A Bit of Mountain Air

Trip Start Nov 14, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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Flag of Poland  , Southern Poland,
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mary's Impressions:
The stories of my father as he related his experiences and the beauty of the Tatra mountains when he was living in Poland was the first time I had heard of Zakopane. Zakopane considered by the Poles as their winter capital has drawn people to this town and its surrounding mountains for generations.  From my past Polish folk dancing days, I loved the traditional folk dances from this region.  The men dressed in traditional Highland woolen vests and pants wearing leather moccasins performing acrobatic jumps, kicks and turns with their wooden ciupagi (Highland stick with decorative axe-like handles).  The dance was always a crowd pleaser with the dancers taking full joy in the party like atmosphere of dancing and competing to see which dancer could out dance the others.  Since Zakopane was only a 2 hour drive from Krakow we were determined to see these mountains that so many people have fallen in love with over the years.

Our drive to Zakopane was pretty straightforward until we approached closer to the town where traffic slowed down to a crawl.  It seemed that there were many people like us who were inspired to take in some mountain air that day.  We hung in there and finally arrived (an hour later than we had planned).  Our walk through the pedestrian town centre of Krupówki didn't appeal to us as the area was swarming with local tourists.  We walked outside of the town centre and headed towards the mountains.  This was when we felt our efforts coming here had finally paid off.

Walking in the direction of the Tatra Mountains, it is easy to see why so many people come here either for the skiing, hiking or just the opportunity to commune with nature.  The scenery is breathtaking with miles and miles of mountains and greenery to get lost in.  Jeff and I found a trial that at first glance appeared to be an easy walk up one of the mountains.  The carved steps at the base of the hill soon disappeared and I found myself crawling up rock footings to get to the next level.  Being a trooper, I stayed the course and followed Jeff up the mountain.  At each level, Jeff did allow me a chance to stop and go back down but after seeing younger kids scamper up the trail – I knew I had to do it.  I was happy when we finally arrived near the top (I tired out and felt nervous continuing on – we didn’t have water – a big no, no when venturing out into the country).  Jeff and I found a resting spot and we stayed awhile taking in the magnificent views.  These mountains are so incredible in size.  Feeling rested, Jeff and I descended down the trail.  I guess I was feeling more confident and not looking where I was going as I ended up tripping and falling on my bum part way down the hill.  A lesson I should know well – never take anything for granted when descending down a hill.  Fortunately I didn’t injure myself (just a slight bruising of my pride).

Along the way back to our car, we admired the wooden mountain villas, its specific type of architecture and all things wooden with intricate designs on the window frames, doors and verandas.  This type of architecture is very popular within this region.

Our drive back to Krakow was very easy and less congested.  Jeff and I both quiet in our thoughts as we reflected back on our day visiting the Tatra Mountains.  We will definitely sleep well tonight!
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