Snowboarding, come hell or... global warming!

Zakopane Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
Waiting for the scary van/bus...
Me and the boyfriend Jeff arrive in Krakow and receive a bad email from the tour company that I had booked a trip with to go down to Biakla Tatranska, which is in the Carpathian Mountains to do some snowboarding.  They said, due to the lack of snow on the mountains, the trip has been cancelled.   But we find out the hostel we're staying at (Good Bye Lenin- a nice friendly hostel that helped us out tons, the only - is that it is kind of out of the way) has another branch in Zakopane, which is the big winter resort in the Carpathians.  So we talked the hostel people into changing our reservation from the krakow branch to the Zakopane branch for Saturday night.
Nostrovia!
  So up early on Saturday morning, Jeff and I had some brunch in Krakow.  Let me tell you we have eaten like kings here for extremely cheap and I am now a HUGE fan of Polish cuisine.  We had White Borsch (soup with sausage), Meat soup, stuffed cabbage roll, chicken cutlet and potatoes, cole slaw trio, two waters and a black currant juice all for..... 40 zlotys, which equals- 13 bucks!!!!!!!  I love Poland's failed communist economy!!!  Coming from Paris where 13 dollars (9 euros) barely covers a sandwich, drink and dessert, I think we went a bit crazy with the food- I guess you can judge for yourself...
 
So we hop on a bus (5 dollar tickets) and take a 2 hour nap on the way to the mountains.
 
We arrive in Zakopane and don't have a clue where the hostel is.
We thought this was bread, it was not...
  At this time I should also mention that we don't know any Polish, and there aren't very many people who speak English, French or Spanish (our language bank).  Anyways, we show the hostel flyer to the taxi driver, who nods and talks to us in Polish and proceeds to drive us into the middle of nowhere.  Way outside of town, onto a dark icy road covered everywhere in snow, and drops us pointing down the road.  We start walking up the hill, which is near impossible because its covered in ice (a pretty funny sight, the two of us with our heavy backpacks gripping the wire fences trying to get up the hill with out eating it), and at the end of the road is....nothing, except a private house.  No hostel in sight.  We can't believe it- the taxi driver dropped us off in the middle of nowhere!  We started walking back to the main road, half laughing,  half completely freaked out because we are in the middle of nowhere in Poland.
Dinner!
  Miraculously my phone gets service on an icy road in a Polish forest and I call the Krakow hostel to call us another cab.  As we are sitting there on the corner trying to describe to the Krakow hostel people where we are, a Scottish guy with a snowboard comes along and is like 'are you guys looking for the hostel- its the last house on the road!"  It just has no sign or markings what so ever....
 
So after we check in, we decided to go to town to see what the city is all about.  By this time it is about 6pm Saturday night.  We wait at a bus stop on the main road, and lo and behold a 6 passenger van pulls over.  We say to ourselves- if we were in anyother place, we would not get in a six passenger van that pulls over on a dark mountain road.
The most bizarre thing I've ever seen enter a restaurant- a sheep wearing sunglasses
  But we get in, and it is legitimately the bus, and we take a 2 zloty (66 cent) 15 minute bus ride into town.  From there we go on the main drag, have a shot of honey flavored vodka from a bar made entirely out of ice and then decide to get dinner.  The specialty of Zakopane is grilled meats, and mountain folk bands, which is an awesome combination after a couple of shots of vodka!!  We find this restaurant that has a two person dinner of: salads, potato, ribs, steak, sausage, bacon; add to that one "highlander tea" (tea colored vodka) and two polish specialty combinations of beer and cherry vodka all for around 35 bucks!!!!  Then there was this awesome mountain band playing songs the whole time so the entire restaurant was clapping and singing along.
Trying to get up the icy road- after a couple of drinks
  This dinner definitely ranks up there as one of the best.  Towards the end, we were enjoying the music, the door opens and another local in his mountain costume walks in trailed by- and no joke- a sheep wearing sunglasses.  To be honest- wasn't expecting to see that, and almost made myself sick laughing hysterically.  The night ended well by going to a Polish locals bar were we hung out with some Polish air force instructors and had to find people who spoke english to order drinks for us.  We drank the cherry vodka beer again- its so great!  We ended up buying some of the cherry vodka to take home- its called Wisniowka, and it is actually disgusting- tastes like cough syrup- but put it in beer and it magically becomes the most delicious drink ever- but it kicks you on your ass!!!
 
Back to Zakopane- Up the next morning and its time to snowboard.
Picture time!
  We knew that the weather conditions, aka the GLOBAL WARMING has significantly reduced our chances to snowboard, since there are only 3 inches of snow at the base of the mountain.  We find a place to go and get the lift up to the top.  To our (more Jeff's than mine) displeasure, the entire bottom half of the mountain has been shut down for lack of snow leaving only 2 runs open.  The bunny slope and then a 400 meter long green/blue slope.  There are no lifts- only T bars which basically means that you grab onto this rope thing and it pulls you back up the mountain.  On skis, its great, because you just stick the thing between your legs and its easy going.  Snowboard you have to hold it with your hands.  (Which explains why I can't raise my arms today)  To make a long story short, we snowboarded the hell out of those bunny slopes!  I actually went off my first jump, and on the third time I landed it!!!
 
Lunch on the mountain was delicious- have you figured out that we like our local food??  There is basically like an entire village up on the top- vendors, market stalls etc.
Kolbasa- my love
   We see this open flame grill with kolbasas and kebabs and big chunks of meat roasting and big vats of potatoes and cabbage.  I had the tasty sausage I have ever eaten.  Jeff got a kebab and we also got cabbage.  My Kolbasa and cabbage were so good we got an extra helping of each.  Plus drinks.  8 dollars.  I had visions of falling on my stomach and vomiting kolbasa-cabbage all over the mountain.  Luckily, it did not happen!
 
Unfortunately we had to leave that night- this was a fantastic little trip, and Zakopane is definitely worth a visit.  The people are so friendly and welcoming, the food is incredible and the snowboarding would have been good too, had it not been for the global warming!  Highly suggest it for people who want to do something a bit different! 
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Waiting for the scary van/bus...
Waiting for the scary van/bus...
Nostrovia!
Nostrovia!
We thought this was bread, it was …
We thought this was bread, it was…
Dinner!
Dinner!
The most bizarre thing Ive ever s…
The most bizarre thing I've ever …
Trying to get up the icy road- aft…
Trying to get up the icy road- af…
Picture time!
Picture time!
Kolbasa- my love
Kolbasa- my love
Me and the mountain band!
Me and the mountain band!
Back in Paris: the cherry vodka is…
Back in Paris: the cherry vodka i…
But mixed with beer- its deliciou…
But mixed with beer- it's delicio…
Zakopane
photo by: ela82