Zakopane & Tatra Mountains

25 – 28 May

The road is curvy and steep, the last light of the day is about to fade and fog appears above valleys and meadows when we approach the resort town Zakopane at the foot of the Tatra Mountains – a serious mountain range in the southern part of Poland. Their peaks of up to 2600 meters form the natural border to Slovakia and are a popular winter sports destination in Eastern-Europe. We follow a tiny, dark road that leads us to a little guesthouse with just a handful of rooms where we plan on spending the night. It is run by a friendly guy from Kraków in our age who assigns us to the biggest room in the house with couches, comfortable armchairs and a fireplace. In order to find some dinner, we go for a walk through the very cold night and come across a cozy restaurant with a warm, open fire and good, affordable food where we are the only guests. Apparently, this is not the busiest time of the year here in Zakopane…

After a good night’s rest we wake up in the morning with an incredible view. It is a crispy, sunny morning with clear skies and from the bed we can see some massive mountains with snowy peaks right outside in front of our large windows. We start exploring the area on foot and pass lovely wooden houses before we leave the town behind and find ourselves surrounded by nature. We walk through deep forests, along open grasslands, up and down some smaller mountains and repeatedly pass little rivers and even a fairly large waterfall. Next to some beautiful views we have encounters with cows, sheep, colorful beetles and something we would have never expected at all – several nuns, who hike around in their uniforms in the middle of nowhere, just by themselves…

On our second day in the Tatra Mountains we decide to visit one of the highlights in the region – Morskie Oko, a lake surrounded by mountains, located deep inside the Tatra National Park. We are, by far, not the only ones with this idea and the three-hour walk up the road reminds us more of a pilgrims way rather than a hike through a national park. Regardless of the amount of tourists though, the scenery is absolutely stunning and behind each turn are new incredible views of snow-covered mountains. We finally reach our destination, Morskie Oko, where we energize our bodies with some hearty lunch and our souls with the panoramic view. Since the temperatures up here drop quite quickly as the sun disappears behind the mountains though, we do not stay for too long but start the second part of our hike, downhill.

On the way back to Zakopane we get to witness a gorgeous sunset that transforms the entire scenery into a golden painting. It seems to be the perfect end of this long and exhausting yet really great day in the mountains. At this point, we do not have the slightest idea yet what we are about to find out when we get back to the guest-house… Once we arrive, BBQ smell and happy laughter fill the air and the guy who runs the place is having a good time with some of the other guests. They clearly started drinking a while ago and immediately invite us to join them. We appreciate the invitation but due to the fact that it is getting dark and cold and that we are completely exhausted, we just look forward to take a shower and to pass out in a warm, comfortable bed. And right in this moment our host casually mentions that all rooms are occupied and that there is no bed left for us!!! Jackpot. We cannot believe what we just heard and even though our host is quite tipsy he reads our faces and realizes that we are not happy at all about this unexpected news. Out of a bad conscious or just out of sympathy he asks if we have a tent and as soon as we confirm that we do he suggests that we can set it up in his garden and stay the night free of charge. It sounds like a fair deal and basically is our only option anyway at this point. No sooner said than done, we quickly set it up and equip it with every sleeping bag and blanket that we have, as we can only imagine how cold the night will get (it is already insanely cold at this very hour even though we wear all our clothes, including winter coats, scarfs and hats). And it does get cold – so cold in fact, that we hardly get to sleep. The positive result is that we get up at 5h00 in the morning (again with an amazing view) and that we have a long day with a big change of scenery (and a drastic rise of temperatures) ahead of us. We take a hot shower, enjoy a warm mate tea, pack up our things, hit the road and leave Poland behind, heading towards a country neither one of us has ever been to before…

2 thoughts on “Zakopane & Tatra Mountains

  1. The opening sentence reads like the beginning of a novel – I love it! I also really like how you can find the positive experience from a negative situation, such as the morning view from the cold night spent unexpectedly in a tent. I am envious of your mate too…it’s one of the things I miss most about Argentina (and the Malbec, of course!).

    1. It makes me happy to hear that you like it. Thank you 🙂
      The situation really could have ended worse, considering we spent the night free of charge…
      Yes, our mate always is part of the team – no matter where we go! Oh, and we did drink some Malbec (or something similar) before we went to sleep, in order to survive that cold night in the tent… 😉

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