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Friday, 16 August 2019

Mr. Pancake in Krakow

Dearest sweethearts,

You cannot help loving pancakes. I think pancakes area able to put a smile on anyone's face. Well... maybe except the people who are not allowed sugar, people with diabetes, but still... I remember fondly of my childhood and my granny making the most marvellous pancakes filled with homemade jam or with fresh vanilla-scented cheese. Oh, she would put the cheese ones in the oven and put fresh cream on top. They were a culinary wonder to behold!
As you may know, there are several types of pancakes. The fluffy American-like ones or the thin papery-ones that you find in Europe. Europe prefers their pancakes filled and rolled up, or folded like a pocket,  but America (& Canada, if we are to be fair) likes them round, fluffy and in layers. And with a lot of weird and different toppings. Canada has maple syrup. America has peanut butter and jelly. 
Mr. Pancake in Krakow is located in the Dolnych Mlynow area, a former cigarette factory that became a very hipster place in the last year(s). A lot of pubs and restaurants and cafes flocked there and the area is filled with joy and laughter every day after 6 pm (when people get off work) and in the weekends. It's very convenient location is one of the attractions - just a stone throw away from the Main Market Square. Mr. Pancake in Krakow is one of the attractions there. 

But why would it be an attraction? What sets it apart from the other places in Dolnych Mlynow? Well, as the name states, Mr. Pancake in Krakow specialises in fluffy American style pancakes decorated with care and love and the notion that #FuckDiet is the way to go. They serve also #MadeInPoland local lemonade and craft beer - one of a kind! So be sure to pair your pancake with a beer/lemonade. The place is self service - order & pay at the bar and you will get a round pager that will buzz when your order is ready. You will have to go get it from the bar.

The orders come in pretty fast even when the place is crowded. There is an outdoor section - 2 rooms - and an outdoor - covered/shaded - area. The tables inside are for 2 persons - squared with 2 regular lawn-like chairs - but they can be joined in if you are a party larger than 2 ;) or you can go outdoor where they have low lounge-like benches with pillows and small tables. There is only one bathroom, shared for both male and female, in the far corner of the room with the bar area. 

Mr. Pancake is not children friendly or disabled people friendly. It has very narrow doors and no place you can wield in a carriage or a wheelchair. I could see no children chairs anywhere and the toilet is rather small and there is no place even for a changing table. On the other side, Mr. Pancake is such a decadent place that the kids might become addicted. They even have pancakes with cotton candy on top! Pink cotton candy!

Now... I love myself a good old American pancake but I was rather disappointed in these ones. I liked the vibe of the place, the music played, the local craft beers and lemonade, the menus that are both in English and Polish... but as beautiful and Instagrammable as these pancakes are, they did not satisfy me. They were layered, they looked pretty, they were fluffy, but the taste... It just wasn't there! They were so simple and plain and... Sorry to say... tasteless! I think, in Krakow, the best pancakes I ate were at Bunkier Sztuki Cafe and at Mo-Ja Cafe

As much as I love peanut butter and jelly and I could eat it by the spoonful (and I do!), these pancakes did not satisfy me at all. I am willing to go and try them again, but unless they change the composition I am surely not going to change my mind. Everything fades away to oblivion and the tastebuds are not happy-happy-joy-joy! Yes, it's filling, it's highly caloric (every item on the menu is a caloric bomb!), the presentation is always Wow! But... that's about it, sorry to say :( but hey, let me know if you tried it and felt different. Maybe it was just a bad day for them! 

The Prices:
- On Lemon Lemonade - several tastes to choose from = 9 zloty. This is a bubbly/sparkling lemonade, made in Poland. A must try! I love the pigwa (quince) one, if I can get my hands on it, but it's quite rare! The gruszka (pear) one is also a favourite of mine.
- Peanut butter & jelly pancakes = 18,5 zloty.

