Monday, March 31, 2008

High Tatras Mountains

We’ve just spent a couple of nights up in the High Tatras mountains which is a stunning range that just seems to pop up in the middle of hundreds of miles of flat lands; covering the area around north east Slovakia and southern Poland. The Slovakian side is a large national park called Vysoke Tatry. It was the end of the winter season but there was still plenty of snow on the high ground, (around 3,000ft plus) with a few die hard skiers still on the slopes.

We stayed in a ‘chata’ which is an old style mountain chalet up in the snow covered forest and had the most amazing views back down into the valley and up to the 8,000ft peaks higher up.

We took a cable car, (in fact three cable cars) up to the top of Lomniky Stit which is the highest mountain in the region and with the bright sunny day we had, offered amazing views of miles around both of Slovakia and Poland.
To get to Poland we had to take a bus to the border town of Lysa Polana, then get off and walk across the border to catch another bus to Zakopane and beyond to Krakow.

I know the poles have had a rough time of it in the past; first under the Nazi occupation and then under Soviet rule but the country is doing pretty well for itself now. The countryside is beautiful and most of the houses outside the cities are huge five story picture postcard style alpine villas.

Krakow itself is also a very modern and cosmopolitan city that has just the right mix of old and new, and hasn’t as yet been ruined by the stag/hen party crowd; although why I’m not sure as the food and drink is as cheap as anywhere! We’re staying in a fab hostel that is spotlessly clean, includes breakfast and supper in the price, has free internet, laundry etc and is perfectly positioned with a five minute walk to either the train station or the old town; which of course is where the best eateries and drinkeries are!!!

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