Michal and I are well into the fourth week of our Eastern European adventure. Yesterday we traveled from Krakow to Zakopane. Zakopane is nestled in the Tatra mountain range in Southern Poland. It is Michal’s favorite place in Poland and he has always wanted to take me here. To make this trip even sweeter his parents, who have never been to Zakopane, were able to join us.
After spending the last couple of weeks in large and bustling cities, I am so happy to be in the mountains. While I have learned to appreciate each city we visit for its uniqueness and history, I have never been and never will be a city girl. As soon as we got off the bus yesterday, I took a deep breath and for the first time since we left Ithaca, the air tasted and felt crisp and fresh. I finally felt like I was home.
Zakopane is beautiful. Everywhere you look there are mountains rising into the clouds. I have never seen mountains so tall. The landscape is lush and green. The air has a sweetness to it and there is a slight chill that is so welcomed after all of the hot places we have been. This fresh mountain air also makes me feel so sleepy; I have slept more solidly here than any place we have been so far. We are staying at a place located on a sleepy road outside of the main town. I fell asleep last night watching the moon shine over a mountain. It is peaceful here. The few noises I hear are those of roosters and lambs grazing in a pasture nearby.
Zakopane is also known for embracing a different culture and a slightly different language than the rest of Poland. The culture is called Goral. In some parts of town, you can find people of all ages wearing traditional clothing that is unlike anything I have seen before. The language is a combination of Polish and Slovak. It is just different enough that native Polish speakers, at least my husband and in-laws, have difficultly understanding the language.
Today we hiked for hours with Michal’s parents. The landscape was gorgeous and breathtaking everywhere we looked. Tomorrow we will hike some more. I am enjoying the quiet and the mountain air. My body feels at home and for the first time since Croatia, I feel relaxed. It is so beautiful here. Michal and I are so incredibly lucky to have seen such a wide range of beautiful places this summer. I never knew that so much beauty existed in the world. It makes me want to keep exploring and discovering.
Zakopane is our last scheduled destination before returning to Michal’s parents’ house for about two weeks. I cannot believe how much we have seen in the last four weeks and how quickly time has passed. This certainly has been the summer of a lifetime.