A Travellerspoint blog

Tatra High

Hiking in the Tatra Mountains

Cheshch,

That's polish for hi, and we've been using it a lot in the last few days. We've been hiking in the Tatra mountains, and whenever we would pass somebody on the trail, we'd say "cheshch" (I'm not quite sure on the Polish spelling of the word, but that's how it sounds)

We started off at Zakopane, which is pretty much the Whistler of Poland. Hoards of tourists as far as the eye can see.... I'm not a huge fan. But we then took a bus into the national park, and it quickly started to get better. The first part of the hike was on a road (only for horse carriages taking people to lake Morskie Oko and service vehicles), so that wasn't too special. But once we turned off, it got really nice. We started to see the peaks, and man, did they look cool. There's something about these mountains that are different from the ones back home. While around Canada, we have either very green mountains, or very rocky ones, these manage to be both at the same time (as the pictures below can show). It seems that grass and shrubs manage to find a way to grow, even on almost sheer cliffs.

Anyways, after a bit of a climb with our packs (we had left most of our stuff at the hostel in Zakopane, but brought with us some clothes, sleeping bags and food), we reached a mountain refuge. These are great little places that offer beds and food, and we would call it home for the next two nights. Places like these are a great idea, and I wish we would have them in Canada. They are scattered around the national park, and I like the fact that they are not allowed to refuse anyone, even if it means sleeping on the floor (although I am happy that we got there early enough to get a bed).

After getting set up, we decided to go for more of a hike. There was a peak we could reach, and it looked interesting. It was a very hard climb up there, but it was well worth it. The view was simply amazing. I also find that I get a really cook feeling whenever I'm at a peak of a mountain. On one hand, I feel like I'm the king of the world for conquering the mountain, but as I look out and see the huge size of these mountains, I feel like an insignificant speck among it all. It's weird having both those opposing feelings at the same time.

The next day, we decided to do a big loop around. It started off with a bit of a hike to get to that big touristy lake, Morskie Oko. While it was kind of nice (but not as nice as other places we had just seen), it was completely ruined by the masses of people there. It sort of reminded us of Lake Louise in that sense.

A bit after leaving that lake, we began to hear thunder and not long after, the rain started. Of course, I was stupid enough to not bring my fleece with me so I was stuck in my T-shirt. I was alright, and the rain later passed, and the sun came back out. This was perfect timing as we were getting to a peak on the Slovak border and I'm not a huge fan of standing on a mountain peak during a lightning storm. Anyways, the peak offered more amazing views, and it was back down the other side of the mountain on the way back 'home'.

With probably about 45 minutes left on our hike, and just as we were almost dry again, we start to see more grey clouds. Suddenly the clouds just opened up and it was pouring down on us. The were huge drops of water that quickly soaked us to the bone. Then came the hail. Pretty big pieces of them, that stung quite a bit as the hit my bare arm. We were happy to get back to the refuge, and quickly got out of our wet clothes.

This morning we had to get back down the mountain. The only problem was that it was raining, with no end in sight. So we trudged down, getting completely wet again. Then, as if to spite us, just as we could see the parking lot where the busses went, the cloud opened up again and let out all of it's fury. We were definitely not happy campers at that point.

But all is well now. We head to Slovakia tomorrow, and I'm really excited.

Posted by moutallica 11:36 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

More Pictures

Here are all the pictures from Riga to where we are now, in Zakopane, Poland (well..... not all of them, but I think 77 will do). I'll write more when I'm not so lazy, but enjoy these for now.

Edit: Jocelyn actually took the time to write comments for each pictures, so check out her blog if you want... http://jocelynpreece.travellerspoint.com

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Posted by moutallica 07:48 Tagged photography Comments (0)

Prisoners in Krakow

sunny 31 °C

We're still in Krakow, and having a great time.... except for one minor incident. The day after Auschwitz, we decided to explore the city. It was pretty cool. We went up to Wawel (pronounced Vavel) Hill, to see the castle and the cathedral. It was nice, but what made it even better is that a huge thunderstorm started right at that time. Bright flashes of lightning, and deafening thunder right above our heads. I thought it was really cool, and would only have been cooler if the cross above the cathedral would have gotten hit by a bolt.

