To the mountains

We head off for a week in Zakopane: my daughter, Maja and Jaś, my son and my granddaughter. We catch the midnight train.

Waiting on Warsaw station: 11 pm

Our Zakopane house …

Not the whole house: it contains four apartments. Mountains tower in the background, unseen on the first day because of low fog. As it warms up the icicles on branches melt before I can photograph them successfully.

Zakopane architecture 

I’m charmed by the wooden houses, the chunky wooden poles, and the carved detail. I take one solitary walk to shop, and make the most of it. Usually I’m watching my footing and two children who aren’t always willing to walk, and worrying about not paying enough attention to my visiting granddaughter.


Up the top

Three times we climb higher, only once on our legs. That day is a day for lessons: Maja and Jaś have their first skiing lesson, and Hugo and Tahlia a snowboarding session. I make my way fumble-footed and hesitant through snow and ice, and snap at my most beloved senior granddaughter when she informs me my beanie is on back to front, the least of my worries as I try to force a small foot into a ski boot. I’m well outside my comfort zone and also very aware that my daughter is struggling with five dependents. Her husband is still in Warsaw, kept there by the pressure of work.

The day of the cable car is an experience in crowds and queues. We rise to 1959 metres, changing cars for the last steep haul. The ski slope looks horrendous and my daughter tell me that years ago she went down it on her third day of skiiing, crying bitterly all the way. Suddenly the slope is blotted out by fog. It’s cold, and we retreat to the restaurant and hot chocolate. I’m learning the power of babcia-shoving to achive a desired place, and I have a wonderful view of the rugged landscape as we descend: pine trees, rich with amber cones; slumps of snow on black rocks; smaller trees just poking up; and most enticing, a gentle ski trail through the forest.

The day of the little train is much easier. The twins are eager walkers for once and we maintain a pace, albeit slow, entertained by stilt walkers. We don’t go so high, and the path at the top is edged by stalls selling gloves, hats, grilled cheese, wooden toys, and fairy floss. A little wooden church draws the eye to gentler parts of the landscape.

Walking with a teenager

On our last morning my most beloved senior granddaughter inveigles me into a walk. We enter the Strążyska Valley in the Tatra National Park, an easy walk with my crampons. The path wanders between snow-ładen trees, deep snow banks, and grottos with iced leaves; and crosses a creek with frills of ice and a smaller frozen tributary. Ahead are steep mountains covered in snow that is beginning to slip.

Waiting for the Warsaw train

After a number of changes in plan, we all manage to book on the same afternoon train back to Warsaw. The wait begins with a visit to the Zakopane Aquatic Centre. 

The twins aren’t impressed by the lack of space on the train, and have a few bouts of very vocal rage on the seven-hour trip. I’m in a compartment with Tahlia and we talk about family, friends and film. She wants to be a director and begins her university studies next week. She talks of her admiration for Tarantino and for parkour films. 

Home at last, I almost relax and regale J with tales of our week away till past midnight

About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
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17 Responses to To the mountains

  1. much appreciate the trip with narra(i?)tive and pictures. Saw a few spags hehe. Spell check not available ha. There goes the student picking on the expert. Loved the trip thanks Meg. Glad to be home I bet.


  2. restlessjo says:

    What a feast! 🙂 🙂 My favourite photos are of the architecture because it’s as if I’m standing right behind you. I know and love those houses so well, and the little church. 🙂 Then I love the twins examining/wearing skis/asleep 🙂 🙂 And then the long views to the mountains. Aren’t they spectacular? I do love them so! Was the little ride down the mountain running? From Gubalowka. I didn’t see it in the photos. What an adventure and a week to remember, Meg! And I’m so far behind with your hugs 🙂 🙂


    • I’ve just been back to look at your Zakopane post. Like you, I was preoccupied with family and not registering names etc unless I was bereft of twins and R. We did go up and down in what she billed as the “little train”. Most of the time I was also totally preoccupied with negotiating the ice, which terrifies me. I had one spectacular fall, during which I managed to touch down with wrists, knees and the flat of my back. Fortunately there was a sturdy fence within reach to haul myself up – H was nearby and offering haulage but he’d damaged his wrist on his first snowboard excursion, and I’m no lightweight, even for a body boarder’s strength. My greatest delights were waking up to Maja’s grin, and being able to release the grown ups for winter sports while I stayed safely indoors with the kids.


      • restlessjo says:

        I hate ice with a passion which is why I’ve always resisted a Winter visit, however majestic those mountains. Glad you ‘bounced back’ and hopefully were not too bruised. Did the littles enjoy their ski lesson? 🙂 🙂 Weekend hugs! Too much angst here over continuing James set up. They have withheld this month’s wages towards his debt repayment! Enjoy your time with your beloved son. I know he’s pining for his waves. 🙂


        • Not good news about James. Wage withholding is mean-spirited, and a continuing worry for you. I’m sorry it’s not sorting itself out more neatly. May it resolve satisfactorily soon, or is that a vain hope?

          Maja not a fan of skiing lesson: her verdict from horizontal was “Yucky” halfway through. Jaś gloated because he went down four times.

          My son was really looking forward to snowboarding, but when he hurt his wrist on day one, he decided to save himself for surfing, and not risk more hurt. He’s not a fan of crowds: his verdict on them was “Yucky”, but he stayed vertical.

          Rainy Saturday evening hugs my dear.


  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    The wooden houses are adorable, are they all holiday homes or do normal people live in them too?How lovely to spend time with your senior granddaughter before she goes off to uni, her life will change forever then won’t it? A lovely trip Meg and your photos are fab x:-)x


    • Zakopane is a major holiday destination and we were on Snobs Hill: ordinary people obviously live there, but I don’t know where. Our apartment was AirBnb. It was a great time with family, so many bits of it. My son is an angel, although his care for me made me feel OLD! He was the fierce green cat and the giggle monster for the kids, and he invented the name for all things prone: plonkies they are now! My granddaughter is very interesting to talk to, but so obviously a different generation.


  4. Heyjude says:

    The hardiness of youth (your granddaughter out in only a jumper)… love the photos. They bring back memories of my time as an au pair in Geneva when we used to go to the ski slopes every weekend. I of course was left to look after the youngest (3 yrs) dragging him on a sled whilst I was thigh deep in snow drifts! Happy days!


  5. What a lovely looking winter vacation. I’m afraid I’d be hopeless at the skiing – I’m not all that graceful on my feet under normal circumstances, let alone on skis! I really enjoy winter holidays though, even without the sports, and the buildings in Zakopane look charming.


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