*Disclaimer: I was not payed in any way to do this post. I did not receive any products for free. One of my readers asked me if I've ever been to Mr. Pancake and I thought it was about time to go and do a review!* 

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Krakow 
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Monday, 1 July 2019

10+ Years in Corporate World - Part 1: The Beginning

Dear sweethearts, 

I guess this post is mostly for myself, as a rememberance on the 10+ years of service in the Corporate World, in the Corpo Environment where you learn a lot, cry a lot, get pissed often and yet you meet amazing people along the way, people that make your life brighter. 

The Beginnings 
I've started working in my first corporation in November 2009. I was still studying for my Masters Degree in Business Communication and I felt the need to stand on my own 2 feet and have a regular job. I've always wanted to work in English language and corporations are the perfect environment to do that. To work in something else than your native tongue. I was one of the very first people hired by Capgemini Romania (office based in Iasi, my hometown - I can't remember the exact number but I was in first 10 people hired). 

Back then, they started with only one project: WB (Warner Brothers Entertainment) and in Iasi there was only first line of support (customer service in English + 2 people for multilingual) and 1 Team Lead, and 1 Second Line of Support. We had trainers flying in from Poland, from Krakow and Katowice, to train us for 3 weeks... go live turned out to be somewhere around Christmas :) 

The miracle of the outdoor...

The office was outside of the city, in the outskirts, and we had the nearest shop around 20 min of walk one way. We had loads of fun, when the Head of the Region in Iasi was preparing for a big visit and while we awaited there were a couple of cows, from a heard nearby, that crossed the fence and were grazing the grass next to the office. 

The guard standing on the gate, trying to catch them... now that's something I will always remember :) he was such a nice and friendly and decent person, but not sure if he would have been enough to guard the place. During his regular grass cutting process, one fine summer, he also accidentally cut the power cord and we ended up with no electricity for several hours. That's when they instated the backup generator - well... everyone learns from their mistakes ;)

The Oscars 
4×4 rides in the Polish mountain side
Back then, in 2009-2010, Capgemini used to have a wonderful program where they would give "Oscars" for the best people in Customer Service. As long I was in Romania, I was the constant top performer of the week - to be more exact, since December 2019 when we went live till July 2011. 

I was also top performer in Poland, but while in Romania, both myself and a dear friend got invited due to our string and stable and reoccurring high KPIs & for the help of keeping the SLAs not being breached, to a weekend in the mountains in Poland. We had Spa treatment, 4×4 car rides in the heavily foggy mountain side (complete with a Near Death Exp. when we nearly missed a car and then nearly missed a tree...), and a meeting with the Big Boss of Cap Poland.

We went - both of us and our TL - on a Friday and came back on Sunday evening. It was a thrill - first time in Krakow and even though the weather was not the best, I promised myself I would come back to see this lovely city again. Which I did, the next year - 10 days! 

"Have you turned it off and on again?" 
30.06.2011 The first days in Krakow office
I loved being a Customer Service Advisor. I loved picking up the phone and handling different issues and hearing different views of life and how "the black screen of death" made their life a nightmare. Most of the issues (89-90% of the cases) would have been fixed if they would have just "turned it off and on again"... but who does that?! Better call the Help Desk ;) 

I loved the stories from The Lot and I can proudly say that I've once logged out an Outage ticket for the Internet connectivity being down on the set where they were filming The Big Bang Theory. I think I've never loved anything more at my time in the Help Desk than logging Outages and tracking them, making sure they were fixed. 

They have always been my specialty and I guess that's why I went on to become an Incident Manager - there was a time when I could "smell an Outage before it broke down and I would log the Mother Outage Ticket (to which all others would have been connected). I had even cases where the IM team would ask me to do it (the ticket) or supervise the person logging the ticket, to make sure all details would be there for the resolving team. 

The IM team - my favourite - they are the buffer ("the tampon") between the customer and first line of support and the teams that get to fix the ticket once basic troubleshooting is done. A Great Incident Manager is capable of great magic with its infinite wisdom and knowledge ;) I was happy when I got to be their very first IM shadow (as there was no opening yet, but I got to be trained and be next in line). 

