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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Krakow - Goscinna Chata - Regional Polish Dishes

Dearest sweethearts,

Today I wish to present you #37 of 1,301 Places to Eat in Krakow as per TripAdvisor: Goscinna Chata, regional Polish restaurant, located on ul. Slawkowska 10. Goscinna Chata received from TripAdvisor the Certificate of Excellence for 2016 ;) so I figured out it was about time I would present this place on the blog. We have been there a couple of times, alone or with friends/family and we loved the food everytime. It's true it's a bit more expensive than the other restaurants I usually introduce you to, but it's worth your time and money as it has some regional specialties that you can't try anywhere else (I have a list of prices and items lower, in the "The Prices" section). 
The location of Goscinna Chata is central, in the Old Town, on the Slawkowska street. It's a very traditional regional "karczma" (=inn, pub, in Polish language) with specialties that you cannot find everywhere, in every restaurant. It's a perfect location for quite a fancy meal, if one wishes to indulge. It's true the menu can resemble other traditional Polish food places - maybe even Babcia Malina, that is almost right next door to it, on the same street - but somehow it also has one of a kind pieces that makes your visit there worthwhile (I will leave a list of a couple of dishes that actually need to be ordered in advance below, so you could form an opinion).
The setting of the place is very much Polish regional traditional and it's very eye pleasing, with different compartiments indoor/outdoor that allow quiet and intimate spots for both couples and groups. There is a long table for about 8 people in the corridor, as you enter the karczma. As you go further, to the right there is the entrance in the main room that holds tables from 2 to 10+, depending on how the waitress joins the table and the clients come in. By the wall there are nice wooden long benches with pillows embroided in traditional models and colors. All furniture is wooden and looks handmade. The inside is made to resemble an old style inn, with ceiling also remade with wooden beams. As you enter, after the long table, if you want outdoor seating you can choose from the wooden tables & chairs and small garden outside. It's lovely when it rains though, and you are indoor and the doors to the garden are open... :) It's my favourite place and time to be there: summer rain and a 2 person seating by the doors to the garden = love!
There are also further seating options below, in the cellar, but the minus there is that you will have no cell phone reception and no WiFi possibility like above. The password for the WiFi is goscinnachata2012 and the Internet is very nice, not dropping, allowing me to do upload/download quite fast ;) The seating options in the old cellar are also comfortable. As you go down the stairs, to the right there is a very intimate small nook/room for a party of up to maybe 8-10 people. Further on you need to go even lower under ground and there is a bigger room, with 5 tables for 4 person each. Very close to that secondary big room is the toilet option - one room for the ladies and one for gents. The toilet was always clean, with fresh towels and toilet paper + washing solution.
Even the menus are nicely done, marketing team was hard at work on setting up the place as traditional as possible ;)  The menus are wooden cutting benches on to which the menu files were attached. The menu itself has the same traditional models that you can see in the karczma - including on the embroided pillows. As an entree, we usually get for free the house specialty to try out: white cheese with tails of onion cut & lard (with pieces of meat and bacon) + homebaked bread. Fresh baked bread and preserved meats / cold cuts are actually smoked and baked in their own inn in Wysowa Zdroj - and to tell you the truth, the bread with lard reminded me of my childhood and my granny's cooking.
The prices:

Specialties to be ordered one day in advance:
- ram baked in honey, served with buckwheat = 58 zloty/kilo
- veal marinated and baked in vegetables with baked potatoes and grated cheese with herbs = 58 zloty/kilo
- baked duck stuffed with groats, meat and giblets supplemented with apples, raisins and prunes = 55 zloty/kilo
- baked goose stuffed with groats and meat, with raisins and almonds in orange sauce = 62 zloty/kilo
- baked rabbit in cream with carrots served with roasted potatoes = 70 zloty/kilo
Drinks:
- kompot = 5 zloty per glass
- mietownica (drink with mint, apple and honey) = 5 zloty
- bottled beers from Grybow region - traditional recipe = 9 zloty per 0.5 l
We tried there the following:
1) Sheperds loin with a slice of sheep cheese and bacon served with baked potatoes and vegetable salad - 35 zloty
2) "Placki po gospodarsku"- potatoe pancakes with a slice of pork neck in gravy with pickled cucumber vegetable salad - 29 zloty
Besides that we recommend you to try the traditional kompot or mietownica ;) that is served fresh and cold, perfect for summer days and cooling down. Marek also tried the regional brewed beer, but I am not such a huge fan so I can't tell you how that was... but he liked it ;) It was approved!

Overall Goscinna Chata is the kind of place where you take your friends and family when they come from abroad, in order to try out something traditional Polish in an unique environment. It's a bit more expensive than the regular Babcia Malina where familes come to have their weekend meals, it's a bit more fancy, but it's worth to give it a go. The food is not as big portions but it's enough for a grown person and it's tasty! Your taste buds will thank you later on ;) especially if you are a meat fan like we are!

