The kids got out of school mid December and we decided to head on up to a little cabin in the Tatra mountains of Poland near Zakopane to spend the week before Christmas together. We didn’t have much on the agenda besides some winter fun and snow play if possible. We quickly discovered that the only real blanketing of snow was on the Slovakian side of the Tatra mountains – so the drive to Zakopane was gorgeous! It was absolutely beautiful weather the whole time we were there – we just had to improvise!
We found a sweet little cabin to stay in that was a cozy place to play games and watch movies in the evenings. When we arrived, it was evening, and the hostess had made us a delicious soup and potato pancakes with a to-die-for savory topping. We gobbled it all right up!
We went for walks and little hikes around the hills surrounding our cabin – photos don’t do it justice! The views of the mountains around us were breath taking! All sunrises and sunsets were picturesque.
We ventured down into the town of Zakopane to walk the sweet ski-town streets and get our fill of Polish food. Pierogies were on the menu every day! We also tried sugary sweets and had some great pizza. The town was surprisingly quiet for being so close to the holidays. We expected to see a bustling old town with Christmas markets, ice skating, and maybe some street music or booths…but there was nothing! We perused the regular shops and saw all kinds of Polish pottery, leather and wool goods, and hats and t shirts galore!
We drove around exploring in order to find a place to sled, as we could see single ski runs on random hills surrounding our cabin. It was clear that the runs were man-made snow, but we wanted to give it a shot none the less! We came upon this lovely church at a cemetery and it had the best view in the whole area!
After striking out twice on mini ski hills that were either closed or didn’t allow sledding, we found a great ski slope in a neighboring village that was established enough to let us take the ski lift up and sled down the back “bunny slope” of the mountain! It was fun to let the kids take turns zooming down the hill – they didn’t care that it was man made snow. We had a great afternoon, satisfying their hankering for snow sports!
We worked up an appetite with all the hiking, touring towns and sledding, so we made sure to indulge in one nice big Polish meal per day! Each one was delicious!
Another day we went to a beautiful thermal just a few minutes from our cabin in Bukovina. Again, as it seems we often do, we had the place nearly to ourselves! We got our fill of swimming, slides and hot tubbing!
On the last full day we were there, we set out to find some snow in the mountains nearby. We did it! But it was a long, long hike. The kids did awesome – they love exploring – but I was a little disappointed we didn’t end up at any decent lookout points. Still, we did find snow, and w. We returned to the cabin and enjoyed a Star Wars movie marathon in preparation for the Episode IX’s release day!
Finally we did a little bit of shopping. I snagged a couple of pieces of Polish pottery (it’s not my favorite but it’s nice to have authentic souvenirs!) and the girls love their fluffy animal hats! Willow is all decked out in owl attire now!
On the way home we stopped in Bratislava, Slovakia to see Star Wars Episode IX in 4DX – clearly a highlight for the kids (and me!) – and made it back home to enjoy a few days before Christmas at home in Pápa. We love this tradition we have created – spending a week at a little secluded cabin before Christmas – but we know it won’t be something we can do when we return to the states. So, for now, we are making the very most of it! Where to next year?