The area of the complex will have 42.000 square meters. 25% of the space will be taken by Leroy Merlin store. The Galeria will have 88 premises for commercial and service purposes. Over 2.000 square meters will be allocated to the food industry market and 1.300 are planned for the drugstore industry. 
The investor assures that there will be about 30 medical cabinets in the building and 3.000 square meters will be allocated to the relax-fitness zone. The rest of the project looks like a regular shopping centre - elevators, pharmacies, children's play areas, restaurant zones, post office, bank branches, tourist offices and so on... For the clients of the shopping centre there will be a car park (specially created) for 600 cars. 

*News gathered with the help of the Polish local news site: krknews.pl - it's quite a good site but you need to know Polish language to read it ;) also more updates you can find on their own site for Galeria Wieliczka: https://galeriawieliczka.pl

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves New News
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Friday, 23 February 2018

10 Reasons Why I Loved The Phasma Novel

Dearly beloved,

You must know by now that I am a huge Star Wars fan. The original trilogy are the movies of my childhood, along with the wonderful Indiana Jones (played by the handsome and talented Harrison Ford). It was one of the first adventures in space that I had seen, besides Star Trek. It was both a western in space and a romance story, very well done, funny and witty and filled with amazing twists and turns in each character. It also had the very first Princess that was able to save herself (and others), instead of waiting for Prince Charming to come in it's Millenium Falcon and sweep her off her feet. Carrie Fisher was doing all that by herself, and she is a role model for the ages! #carriefisherismyprincessforever - and no-one can take that away from me. Star Wars opened my eyes to new stories, characters and the possibility of things happening in the wider universe. I remember buying a book about the original trilogy, translated in Romanian, for the money I raised on my own for several months... I was somewhere in 4th grade maybe... And I was so proud of owning It! Star Wars was not that popular back then, and it's a bit more popular now but still not reaching the height and hype of USA. I must admit I am way behind with the old (pre-Disney) Canon books but when it comes to the new ones in love keeping up to date. I'm always scooping for more insight over the first heroes (of the first trilogy) but also the new comers. Just recently I have finished Phasma and I have enjoyed it immensly so I thought... why not share my thoughts with you, and let you know my 10 Reasons Why I Loved The Phasma Novel:

1. The "Mad Max" vibes - living in a destroyed, post apocalyptic planet, constantly struggling for life, Phasma is a silent character that does not share her story/history. Her character is show through others stories and we gain but little insight directly from her, at the end of the book. Children were a rarity and reaching the age of 40 was a max (if ever) in ones life on Parnassos.
2. I could not sympathise with Phasma but I could understand what she had become. The path that she takes in Parnassos, the way she lives and carries herself, allows her not to get attached. Not to form any feelings or true relationships with anyone. If she does not get involved she will not be hurt buy she will be able to hurt others instead, manipulate them and lead others in her quest. She is a leader that has only herself in mind - her survival over the survival of others. In Phasma you can find the most true basic instincts.
3. She's even a much more frightening character that what the movies led us to believe. She would do anything to achieve her goal. Phasma is willing to kill her family, her tribe, in order to erase any memory of herself before joining in The First Order. To me, at least, there is no way in which she can redeem herself and not once have I seen her character coming an act out of love or friendship. Not even when she stabs her own brother, in order to save both herself and him. She does what She needs to do in order to survive.
4. Phasma's relationship with Armitage Hux - after leaving her home planet, Parnassos, she sees Hux's father destroy all the establishments, cities, location of the tribes that ever knew Phasma. The only person whom still knee her story was Hux's father and the child she brought with herself. Long story short: Phasma makes sure both of them for shortly after, in misterous causes that in no way link to her. Funny enough, when the Cardinal (arch nemesis of Phasma) confronts him about this topic, we get the revelation that Hux knew about this already and that he was quite fine with the idea (supporting Phasma in keeping all this a secret). To be also mentioned that Phasma is on a first name basis with Hux, referring to him only as Armitage.
5. Captain Cardinal - The human side of the First Order showing slowly - taken from Jakku by Brendol Hux, as a small boy, an raised to the highest position in the First Order, training all recruits of all ages. He suspected for a long time that Phasma was not the golden poster child of the FO. He always felt something was off about her - with the help of the Rebel Spy: Vi Morandi, he gets to learn the truth, at a painful cost!
6. Phasma never reveals her true face - once she joins the FO she presses forward and learns at an incredible pace all the history and the technology behind everyone ans everything in the New Order. She never had access to any tech on Parnassos yet in less than a year from leaving the planet, she comes back to salvage pieces from Brendol Hux shuttle that crashed (a Naboo chrome spaceship, previously owned by the Emperor himself!) in order to create (by herself) her own trooper army, from that impenetrable steel. She connects to her history, creates an armour and once she fits in on - she never lets it go. She never showes her face again. Except to the Cardinal, after their fight, once he is down, dieing from mortal wounds infested by her own poison.
7. Phasma is brutal, pure evil and cares only about herself, no matter on how many bodies she steps she will get forward. This is NOT a book for children or young adults. It has many horrific scenes that are gruesome to read and imagine. I would not recommend it lightly, it is a good book, recently written, the middle is packed with action that takes your breath away, but the book is also packed with betrayal and death... for some that did not even deserve it :(
8. No First Order warrior is what it seems - Phasma is the Poster person for the New Order, everyone aspires to be like her, fight like her, think like her... be Her! Be Phasma! Coming from unknown origins, from nothing, raising up to be the Leader of the training program, alongside Hux, for the First Order cadets. She is invincible, she is spotless, she is the example the FO needs. Only one problem: there is always a secret behind every character. Every character has a crack through which either Light or Darkness creeps in. She is also a reminder, at least for myself, that neither Kylo Ren is the perfect tool of the FO. He has cracks as well ;)
9. Phasma is a born learner - although the spear was her weapon of choice in Parnassos, every tool or weapon she touches she is eager to learn it and perfect herself. She does anything in her power to learn everything about anything that comes her way, in order to better herself, self-sustain herself. I constantly had the feeling that she wanted to do everything on her own, that she was always very unwilling to rely on others. She sees people only as a means to an end. She does not need a teacher, she just needs the basics and she will be able to handle things on her own.
10. Phasma's loyalty always lies within herself - everything and everyone else does not matter. She saved Brendol Hux only to get herself off the planet, she saved the baby only because at that time it sounded like the right thing to do - but she will kill it later, don't you worry, she has NO reframing side... I still wonder her connection with Armitage. On Parnassos she does not mate and she seems rather asexual. Is there anything behind this? Any connection between the 2? I am surely waiting for more Phasma content from the Star Wars Disney team!