** This post was made out of love for Polish places to eat good traditional Polish meals in an authentic Polish environment. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! **

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that enjoyed Goscinna Chata
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Monday, 22 August 2016

Made in Poland: Gliniana Kura - The Clay Hen

Dearest hearts,

You know me, when I see something lovely I need to share. Especially if that "something lovely"is produced in good old Poland and if it is handmade. When I discovered Gliniana Kura on Facebook it really brought a smile upon my face and made my day. I love illustrations and sketches and I love fancy totebags and mugs - well... Gliniana Kura combines all that and creates it's own #madeinpoland brand that you cannot help to love! Marta Jocek, the founder of Gliniana Kura, was kind enough to indulge me and answered my questions about the company, its products and its future. I have seen the products live, touched them - felt them - even smelled them (as I do any paper product...) and I have been positively impresed. I already have some favourites ;) The colors are vivid and eye-catching and the illustrations produced by Joanna are priceless. So without any further ado... let me present you Gliniana Kura (Polish translation: The Clay Hen).
Gliniana Kura - Gdynia cups can be bought online on their Facebook Page
1. Good day Gliniana Kura :) can you tell me how and when the company opened its doors to the public and why this name was chosen?
GK: We came up with the idea in the late 2012 and decided to go on and try in the early 2013.  Our first products saw the daylight at  first during St Dominic’s Fair in 2013 in Gdańsk and we got a very enthusiastic feedback and made few pivotal contacts help us develop our business. We started off with literally three different products but they would sell very well and shortly after we managed to distribute them in local souvenir shops and a local bookshop chain. When it comes to name, Gliniana Kura was used by Joanna to sign her illustrations and some other handmade stuff years ago and we decided to stick to it.
One of Gliniana Kura's Stands
2. What is the magical story behind Gliniana Kura?
GK: Not sure if there is one :) I like to think we are creating our story as we go day by day. We started it by not knowing anything about the actual souvenir market in general and Poland in particular as I (Marta Jocek) had been abroad for so many years. But there has been so many special moments and we met most amazing people along the way so these are the magic moments :)
3. Who is the designer behind the Gliniana Kura products?
GK: Joanna is solely the illustrating part of the team. Marta (myself) is looking after production and business, though during the high season we do most things together as it is all hands on the deck. When it comes to products it always a collaborative process and we decide together what we want it to look like, especially when it comes to quality etc. 
4. What are the development plans of Gliniana Kura? Have you ever thought of reaching the external market - outside Poland?
GK: We started off with Gdańsk and Tricity and just recently Kraków. We do have plans but we always adjust it to market itself so we’ll wait and see how this summer works out for us. We are definitely  looking at another cities and hoping to start another one till the end of the year but let’s wait and see :) Right now we are concentrating on Poland but we’ve already had some inquiries about other countries  and it was very motivating so who knows?
5. Where are the products currently available if someone wishes to but them? 
GK: All products are available online directly from us or in local souvenir shops and bookshops. We are currently selling through Dawanda but we are steadily working on our own online shop. When it comes to Kraków you can purchase our complete range in Księgarnia pod Globusem, Księgarnia Bona, Absurdalia in Grodzka Street and Krakuska in Szewska. 
Some of the products are also available in Wawel souvenir shop and you can get our bags and tshirts in Sukiennice at one of the stalls. We are also very happy to cooperate with INFO Krakow and you can purchase our souvenirs in  five of their branches. 
6. Have you ever thought about any collaboration with young designers who have good artistic ideas but don't have the money or platform to "show off"?
GK: We did consider collaboration in the past especially when it comes to commissions. There was a moment when we had a lot of inquiries and needed and extra “drawing” hand. I believe huge part of our story is the fact that you can see Joanna’s drawings  in all of our products and that makes them very recognisable and it is genuine brand’s DNA. As mentioned before we are still are the very beginning of the journey and there are so many different  ways for us to grow so who knows?

7. What is the best selling product of Gliniana Kura?
GK: We are really lucky because everything pretty much sells well :) But by far the biggest bestseller are the cotton bags. There currently three different designs for Kraków, each available in two colours. We are working on another one and it will also be available on a t-shirt. And Kraków surprised us by how much our Wawel t-shirts are selling - especially ladies once, so it is definitely something we are looking at. In Gdańsk, as we are much more settled in the market I would say our big posters are also another highly popular product along the bags.
Adorable mugs for the coffee/tea fans ;)
8. What are you most proud of at Gliniana Kura? 
GK: We love to see people smiling when they walk by and look at our products and they say “oh look it’s so nice”.  That’s really what it was for us at the start, create something people will enjoy, simple little pleasures :) It’s great to hear that they recognise our brand and our illustrations. Just recently customer  in Gdansk at the weekend told us she got our poster in Wawel shop and that she instantly knew it was, for us that’s really what it is all about. 
Gliniana Kura @ St. Dominic's Fair
9. If you would see Gliniana Kura as part of a story, where would this story take place in Poland?
GK: It is a story of any modern city that has rich heritage but is young and vibrant and looking forward.  I guess it could easily be the story of any city, Gdańsk, Kraków or Warsaw :)
Gliniana Kura T-shirt Sizes and Package
10. What are the products connected to Krakow that Gliniana Kura offers? What is the story behind it? 
GK: When it comes to products, they would be the same range as we do elsewhere e.g: cotton bags, notebooks, posters, postcards, mugs etc. It is always the illustration that tells  the story.  So we’ve got proud Mr Mickiewicz  overlooking the square and Sukiennice, we do have a very vibrant and opulent St Mary’s Basilica and there’s also a King running who knows where just next to the Cathedral at the Wawel Castle. And there are more to come .. :) 

