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Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Girl With The ****** Tattoo

"The Girl With The ****** Tattoo"

We were out, searching for some new #StreetArt in Kazimierz (the best place to find some new and original art pieces). It was a mission from the Photo Club I am in - seek and find something that makes your soul vibrate. Something that makes you pull the trigger on your camera.

It's hard to accomplish something creative when you are put under pressure, yet somehow the pressure sometimes works. There are hundreds and hundreds of small streets and turns and corners in the #JewishDistrict - you never know what you will pop up to. Or whom you will bump into... You might just turn around the corner, going your own way, and bump into someone that catches your eye and makes you want to shoot and immortalise the moment.
"The Girl With The ****** Tattoo" was sitting there, on her ciggy break, relaxed on a stair, checking the phone. She was deep in thought, smiling from time to time, and breeting deep in her smoke, relaxing from her worktime. She was covered by tattoos - both on her hand and on her leg. The Girl had not dark hair but a beautiful shade of pink - that made me think of unicorns :) Such darkness and happiness combining in one little Girl.

It is said that strong essences are always kept in small bottles - that is what "The Girl With The ****** Tattoo" was.

I stopped and I thought... should I just take the picture or ask her first? It felt right to ask her... It felt very much like invading her privacy... her time off from the daily job, her time when she was thinking of something more creative and less boring. Maybe she was a waitress, maybe she was a bartender... maybe she wanted to be something else and she was wokring on that thought.

I asked "The Girl With The ****** Tattoo" if I could take her phono. She turned to me and smiled wide (with even her eyes) and said she would not mind it. She smiled not like the regular Barbie Doll girls do, fake and dry, but the real feminine smile. Again, not the smile that you do for a "Cheese!" photo, but that smile you do when you are at peace with yourself. Not the one when you know you are perfectly beautiful, but the one which shows that you found that inner peace. The smile that shows your sould is balanced.

This one goes to all "The Girl With The ****** Tattoo" ladies out there - not only the ones that have a physical tattoo on their body, but also the ones that have their own tattoos on their soul.

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug
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Friday, 25 May 2018

Thoughts upon Summer in Krakow / Poland

#SummerInKrakow 🐞

As the sunrays grow stronger, the day is already longer, and you can feel summer slowly creeping in... the ocasional rain helps keep the grass green, the flowers blooming smoothly - petals like silk, and the air doesn't get that hot and dry. 

The restaurants, coffee shops and bars open up their terraces and await the eager clients. Everyone goes out after work, for a drink or two  (mostly beer, and the local breweries are plenty in Poland!). You relax, tend to forget about the daily routine and enjoy the rays of sun lingering on you. 
Krakow Architecture
Don't forget to #wearsunscreen - as the famous video says... We do work at least 8 hours a day - 5 times a week (sometimes, most of the times, even more) so breaks are necessary to keep your mind and soul in order. People in Poland like to do their jobs properly but they also take seriously having their breaks. 

Working in corporations nowdays is quite frequent and Poland has many big corporations that feed upon the minds of knoedgeable people. Some may have to even book up time in their Outlook calendars to have a real break, else you get tied up into what you are doing and you end up forgetting even that...
Roses in bloom at Dolnych Mlynow, Krakow
As Spring brings a breath of fresh air, the feeling that the World is coming to life, Summer kicks life in 2nd or even 3rd gear. As Spring is like a toddler learning to walk, Summer is like a teenager waiting for some bungee jumping or anything that would pump the adrenaline up...

#SummerInKrakow does have it's downsides though... not only in Krakow but all over Poland the cities become more crowded and even though there are thousands of terraces to choose from, the city becomes a beehive. 

Take for example ul. Dolnych Mlynow, just West of Krakow's Old Town, it is a former tobacco plant that bloomed overnight. It came to life in the summer of 2016 and gathered many "followers". It's considered a rather hipsterish place... and to tell you the truth it's very crowded especially once the sun sets low. I love this place during the mornings and early afternoons.  You can find a multiple variety of places to sit, eat and relax. Or even grab a cake, a good book and spend some quality time with yourself. 
Barbakan, Krakow
Sukiennice, Krakow
View of the Wawel Hill and Castle
It's summertime, it's time to take some time for yourself. For your soul. Sit down and watch the flowers bloom, the vines twisting, the birds singing their love songs. Sit down and watch the world turn round next to the ones you love. Do the things you love, the things that make your soul blossom.