P.S. The book raises quite a lot more questions and what I would really like to find out is whether Vi and the Cardinal managed to escape. Also if they managed to save the ones left on Parnassos. Did the Cardinal join the Rebels?! I need to know!!!

“And I did what I had to do to get to me as well. I don’t regret it. That’s the difference between us. I know what I am, and I embrace it. I’m proud of it. I fought for everything I have, every bit of what I am. Now that you see what you are, you despise it. You’re ashamed. and look where that’s gotten you.” -  Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson


“I’ve never walked on sand,” Torben noted. “What’s it like?”
Phasma’s people looked to her, but she nodded to Brendol.
“It shifts under your feet. Coarse and rough. Irritating. Gets everywhere. Slips into your clothes and boots.” - Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson

Yours very much truly in love with Star Wars,
The Twisted Red Ladybug
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Monday, 19 February 2018

100 Years of the Romanian Embassy in Poland

Dearest sweethearts,

I don't get to write often about the Romanian Community in Poland but I think that today's the day in which I can start to remediate that. According to the estimations of the Romanian Embassy in Poland, the Romanian Community in Poland amounts to approximately 5000 people - out of which 2200 have permanent residence in Poland. The Romanian people living in Poland are uniformly distributed around the country but the most they can be found in the capital city (Warsaw) and it's surroundings (approximately a third), but also in the Silesian Voivodeship, S-W of Poland and Wroclaw. To that number we can also add the community of Polish immigrants that are originally from Bucovina (Romania), Romanian people that have immigrated before 1989 (and after) and people from mixed marriages - 60 people - that live now in the West of Poland (Lubuskie Voivodeship). Because of the small number, Romanian people are not recognised as an ethnical minority in Poland - take into consideration the large number of Ukrainians and you will understand the difference. 
The "Bucovina Community" from Zielona Gora organises annually the meeting of the Bucovina people. They built from their own funds and with partial support of the local authorities, the "Bucovina House" from the ethnographic park Ochla - people can gather there and there is also a museum of folk traditions from Bucovina region. The association has also their own folk dance group (all ages) and a folk music group. 
Even though there are no schools that teach Romanian language, inside the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and in the Institute of Romanitisc languages (The "Adam Mickiewicz" University in Poznan), there are classes of Romanian language - the "lektor" can teach you about Romanian literature, culture and civilisation. Also, even though there are no Romanian churches or places to worship, orthodox or neoprotestant ones, the Romanian Embassy in Poland organises in Warsaw ceremonies for the Romanian Community. They cooperate with the Warsaw Church heads and realise the ceremony with the help of 3 Polish orthodox priests that have finished the Theologic Semminary in Iasi (my hometown). In Krakow, we have the priest Marius Bucevschi, who indulges us by having the ceremony in Romanian language at least once a month - Sunday afternoon in the Mariacki Church in Krakow.  