You can check out Gliniana Kura's latest illustrations and homemade products online - they keep a very active and colorful Facebook and Instagram Page & they are currently building a Polish/English Internet Site for The Clay Hen ;) As said in the interview, you can buy their products in Krakow at Księgarnia pod Globusem, Księgarnia Bona, Absurdalia on Grodzka Street and Krakuska on Szewska but you can also buy them online on their Facebook Page with connection to DaWanda.

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Was Most Pleasantly Impressed By Gliniana Kura's Story and Delicate and Eye-catching Products (I would take them all home!)
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Friday, 19 August 2016

Krakow - Niebieskie Migdaly - Yummy & Natural

Dearest friends,

Each day is a brand new day to discover new things, new places and make friends. Each day is a good day to try something new, to widen your horizon. If you are in Kraków or you are planning to come to Kraków and you need a place to rest for a while a grab a snack or eat a good breakfast in the Old Town, make sure you try out this place I am presenting you today: Niebieskie Migdaly. Niebieskie Migdaly is a lovely cafe / snacks and breakfast shop, that opened its doors this year in the spring time. I have been there so many times and tried so many things that I already have an "old customer" card that grants me a 10% discount for everything I get ;) that's how much I love this place! I thought it would be a one time thing, it looked posh and with the "nose up" attitude but I fell in love with it! And I ended up bringing my friends there ;)))
Niebieskie Migdaly is located on Plac Wszystkich Świętych 11, very close to the Grodzka street, just a few steps away from the Main Market Square. It's a perfect place to start the day with some breakfast or have a snack or a light lunch with the soup of the day and the delicious panini that they prepare. Of course you can serve it there, fresh from the oven, or you can choose to have it packed and take it with you - to go. They serve all options ;) You can also pay by cash or by credit card and leave the tip in the jar dedicated for that. It's a self service place, so you need to place the order ar the counter, take the number and then choose the spot where you will wait for your food/treat. It usually does not take longer than 5-10 min according to what you are serving and how long it takes to prepare it - it will take longer for the scrambled eggs than for the panini sandwiches ;) and that's perfectly normal! The food will be brought to you at the table, by the waitress, if you choose the staying in option.
Inside view of the Niebieskie Migdaly
The seating options are diverse and very comfortable (most if them) even for pregnant ladies ;) there are a few 2 person tables outside, on the sidewalk, shade provided + tall chairs with high bar next to the window, for the ones who like to watch the passerby people + blue (Niebieskie = color blue, in Polish language) couches with soft blue pillows and regular plastic black chairs. I really love the couches, especially the 2 that are attached to the window, where you can see tourists and locals alike passing by... or just watch the rain fall... lounging comfortably with a soft pillow behind your back, sipping on your shake or lemonade :) Heavenly! I also love the tiles, the floor of Niebieskie Migdaly - white and black in different abstract patterns, matching the bathroom... #ihaveathingwithtiles ... There is only one bathroom/ toilet option both for ladies and gents, located in the last room, in the corner. It has the entrance with the sink, mirror and towel drying option & the entrance to the loo. I have not once seen it dirty! It's always very clean and stocked up with toilet paper, paper towels and blue liquid soap.
The English Breakfast at Niebieskie Migdaly
The menu is straightforward and the shakes/drinks/smoothie options change, in accordance to the fresh fruits that they have that specific day. The menu is placed in Polish on the big blackboard hanging over the cashier region but you can also inspect it slowly by taking one of the printed options by the cash machine. There are a couple of breakfast options of scrambled or fried eggs with different ingredients added to it, there is the soup of the day and there are also some panini (or pretzel) sandwich options that are worth your time ;) drinks vary from freshly squeezed lemonade to shakes and smoothies to coffee options that smell and look great! (Dunno the taste though, as I am not a coffee person and did not try that!). There are also yummy and natural (always with fresh seasonal fruits!) cakes and tarts and whipped cream mouthwatering sweets to choose from... No matter the time of day, you will surely find something to satisfy your thirst, hunger or even mood for sweets!
Yummy cheesecake with raspberry - Niebieskie Migdaly
Everyone I brought here loved the place and said they would come back and bring their partners as well, so I consider it as a mission  accomplished :) I passed the knowledge of a lovely place further on! I really love this place as it has nice service, the ladies serving are always smiling and nice; good food and fresh and yummy shakes/smoothies. I love that they have good and free WiFi connection (password is on the blackboard). I love that they have magazines that you can read and coloring books for adults... it's a relaxing place, with good music and a stress free atmosphere! I love their scrambled eggs with ham and fresh onion tails. I love that they serve it with either toast or pretzel with butter. I love the apple and watermelon shake that is both refreshing and yummy. I love the English Breakfast that they do even if it's not the best in town. I love the sour lemonade... I love Niebieskie Migdaly :) and you probably have seen this on my Instagram account. It's a place you can't help loving - you give it a go and let me know how it went for you!
Scrambled eggs with ham & rucola salad & pretzel with butter - Niebieskie Migdaly
The prices:
- English Breakfast - 19 zloty
- Scrambled eggs with ham and fresh onion tails (toast and butter included) - 15 zloty
- Shakes/smoothies (ingredients depending each day on the fruits they have) - 12 zloty
- Soup of the day - 8 zloty
- Panini/pretzel sandwich options - from 12 to 14 zloty
Seating option with high chairs, by the window - Niebieskie Migdaly
Opening hours:
Mon:
11:00 - 23:00
Tues-Sat:
08:00 - 23:00
Sun:
09:00 - 23:00
Facebook page: 4,8 stars out of 5 with over 90 reviews.

