Zakopane (population 27,000) is a resort town in southern Poland located at the base of the Tetras Mountains. It’s a popular departure point for many winter sports and summertime mountain climbing and hiking. We spent three full days here and would have loved to stay longer as it was such a great place.
On arrival we bought a map of the mountain trails at the tourist office and thus began our adventures. The first day we set off on a trail that started out with a 2km steady climb first
on a cobble road, then on a path through conifer forests and grassy meadows. Much to our surprise, as we climbed higher, we encountered snow! We weren’t sure if we should turn back just yet or continue. I was wearing runners, which afforded no traction, and Sanford was wearing only sandals. However we did persist and came out into a grassy meadow with no snow.
By this time, we were up quite high and the peak for the path we were on was in site. It would have been another one and a half hours to get to the top but the mountain peak was snow covered and beyond our capability and equipment. I have to admit that I looked at it longingly as I would have loved to have climbed a mountain. At the top of that mountain ridge was the border between Poland and Slovakia. I could have had me feet in two countries at one time.
Accepting our limitations we headed back to town. It was a tiring day, we had hiked for five hours and my step count by the end of the day was over 30,000.
The next day, in spite of all the walking I did the previous day, I felt pretty good. We decided to do a smaller trail. This time we went up a valley along a swift-flowing river and climbed through spruce forests. Next the path became very steep and rocky and zig-zagged up the incline. This led into a stone step track and then we went through a mountain pass at 1303 metres high. We followed another side track and scrambled up a steep rocky bit and when we came out, we were at the top of a mountain! YES!!! I had climbed a mountain and it even had a name – Samia Skala, elevation 1376 m. I walked 23.9K steps this day.
The third full day I was pretty worn out. I didn’t want to do anymore mountain hiking. We spent time in the touristy town area and at the far end was another hill that offered a funicular ride up and down. I took the funicular both ways and Sanford walked. Despite not wanting to do much, I still walked over 19K steps.
While in Zakopane, we also tried a number of traditional Polish dishes. In particular I liked zurek, a soup made from fermented rye which had sausage, potatoes and an egg in it.
Sanford was keen to try golanka, grilled pork knuckle, which was also good, and finally we had a plate of pierogies (who doesn’t like pierogies?). Many restaurants here had a three man band playing polkas on their instruments of an accordion, violin, and cello. In some venues people were dancing between the tables. It was fun.
Next up – Krakow, Warsaw and Wroclaw