#DiscoverSummerInPoland and fall in love with it's sweet beauty. Sample the taste of the local strawberries, wildberries. Enjoy the smell of wild roses, the peonies that bloom and spread their fragrance in the wind. 

Take a stroll down the cobblestoned paths of the Old Town. Make your way to the Wawel Castle and have a picnic by the Wawel Hill. Think of checking out the local breweries? I have a better idea: take the water tram up to the Tyniec monastery and enjoy the monasteries own brew. You might even drink a beer with the local monks :) 
Wawel Castle, Krakow
#DiscoverWarsaw and enjoy THE view, early in the morning when it opens up (around 9 am) or late afternoon when the sun sets, on the Palace of Culture and Science viewpoint. On the 30th floor, at 114 metres (374 ft) high, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Warsaw. Or you can just spend an entire day relaxing at the Lazienki Gardens, listening to a free Chopin concert, while having a picnic with the one(s) you love. 
#DiscoverWroclaw with your little ones, trying to find all the 300+ gnomes, spread throughout the city. Enjoy the views provided from each of it's 1000 bridges or take the elevator up the Cathedral hosted on the Ostrow Tumski. It is the best view Wroclaw has to offer (in my humble opinion). Wroclaw is also called "WrocLove" as everyone who visits it once falls in love with it indefinitely. 

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Poland in Summer (And Every Other Season)
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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Famous Polish People: Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon and Proto-feminist Artist

Good day all you lovely people!

As I was opening up my computer today, I saw the Google Doodle of the day: Tamara de Lempicka, and I realised that I've never told you anything about this remarkable woman. Tamara de Lempicka (born Maria Gorska) was born on the 16th of May 1898 and lived until 18th March 1980. She would have been 120 years old today, and as Google wrote "she developed her distinct style in the Art Deco era". She is known for capturing the true spirit of the "Roaring 20's" and here are some facts about her that you might like to know:
Tamara Autoportrait - Tamara in the Green Bugatti
  1. She was born in Warsaw but she briefly moved to Saint Petersburg, where she married a prominent Polish lawyer and then travelled to Paris. 
  2. Some people state that she is Russian due to the fact that her father was Boris Gurwik-Gorski, a Russian Jewish attorney. But wait... her mother was Malwina Decker, a Polish socialite who lived most of her life abroad and actually met her husband abroad, in a spa! 
  3. When she was 10 and she was required to sit still for a commissoned portrait, she hated posing and she did not like the final result. She took the pastels and asked her sister to pose - this was her first portrait that she created.
    Tamara de Lempicka
  4. Tamara studied painting and her style was a blend of refined cubism and neoclassical style, but her love for art and paintings was kindled on a tour of Italy - 1911.
  5. Her breakthrough came in 1925 when the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts - later gave it's name to the style (as we know it today) Art Deco.
  6. In 1927 she won her first major award: 1st prize at the Exposition Internationale des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux, for her portrait "Kizette on the Balcony".
    Kizette, the daughter, painted by Tamara
  7. In 1929 another portrait of Kizette (her only daughter), at her first communion, won a bronze medal at the International exposition in Poznan, Poland - her homeland :)
  8. In 1928 she became the mistress of Baron Raoul Kuffner (a wealthy art collector). After the death of his wife (1933), the Baron married Lempicka in 1934. Thereafter she was named (by the press) "The Baroness with a Brush".
  9. Lempicka's career reached its peak in the 1930's, when she was commissioned to paint the portraits of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Queen Elizabeth of Greece. 
  10. In 1974 she moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico. She died in her sleep on 18th March 1980. At her request, her ashes were scattered over the Popocatapetl volcano (in Mexico). 
#DidYouKnow that Madonna is an admirer and collector of Lempicka's work? She even lent paintings to events and museums. She has featured Lempicka's work in her music videos (Open Your Heart, Express Yourself, Vogue and Drowned World/Substitute for Love). Other fans are Jack Nicholson and Barbra Streisand - they also collect her work. 