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves Niebieskie Migdaly
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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

10 Frequently Asked Questions About Krakow

Dearest hearts,
Dear travellers that wish to have a good time in Kraków but have 1000 questions on their mind,

Please feel free to contact me, especially on the Facebook page, and ask any questions. I know how hard it is to find relevant and updated info about Krakow but I must also admit the platforms about the city have been improving - I can see big changes since I first came here over 5 years ago! Either way, in the expat and the travel groups, I always bump into - more or less - the same questions. Even during the World Youth Day Kraków 2016, the people I met on the street, besides asking for directions, they would pop up one of these beauties I try to answer below. Of course these are not all the questions one would ask and you probably have a few in your pocket, so if you want... reach out to me and help me help you ;) Without any further ado, here are the questions & my answers to them:
Public Transport in Krakow
1. How can I get from the airport (also know as Balice Airport or John Paul the 2nd Airport) to the Old Town?
Well Old Town is a very generic address... but let's say you wish to get to Galeria Krakowska, the mall that also has underneath the Main Train Station and on the side it has all the possible bus lines to go anywhere in Poland or abroad. That's what you will want to reach, as from there to the Main Market Square there is only a 5-10 min walk - depending how fast you walk and how many pictures you will stop and take... There are multiple options on how to get from the airport to the Galeria Krakowska:
1) by taxi - not recommended if you don't speak the language as they might try and cheat you and take a longer route than the usual. Getting to the Galeria may take you around 45 min and cost you around 100 zloty.
2) by UBER - never tried it but I have friends who only use UBER so I guess it ain't that bad! It's cheaper and more reliable than taking the actual cab service. It will still take about 45 min to reach the Galeria Krakowska. Not sure about the price but it should be way cheaper than the taxi ;)
3) by public transport - bus - used it hundred and hundred of times, always came and went at the scheduled time. It costs around 3.8-4 zloty a ticket (It has to be Strefa 1+2 ticket for 60 minutes!). It usually takes 50 min or more (if there is a traffic) as it has a lot of stops throughout town. It's the cheapest but probably also the slowest option.
4) by public transport - train - there is a direct connection between the new Balice Airport terminal and the Galeria Krakowska - Main Train Station. During daytime the trains run every 30 min, after 10 pm the schedule changes due to low number of flights and until 5-6 am there is not much traffic. The fastest option possible, taking you in less than 20 min to the station, and quite cheap! Only 8 zloty per ride - you can but tickets from the machine outside, in the train station, or the machine inside the train, or from the lady who checks the tickets. I think this is the best way to go! The line reopened last year and I stopped using the bus option since then ;)
Feel free to read more about the transport options in Krakow!

2. Should I change some money for when I come to Krakow? Will I be able to exchange my local currency?
Well I always be lived that travelling with a lot of money on yourself if not the best way to go. When we travel we put most of the money on our card and do the transactions with the card. The banks we use don't have a bad rate and we never get screwed. We don't pay extra fees as well. But we also take a bit of money, in local currency, just in case... that's also what I recommend my friends who come to visit: have at least 100 zloty changed for the bus/train tickets and maybe a bottle of water as you may get thirsty... you never know! But don't change all the money! There is no point! Almost all the shops and restaurants have card readers and especially in the big cities like Kraków you can see an ATM every a couple of meters. There are of course also exchange offices (Kantor, in Polish language) that exchange Dollars, Euros, GBP, Swiss Francs... the regular! As long as you come with that and not some Pula currency from Botswana, you should be fine!

