The decision to visit Zakopane was rather spontaneous. Finding ourselves in Gdynia, one of Poland’s port cities over a public-holiday weekend, when shopping centres were shut down, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to change cities. On attempt to find a place that was worth the travel time – we settled on Zakopane! This was right at the beginning of May & spring was in full swing. The closest airport to Zakopane is the KRK airport in Krakow. Arriving at the airport well into the night hours, we took a taxi & drove for about an hour & a half before reaching our destination in Zakopane. We arrived at the Mercure Hotel quite late that night.
Entering the hotel, one notices the brown themed interior décor made from wood – as can be expected in most places around Zakopane. The attention to detail in wood carvings is exquisite! I felt nostalgic from the proximity with which they came close to creating an African-like themed décor.
Once through the front door of the hotel, to your immediate right is an artificial fireplace with realistic artistry designed to fool just about anybody, it looked authentic. We checked in & after settling in, slept the day’s exhaustion away.
Waking up the next morning, we headed to the gym for about half an hour before prepping for breakfast. A breakfast buffet is laid out every morning in the dining area located on the lower floor of the hotel.
Due to the state of weather, we were advised to stay clear of cable cars as the view was expected to be obstructed by fog soon. This led to the decision to explore the centre of the small town. I wrote about walking the town of Zakopane 2 blogs ago.
Returning to the hotel that night we passed time at the bar area, chatting the night away & sorting through material for some blog posts already written.
Waking up to our last day and expecting to check out, we were relentless to see the view over the small town from the cable cars & thus vowed not to leave without seeing the view despite the warning of fog. We then went to inquire from reception of the possibility of having a better view that day, as the weather was tolerable during morning hours. The lady at reception draw us a rough map to facilitate getting there, and after several attempts, we were on our way to riding cable cars at Gubałówka.
Walking the slopes of the mountains heading to Gubałówka, the sky grey, showed little sign of fog obstruction, but did result in short lasting raindrops from time to time during the course of our climb. Therefore the view obstruction was minimal as we headed out around 10AM.
The hotel receptionist gave us information about the cable cars that would bring us down the mountain slopes, she explained a route so simple that ultimately turned out to be the “walk of my life” if I can put it that way. We stepped out of Mercure hotel turning right as instructed & stumbled upon 2 paths. Contemplating which to take, we wound up taking the second – we were both uncertain of the route & both with different suggestions of which to take. Walking up the second path, we stumbled upon a man sitting near some kind of small structured building which looked as if put up for the sole purpose of shelter. From him, we tried to verify the direction in which we were travelling, whether we were on the right path & if not – how we could get to this Gubałówka? The man, before directing us warmed us of mud puddles due to recent rain & discouraged us from continuing the path we were on. He redirected us to the main road, as implied by the receptionist to begin with.
The uphill path began with an entrance leading to houses. After a while the houses became scanty & scattered. I couldn’t see anything promising regarding cable cars in the distance.
I was beginning to get somewhat hot & tired in my tight jeans & red jacket. Removing the jacket, we continued on the same path in hope of reaching our desired destination.
We eventually reached higher ground & the hotel was visible to us from a fairly long distance, this discouraged the possibility of tracking back. We were now on wide open fields and the scenery was starting to pick up, inspired by the amazing view, we continued on.
In a distance we notice a flock of sheep & the shepherd to one end & to another we notice a few people tracking up the mountain slope like we were. With the shepherd being at a distance, we were unable to ask for directions & rather continued in faith & hope that we were on the right track. Tired, unsure of the route & with raindrops falling down on us, I was ready to try a different route and seek out shelter shall it start pouring rain!
With some encouragement & unwillingness to give up on our quest, we came across 3 to 4 houses which were widely spaced out. At some point in time, I felt like we were in a horror movie & my overactive imagination came to play. The area was quite & secluded; expecting someone to step out of their home, give us wrong directions into the woods & somehow detain us there *laughs*. Now that I think about it, sounds a tidbit like paranoia, no?
Moving on much further up the mountain, we came across a man walking a toddler whilst pushing a baby stroller. Coincidentally they came out for a stroll just as we passed their home. Now mind you, one hardly comes across “people of color” when in Zakopane, let alone find them walking amidst the woods on some country mountain slope – but this was us!
Asking for directions from this family, we continued and stumbled upon a hungry looking horse tied up a few feet from the house. On attempt to approach the horse, I saw how red its eyes were & retracted on the thought of rabies, yes paranoia yet again but probably for the right reasons this time around.
It was an adventure! One I’d like to repeat again due to the adrenaline rush & comics of paranoia, but certainly not in tight jeans. Yikes!
Once atop the mountain, it was all worth it! The scenery breath-taking, we found crowds of people, refreshments & the cable cars where not too far off. This “walk of my life” was one of the longest, one of the toughest, but certainly also one of the best!