"I live life in the margins of society, and the rules of normal society don't apply to those who live on the fringe" - Tamara de Lempicka 

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves History 
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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

No More ATMs For Poland?

My dear hearts,

#DidYouKnow that the latest data published by National Bank of Poland shows that the last quarter the number of ATMs is systematically decreasing? Since the end of March 2017, 521 devices have disappeared from the Polish streets. According to NBP data, at the end of December 2017 there were 23230 ATMs in Poland. A quarter later there are 96 ATMs less! Poles are more and more willing to pay through their cards then via cash. In the last quarter of 2017, there were 167.4 million cash withdrawals in ATMs across the country. This is 6.8 million less transactions than in the previous quarter (down 3.9%). The value of the transactions have also decreased.  In the 4th quarter of 2017, cash withdrawals totalled 83.5 billion PLN, 1.8 billion less than in the previous quarter (down 2.2%). The average value of a single cash withdrawal transaction at an ATM was 499 PLN, more than in the previous quarter (490 PLN).
At the end of 2017, one device performed on average 78 withdrawals during the day. Quarterly, the number of transactions was 81. Coming at a rapid pace there are more and more contactless payments as well... Currently, contactless cards represent 79.6% of all payment cards in Poland. According to the NBP, the introduction of contactless cards on the Polish market was carried out very efficiently throughout the banking sector. It enabled the delivery of 31.1 million payment cards with customers with the contactless payment function.
In the 4th quarter of 2017, 708.3 million non-cash transactions were carried out with contactless payment cards. In comparison to the previous quarter (690.3 million), the number of transactions increased by 18 millon (2.6% increase). In Q4 2017, the share of contactless payments in the total number of non-cash payments amounted to 68.3 %! The total value of the transactions carries out was 36.7 billion PLN. Compared to the previous quarter, the value of non-cash contactless transactions increased by 6.2 billion PLN (20.2% increase). The share of contactless transactions in non-cash transactions carries out with payment cards amounted to 51.4% (period previous: 45.9%).

How about you? How often do you use the ATM? How often do you use contactless? I know I do that very often :)

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Buys Contactless
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Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Mayor of Iasi, Romania, in Krakow

Dearest hearts,

There are many minorities living in Poland, many living in Krakow. The biggest minority are the Ukrainian people but there are many small groups of other locations, that live together as one. This year, very soon - in summertime, I will have lived for 7 years in Krakow. I am a Romanian expat blogger living in Krakow for a while now, creating roots with a couple of other hundred people from my country of origin. We are not the kind that come here to "pick strawberries or tomatoes", nor the kind that sweep the floor, do the cleaning or take care of elderly people (like people do mostly in Spain, Italy or even Israel). Don't get me wrong, those jobs are not demeaning or shameful, without people working on all levels society would not work. What I mean is that people that come to Poland don't do it for physical Labour, but rather it is a migration of brains and most of the people transfer to corporations here. Just like I did - I was working in Capgemini in Iasi, was offered a better job here, and I went for it! We always strive to better ourself and learn new things in the process. 
Living in Poland provides a better lifestyle than in Romania, and many of us believe that at least we are not afraid of what tomorrow will bring. Most of the politicians in Romania are corrupt and they are hungry for more and more power. As Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars reference, and I'm not even sorry!) would put it: "Unlimited Power!!!". It does not matter if you are stepping over other people, what matters is taking it all. I remember a story my mum used to say about the Jewish family that she lived next to when she was just a child. The Jewish family had a shop and they were selling things. They always said it was alright (even expected) to steal but one should always have a limit on how much. They would say that is why God left us with the index finger, to stop ourself of the border of the box/coffer/sack - so you could go only a few fingers down, not the whole hand up to the elbow (or more). Nowdays they just like to steal it all... that is why you hear of people going in the street and government changes. There are few who would like to make the world better, and there are idealists amongst us - one of them being the mayor of my city, the mayor of Iasi: Mihai Chirica.
The mayor of Iasi (Polish version: Jassy) - Mihai Chirica - is quite a dreamer, but more than that he managed to realise more than the previous mayors, for my hometown. He is finally the one who accesses the European Funds in order to make some changes. Poland, and especially Krakow - Warsaw have been tapping on those funds, making the cities better and better. Now Mihai Chirica just finished the documentation for the acquisition of electrical buses and new trams (not second hand ones that break at any moment). That will include 16 trams with a length of 26 meters, 25 electric buses 7-10 meter long, 20 electric buses 12 meter long. But why do I speak of that? Well... Mihai Chirica went to a European Congress of Local Authorities, that was held in Krakow - 25th to 27th of April. His business agenda included a talk of creating a fraternity between Krakow and Iasi - to be brother cities. I think that is a wonderful idea, seeing that we share history together and our culture and way of living is not that much different. Both Iasi and Krakow are the cultural hearts, the cultural capitals of Romania and Poland. Also, for a while, they were the capitals of the countries. So having Mihai Chirica here, initiating a collaboration in the academical domain, but also cultural and science domain, being very interested as well on Krakow's (Poland's) model of accessing European Funds... it is a lovely and refreshing step forward. Seeing someone care enough to make a move and make a change, to talk to the people on a 1-on-1 basis. On the 27th of April, on his free afternoon in Krakow, without agenda, he choose to visit the St. Mary Basilica (Polish: Kosciol Mariacki).
  