3. Can I pay in Euros or other currency?
Well... some shops can let you do that, and they usually have signs saying that paying in Euros (usually, not dollars) would be possible, but I really recommend you to go local. Exchange a bit of your Euros for the local Zloty. It's going to make your life easier and you will probably get a better rate at the exchange office (Kantor).

4. Will I be able to find a wide variety of restaurants to choose from? I don't eat meat/dairy... will I starve?!
No, you won't starve, don't worry! But you must know you have come in a country where meat is always a part of the main dish. Meat is a must for traditional Polish dishes! And it would be sad if you would not try the local dishes :( but if you are a vegan or a vegetarian don't you worry! There are more and more restaurants opening their doors on this perspective of living without meat/dairy. What I can recommend is... Vegan/Vegetarian/Healthy Food - Slow Food:
5. Where should I get accommodation? Is it better in the Old Town, Kazimierz or Podgorze district?
To tell you the truth, it all depends what you are planning to do, what you are planning to see and whom you are coming with. Old Town is perfect as you are a short walk away from all the main attractions. In the Old Town I can recommend you Globtroter Krakow Guest House - it's located in Plac Szcepanski, a few footsteps away from the best places to have breakfast! They have rooms for 2 or more - they can even host a full family! Very nice location and price and inner garden. Even though it's in the Main Square area it does not get loud due to its lovely and peaceful inner garden. Of course if you go alone maybe a hostel (and there are plenty to choose from!) would be a better option for you. If you want to live much nearer to Kazimierz, right on the other side of the Vistula river from the Wawel Castle, there is another option I can recommend with all my heart: Zamkowa 15 Apartments! Again for families 2+ the apartments have their own mini kitchen included! The place is nice and cozy and quiet and it's only 5 min walk from the Manggha Museum ;) Of course Kazimierz and Old Town hostels will get noisy in general due to the location and the amount of tourists and passer-bys but it all depends what you want... I gave you 2 quiet and clean and comfortable options for couples or families ;)
Breakfast Option at Charlotte - Plac Szcepanski
6. Where would you suggest having a decent breakfast in the Old Town?
Well this is a frequent question, even between Kraków's expats ;) so this deserved a post on its own - drop by and read my favourite breakfast options inside the Old Town. I did not include Kazimierz or Podgorze - maybe another time ;)
7. I don't have much time... what should I see in Kraków?
That's always been an awful question to answer as it all depends on multiple factors like: how much time do you actually have, what are your tour preferences, do you want to include museums, do you want it only outdoor, are you willing to pay for the attractions, are you OK with walking a lot or do you prefer public transport or do you get fancy and only take cabs... there are so many variables depending on each person! Of course there are some locations that I see as a must... There are also some museums that you should not miss - Kraków National Museum:
  • Palace of Erazm Ciołek - you actually can spend there around 3 hours at least and you will feel like you have been at a church 
  • Stanisław Wyspiański Museum / Kamienica Szołayskich, the Museum in Plac Szczepanski - very beautiful paintings made by Polish artists ;) 
  • Gallery of the 19th Century Polish Art in Sukiennice, with the collection of some of the best known paintings of the Young Poland Movement, including sculptures (more)
  • Palac Krzysztofory - Cyberteka Krakow. Time and Space - presents the urban development of the city between 1909 and 1915, when the project of Great Kraków was executed
  • Czartoryski Museum - awesome Ancient Egypt collection of several mummies + 1 cat mummy in really really awesome condition (first visit)
Other Museums In Krakow:
And there are some locations outside Kraków,  but not very far away, that you should put on your Bucket List: Auschwitz I and II, Wieliczka, Trail of the Eagles' Nests - Ojców, Ogrodzieniec and Bobolice and the lovely yet unknown Pszczyna:
But then again... if you only have one day to spend in Kraków, there is not very much you can fit in... this city deserves more time and patience. It deserves that you should fall in love with it slowly ;)
8. I heard about some Free Walking Tours happening in Kraków,  would you recommend them?
Wholeheartedly I do! But only the ones from Free Walking Tour Krakow team - the ones with the yellow umbrellas! They are the first on the market of free walking tours in this city ans they have also expanded in other cities like Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk Poznan and Zakopane. I remember them ever since I first came here over 5 years ago ans I must admit I almost seasonally take some of their tours - to see what's new and learn new things I could share on the blog or with my friends when they come over. They also have Free Walking Tour Specials that I especially love! Like:
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - StreetArt - FreeWalkingTourKrakow provides city tours in Polish, English & Spanish. You can find them on Facebook or on their website or you can just call them at +48 513 875 814. I joined them in a StreetArt Tour and it was amazing!
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Macabre Krakow - stories about ghost and real vampires... methods of torture, bodies under the Main Market Square with their hands and legs tied, stories of impailing living people... dark and twisted and perfect for a rainy Saturday evening :)
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Her Story - there is a saying that if the men is considered to be the head of the family, than the heart belongs to the woman.
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Pagan Krakow - do you wish to know about the old beliefs of Polish people but also about interesting facts like: "Did you know that General Hans Frank along with other members of the Nazi party celebrated the Yule holiday when they were living inside the Wawel Castle?" - join this tour once you see it up and running ;) (Beginning of March) 
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Foods Of Krakow - traditional foods and drinks from Krakow. Lasts around 2 to 3 hours and takes one around Old Town and Kazimierz (a lovely Sunday afternoon in August 2015) 
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Centre of the World - learn why Krakow can compete with other grand(er) cities, for being the possible center of the world (28th of November 2015 - around 2 hours (and a bit))
I bring all my friends who come and visit me to these tours and for beginners I really recommend the Old Town route + Jewish district + Foods of Kraków ;) it will give a full view of Kraków in time! Plus the guides are awesome and friendly and they will answer any questions that you may have ;)

