The Sleeping Knight – A Queue with a View

If you climb in a mountain in the Polish Tatras, it has to be Giewont – otherwise known as the Sleeping Knight. Or so I was told.

You can see it from the town, which is probably why it’s so popular – it has a pretty impressive unobstructed view.

Once again we got the bus from Zakopane to Kuznice to shave off those initial kilometres, and took the ‘easiest’ route from there.

There are a couple of huts on route where you can use the toilet – this is the second one at 1335m. By this point I was already a bit sick of rocky paths again and my calves were giving me a bit of trouble – possibly due to my heavy boots. People here prefer trainers and I can see why.

Couldn’t complain too much though with views like this on the way up – and will plenty of stops to get some leg energy back it was okay.

See – happy smiling people! We even saw some cool wildlife, an eagle and a chamois. Thanks Dan for taking all the cute wildlife photos.

Now ALOT of people hike up Giewont. So once you get to the steeper rocky bits the rocks get really smooth – like super slippy smooth. There are chains to help but it still isn’t easy (though kids do it so I’m probably exaggerating a bit). I don’t have lots of pictures of it but yeah.

This was a particularly nasty bit. Not fun! Gnarly.

And then we got to the summit, where there is a giant metal cross which has been struck by lightning many times. Good job we had no thunderstorms today. Didn’t get lots of photos because as you can see, lots of people.

So much so, that on the way up and down there was a queue!

A queue with quite a view though!

This is a less dramatic one. When we got back off the summit the queue to go up was ridiculous. There is actually a one way system, which is very useful! I did lots of using my bum as a fifth limb to get down which totally works for me.

We chose a different route down so we could go straight back to Zakopane and not visit Kuznice again. This route down is much more difficult with a little more scrambling and lots of big rocks to skip down. I was glad for my heavy boots on the way down – I guess you win some and lose some.

I pretty much needed the toilet the whole way but the abundance of running water and people meant no wee for me for a while.

We reached another hut at the end of the steep parts where I could go to the toilet – it was the most disgusting portaloo I’ve ever used but a girl gotta pee when a girl gotta pee. Note to self – bring the shewee in future – even for day hikes.

From the hut was another hours walk back to Zakopane.

Look, you can see Giewont again!

Saw a cute squirrel on the way back.

Now I’m back at the hotel and can’t wait to eat dinner tonight. Hopefully I’ll be rested enough to hike again tomorrow to see one of the famous lakes.

Kasprowy Wierch

We managed to get a mini bus from Zakopane to Kuznice today which was super good and shaved off 3km of walking! Woohoo!

This was a bit of a funny hike. Originally, we thought we’d go to a lake called Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy from Kuznice, but put in some more ascent to get to Kasprowy Wierch instead.

We took the blue path and then the yellow path (left hand side).

The first section of the ascent is in the forest. More rocky paths and more sore feet – yay! Before too long we were out of the trees for a our first views over Zakopane. (About 1300m – I was like woaaah we’re so high! It’s weird to regularly have been up at that level now).

Climbed up some more and back down to 1500m where there was a nice stone mountain house with restaurant and more importantly toilets. Did make Dan go in first because I couldn’t work out which door it was.

At this point we could either carry on as planned to the lake, or head up the mountain. I was skeptical, but the mountain won out.

Not to worry though! Saw a small lake with the remaining snow in the background instead.

Stopped for snacks with 55 minutes left according to the sign. In reality it was a fair bit longer.

From here onwards, the path got rockier and steeper and I wasn’t having much fun.

Looking behind at the path we’d walked was pretty crazy.

An English speaker offered to take our photo which was nice! I took one for a family earlier in the day, asking the question via hand signalling.

The top was pretty crowded because you can also access it by cable car. It still gave us some stunning views. It’s also right on the Slovakian border, though I don’t think I crossed into Slovakia this time. It was also nearly 1900m – a new high for me!

Having never been in a cable car down a mountain before, well, it was too nice to resist. Saved my ankles alot of pain on the steep bit of the descent, and means I can do more hikes in the remaining days.

Back in Kuznice, we finally tried Polish dumplings, which were really good but probably a bit much on a sunny day post-hike. Even still, we walked back to Zakopane, which is a nice gentle downhill.

I’m glad we did this walk, but now I’m really tired and have already had a little nap. I’m having the best time, it’s really awesome to have a large-ish hiking town so close to the mountains – and not having to hire a car was a huge win.

Intro to Poland

It’s my third new country of 2019! Pretty cool.

The day of travelling was long, left home at 3:15am and got to Zakopane at 7pm. This time, we’re relying on public transport which is kinda nice. Still learning to figure it out.

When we landed, we took the train from the airport to Krakow, where we had pizza because we were dragging around suitcases. We are coming back to Krakow for a day on the way back so will explore then. Took another train from Krakow to Zakopane – which was 3 and a half hours. There are buses too but we chose the train – it only cost £12 each or something stupid!

The little Hogwarts Express like cabins were cute! We got allocated seats next to some other British girls inter-railing. What’s the probability of that?

Really loving our hotel in Zakopane. It’s away from the main street so quite quiet.

For our first evening we walked into town in the drizzle. Zakopane is so much bigger than where we are used to travelling! I will take pictures when it is not drizzling. There are little stalls selling sweet treats, restaurants, bars, shops (so many sports shops!). Even in the rain it was bustling with people. For dinner we picked a cosy bar, where I had salmon with local mushroom sauce. Was definitely a bit rich but enjoyed it all the same.

Day 2 included a nice long lie in before trying some meats and cheese for breakfast. We weren’t sure what to do as the weather forecast included lots of rain. Settled on a nice roundabout hike to Kuznice.

It was a much more beautiful hike than I anticipated. You pay a small fee to access the Tatra national park. The paths are super well maintained, including the wooden bridges. There are plenty of information boards around with the park rules (one of the only things I’ve seen so far with an English translation). They really care about the wildlife – even well behaved dogs on leads aren’t allowed, and you have to stick to the paths.

The hike up was stunning, with water features, forests and mountains. It was really steep in places – but not too difficult. It didn’t rain for the first half of our hike – and was actually quite warm too, which I’m grateful for.

We reached about 1300m today, which isn’t bad going. And then the rain came (and one thunder clap – scary!) Learning from the drenching Sweden gave us, I put my waterproof trousers and coat on straight away. Was probably a good decision. Despite the rain, I still enjoyed the downwards section of the hike. The path straightened up (though it was cobbled so my feet are the tiniest bit sore now). It wasn’t long before we reached Kuznice, which seems like the start of most hikes in the area.

Having not had lunch, we had waffles! Tasty with chocolate Nutella sauce.

There were little cafés and a restaurant. Plus outdoor gear shops! And the cable car – which I think we’ll definitely take one day as it almost reaches 2000m.

If there is one thing I’ve noticed about Poland so far it is that pretty much everyone wears good trainers. All sorts of brands, all sorts of colours. Way more choice than anything I’ve seen in the UK. Might have to do a little shoe shopping whilst I’m out here.

We decided to walk the 50 minutes back to our hotel since we couldn’t figure out which bus to get. There are loads of little mini buses that take you to places! In future we are going to get the bus to Kuznice from Zakopane to skip the first part of the walk.

Not sure what we are going to do during the rest of the week, but I’m sure it will include lakes and mountains! Plenty of options – we are spoiled for choice.

Now for a nap before braving the busyness of the town again for dinner.