The meeting was setup with the help of the President of the Polish-Romanian Society in Krakow - Ignat Timar - and our very own Romanian Catholic priest - Marius Bucevschi. Ignat is the one that keeps us all, Romanian people, united in one community and he is the one encouraging us to do more events that show the Romanian soul. With his help and the collaboration of the Public Library on Rajska 1 (That holds a "Romanian Corner" in the Multilingual Sector, 2nd floor, with over 600 books in Romanian language) we are able to create events on a regular basis on the special moments in our culture. We have workshops for the 1st of March - to make the Martisor - we have workshops for Easter - to paint eggs (Polish: #pisanki ) and we have ocassional gatherings with Romanian authorities (last fall we had the Romanian Minister of Defence dropping by). Of course the Rajska Public Library also allows us to have a room for voting purposes (already voted here a couple of times, even for Presidency). In Krakow we don't have a Consulate and the only Embassy is the one in Warsaw so  we feel privileged to have this option instead of travelling to and fro'. 
The meeting with the mayor of Iasi, Mihai Chirica, was on the 27th of April, afternoon. He came along with someone from the Romanian Embassy (so sorry I did not catch the name) and was a tiny bit late (not the quarter of the hour, fashionable, but earlier) to the 5 PM meeting with our Romanian priest - Marius Bucevschi. He invited the Mayor to come see the beautiful Basilica and do a small tour. He was kind enough to show the Mayor some of the most important spots and also invite him, at the end of the tour, to the chapel where we gather for the ceremony in Romanian language every 2 weeks. There was of course the exchange of gifts and words of gratitude, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Mayor had a bit more free time on his hence. Father Marius was kind enough to provide us with room to gather and I can swear I don't know where 2 hours passed talking between us - Mihai Chirica, Ignat Timar, Marius Bucevschi, the representant from the Embassy and a group of Romanian people living in Krakow (about 12 of us).
***
We talked seriously, occasionally joked, and the Mayor told us the plans of fraternity between Krakow and Iasi. He told us that in the next 2 years in Iasi he wants to modernise the Public Transport, to get new buses and trams, to get displays with the hour and time of departure - and stick to that, introduce electronic tickets and the abonament for all lines for about 80-90 lei (that's around 20 euros). He also told us that he entered negotiations with LOT Polish Airlines to see the option of making a Iasi-Warsaw or even Iasi-Krakow connection (I am praying for that one!). He also realised how long it takes to get here... only by car to the border with Romania (Oradea) it would take 15 hours. Going by plane you need to switch at least 2 planes - the best connection is Krakow-Vienna-Iasi with Austrian Airlines but that ain't cheap at all. The Mayor of Iasi has high hopes for the city and wants to invest more in the cultural side, to revive the true/authentic Romanian spirit. I believe he is an idealist and that he is a dreamer - it takes more than a flower for spring to come - but the changes he is trying to make are real and visible and good. I wish Mihai Chirica all the best in his endeavour - May God bless you and give you straight and shield you from enemy hands!
     
Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Romania & Poland 
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