Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hiking in the Polish Tatra Mountains

As I wrote in an earlier post, this summer I visited Zakopane with my cousin. Zakopane is a small touristy town nestled at the foot of the Polish Tatra Mountains, which are part of the Carpathian Range. It was a fun trip, and relaxing for the most part- except for the day when we got stuck on the mountain in a storm. That was a bummer. I should mention that I have a very low threshold for discomfort, and previous travel companions of mine (you know who you are) will confirm that I can get a bit *something* when things aren't going the way I expected. So when we ended up hiking for seven hours up some very steep slopes in the wind and rain, you can imagine the temper tantrum I wanted to throw. But everything turned out alright in the end. We found our way back down and made it into town for dinner after sunset (zurek- a delicious soup made from sour barley, sausage and boiled eggs).

Here's a view of the mountains from one of the city parks- the peak you can seen is named Giewont, and it's supposed to resemble a sleeping warrior. Can you see his head in the middle of the frame?

Going up the ski lifts to the peak where we started our hike. By the way, the line for the lift was huge so if you're going to Zakopane for hiking I'd recommend getting there early (before 9am) on a weekday if you can. When we got to the top if was too foggy to see much, but the view was still impressive.

When the rain started coming down- I wanted to take a photo at the Slovakian border. The whole time we were hiking my cell phone kept going in and out of range between Polish and Slovak phone services. Also, the look on my face sums up how I felt about most of the hiking adventure (not thrilled). But I think it was worth it for the experience, and spectacular views (once the fog lifted, of course).

This is the backside of Giewont from a neighboring peak. Now the warrior's head is on the left side!

In retrospect it probably would have been a good idea to check the hourly weather forecast before going up the mountain. It's really difficult to plan anything up there because at that altitude the conditions can change drastically within minutes. That being said, we both survived and it was a good bonding experience. My family in Poland are always trying to show me something different, and since there isn't much left that I haven't done in Warsaw it's nice to travel to new places, too. Next time, however, I'm going to suggest a less strenuous excursion.

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