Day Trip to Zakopane and Tatra Mountains

We left the apartment after breakfast this morning to go to the coach park, our pickup point for today’s day trip.

The trip today would take is in to the mountains. We travelled by minibus with 2 Canadians, and American and a Belgian, as well as our guide who was very informative.

He spoke about many things – the history of Poland, a little bit about the pronounciation and spelling in the Polish language, the new Polish Autostrada (motorways) which are still being built, and a lot of interesting information about the sights we could see from the minibus.

When we left Kraków this morning it was raining but by the time we got in to the Tatra National Park, we were high above sea level and the ground was covered in snow. This is not unusual in Central Europe at this time of year but snow is a bit of a shock to the system when just a few days ago I was wandering around Fairford in just a shirt.

Our first stop of the day was in Chochołów, a village which is made up almost entirely of traditional Polish wooden huts/houses, build by the Highlanders of Poland. We went in to one of the wooden huts which was a woodwork shop, the owner carves things and sells them to earn a living. Self-catering rooms to rent are available in the area at very cheap rates – worth considering for the future. The one we went in to was certainly very warm inside!

Back on the minibus and then we drove on, passing very close to the Polish/Slovakian border, towards the town of Zakopane, which is Poland’s Winter Sports Capital. Very popular in the Winter, which lasts from October/November to March/April (Kraków by comparison has winter from mid-late December until February).

Zakopane and the Tatra Mountain region is also very good for hiking so gets lots of tourists in the Summer. On the highest peaks of the Tatra Mountains, it is possible to ski until June.

We drove around the town for a bit before we were dropped off near the centre. We went to the Tatra Museum which has exhibitions all about the traditions and geography of the local area.

After, we walked through the tourist centre of Zakopane, and we took the tram up the mountain to see the view across the mountins. There were a lot of low clouds so we couldn’t see much, but that didn’t matter.

The guide left us at this point and told us where to meet at 3pm – giving us 2hr 20mins of free time. We used it for browing the tourist shops, and then we had lunch in the restaurant which was to be our meeting point. Served by staff in traditional Polish dress, I decided to try the dumplings filled with mince meat – they were nice but very filling! I only had a light evening meal  as a result.

We finished our lunch with a hot chocolate each – much needed after a day in the snow.

We walked back to the minibus and then were driven back to Kraków. Getting back in to the city and we had time for some last minute photos, souvenir buying etc. I will be leaving early for the Airport tomorrow, while Corrie will be making her way to the North of Poland. So I won’t have much time before I leave tomorrow, and most shops will still be closed.

This evening we went to the Polish/Georgian restaurant on the main square – we both had just a light meal but it was very good, even if Georgian food is not something we know, there was a strange familiarity in some of the flavours. It is sort of where Asian cuisine meets European cuisine, with interesting results.

We walked off our dinner and are now back at the apartment – preparing to leave tomorrow.

It has been a short weekend but I have enjoyed visiting a new country – and Poland really is a new country, new culture to explore. I’ve not picked up anything to do with the language though: It remains complete gobbledygook to me. I don’t even know the words for basic things, greetings, yes/no/please/thank-you etc. I can manage them in French, Flemish, Dutch. But in Polish? More difficult.

I have however achieved one goal. I wanted to be able to pronounce the name of the currency: Złoty. An “L” with a line through it in Polish is pronounced like an English W. So to say Zwoty would be correct.

I’m off to bed now – travelling home tomorrow.

Gute Nacht. (Wrong language again).


Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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