9. I also heard about some Beer / Pub Crawl tour - where can I get it from and is it worth the time and money?
To te you the truth, I have never done it ans I don't know first hand anyone who did it... but the things I hear and read are positive for the youngsters who just wanna go out and have fun (read it as "get drunk"...). It's not my thing but I heard they are fun... so you need to Google some more on that. I saw people gathering up for the pub crawls in the weekend,  usually at the Adam Mickiewicz statue in the Main Market Square or in front of the St. Mary Church in the Main Market Square... they usually have banners where it says "Pub Crawl Tour" or something similar. I also know that in some places you have shots included, but for more... Google!
Handmade scarfs from Poland - a MUST!
10. What souvenirs should I bring home? What should I buy traditionally Polish for my folks back home? And where should I go buy it?
Now that depends on the amount of luggage that you have and the money you are willing to spend. It's customary to buy vodka for example but if you have oh hand luggage you should buy that from the Duty Free shop at the airport and there are not that many true Polish options there... for example Zubrowka is no longer a Polish company vodka, so you should by something like Belvedere or Chopin or Debowa ;) Your mother may enjoy some Kredens preserves from homemade fruits. Or maybe some typical chocolate - like plums in chocolate, which are delicious! Your granny might enjoy a warm shawl, but be careful to get the homemade one and not the Chinese imitations that you can see at every corner. Some shops in Sukiennice (Cloth Hall in Main Market Square) still have homemade goodies - like wooden jewelry boxes or traditional blouses or shawls. Support the local economy and buy one of those beauties there for the ones you love! Also Poland is worldwide know for its amber so you can get the ones you love something made out or amber: necklace, bracelet or earrings for the ladies and cufflinks for the lads. You pick and choose! :) it's all going to be a lovely surprise for them, trust me!

Of course now you may want to ask me more questions. Fire away! I am ready for that! :) looking forward for your input!

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to help
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Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Stories Of Krakow Doors (Entrances) - Part 1

Dearest hearts,

A while back I started on my Instagram page a series about Krakow's doors / entrances. I never shared it on the blog until now, but I thought that I should... each door in Krakow, for me at least, has a story to tell. Let me know if you think the story fits or if the picture tells you a different story than the one I think of :)
Short story number 1 - The One About The Deserted Smokes Stand: Sometimes I miss the old advertising signs... the handmade ones, that felt way more personal that the ones nowdays. This smokes/cigarette shop has been closed for a long while... Even 5 years ago when I first passed this street it was closed and this door is never changing. Sometimes I like to imagine the 1950s-60s when gentlemen dressed up proper would stroll with their lady on their arm and stop for 5 minutes to buy themselves some smokes... now only pidgeons gather on the sign, making it look maybe even more dismal...
Short story number 2 - The Entrance To Cafe Zakatek: Krakow is full of hidden gems, you just need to take your time and explore this beauty of a city. Every entrance, every door has it's own Neverland. There are hidden gardens everywhere and small pubs and cafes waiting for you to try them out! Tiny shops with handmade goods... drop the tourists path and stray from the heard of flocking tourists ;) you will enjoy this city more. I recommend you the #cafezakatek on Grodzka for some light breakfast ;) it's on your way to the Wawel Castle, on the Royal Road.

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Magical Doors That Tell Stories
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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Krakow - Słodki Wentzl - The Icecream

