The Tatra Mountains, Poland
A long, long time ago, in the times when phones were used only to call and Internet was evenly exclusive as truffles or lobsters, I went with my friends for the trip to the Tatra Mountains in Poland. Not many photos survived those years on my hard drive, but stories are still vivid in my head and today I'll gladly share it with you.
In fact, I visited the Tatra Mountains several times in my life. It's the place where I have met my husband for the very first time, it's also the place, where I was trying to defeat my biggest fears (didn't work well, I'm still sweating when I think about the high altitudes) and where I was charging my batteries after some stressful events in my life.
In that picture you can see the typical architecture from described region
Tatras are the highest mountain in Poland. It's nothing like Alpes, Andes, or the Himalayas, it barely reaches 2200 meters over the sea, but the landscapes are tremendously amazing there. It's habituated by the people who call themselves "Górale". That's the ethnic group which developed their own culture - they have their own dances and songs, their languages slightly vary from traditional Polish, they live in different houses, are architecturally more similar to Swiss, and they eat different things. Górale is a bit more conservative than the rest of the society, more religious, and connected to the tradition. It's a common thing in societies where surviving is challenging and hard work is the everyday routine. Surely, the mountains, where the soil cultivation is difficult and the main source of proteins is the sheep meat, is one of those places.
Unfortunately it's not allowed to swim in any of those lakes.
It's quite cold there anyway as it's located quite high
The capital city of the region (well, the unofficial capital city) is Zakopane. Now, big city, but it was discovered by writers and artists in the XIXth century and before that time it was a small village. There is only one road that goes to Zakopane - it's almost always with huge traffic jams, so getting there takes hours.
The area near the five lakes is usually quite crowded.
To avoid the people, leave the shelter right before the sunrise
Now the city is a typical touristic trap with plenty of hotels, hostels, restaurants, and souvenirs. It's very crowded and polluted and honestly, I do not like it too much. The important thing is that it remains the gate to many wild walking routes that you can take if you want to explore the Tatra Mountains.
In Tatras you may find everything - caves with plenty of bats and enormous size of stalagmites, waterfalls, forests where bears and wolves are living (difficult to see them though. Maybe it's better that way), high peaks with the wild goats and eagles and hidden lakes, including the most popular - Morskie Oko.
You can arrive here by the wild route, crossing the mountains or use the horses and come by the road
Trekking routes are very well described and ordered by the length or difficulty level. Everyone will find something for themselves there: families with the kids can walk on one of the valleys while people who love adrenaline, can decide to take the most difficult National Park route in whole the country that goes thru a few of the peaks. To do that you have to know how to climb and have already some experience. Nearly every year someone dies there, mostly people who were never climbing before and who foolishly decided to take the route. It's called "Orla Perć"
I never dared to take the "Orla Perć" route (honestly, I'm sweating when I only think about it), but my biggest achievement was quite close to that - I have climbed to Krzyżne, which is a bit over 2000 meters over the sea level. We did it with the friends and actually, we needed two tries to get in there - for the first time, just a hundred meters from the peak, suddenly everything was covered by the fog. We decided to come back down to the shelter because we knew the last part is with climbing, so it's quite dangerous. The second time we managed to reach the peak and then I discovered that going down from the mountain is much more challenging than going up :)
One of the lower parts of the mountains - the good choice for people who does not like to walk a lot
Anyway, I do recommend you all to visit the Tatra Mountains someday. Make sure you are well prepared for the escapade and select the route that is adequate to your skills and you will surely enjoy your trip then.
All the photos were made by me with my old camera. The panoramic photo is actually the collage of three pictures connected all together.