Almost 5 years with Capgemini in 2 countries
I've started my journey with Capgemini Romania (Iasi) in November 2009 and ended it in Capgemini Polska (Krakow) in June 2014. I'm grateful for all that I have learned, all the amazing human beings that I have met (a special thanks to my amazing Team Leader in Poland - Magda - that lend me, without any cost, one of her rooms in her apartment, for a full month - so I could get settled in and find the right apartment for myself). I am happy that I met the right people at the right time in my life. The people that told me I could jump if I set my mind to it. The fear is something we can conquer. Fear helps us grow if we overcome it and take that jump. I was afraid of leaving the Corporate World after 10+ years... yet... here I am, today: 01.07.2019 - my first day at a Startup Company in Krakow. Stay tuned - great things happen to those whom are willing to take a leap of faith! 

Yours sincerely, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Takes (Often) Leaps Of Faith
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Friday, 17 May 2019

Krakow: Noworolski Cafe (Sukiennice)

Dearest sweethearts,

The Krakow Main Market Square (Krakow Rynek) is for sure the starting point for your trip in Krakow. Everyone who comes to Krakow will inevitably find himself here at least once. One of the main buildings that you will observe is the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). A large and long beautiful structure that used to be Krakow's very first mall (shopping place where people brought their goods to trade). On the 2nd floor you can find the 19th Century Polish Art Museum (part of the National Museum in Krakow) and on the 1st floor you can enjoy the view of the main market square from above at the lovely Cafe Szal. But today I wish to tell you about the Noworolski Cafe at Rynek Glowny 1 - on the ground floor of Sukiennice, on the side with St. Mary's Basilica. The first time this cafe was opened up was in 1910! Here is where Comrade Lenin used to read the papers during his visits. During World War two the place was taken away from its original owners and later the Communist authorities, so it only returned back to the family in 1991. 

The Noworolski Cafe is famous for its exquisite Art Nouveau interiors done by the famous Polish artist Jozef Mehoffer - they are most decadent and they are worth a look. It is a lovely place to take photos in. There is also a piano and there is live music playing from time to time. 

#DidYouKnow that during the Nazi occupation the cafe was requisitioned and access was allowed only to German citizen?! 

Nowdays you can enjoy the view over the Main Market Square and wait for the St. Mary's Basilica (Mariacki Kosciol) bugle call while sipping on some lemonade at Noworolski Cafe. Be warned though, the best thing here is the view, the cafe's history, the nice music played at the piano and the exquisite interior... But that is it :( unfortunately everyone agrees (as you can also see on Google maps, Yelp or TripAdvisor) that the service here is aweful. Even mediocre as some may say. It takes forever (especially if you catch a seat outside, in the patio) to get a menu, ages to get served and another century to get the check to pay. 

You can pay by cash or card but cash might be faster. More staff is definitely needed for the size of the Cafe. The waiters are usually nice and friendly but that does not makeup for the lost time. Also, if you plan on having more drinks here be careful, the toilet costs - 2 zloty per each entrance to the loo, no matter if you are a client of not.

- about 26 zloty (or more) for cocktails
- regular CocaCola - 13 zloty
- black coffee - 11 zloty
- cheesecake / apple pie (sernik / szarlotka) - about 15 zloty
The Prices are generally quite high and not worth it for the quality and quantity (not to mention service). There are plenty spots around the main market square that would make you far happier!

