After a fairly uncomfortable 7.5 hours on train “beds,” with frequent and abrupt stopping, we arrived at Zakopane, and dropped into the station’s restaurant, for a coffee to start and to formulate our day-plan. Our original hotel, Willa Bor, was near to the station and to central Zakopane (Krupowki Street). Due to some extremely frustrating Expedia problems, where they failed to inform me on the phone that moving my hotel stay up from Friday to Thursday would cost seven-times as much, despite the website indicating the same rate for both days, we were forced to make a late change in plans, cancelling the 360USD hotel in exchange for one 5km outside of town, Aga Dom Wypoczynkowy.
This meant a few things: Firstly, we’d need to occupy ourselves until the 4pm check-in time. Second, we did not have the option of simply dropping our bags at the hotel before venturing out for the day. Finally, we needed to find a way to get to the hotel. We lugged our luggage to a tourist information building, where she informed us that we could leave our luggage at the station with the attendants for the day- the total cost was 14zl (~3.8USD), and there was absolutely no language comprehension between the attendant and us, but still, he, unbothered, told us many things in Polish.
From there we made our way through the Krupowki St. shops to the (wrong) Church for an 11 am walking-tour. We missed it, and instead followed the signs to Willa Atma, which I’m certain would’ve been much more interesting if we had any interest in the history of the composer, Karol Szymanowski.
Then, following the internet’s ultimate wisdom, we went for lunch at STRH café and gallery. It was simply amazing. The décor was modern-eclectic, the food was delicious, and they offer many options. My hot cherry wine was good, if odd, and the giant bottle of Polish Porter I had was exactly as expected. We had the Greek open-faced sandwich, carrot cream soup, and hot breads with dipping sauces. All were damn good, and following up with the house-made carrot cake was the perfect finish! After leaving a 10zl tip, we made it out having spent about 28USD for a full lunch and drinks, along with a comfortable place to stay warm and mooch Wi-Fi while looking out over Krupowki Street’s carriages and skiers on lunch break.
From lunch, we meandered Krupowki St a bit more, then retrieved our bags from the station, where my attempt to tip a bit was unaccepted… I couldn’t tell you why. He only spoke Polish. Then, in trying to find a taxi or bus to our hotel, we were met with more difficulty, despite my having a map of the destination on my phone. We settled with a taxi who accepted my 30zl suggestion to his 40zl quote. Then again, when trying to tip him, he was not interested. I left it anyway, as he had done a bit of navigating to help us get to our hotel.
Once we arrived, our innkeeper, a delight of a woman, showed us to our room and brought us fresh towels to hang on the heated rack (man do I love those). She and my mother got into a chat about their horses, and family/friends in Chicago (Zakopane is where my family is originally from, and Chicago seems to be a common destination for Zakopane’s American emigrants). Our room is so quaint and comfortable, with down bedding, and wood and stone walls. The window looks out to the woodsy area and a few seemingly empty houses behind the hotel. In the background, you can catch a glimpse of the peaks, covered in snow. We awoke to some snow flurries and a bit of accumulation overnight. For all the frustration and anxiety caused by Expedia and the hotel-change, the delight of Aga and its truly inviting environment, tucked away into a more rustic setting than central Zakopane, brought a silver lining to what I’d perceived as a dark cloud. When it came time to check out, our absolute diamond of an innkeeper spent a good bit of time offering us suggestions and directions to best use our morning! Further, the bus stop was a few meters out the front door, and the wait gave us a few minutes to capture the freshly snowy Tatra mountain peak! The bus, only 3zl/pp to our 30zl of the day before was a financial upswing as well, and honestly seemed faster than the taxi! (How, I do not know.)
Today, we have the morning and early afternoon left in Zakopane, then an afternoon train will take us to Krakow for a short 24hr stay.