After our emotional few days in Krakow, we headed to Zakopane for a few days of hiking and getting amongst nature. Zakopane is a small alpine town next to the Tatra Mountains which spreads across the Polish and Slovakia borders. This town is very popular in winter for the skiing and also summer for the numerous hiking routes.
After a very comfortable 7 hour bus ride, we arrived in Zakopane early evening on the Friday. Despite being just out of season, the town was still very busy with hikers and non-hikers visiting the town for the weekend. As mentioned previously, Zakopane is an alpine town and it has that skiing/outdoorsy feel with numerous adventure stores and cozy restaurants lining the high street.
Tom and I planned a 40km hike for the Saturday, thinking that it should be relatively easy as we had done a 44 km hike in Annecy and this one should be flatter. After about an hour, it started to rain making the rocky path a little treacherous. Our B&B host had warned us the paths would be quite busy and he was right. There were hikers everywhere, both young and old and often in large groups. This made the walking a little less enjoyable as we were often in a line of people however the beautiful views made up for it. I have never seen so many pine trees before.
We stopped off for some lunch after 4 hours beside a beautiful lake. We calculated that we still had around 2-3 hours to reach our summit, and then obviously the walk home so we decided to head back home via an alternative route. This was lovely as it was we had the trail to ourselves and could talk rubbish and stop to take photos without annoying those walking behind us. Upon arriving home at 5pm, we promptly smashed down some food and passed out.
On the Sunday we had planned a shorter hike and set off at around 11am. Unfortunately Tom wasn't feeling well so headed back home after 40 mins and I powered on myself. And by powered on, I literally mean that as I was the crazy girl who power walked her way along the mountain path for 4 hours, overtaking hiker after hiker! Unfortunately it started to rain quite heavily after 2 hours, when I was exactly the furthest point away from home but this only spurred me on. After donning my fluro pink jacket, I proceeded to walk even faster. Despite my extreme speed, the views were again stunning.
The Tatra Mountains gave us some great hiking despite the poor weather and we can image that they would be absolutely stunning in the summer. However you would have to fight with the hoard of people on the weekends. But they do offer some fantastic, well marked and laid out trails for hiking and a number of refuge huts for overnight hikers. And being in Poland, accommodation and food is cheap as chips!