Why would I go there again:
- for the view and the live music 

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Krakow 
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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

National Museum in Krakow - First Floor

Dear sweethearts,

Today I would like to tell you a bit more about the Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie or short, of MNK. I wish to tell you more about a collection I really enjoy seeing and revisiting when I have time :) The Main Building of the MNK is located on Aleja 3 Maja 1 in Krakow, just a stone throw away from the Main Market Square and the Museum of Stained Glass (a hidden gem of this magical city). The building is hard to miss, in it's own unique architecture it reminds many of the communist times and they way buildings were done back then. It was designed by Boleslaw Schmidt, Czeslaw Boratynksi and Edward Kreisler - sometimes between 1934 and 1989. In 1998 there were elevators and hoists installed for visitors with disabilities. The Main Building of MNK is always closed on Mondays and it has free exhibitions on Sunday (not the temporary ones - for those you must pay). It is open Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Saturday's from 10 am to 6 pm and Sundays from 10 to 4 pm. The last visitors are accepted to the galleries and exhibitions no later than 20 minutes before the due close time. There are plenty of ways to get there. I usually get there by foot from the Main Market Square or by public transport. 
Public transport access:
- buses: 109, 124, 134, 144, 152, 164, 169, 173, 179, 194, 249, 304, 424, 502, 503 - bus stop Muzeum Narodowe
- trams: 20 - tram stop Muzeum Narodowe
There is a paid underground municipal car park located in front of the Main Building. This one is very conveniently located and locals use it a lot :) 

If you manage to get to the National Museum in Krakow Main Building, make sure you also visit Leonardo DaVinci's famous painting: The Lady with an Ermine. I think it's much prettier than the Mona Lisa,  to tell you the truth... plus you can see her up close and it is bigger than Mona ;) totally Instagramable and a #MustSee if in Krakow.  

But my favourite place, open to the wide audience for free on Sundays, is the Gallery of Decorative Art at the National Museum,  located on the 1st floor. It is the largest permanent exhibition of its kind in Poland! The objects displayed are arranged in Chronological order from the Early Middle Ages to Art Nouveau (my personal favourite) period. 

The exhibition of Decorative Art holds a collection of gold, fabrics, clothing, furniture, ceramics and glassware, musical instruments, Judaic objects, clock displays/collection that brings the number up to nearly 4000 exhibits presented in 9 large exhibition rooms and 2 annexes

The museum boasts of some historic fabrics and items of clothing dating back to the 14th century to early 20th century. The oldest artefact in the collection is a 14th century stole from the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec. There is also a set of chasubles from the 15th to 18th century, a valuable 15th century examples with embroidered orphreys or made from imported Italian silk. 
Another interesting group is the ceramics collection - without question the most impressive and important of its kind in Poland. It includes Romanesque floor slabs, gothic and baroque tiles, Italian majolicas from the 16th century and Polish faiences from the 18th century. The most valuable artefacts come from the royal factory in Belweder and Karol Wolff's workshops in Bielino, Warsaw. 

The Gallery of Decorative Art also hold a very valuable collection of 17th and 18th century tile clocks, including 2 from the workshop of Wolfgang Prenner in Krakow. Another unique piece is the ball clock from the workshop of Dawid Schroter in Elblag. The clocks made by Jan Gotfried Krosz in the second half of the 18th century are of particular value and include and clock with a figure of Chronos and a rare example of a travel clock. There are also some Biedermayer style pieces that will catch your eye for sure ;)  so without any further ado... enjoy some of the pieces that catch my eye when visiting the National Museum in Krakow - Main Building on Al. 3 Maja 1. 

Well... what do you think?! Up for a visit? If these photos did not make up your mind yet, let me share with you a bit more... visitors that will see the rooms with the 18th - 19th century artefacts will view objects related to very important polish figures like Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Prince Jozef Poniatowski and memorabilia dedicated to important historical events like the adoption of the 3rd May Constitution (the first one in Europe and the second one in the world, after the USA one). Another room features Adam Mickiewicz's personal items like his wallet, calling card, pencil, goose will, snuffboxes and pipes.

Now how about that?! Are you ready for an adventure to the past? Come to the National Museum in Krakow, Main Building, and get to the 1st floor, to the Gallery of Decorative Art and let me know what your favourite piece is ;) I'm curious which one you will like best!

Yours sincerely ,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Krakow 
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