This post is a continuation of the series documenting our travels across Poland. We were now in the extreme South of the country in the Tatra mountains resort town of Zakopane. We had encountered some amazingly bad weather on our first day which was rained out. On the second day the rain had abated just enough to allow us to do our planned trek to the amazing lake of Morskie Oko. (Zakopane , Part 1 – The hike to Morskie Oko on a rare non rainy day in the Tatras)
We returned to Zakopane from the parking lot of the Morskie Oko to find that the rain had returned. It was still daylight and I had very unwisely booked tickets to the Gubalowka funicular up the hill, right in the centre of the town. On a clear day the Gubalowka hilltop is a busy place with a great view of the Tatra mountains. This day was anything but clear, but we didn’t want to waste tickets that we had already paid for. So we headed to the station of the funicular in town and decided to go up anyway.
The station was obviously deserted and we got a few looks from the people manning the station wondering why the hell we were going up there in this weather. The only people with us on the funicular was a family of Asian tourists who must have pre bought tickets like us! The funicular went up the hill and soon we were at the top which was entirely fogged out. Forget about the Tatra mountains, you couldn’t even see the second row of trees beyond the barriers.
We walked around the hill top path in the pouring rain for some time. It would have been great if the weather had cooperated, but then again we wouldn’t have gotten to see the usually busy hill top totally deserted. There was a restaurant on the top but it was too gloomy and we decided to get down to the town and have a early dinner there before retiring for the day.
We started walking back to our hotel too tired to go back into town, we had walked more than 22 kilometres that day. Luckily we found a small pizzeria on the way back and had a freshly made pizza. Although it wasn’t a gourmet restaurant, on that rainy day after all our exertions the hot, fresh pizza was like manna from heaven.
With our tummies satiated we walked the last 2 km of the day back to the Willa Malinowa where we crashed for a well deserved sleep. I was hoping against hope that the weather Gods would support us the next day even though the weather forecast was predicting more gloom.
We got up the next morning to find to our extreme displeasure that the forecast was right. We had stayed three days in the Willa Malinowa with a balcony facing the Tatras and seen only clouds, it would not change that morning! That meant that the cable car was ruled out. We didn’t want to pay through our noses to see clouds from higher up!
The better half did some research and found a nature reserve close to our Willa and we decided to have a walk in the rain. We had a heavy hearty breakfast which consisted on the European staples of lots of bread, cheese, cold cuts, eggs and yoghurt before setting out.
It was drizzling but the fieldfares were out collecting their meals in the lawns. These cute little birds are not so skittish and got one to pose regally for me.
Since the 300mm was on I decided to try my hand at photographing the water droplets trickling off the branches. Though it looks beautiful I would have preferred sunny day to this photo.
We then walked the opposite way from the Willa Malinowa away from town and towards the nature reserve known as the Dolina ku Dziurze. The path led through paths with houses and willas ( before you tell me that the spelling is incorrect, its how its spelt in Polish) having the typical architecture of the region
Soon we reached the edge of the reserve and it was a picture postcard view. Rolling meadows with flocks of sheep grazing, hills lined with conifers with low clouds obscuring the tree tops
We crossed the full meadow and got to the other side to get a view of the town below. No mountains in sight but the cloudy townscape had its own charm and beauty.
We found out later that the sheep farmers there sell cheese, too but the local store at the edge of the meadow was closed that day. So we had to be satisfied with watching the flock graze and being directed by the shepherds dogs.
We then walked the path at the edge of the reserve. It was raining quite heavily now and we decided not to venture into the small rocky paths and risky an injury on the slippery wet rocks. We walked past a small waterfall and into the forest where Google maps showed a path towards town.
After walking around in circles trying to find our way back to the main drag of Zakopane without having to backtrack we finally realised that the path that Google was showing us was closed with a huge tree fallen across the only path.
Luckily we met a few locals who pointed us in the right direction and after walking for half an hour on boggy paths we were soon on paved roads right close to the centre of town.
We walked past the main square where a vintage car rally was about to be flagged off. Not a big car person myself we decided to walk on to the next planned sightseeing for the day – The upside down house!
It was almost lunch time and our tried and tested Cristina Ristorante & Pizzeria was right in our way. So we decided to stop for lunch before resuming our walk in the rain. The restaurant was warm and inviting as always and we removed our rain gear before settling in for a hot pizza followed by a delicious Tiramisu.
We then walked back into the rain and towards the upside down house which is a sight that is as touristy as it gets. It’s a house which is built upside down as the name suggest with all the furnishings and ceiling attachments reversed. We wouldn’t have stepped into the place if the weather was good. But on a rainy day it provided a quirky thing to see.
We paid the entrance charges and entered the house. Even though we knew what to expect it was oddly confusing for our brain. The sloping roof which we walked on was at a slight angle to the ground and walking around was a slightly dizzying experience. We walked the two storeys, took a few photos.
We were the only ones in the house for a few minutes and it was a good break from the pouring rain outside. Soon it was time to go back out into the rain and resume our walk.
We walked back up Krupowki and it was absolutely pouring down. So we decided to visit the interiors of the Sanktuarium church on the end of Krupowki street. There was a service going on so we sat down at the back for a few minutes before politely moving out. I didn’t get a chance to take proper photos just one or two that I snuck in while sitting in the pews.
We then started walking back to the Willa Malinowa and on the way was a small little church dedicated to the famous Black Madonna of Częstochowa and a beautiful cemetery attached to it. We visited the small wooden church, did our usual church routine before stepping out again and visiting the cemetery.
Most cemeteries in Europe are anything but the spooky places that movies make them out to be. They are well laid out structures with beautiful gardens on top of every grave. I had seen the same thing in Austria & Italy and Poland was no different. The cemetery in Zakopane was a peaceful place filled with ornate graves and even lusher flower beds on top of the graves.
We walked around for some time & then returned to the Willa since there was no sign of the rain abating. We had walked around inspite of the bad weather for a good 6-8 hours proving that a little bit of rain can’t get the better of us. But as the evening approached the hot room at the Willa Malinowa seemed irresistible in the cold and damp weather.
As the rain continued to fall, going back out for dinner seemed like a waste of time and energy. We had bought provisions and made huge and filling sandwiches for dinner that we had in our room. We usually carry basic cutlery with us for times like these and while we use it very sparingly, in times like these they are a life saver!
Sadly the weather meant that we couldn’t roam around the main street after dark and take photos. So I had to be satisfied with going outside the Willa Malinowa with an umbrella and taking photos of the lit up Willa.
We had also not taken any photos of the common areas inside the Willa and now took the chance to do so. The Malinowa was a beautiful place to stay and we enjoyed our time here inspite of the less than ideal weather.
We had to leave the Willa Malinowa the next morning and when we woke up it was still cloudy, though thankfully there was no rain. I took the chance to walk around the area and take a few photos before the taxi booked for us arrived and took us back to the station.
We reached the station and waited for our bus to Krakow to arrive when lo and behold the clouds lifted and we finally got sight of the mountains that were hiding behind the clouds the full three days we were in Zakopane. The camera was now stowed away but at least the phones were handy. So we got a few photos from the bus window of the snow covered peaks that we should have seen from our room balcony had the weather been better.
But at least that meant that we would be having better weather in Krakow. The European spring is always unpredictable. But this was the first time in our 5 trips to Europe that we had stayed 3 days at a place and had bad weather all 3 days. We would certainly like to return to Zakopane again, hopefully the weather will be kinder to us then.
Krakow was the last leg of our vacation and we would enjoy a great two days in that beautiful & historic city. But that is story for another post, some other time, some other day.