ZAKOPANE – CREEPY OR MAGICAL?
The bus from Krakow in Poland down south to Zakopane took a speedy 2 hours and we found ourselves in the oil painting beauty of mountainous Zakopane.
A little too early for the ski season, where I imagine the town gets pretty busy, we had the place pretty much all to ourselves, barely passing more than two or three people each time we went out. It felt like a fairy tale town as all the buildings were constructed with thick beams of wood and had pointy, slanted roofs. Replace the wood with gingerbread and I could have bumped into Hansel and Gretel during a walk in the woods!
Fairy Tale Magical
That being said, there were a number of older, more run down houses that were more reminiscent of the ski lodge in Stephen King’s “The Shining”. As I write this I need to keep checking Kate is actually Kate and not a ghostly butler or a set of twins on tricycles!
Stephen King Creepy
Zakopane had that small town feeling where people didn’t lock their doors, you helped your neighbour, everyone knew everyone, and you always felt safe. The perfect setting for a Polish version of “Broadchurch” really, where every week you’d try and work out “who done it”. Was it the shifty ski lift operator? Was it the quiet man who lives in the shack on the mountain? Was it the lady in the post office?!
With daylight fading we got supplies in at the nearest supermarket and Kate kick started her pancake production for the week, starting with Polish Potato Pancakes for dinner, served with meat, veg and gravy. An ideal and hearty meal to contend with the minus temperatures outside.
The day started with Kate back in the kitchen, this time cooking up sweet pancakes with summer berries. We had 4 days to use up a box of eggs, a bag of flour and a litre of milk so it would be a pancake party until every scrap of ingredient had gone!
Full to the brim we headed out for the mountain paths, kicking through the Autumn leaves and puffing our breath on the chilly air. After a quick scan of the sign warning us about snakes, wild animals, avalanches and steep drops, we took the steep path up into the forest. Each step was a deep lunge over rocks that formed an exhausting staircase and after about 40 minutes of going pretty much vertically up, we stopped to take in the view point.
Kate doing her Sherpa impression in Zakopane
View from the top of Mount Tatra, Zakopane
We saw a few other people on the trail, kitted out in all the right gear, who we instinctively smiled at and confidently said “hello” to as we crossed paths. I then thought, why is that OK? What is it about a country walk that suddenly allows you to so assertively greet a perfect stranger? If you walked down street in London waving at everyone and shouting a friendly hello at them, people would think that you’re mental! Put a few trees in the mix and it is suddenly A-OK! You can never be too careful though, that hiker could have been the main suspect in some sort of Polish based “who done it” crime thriller… 🙂
We refueled from our hike with artery clogging portions of cheese from the local deli and enough pork terrine to guarantee a spell of gout. Fan-bloody-tastic!
ZAKOPANE AQUA PARK
Feeling suitably sluggish from our pancake, cheese and red wine diet that we were so consistently sticking to, we decided that some activity was in order so dug our swimwear out from the bottom of our back packs.
The Aqua Park was awesome! A large sports complex, considering the relative size of little Zakopane, that boasted swimming pools, 4 slides, jacuzzis, saunas, a lazy river and even bowling lanes on the top floor.
We paid for two hours and splashed around until our fingers wrinkled like prunes. The slides were great! I wasn’t deterred at all by the fact that I was pushing 30 and standing in a queue with a group of bemused looking 10 year olds.
We finished up the day with an hour of bowling. I’ve had it on my mind ever since watching the movie, The Big Lebowski, during the bus journey into Poland. It was closest I could get to a Polish movie at the time…
It was great fun, I even got in a few strikes! Although, I think they were the lowest scoring games of bowling in the history of bowling…
Bowling Champion in Zakopane!
Next stop – Wroclaw!