A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: otisandma

Slopes Day

Skiing and feeling very slow...

sunny -1 °C

Today was our day on the (almost) slopes here in Zakopane. After breakfast we walked about 2 km to the winter sports park - COS OPO. Officially its the Centralny Oszrodek Sportu - Olympic Preparation Centre. There's a large residence and athletes from all over Poland and beyond come to train in various winter sports - there's a large speed skating oval, ski jumps and a cross-country ski track.
a Glorious morning!

It was fun watching the young people whiz around the skating oval or run on the track but impressive for our little group were the skiers. Our lovely guide Tomi is an instructor with a tonne of patience and he helped us with some of the cross country techniques. I skied when I was in high school but never learned half of the stuff I did today. I just went out with family or friends on the skidoo trails around Listowel. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day too - we were so lucky!fullsizeoutput_d10.jpeg
Amanda & David
and me!

Marshmallow snow on the tables - the ski jump hill in the back!

After lunch, we had a free afternoon and I went back into the market area to buy a few things for Christmas gifts.
Then back to the hotel to enjoy a sauna to loosen up those tight muscles - Phew!

We're having a dinner at a very popular local restaurant with musicians - should be fun!
Yep - a big open fireplace in the middle!
SO...adding a little here - Dinner was lovely. A nice band of local musicians playing & singing traditional Goral songs. 2 violins, accordion & a big bass. Talented guys.
Funny how they had their groupies too!!!
As a table, we shared a 'meat platter' didn't notice that it included potatoes, pickles, sauerkraut & tomatoes so we also ordered some side salads.
Whoa what was originally for 3 people more than fed 4!
It was a fun nite.

Posted by otisandma 09:23 Archived in Poland Tagged skiing not sunshine athletes cross-country Comments (0)

Off to the Tatras


overcast -2 °C


What a pretty mountain town. It's at the Northern end of the Tatra Mountains and is Poland's ski resort town. We made our way here by bus from Krakow this morning. Did a little walking tour of the town and then took the funicular up to the top of the Goralski hills ski area.
view from the funicular/cable car
It's actually a part of the resort area - a ski hill, snowmobile rides, shops, restaurants and beautiful views of the area. (Photos are mostly on my camera and I've discovered that my problem is the latest Mac operating system not recognising my camera!!) After a warming lunch at the restaurant (Bigos today for me - thumb=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/723449/thumb_fullsizeoutput_d0c.jpeg sauerkraut & sausage - mmm) we had so much fun taking pictures with the amazing Christmas light displays.
Coming back through the business area, I found a seller with the lovely sheepskins and handmade sweaters. Lots of sheep here so there's lots of sheep milk cheese and woolen products. Shearling leathers too! Check! That's one thing off the list of what I wanted to buy on this trip.

Late this afternoon we went for a kulig ride - horse-drawn sleigh.
IMG_2272.JPGThe plan had been to ride up to a local mountain hut for grilled sausages & pickles but the sleigh had problems. Instead we just rode around the town then went for dinner.
with Darlene on the sleigh ride
Not quite what had been planned but it was still nice. Back to the hotel for a dip in the pool, hot tub and sauna. Ahhhhhh

Posted by otisandma 12:15 Archived in Poland Tagged bus warm zakopane wool sweater sleighride bigos Comments (0)

First Full Tour Day

A painted town and a Dragon!

  • **So sorry! I'm having technical difficulties getting my computer to read and download photos from my camera. For now, I'm stuck with just a few images from my phone***

Although I had a long day of travel, I got up early this morning and went to 7am Mass at the Basilica of the Virgin Mary on the main old square. Short & sweet I was able to get a quick bite of breakfast before we got into a car for a trip to the village of Zalipie which is know for the hand-painted flower motifs on many of the houses, sheds, wells, doghouses, even the firehouse.
One young lady began the tradition as a way to hide soot from the chimney and cracks in the walls of homes after WWII. IMG_2245.JPGWe stopped first at the church - plain on the outside but incredibly painted inside. Absolutely amazing the amount of work! We went to the site of the new museum (it'll actually be open in early January) and a lady came and opened the little gift shop for us. Painted outside & in, they have some painted pottery and woodcrafts for purchase.
We drove back to Krakow in time for lunch. We went with Tomi to a little hole-in-the-wall kind of restaurant featuring homemade soups and pierogies.
I tried something completely different - Beef Tripe soup. Yup - Tripe - one of those 'nasty bits'! It was pretty good - the tripe actually has the texture of mushrooms.

Darlene & I went exploring after lunch, south through the parks (the park was originally the old city wall) to Wawel Castle. It was built in the early 1500's along the banks of the Vistula River. We explored the exterior and then went down to the dragon's lair IMG_2250.JPGwhere we saw the statue of the Wawel Dragon! (This link is to the legend of the dragon!
We made our way back up through the square where I got my tea with Sliwowica - SO good. I've had mulled wine before but this is a notch up for sure. After a short rest in our hotel, we went back out for dinner in the Christmas Market. There must have been some area Scout rally today - there were hundreds of young people marching around the square.
It's an early night to pack up our stuff for a trip South to Zakopane where we'll start some of our winter activities. Yay!!

Posted by otisandma 11:57 Archived in Poland Tagged castle dragon flower_painting zalipie Comments (0)

Travel Day

It's gonna be a long day...

snow -2 °C

And so I'm travelling again! A bit after my trip to Morocco last year, I looked at some of the other Intrepid tours. That's the tour company I used for Morocco - small groups, lovely places and even lovelier people. At least that was the experience.
As I explored, I found a Winter Tatra Adventure Tour, taking place in Poland and Slovakia - the 2 countries that happen to be my heritage. My father's parents came from Poland and my mother's from Slovakia so this seemed a perfect chance to visit. We likely have relatives in both countries but sadly our family never kept in touch.
What am I looking forward to on this trip? Old Europe. Snowshoeing. Cross country skiing. Christmas markets. Meeting some new travel friends. Vodka and pierogis. Hand-made sweaters. Polish wine.
The Tatras are a mountain range in the South of Poland and the North in Slovakia so it should be wintery and hopefully snowy. Packing to travel in the winter was a little more challenging, just because of the bulk of boots and snow pants. And of course the flight to get to Krakow isn't short. Currently sitting in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for an almost 6-hour layover until my flight to Krakow. IMG_2225.JPGOnce there, I'll make my way to the first hotel and our meet & greet with our Intrepid guide. There should be a little time to shower & freshen up before that meeting.
These are the bathroom stalls in Schiphol!! How lovely right?!
Getting into Krakow from the airport was really smooth on the train. The hotel is a 5 minute walk from the train station, right on the edge of the old city centre of Krakow. Old buildings, cobbled streets and a CHRISTMAS MARKET!!!
After our tour meeting where we found out there are only 4 participating - it's the first departure for this particular tour! - we went for dinner at a good local and very Polish restaurant. Hearty and not very expensive, it gave us the warmth to walk through the market on a snowy evening.
Beautifully decorated for Christmas, the market is filled with many, many, many booths - lots of foods, handcrafts and not handcrafts (souvenirs).
But the barrel-shaped booths with the really looooong lineups sell only 2 drinks: Mulled wine or Tea with Sliwowica (plum brandy!). My roommate for this trip is a young lady named Darlene who travelled from Los Angeles. While it was too long to wait in the line for wine or tea, we did try grilled Oscypek. Its a smoked & salted sheep milk cheese, sliced, then grilled on a flat-top and served with a light cranberry sauce. Salty for sure...the sauce really made it a treat. IMG_2240.JPG

After that really long day, the bed was lovely!!!

Posted by otisandma 11:24 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

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