Zakopane is a sweet little town nestled into the Polish Tatra Mountains. Zakopane is Michal’s favorite place in Poland. Two years ago we came here with his parents and vowed to come back. Here’s my blog post from that trip: Zakopane 2012. This year our trip is even more special. My mom is here too! She flew over from the United States and joined Michal, Michal’s mom, me, and my brother-in-law for ten days in the mountains.
Needless to say things are a little interesting because my mom and I do not speak Polish and my mother-in-law does not speak English. However Michal and Tomek are patient translators and when they’re not around hand gestures, the few words we know, and google translate suffice. It is pretty amazing that despite the fact we are from two different countries, we are able to vacation with both of our mothers. These are the simple things in life that are invaluable and precious.
Zakopane is different than it was two years ago. Until recently it seemed to be a little gem of a town that had yet to be hit hard by the tourism industry. Zakopane is known as the Polish Capital of Winter since the mountains are ideal for skiing. When we were here two years ago, the town and the hiking paths were not all that busy. Despite being here around the same time of the year, the streets are crowded and bustling. Even the hiking trails are over flowing with people. While it’s great that so many people are enjoying the beauty that nature offers it also takes away from the serenity I seek and long for while hiking.
The weather in Zakopane has been uncharacteristically wet and stormy this summer. According to the people we are renting from, it has rained daily (it’s raining as I write this). We have been blessed with decent weather most days; some rain showers but also sunshine. However yesterday while I was home battling a stomach bug, Michal and Tomek where conquering Rysy, the highest mountain here. While they were hiking, an epic storm hit Zakopane that consisted of torrential downpours, thunder, lightening, high winds, and hail. It lasted for close to an hour. Two people were struck by lightening, the roads were flooded, and a fisherman was swept away in a current and has not been found. Needless to say I was highly worried about their safety. Thankfully the storm did not hit where they were and they were able to enjoy clear views from the summit.
Our days here are simple, relaxing, and enjoyable. We start out with a a big breakfast (my mom brought her French press and Dunkin Donuts coffee!) then venture out for a hike. In Poland the main meal of the day is eaten around 3 PM. After hiking, we eat dinner before returning home for a nap. We have found a new favorite restaurant where for the equivalent of $5 US dollars you get a large bowl of soup, a home cooked meal, salad and potatoes. The evenings are spent planning out our next hikes, walking around town and spending time together. The mountain air is intoxicating. There is a crisp sweetness to it that is soothing and fulfilling. Similar to our last trip here, I sleep more soundly and peacefully than even in my own bed.
As with all the wonderful things in life, our time in Zakopane is flying by far too quickly. Enjoy the photos of some of the beautiful landscapes that we have been admiring. The photos, unfortunately, do not fully capture the beauty of the Tatra Mountains.