Dearest sweethearts,

In the summertime, when the weather is fine, and you think you will have a meltdown if you don't sit somewhere cool indoors and have a good fresh and cold icecream, when you are in Kraków, then you must drop either by the Main Market Square or by Galeria Krakowska (right down smack in the middle, ground floor, next to the escalators). Your place to go to is the Slodki Wentzl icecream & sweets parlour. We usually go to the one in Galeria Krakowska as the Main Market Square usually gets crowded - likewise when we want some chocolate treat from Pijalnia Czekolady Wedel ;) The parlour in Galeria Krakowska is quite large and we always can find a good spot to enjoy our icecream treat there. The place is not hard to find at all, being in the middle of the Galeria, ground floor, next to the moving stairs and the small fountain. It's done all in white and green and it has see through walls with dark silhouettes of ladies and gentlemen. Hard to miss ;)
The seating options are nice, starting from tabled for 2 to couches for 4-6 people. You can also have the icecream outside the parlour, inside the Galeria Krakowska, on the tables located next to the small fountain, but we always prefer the inside ;) the white couches are comfortable and I have seen many times families with kids having their weekend treat there. The menu has also kids options (not as large portions as the regular ones for the grown ups). I dare say Slodki Wentzl can be categorised as a "family place", the waiters are also nice and helpful and even though I did not see any special children seats the couches are low enough for the younger ones to enjoy their sweet treat.
The huge downside to Slodki Wentzl in Galeria Krakowska is the fact that it does not have its own bathroom/toilet. If you need to use the loo, refresh your makeup or just wash your hands, you need to use the Galeria Krakowska toilet. The closest one is just a few metres away, but you might have to stay in line... so be prepared for that! ;) The menu is in Polish buy the ladies do speak English, so don't worry about that! You can pay both by cash or by card but if you like the service it's customary to leave a 10% tip - in cash.
The prices:
- szarlotka - apple pie with vanilla icecream = 15 zloty
- pancakes with whipped cream, vanilla icecream and coniac = 19 zloty
- creme brulee = 16 zloty
- tiramisu = 16 zloty
- pannacotta = 11 zloty
- kapitan cook - what I ate and what you can see on the picture (icecream with nuts and figs) = 19 zloty
- banana split = 19 zloty
- tea = between 6 and 9 zloty, depending on the type and what is added to it
- lemonade = 8 zloty
 
P.S. All pictures were taken with the Samsung Galaxy S4 camera, a present from my awesome hubby :) and they were taken late June. Some of them were modified with the online program from PicMonkey - I always use it for collating pictures ;)

** This post was made out of love for Polish places to eat good icecream. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! ** 

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to share the knowledge of great treats for your taste buds :)
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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Happy Church Ceremony - 2 years and counting!

My dearest friends,

“I don't want to be married just to be married. 
I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with.” Mary Ann Shaffer 

Today we - me and my awesome best friend and husband - celebrate 2 years since our Church Ceremony and Wedding Party in Poland. We need to keep tabs on the dates and the weddings, as we did get married 3 times and had 3 separate parties in 3 different locations, but why shouldn't someone enjoy a lovely day more than once :) getting married used to be a 3 days and 3 nights party and we just split it up during 3 years - sounds reasonable! ;) Last year we celebrated our 1 year anniversary from the Church Ceremony my cutting off an item from our Bucket List: tandem parachute jumping! This year we celebrate our 2nd year anniversary... in 3! No time or place to do anything crazy or have a late honeymoon: our family is enlarging this month!
The Family Album Picture by Mateusz Wojnar
We will have the biggest blessing of them all: a LadyBug Baby that will be 50% me + 50% Marek and 100% ours truly. It's a huge responsibility, we know that; it's a blessing, we are aware of that! Yet sometimes it gets tough, especially with things nobody tells you about being a pregnant or having a baby. Being a family, the 2 of us, we always planned for children but you never know how you will react to them until they happen. You never know how to behave even after "Birth School" or reading dozen of books on parenting - everyone will come with extra opinions on how it's best to raise your kid... I say: screw that! (Pardon my french...). Today, with the ocasion of our 2nd Church Ceremony I want to share with you one single advice that guides us: Do The Things That Make Your Heart & Soul Happy!
The Three Of Us - by Bellove Moments
If I could sum thing up I would say to the newlyweds and the coupled that are in love and at the beginning, the following: don't listen to others! Listen to your heart - it knows best! Gather memories together, have fun together and share everything! Share your joys and share your sorrows. Share! Don't listen to the world, carve your own path in life and find your own piece of Heaven. Each mistake, each regret, let it guide you and make you better. Always say that you are sorry and mean it from your heart each time you will say it! Listen to one another and try to place yourself in the other person's shoes. A marriage, a couple, a family is not about letting go 50% of each, it's about being 100% yourself but changing things in yourself in order to fit in perfectly together. It is true, in time you change - I am no longer the girl I was 2 years ago - but you learn more about yourself and you become a stronger version of yourself, matching the one you love.

