Published: December 23rd 2006December 22nd 2006
Sometimes I feel really lucky, not because of where I am or what I’m doing, but because everything just seems to fall into place. It makes me nervous, like that sudden rising feeling in an plane as it hits turbulence.. every time it rises up a little higher I get a bit more nervous anticipating the imminent drop that puts your stomach in your throat.
Zakopane is the Queenstown of Poland. I didn’t decide to go until an hour or so before the bus left. It’s reputed to be quite expensive and touristy, and this year there’s no snow - There’s no snow in any of Poland, or much of Europe for that matter. Perhaps some northern hemisphere governments will take more notice of global warming when Santa’s sleigh is stuck in the mud.
Sometimes I feel quite cramped in Wroclaw. Poland has about the same land area as New Zealand, but it’s flat like Texas.. well it seems like that.. it’s hard to think of anywhere in NZ where at least part of the horizon isn’t obscured by mountains or hills. The lack of perspective here makes the city seem endless, me insignificant, and the effort to find
a spot to “get away” insurmountable - at least a mountain can be climbed.
So while Asia had work back in the city, I opted to go get some fresh air and find out what the Polish mountains are like first hand. Of course it was cold and dark when I got there, but the morning showed up beautifully bright and sunny and the foothills surrounding the town were an easy walk in any direction... They’re low (~1600m) and grassy due to the ridiculously warm winter, but nonetheless skifields were optimistically blowing manmade snow onto the bare slopes.
Once out of the main town it seems day to day life is still relatively traditional, the language in the Tatras is a slight variation of Polish, and some still work with horses, carts, and traditional dress. There were even home made rope tows in some paddocks and yards!
As the day wore on, clouds gathered round the tops and perfectly formed snowflakes started to drift down. I stopped for a beer and some warmth in the middle of town before wandering out the other side to the national forest park, then to watch guys practice ski jumping on
an artificial slope as it started to snow properly.
The weather kept up all night, enveloping the town in a multi coloured Christmas wrap under the festive lights.
By morning the snow had stopped and I was ready to move on. I packed my bags, put my pack in storage in the town centre, and with my waterproof trousers and $5 Croatian gloves went for a walk to the skifield on the off chance that they were open. As I got closer I saw people carrying boards.. and skis.. and the lift going..! The first day of the season anywhere in Poland! I half ran, half skidded from information to ticket office to gear hire and back to ticket office, cursing at having forgotten to bring any extra money.. luckily my 100 zloty ($50NZ) note was going to be enough to cover board, boots, and a days worth of skiing (if I gave up on the idea of lunch :) )
Only the lower half of the field was open. It was quite flat, but fuck was it cool to be riding.. in the Tatras.. and so out of the blue. I’m going to be grinning for
a while! :)
Now i’m back in Wroclaw, it’s good to be here. It’s Christmas tomorrow - for Polish people - they celebrate on Christmas Eve which means I’ll be sitting down to Christmas dinner with Asia’s family on the 24th. At the same time, you guys in NZ will be dragging yourselves out of bed for Christmas morning. Perfect. I’ll be thinking of you all :)
From Poland - MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
There are more photos below