The smell of cheese and snow
Trip Start Nov 15, 2005
248Trip End Aug 15, 2008
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Where I stayed
My first mission, more hiking! Really the last opportunity I will have for a while (especially if the weather develops the way it's going), so I thought I should make the most of it.
The most convenient base for the hiking was the resort town of Zakopane. Somewhat of a contrast to Ugly Town, it was actually quite a pleasant place to be, even if it was very touristy. One of the strangest things about the place was the sheer amount of cheese on sale. A good mountain food, I guess, but this particular smoked cheese seems quite local to here, and I don't think that you're ever more than 5 feet away from a stall selling the stuff when oyu walk down the main street of town, and it's really quite pungent. Tastes okay though I'm not a fan of the texture particularly
The hostel in which I was staying (Dom Turysty) has to be one of the creepiest places I've been. If anyone has seen 'The Shining', this place was exactly like the hotel there. Big and very, very empty, the old wooden floors seemed to creak without there being anyone to walk the blood red carpets. The doors and windows opened and closed by themselves, and I felt very, very nervous using the institutional, industrial sized bathrooms all by myself. Still, at least it was cheap. I was quite glad to get up into the mountains for a couple of days.
The weather was shocking the entire time. This only detracted slightly from the beauty of the place, but unfortunately did nothing to lessen the crowds. I had thought of doing just a short day hike, since my legs were suffering slightly from the excessive amount of walking in the previous couple of weeks, but decided at least two days were necessary once I got up there. I spent the majority of that time around the 5 lakes valley region, with Morskie Oko being a particular highlight. I probably would have spent longer up there had it not started to snow on my second morning. Snow. In August. Things are not looking good for this winter.
It's difficult to compare the Polish and Slovakian High Tatras, as I was on each side at completely different times of the year, but I think the Polish side is easily the more beautiful. I preferred hiking the Slovakian side, though. There is a good reason for this - the crowds. The Polish side seems just far too civilised, with paved trails most of the way (though these got incredibly slippery when it started to rain), and it was literally impossible to get away from the crowds without going right up to the very high trails, which wouldn't have been much fun in the rain. So I had to be content with admiring the scenery along with half a dozen screaming kids most of the time. Still, it was a very beautiful couple of days despite all that.