For more articles about/around our wedding, choose from the list below and enjoy :)
A) Engagement / Fiance / Marriage Whirlwinds:
B) Short stories about our Civil-Church-Party Romanian-Polish Big Fat Wedding :) 

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves her small LadyBug family
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Sunday, 7 August 2016

Krakow - Good Lood - Great Homemade Icecream

Dear sweethearts,

Who's up for a treat today? I scream, you scream, we all scream for icecream - especially in the summertime when the weather is fine. It's a easy way to let down the heat and refresh yourself. This year Kraków has seen Good Lood open its doors in Plac Wolnica, in Kazimierz. It happened once the summer season started and this place grew up more and more, becoming very familiar to the locals and tourists alike. There is currently only one Good Lood open but I wish this place would expand but keep its original recipes. One of my Romanian expat friends living in Krakow brought Good Lood to my attention somewhere in May and since then I wanted to tell you about it. You may have seen posts about it on my Facebook page or on Instagram, but Good Lood deserves some time on the blog as well ;)
Good Lood is located on Plac Wolnica and you may easily pass by it if it would not generate such huge lines in the weekend ;))) during the week, normal hours, it's easier to get your treat without having to wait. Good Lood has a few sun - bathing chairs outside with the company logo, all purple. Inside there is a small room, with a tiny table and seating by the wall for 2-3 people. Besides that everything is quite spartan: white walls and just the serving space & table above with the prices and the sortiments running at that time.
The Good Lood sortiments of icecream can change every hour according to what the people consume. There is always some type of fruit sortiments and cocoa one so everyone gets a pick of something they like. They also have weird, Good Lood typical flavours, like salted toffee... The icecream is produced right there, in the kitchen in the back, and it is done from a homemade receipe with fresh pieces of fruits and fresh local ingredients from the local market. That's why it all tastes so heavenly!
In Good Lood you can pay both by cash and by credit card, they also have the PayPass option. You can buy icecream in a cone or in a plastic - hard carton recipient.  Of you like it a lot, like we did, you can even buy 1 litre/kilo boxes of the flavour that you are into. Just make sure you get it in time, before the flavour finishes... as it may take some hours before they produce a new batch again ;) just FYI - they don't have the same flavours all the time! The prices: it all depends on the amount of scoops and it gets better if you get more - 4 zloty per one scoop, 7 zloty for 2 scoops and 10 zloty for 3 scoops. Trust me... Even if you are very hungry and very hot you won't be able to finish 3 scoops... 2 is a perfect treat! Plus the scoops here are huge! They give you icecream like they mean it, like it's the last time and first time you will ever have it! And I love that, I love how proud the team is of their product!
People in Kraków might have said until now that the best homemade icecream that there is in Kraków is on Starowislna. Not anymore! Not since Good Lood came into town and took over the number one place in the locals heart. Check out their colorful Facebook page and check out all those 5 stars votes - over 350 and counting! And no one has a bad word about it ;) and the fact that locals love it says a lot! Just try it out! You will surely love it as well!

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves homemade goodies
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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Thoughts on The Diary of Anne Frank

Dearest hearts,

Today I welcome you to a bit of history: 1944  The Holocaust: A tip from a Dutch informer leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they find and arrest Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.
I have never been to Amsterdam, though when I do visit it on top of my "Must Visit" places is the house, the rooftop, where Anne Frank's last happy moments with her family were lived. There is no other story, in history, so deep and tragic as the story of this your girl who was just beginning to live her life. Of course there are many tragic stories related to the Holocaust, The Second World War, Auschwitz and all the other lesser known concentration camps... but Anne Frank's story stands out from the rest, maybe due to its tragic ending. 

It was first published in 1947 and I believe that would have been a tough choice for her father - the sole survivor from the entire family - to take. I believe that he wanted the world to see the hardship they have all endured but also how Anne maintained a positive attitude throughout it. For a 13 year old girl I believe that is remarkable! Somehow children back then were built from a tougher and wiser material than kids nowdays. I do not believe a girl from our times would have reacted in the same way as Anne did. 
The Anne Frank Diary was always meant to be public, or at least that was what her father thought, and I am happy (and saddened at the same time...) that the thoughts of this young girl, brewing into a lady, are now able to be read in any language.  She is a witness of what the Holocaust meant for the regular people, like ourselves, and she is a reminder... a reminder that these things should not happen, that history must not repeat itself (even though it usually does... again and again... and you can see that on the media nowdays!).

It's amazing to see how her spirit, even shaken, does not break. She still believes that people are good inside - despite everything she believes that people are still good at heart. I love that attitude because it's the attitude I hold to life. Even though I had ugly encounters with people who were beautiful on the outside and rotten on the inside, I still like to believe that everyone can be kind. Everyone has a good side... that they show from time to time, to certain people. It's better to think of people being good than the world being all bad... I would be afraid to give birth to a baby if the world would be so horrible... So I love Anne for loving the World, loving People, like I do! 
Anne died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, not in the gas chambers as it's widely believed. Emaciated,  she had already lost her mother to starvation and her sister to typhus, she believe that her father was dead. Only 3 days after her sisters death, Anne passed away (typhus) in March 1945. Sadly enough, that was too far away from the time when, a couple weeks later, the British troupes helped break through the camp and everyone was released... Some things, some stories are meant to be tragic to teach us a lesson about life. To teach us that hatred should not exist and that people should love and cherish and respect eachother. That's what I wanted to share with you today: Love one another! 

Yours very sincerly, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug that tries to love everyone, even though that may be hard sometimes - it takes practice and patience! 
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