We then headed down to the old town, which is much praised by everyone as being one of the nicest in Europe, due to the fact that it was not destroyed during the war. While it was nice, what really took away from it is that all the old building are now the home of international chain stores. It felt like we were walking through a mall. An attractive mall, but a mall nonetheless.

The next day is the day that we shall never speak of again. We were staying in a little apartment dealy. It just a room with one bathroom and two bedrooms. Anyways, we were ready to check out and move to a cheaper hostel (we can't afford a place like that all the time), but there was a slight problem. We were locked in. Let me explain the stupidity of Polish locks, and you can understand how this happened. It seems that on most Polish locks, if you lock it fully from the outside (there's a half lock and a full lock) you are simply not able to open it from the inside. We weren't too worried about it at that point, because since we were supposed to check out, we thought they'd come by to clean it soon and let us out. This was not the case as we later found out. We then thought that the other couple in the room would come back soon.... but that was not the case either. We avoided starvation by finding some brown rice in the room, and managing to cook it in the kettle.

At around midnight, the couple came back and we rushed out to find something to eat. We found some ice cream and kebabs, and we then felt much better. Let me tell you, being trapped in a tiny room for a whole day is no fun at all. However, in order to ease our pain, we have decided that the day simply did not exist. July 25, 2006 was by some magical way, simply skipped over. That is all.

Anyways, today we managed to get out of that place, and we went to visit a salt mine south of here at Wieliczka. While it was slightly pricey, it was well worth it. We went down underground and it was really cool. Everything was carved away from 98% pure salt.... you could even lick the walls. mmmmm.... salty. It was cool because the miners have carved some amazing things under there, such as some amazing cathedrals and ballrooms. I can also now say that I have peed 130m underground. How many of you can say that?

Posted by moutallica 11:36 Archived in Poland Comments (1)

Ja Chce Pierogi

I want pierogi!!!

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So we're in Poland now.... the land of pierogies. I think so anyways, and man are they good. Not like the one's you get in Canada, they're about 1254 times better here. And the different kinds of fillings you can get are great. There are sweet ones, or cheesy ones, or meaty ones (seasoned with fat...... mmmmmmmmmm..........) and whatever else you can think of. I love them.

We spent our first few days in Poland in Warsaw (Warszawa, pronounced vah-shaw-vah). The great thing about that was that we were staying with locals. We met them through a website called Hospitalityclub.org, which we were told about by another traveller. Basically, people sign up and offer free accomodation. We messaged a few of them, and had a few offers. It's really cool because you get to experience the real locals, as opposed to a hostel full of other travellers (which can be fun too). Not to mention all the money you save on accomodation. Our hosts (Monika and Chris) were really nice, but they worked a lot, and were always very busy.

One thing we have noticed is how nice people are here compared to the Baltic states. This was noticed as soon as we arrived in Poland. We were standing in a line, and we happened to leave a small space in front of us. Then somebody asked us if we were in line, instead of just going in front. I know that seems like common sense, but not for Lithuanians. There, if you leave even a few inches between you and the person in front of you, you'll lose your space in the line.... very annoying.

Anyways, we are now in Krakow, further south. We haven't really explored the city much, although we have found an awesome pierogi restaurant. Yesterday we went to Auschwitz. I'm not going to discuss everything, but I will say that it was quite impressive and that people can be horrible. That is all that needs to be said right now.

Posted by moutallica 02:59 Archived in Poland Comments (1)

Pics

...finally

Hey everyone! I finally have got around to loading some pictures onto the blog. The only bad thing is that this internet cafe is also stupid, and it won't take any pictures that are currently on my camera..... so you'll all have to make do with the ones from England, that have been put on a CD.

Also, just wanted to let everyone know that you can also check out Joce's blog. It will have some of the same things as mine, but many different things as well. If you're interested, the address is jocelynpreece.travellerspoint.com. Check it out.

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Posted by moutallica 02:57 Tagged photography Comments (2)

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