I Left My Heart in Tatra

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Photo of I Left My Heart in Tatra by Tad Madsen
Photo of I Left My Heart in Tatra by Tad Madsen
Photo of I Left My Heart in Tatra by Tad Madsen

I Left My Heart in Tatra

All together, I think I’ve spent about four years in total in Europe. I’ve been to Berlin, Paris, Rome, all the tourist traps you can name and from there I’ve been to the unknown gems like Darmstadt, Saint-Etienne, and Potenza. Europe has always been more to me than just the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, I’ve always taken to getting off the tourist path and finding where there hides the real jewels, and Tatra is one of my favorites.

Every year in spring there is a special magical day that I like to call The Greening”. One day, you’re outside where everything you see is dead and barren from winter and then the very next day, you’ll walk outside and suddenly everything is green. A vibrant rich emerald green has covered everything as the plants and tree’s all seem to decide at the same moment to bloom and announce spring has come. I love this, it’s one of my favorite moments and why I always choose early Spring or late Winter when I decide I need to get out of the house for a vacation. And this year I decided to hit Poland for my yearly dose of “The Greening” though I took two trips to Zakopane Poland because Tatra National Park is closed to hikers for most of the winter and spring.

In my first trip I stayed at the Tatra Chalet (I can recommend them enough; beautiful rooms and great service) because it was more secluded from the bustle of Zakopane and it gave me the option of selecting a room with a sliding glass door right by the bed

The Chalet sits right on the edge of the Tatra National Park with clear views into a preserve that is well maintained; this means that on the day of “The Greening” (which changes every year and with everyplace you stay) I got to see it the moment that I woke up. My god, it was beautiful, I wished I could have used one of the hiking services then because to hike through Tatra National Park at that time would have been just astounding.

My second trip I stayed at the Tatra Chalet again because why not. The prices are good and they go out of their way for you. But this time I went ahead and booked a trip with on the professional hiking tours that Zakopane offers. I may want to avoid tourist things but Tatra National Forest is so large and has so many trails I wanted to make sure that I used one of the tour guides. It would be incredibly easy to get lost in Tatra National Forest; there are hundreds of marked trails which all mean different things and go to different places that using one of the professional tours seems less like a tourist thing and more like a safety issue.

I ended up doing one of the all day tours, for just myself, which started out with going to Kasprowy Wierch by a cable car.

Zakopane (Poland) is a beautiful city and the cable car ride gives you a great view of the Tatra National Park from the air. From Kasprowy and started a hike through the passes of the High Tatras; this is not for the faint of heart. I booked the all day tour so it took us about six and half hours to get back to Zokpane and I think I should have listened to Beata, one of the licensed guides. She recommended another path that was supposed to be easier, but I was pretty gung ho and over estimated my abilities.

She was great too. The all day tour is only supposed to last 6 hours and we went over the time because I slowed us down with all my extra breaks. But, even though I kind of got above my abilities for this hike, I loved every moment of it. From the high peaks which let you see for miles to the depths of the valleys which make you feel like you’re surrounded by a medieval forest; Tatra National Park of Zakopane Poland is amazing and mind-blowing to me. I’ve seen a lot of preserved forest preserves all across Europe but Tatra National Park is one which deserves multiple visits.

Beata mentioned to me that you can get hike the Tatra National Park earlier in the year, if you hire a guide, and I wished I’d know that. Next year, I’m definitely going in the spring months and getting a private guide. If you haven’t been, take it from me, you will not be disappointed with Tatra National Park.

Tatra National Park is closed to hikers for most of the winter and spring.
Photo of Tatra National Park, 42a ul. Cha³ubiñskiego, Zakopane, Польша by Tad Madsen
In my first trip I stayed at the Tatra Chalet (I can recommend them enough; beautiful rooms and great service) because it was more secluded from the bustle of Zakopane and it gave me the option of selecting a room with a sliding glass door right by the bed.
Photo of Tatra Chalet Zakopane, Bogdańskiego 5, 34-500 Zakopane, Польша by Tad Madsen
To get to the Kasprowy Wierch cable car station you have to get to Kuznice - the upper part of Zakopane.
Photo of Kasprowy Wierch, Kasprowy Wierch, 92-010 Łódź, Польша by Tad Madsen
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