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Poland and Romania - and their shared history!
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Friday, 16 February 2018

Wroclaw - European Best Destination 2018

Dearest sweethearts,

#DidYouKnow that Wroclaw has been awarded the title of "European Best Destination 2018" by the European Best Destinations (a Brussels based tourism organisation promoting culture and tourism in Europe). It came ahead of Bilbao (Spain), Colmar (France), Hvar (Croatia), Riga (Latvia), Milan (Italy) and even Amsterdam (Netherlands). Wroclaw slowly but surely gains quite a large audience, making baby steps but firmly placing it's flag on higher ground. In 2016 Wroclaw was the European Capital of Culture, while Krakow was the host for the World Youth Day. Poland had much to gain that year ;) not only touristic wise. In 2015 it was ranked as "The best city to live" and was mentioned as a city growing Business Center.
Wroclaw is the capital of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship and many consider it as the most beautiful and the greenest city in Poland. Wroclaw definitely shows the German influences and it's quite different than all the other bigger cities in Poland. Tourists, visitors and people living in the city love calling Wroclaw - WrocLove as it is hard not to fall in love with its beauty. It is also called the city of 1000 bridges, and it is very famous due to its small inhabitants that can be found at almost every step: it's dwarfes / gnomes - there are over 300 of them spread throughout the city! Also... #DidYouKnow that Wroclaw has the oldest restaurant in the world? And an amazing zoo established in 1865. And the most unique painting in the world: Panorama Raclawicka - it's an 140 meter long canvas showing the legendary General Tadeusz Kosciuszko's victory over the Russian forces at Raclawice in 1794. 
I have had the chance to visit Wroclaw and I would love to do it again and again. It's a city you can fall in love with at the first sight. No wonder everyone names it WrocLove; everything starting from the adorable art nouveaux train station to the multiple one-of-a-kind bridges to the small gnomes that pop up where you least expect them... all is magical and slightly German-like. It's well worth it to spend at least a day there and enjoy the sounds and the colours of this vibrant city!

Yours very sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Wroclaw
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Monday, 12 February 2018

Is Poland safe?

Dearest hearts,
Dearest travellers that think of choosing Poland as a country for their next trip,

Do so without a doubt or worry in the world! #DidYouKnow that Poland was voted as the 22nd most safest country - on a worldwide safety report provided by OECD for mid-2016. Poland is one of the 3 European countries that was not affected by organised crime attacks in the 21st century. Also, when if comes to the crime level (same period stated above) it continues dropping, especially in Krakow. According to the analysis made by New World Wealth in its 2018 Global Wealth Migration Review, looking at the movement of high net worth individuals across the world, we can see Poland listed in the top 10 safest countries for women. "Woman safety is one of the best ways to gauge a country's long term wealth growth potential, with a correlation of 92% between historic wealth growth and woman safety levels", the report says. Wealth growth is booster by strong levels of woman safety inside a country. The top 10 safest countries for women in 2017 were:
  1. Australia
  2. Malta
  3. Iceland
  4. New Zealand 
  5. Canada 
  6. Poland 
  7. Monaco
  8. Israel 
  9. USA 
  10. South Korea 
The ranking was based upon the percentage of each country's female population that has been a victim of a serious crime over the past years. "Most of the countries in our top 10 are also popular destinations for migrating High Net Worth Individuals", says the report.
The safest countries for each region were:
  • Europe: Malta, Poland, Monaco, Iceland
  • APAC: Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Japan, South Korea
  • Middle East: Israel, UAE
  • Africa: Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia
  • Americas: USA, Canada
The rate of violent crime (e.g. mugging and carjacking) in Poland is generally really low. However, petty crime (e.g. pickpocketing) is common in the larger cities. Though, to be noted, I have been living in Poland (in Krakow) for more than 6 years now and never have I once had a problem or seen anyone having these kind of issues. It is true though that on expat communities, on the Facebook groups, I have heard that youth gangs cab be a threat - especially during the football season when the 2 main teams: Cracovia and Wistula are playing. Also, some individuals have been harrased for reasons of race (when they were darker skinned), sexual orientation (towards gay couples) or people of foreign looking appearance.
When it comes to demonstrations, they do occur frequently but they have a peaceful way and the polish people demonstrate their beliefs in an orderly fashion. The demonstrations though can lead to disruptions to traffic and public tranportation. Generally the areas with the highest crime rate in Poland are the West Pomeranian, Lubusz, Lower Silesian and Silesian region. Though the crime rate is relatively high, that does not mean that these regions are not safe, it means just that you should be extra careful - have some precautions. One thing you should actually be careful of is overcharging and scamming. If you do not know the language you are a sitting duck, you are a foreigner, and if the price is not visible that means when you will ask for one, the shopkeeper might give you a different price than he might say to a local. You are safe when it comes to restaurants that have menus in English with the correct prices but in the smaller cities, off the beaten track, you are on your own ;) so learning a word or two might come in handy. So don't be afraid to come visit Poland! It has so many beautiful things to offer: amazing unique places, great food, yummy sweets and good beer/vodka and warm people that love their country dearly! Come visit Poland and let it win your heart!

