Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Krupówki


Cold and wet, but at least out from the blizzard, we were back down the city of Zakopane. From there Kaśka was so excited to show me different things, that she actually didn’t know where to go first. We walked for a bit, and came upon a huge ski jumping hill [realizing that I have never seen one in person, but only on TV]. Kaśka told me how she used to train here but doing exercise drills up the incline of the hill to build endurance. I was definitely impressed.

The other aspect of the hill that was of interest to Kaśka was that the stadium part was going to be reconstructed, and it was actually an architectural project through her company. We went to the top of the jump, and my conclusion was definitely a lot of respect for ski jumpers.

At the base of the ski jump Kaśka said it was time to warm up, and she knew the perfect place.

A left turn from the road was a cabin that I never would have recognized to have been a restaurant. The door was very small [ and I am short! ] so we had to duck to get in – but everything that was a potential passage for heat to escape in the winter was kept very small.

The inside was awesome – the walls covered in Polish art and design everywhere. What I loved about it was that it wasn’t forced and touristy – the inside may have been decorated with traditional Polish craftsmanship from the mountain region, and the staff even wore Góral outfits, but it wasn’t in a kitschy way – the atmosphere felt like it was supposed to be that way because the culture in this part of Poland preserved it that way. Kaśka emphasized to me the proud culture of the Górals, and I could definitely see it here.

With the huge fireplace in the center, we dried off and warmed are frozen dupas. We also ordered some good local favorites to warm up – Tea with cherry vodka [if that doesn’t warm you up, then I don’t know what would!] some local goat cheese, well known in Zakopane, as well as some Kiełbasy and cabbage soup.

The food was great, and we enjoyed the atmosphere as we defrosted ourselves filling up on great regional dishes.

For the rest of the day we walked the streets of Zakopane and checked out some of the other corners of the town. Krupówki street, the main street of the town, was postcard-perfect. Tiny little streets, lined with small wooden buildings, and other restaurants decorated inside similar to the great restaurant that Kaśka and I had just come from.

There was a little river that crossed under a bridge past the street, and with the changing colors of leaves, the frosty river, and the little cabin stores around with snowcapped mountains in the background I was falling in love as well – this was Poland and everything that is great and beautiful about the country was captured into one little street!

The street blended right into corners filled with markets and kiosks, selling everything from Czupaga axes, little wooden chess sets and other woodworks, hand-made goat cheeses sold by little Polish ladies in Babuszkas - everything quintessentially thought of as a Polish souvenir, it was there. I was really impressed with the varieties of beautiful Polish crystal and the piles of furs that were stacked high on tables – surprisingly cheep too, only about 25 bucks for an entire fur!

Kaśka offered to find a bus back towards the house, but I wanted to walk around and see some more corners of the town even though it was cold. I was glad that we did. We walked by other very traditional wooden buildings, including the oldest in the town, as well as another wooden church, and this one was equally impressive as the one in Tarnów with an interior almost completely wood and gold.

The central cemetery in Zakopane also represented everything that makes Polish cemeteries so beautiful , with artistic headstones and many candles and flowers.

At the end of the day we were absolutely tired, and luckily we had the bus ride back home to finally rest our legs and shut our eyes before returning to Kraków.

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