I spent two weeks in a charming hotel tucked among the Tatra Mountains in the southern part of Poland. The serene tranquility of this place and slow paced way of life here helped me recharge and accumulate energy before starting a new stage of my life. I felt I needed a break from my everyday routine so I checked Expedia, where I usually book my vacation packages. Luck was with me and I managed to save on my flight + accommodation with a nice Expedia deal so this trip was going to be even more affordable than I originally thought.
My journey began with a bus trip from Krakow to Zakopane, a picturesque ski resort town lying at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. In fact, Zakopane is known as the “winter capital of Poland” and is the most popular destination for snow enthusiasts. But winter was over, it was spring time and low season which meant few people in the hotels and discounted rates. That’s what I was looking for: two weeks away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city life, in a peaceful environment surrounded by pristine forests and mountains.
Actually I was going to take the train to Zakopane from Krakow, but it was cancelled so I took a bus instead. The buses in Europe are quite big and comfortable, the roads are good so the trip was not tiring. Plus we could enjoy beautiful views all the way to our destination.
This time I didn’t book luxury hotel with upscale restaurants and crowded bars. I was looking for something budget friendly, unpretentious, neat and quiet. Hotel Hyrny became the perfect place for me to stay. I’m not crazy about skiing, but enjoy observing nature and here I could take in beautiful views everywhere I would go.
The hotel design is contemporary, features rustic décor elements and contrasting colors. The lobby is spacious, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the snow-capped mountains. There is a lobby bar serving drinks and snacks, a pool, table tennis and a children’s play area. The hotel territory is small, but green and well-groomed.
The food at the main restaurant was really good.
The hotel served the buffet in the morning and there was a choice of cornflakes with milk or yogurt, oatmeal cereal, seasonal vegetables, herbs, sausages, a variety of cheese and ham, boiled fried and scrambled eggs, canned tuna fish, olives, delicious croissants and aroma coffee, tea or juice.
The dinner was abundant too. The waiters served soup, the main course that consisted of meat or fish with the side dish of rice, potatoes or stewed vegetables.
The meal was followed by the dessert, usually a piece of apple pie, brownie or some cake. In the evening there was also buffet and we could choose salads, pasta or fish.
I would like to note that European food is really varied and delicious. As for Polish cuisine it is characterized by a little bit spicier food than I got used to eating.
But the menu is varied. Their specialty is roasted duck served with cranberry sauce – really delicious.
Most people who come to Zakopane are ski lovers or hikers. The main street of the town is Krupowki, where you can find high-end stores and restaurants along with street market stalls offering toys, local food and souvenirs. If you arrived without appropriate sports clothes and gear that’s not a problem as there are plenty of sportswear shops along the street, including Mountain Warehouse, Columbia and The North Face. Those who would like to buy some casual clothing can visit stores like Guess, Calvin Klein, Reserved, H&M, Mohito and others.
Go down Krupowki street and take a cable railway to Gubalowka – the most popular peak located in the center of the Polish Tatra mountains. The peak is 1122 m high above the sea level and it takes just about 4 minutes to reach it by cable railway. From there you will enjoy a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the mountains and the town lying below.
Apart from going up Gubalowka there are plenty of what to see not far from Zakopane. The biggest local attraction is Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea), a very scenic ancient lake located within the Tatra National Park. Of course, I couldn’t miss the chance to explore this stunning area and I took a hiking tour to see it. But my lake adventures deserve a separate story…