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July 31, 2002

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Guides advise that Zakopane is a 'must-see' Polish resort town in the Tatras Mountains, the highest range of the Carpathians. We haven't heard of Zakopane or Tatras, but we jump on a bus to take a look. Three hours later we see it's a well-developed area: tall wooden houses, A-frame roofs, clean streets, the Polish version of Nevada's Lake Tahoe. The other side of the border, in Slovakia, shows less development. We change our money from Polish zloty to Slovak Koruns and cross the border (an easy border crossing, no visas or hassles). On the Slovak side of the Tatras Mountains, the northernmost region of the country, an electric train connects small, one-intersection towns like Horny Smokovec. A few tourist hotels and restaurants sit along the main road and train tracks. This area is a popular ski resort in the winter and hiking spot in the summer. The Slovaks stay in a few concrete high-rises built discreetly in the backwoods, behind the tourist sections where nobody can see them.
Did you know Zakopane has its own architectural style? It's creatively called - the Zakopane style - and this house is a prime example of it, designed in 1892 by Witkiewicz, a pioneer of this architectural form.
Hungry for bread, we thought these were nicely shaped muffins. Nope, it's salty dried cheese.
Basic accommodations at the Junior hostel, a summer camp in the Tatras.