Yours very much truly,
Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Poland, A Safe Heaven
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Friday, 9 February 2018

DO NOT USE "Polish Death Camps"!

Dearest sweethearts,

When the German Occupation hit Poland and the Nazis were searching for places to build their Death Camps they choose Poland, as Poland is the heart of Europe - dead Center on the map. Back when the occupation  started in 1939, the borders of Poland were very different than they are now and the closest city to the border with Germany was actually Krakow, a couple of hours away. When they looked upon what could be spared and what not, Polish government agreed that they should first allow the Nazi to take over Krakow, so the city and its inhabitants would be safe - not as much can be said about Warsaw, that put up a great fight and was torn to the ground approximately 90%, no stone being unturned. But Krakow manages to maintain its old time beauty, though it also faced horrible horrors in its wake. When the Nazis build Auschwitz - the most well known Death Camp of the Holocaust - they chose Oswiecim, a remote village, so they would do their horrible deeds without being watched. It was previously a Polish Army barracks but nowdays nobody mentions that anymore...
The purpose of the Nazis was to destroy Poland, enslave it's people and take the land - make Germany bigger and stronger in the process. They did not plan the same as they did in France or Norway where they created governments that would collaborate with the German one. By the end of the Second World War, 6 million Polish people have been murdered, including 3 million Jews (almost half of the Jews killed during the Holocaust). Tuesday, the president of Poland signed legislation making it a crime to suggest that Poland bore any responsibility for the atrocities committed by the Nazi Germany. This has infuriated certain historians and Israeli government. The law has 2 parts: 1) outlaws the phrase "Polish Death Camps" - even scholars agree the term is very misleading, considering the fact that the camps were build and controlled by Nazi Germany; 2) it is a crime - punishable by a fine or up to 3 years in prison - to accuse "the Polish nation" of complicity in the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities. 
Naftali Bennett, Israel's education minister, criticized the law: "The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it". Poland's government decided to cancel his planned visit on Monday. On another hand, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance Center in Jerusalem, formally recognised more than 6700 gentiles in Poland as "righteous among the nations" because they risked their lives to save the Jews - more so than ANY other country in Europe! The estimates suggest that up to 35000 Polish Jews may have been saved through their efforts. Last week the Center made an official statement saying that the term "Polish Death Camps" was without a doubt a historical misinterpretation, but they cannot agree with the Second part of the law, erasing all blame from Poland. 
I believe that the Polish state was not complicit to the horrors of the Holocaust, yet that many Polish people are to blame for the acts that they carried out. Each story has its light and dark side, it's heroes and it's foes. We do have righteous people who have saved many Jews, yet we also have Polish people that blowed covers, picked on Jewish people out of the darkness of their heart or simply by trying to protect their lives, family or their assets. They chose themselves over others, but whom are we to judge - would we have done the same, given the situation? You can't know for a fact, can't you?! #DidYouKnow that Poland was the only country where if you would have hidden a Jews and you would be found out, both the Jews, yourself and your family would be immediately executed? Also, Poland has sustained the heaviest losses during the Second World War with up to 17% of it's entire population vs. Russia - 14% and Germany - 10%. Not to mention Poland bring the only occupied country that had it's government immediately liquidated, it's army disbanded and schools and universities closed (their professors and "grey minds" being the first ones taken away and locked up/executed). 
If you will blame the individuals, the Polish people that acted against the Jews, than why would you not blame the Jews that acted against the Jews? You would then be implicitly blaming the Jewish community for the Holocaust. I know that sounds horrible and absurd, but is it not what people are doing when they say Poland is to blame? 
   
Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Poland
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Monday, 5 February 2018

Things You Should Know About Fat Thursday

Hello there you lovely human beings!

Lent is coming soon, people will be trying to fast, not eating certain food, when in fact they should rather focus on fasting with their mind, refraining from evil and thinking negative thoughts about others, trying to actually make the world a better place by doing that. Well... this week, this Thursday, we will be celebrating #FatThursday - a traditional Catholic Christian feast marking the last Thursday before Lent. That means the next opportunity to feast won't be until Easter! So... That means this Thursday is dedicated to eating all you have inside the fridge, in your house, that's not proper for the fasting period. You can eat as many sweets, cakes and other meals that usually you cannot eat during Lent. In Poland, for Fat Thursday, the most popular dish are the paczki (donuts) - fist sized donuts filled with marmalade (usually rose or advokat cream) - and the faworki (angel wings) - long donut fingers served with powdered sugar on top. 
Of course you can taste these goodies all year round but if ever you are in Poland during Fat Thursday you will know it's this day! Everyone will be shopping for them, people will eat them on the streets, bakeries will be filled to the brim with them and you will see special offers even a fee days in advance. Starting 1st of February, for example, Piekarnia I Cukernia Lajkonik started to take orders in advance for the donuts. They have specially printed out forms with several types of donuts you can choose and you just need to say how many and until when you want them done. Prices range from 2,90 to 3,90 per donut. They also have special boxes of 6 donuts for 12 zloty - tried that and they were yummy! Each with a different topping and filling. 
Paczki box from Lajkonik - #smacznego 
The name of the holiday/day Is very fitting - Fat Thursday - as everyone that day just keeps munching of deep fried, sugary things... That have loads of calories... but nobody seems to mind :) Paczki are the #1 product that day - they are very much like the American donuts but without the hole inside and with a tad more heavier dough, that is usually filled with diverse creams (like the alcohol flavoured advokat), chocolate or preserves (like the yummy rose jam). Faworki are the second best, especially for the ones that want to keep it simple and have no additional fillings or toppings - they are also called Chrust or Angel Wings, made out of a dough similar to the paczki. Some regions add vodka to it... They are usually served cut into a twisted diamond shape, thread through themselves, and then they are deep fried. 
The paczki box from Lajkonik, Krakow
How to do some paczki for Fat Thursday - if you want to try to do some of these goodies yourself, you need to know this: buy loads of oil and prepare to be splashed ;))) kidding aside... the dough is made out of yeast, flour and eggs. Once you do the dough and cut it into the proper size and prepare it, the paczki are deep fried in oil or lard only for a few seconds, so that the fat does not get inside as well but just lets the crust form. They taste the best when they are warm! Actually... paczki are best if eaten within 48 hours of baking. You can store them in a paper bag or loosely cover them with a piece of cloth. Or... you can just save yourself the trouble and come to Poland and have some of these goodies this Fat Thursday!

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Faworki 
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Friday, 2 February 2018

Marijuana For Medicinal Use in Poland

Dearest friends,

#DidYouKnow that Poland has joined, last year, the group of countries that have legalised marijuana for medicinal purposes? New regulations that came in October-November last year state clearly that marijuana (cannabis from imported plants) can be processed by Polish farmacies and can be used as medicine. Pharmacists are prepared to make the drugs according to the Polish Pharmaceutical Chamber (PPC). In case needed, specialist training will also be made available - considering that Poland has about 15000 pharmacies out of which 90% are authorised to make their own prescription drugs. The estimations say that around 300000 patients would quality for the medicinal marijuana treatment. The law will allow the use of cannabis on a number or ailments/diseases ranging from epilepsy to chronic pain to nausea caused by chemo or even to symptoms of multiple sclerosis. 
The monthly treatment is estimated to cost about 2000 zloty. According to the experts, one gram of marijuana will cost about 50-60 zloty. The EU members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move - only 2 out of 443 politicians voted against the bill! Poland is the latest country to embrace medicinal cannabis, joining countries like Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain. A survey conducted in January 2017 on the public opinion in Poland about Marijuana stated that 78% of Poles believe in free access for the drug. The legislation, as I said above also, will allow prescription only cannabis based medicine to be made available at pharmacies, with ingredients sourced only from abroad. Possession of the drug for recreational use is illegal! So kids... don'tyou dare try this at home!
  
Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Krakow 
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