The Mountain Town of Zakopane

Trip Start Apr 09, 2010
Trip End Apr 26, 2010

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Flag of Poland  , Southern Poland,
Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saturday Sergiu and I went to Zakopane for the day. The town is the gateway to the Tatra Mountains (skiing, hiking, camping, climbing) - it's a touristy mountain town at an altitude that supports fir trees, and I believe it got snow last week although it was all melted on Saturda. The main attraction for us was the spectacular view of the Tatras that can be seen from the town. The Tatras still had a fairly low snow level so they presented a beautiful picture of snowy, rough peaks. We took the funicular up to a ridge opposite the Tatras, where we had a great view and good shopping. A path along the ridge has shops in wooden kiosks and a few attractions for children. These included a long metal slide, like a toboggan run, that you can traverse via some kind of sled, and a network of cables and wooden towers of different heights on which kids could ride on pulleys from one tower to the next.

Since the weather finally cleared up on Saturday, it was a beautiful, sunny day. Spring is  apparently off-season in Zakopane, so the crowds were moderate. We had beer and dinner outside at a restaurant on the ridge - I had pizza with kielbasa and extra (cold) sauce which maybe the Poles think is necessary with pizza. I tried my beer with strawberry syrup in it - it tasted like your standard pilsner with artificial strawberry flavoring. In several places, next to the Zwiec tap and glasses, I have noticed a gallon jar with a spigot with the syrup. I'm not sure why this is popular since the beer is good on its own, although I'm not finding a lot of varieties. (Someone needs to start microbrewing in Krakow!)

Shopping-wise, I bought a sweater made from rough, grey wool (and I saw some grey sheep along the road so I think it's a natural color), a cheap but cute present for Emily's birthday, some leather gloves, and a small wooden spoon. Sergiu bought some cute leather slippers for his twin 5-year old boys. He passed up the leather cowboy hat and the nylon "instant afro" wig. We also got some good produce to stock up for Sunday, and a couple of real Polish pickles from a brine jar.

Yeah, well, we never saw the famous Zakopane wooden church, but we really needed to relax and rest after our week of classes and tourism so did not spend a lot of time exploring the town.

The scenery on the bus trip back was pretty in the evening light. Rolling hills - higher than in the Willamette valley -  covered with grass, and prosperous-looking small towns with large, four-story houses (the top story right under a peaked roof.) I am wondering whether it is common for several generations to live in those houses - Mama, Papa & kids on the first two floors, Babcia & Dziadka on the third (counting American-style), and newly-wed children on the top floor. At any rate, that's how my family in Chicago lived in the family house after the war.
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