I had never been to Poland before, nor to a ski resort (unless you count Burnley) so I jumped at the opportunity of a cheap weekend away – just £15 a night B&B and the return flights were £70.
I didn’t know what to expect except alcohol, cold and snow. However my first taste of snow appeared as we turned onto the M11 towards Stansted – the rain and sleet earlier in the journey had turned to a covering of snow and the traffic slowed, and as the snow got thicker towards Stansted, just one mile out the traffic came to a standstill with just an hour until our flight was due to leave.
I began to consider how much Ryanair were likely to charge us to swap flights, and even what I could do with my extended weekend in England, however the traffic started moving, slowly, and we arrived into the short-stay car park (the road to our pre-booked parking being closed by the police) at £39.00 a night and rushed towards the airport with 25 minutes left before the flight left. How would I survive without my pre-flight beer?
The plane was delayed by over an hour due to the snow.
Upon arrival we soon discovered the delights of cheap Polish wodka at £5 a bottle for the journey from Krakow to Zakopane – and I rediscovered the audio torture of “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat”. Not all my friends like minimal techno.
Zakopane itself was a pretty cute looking ski resort with a stunning mountainous backdrop of which I took absolutely no photographs of.
For the Friday evening we took horse-driven sleighs through the nearby villages, swigging vodka and pointing fire. It was pretty fun though I couldn’t help questioning whether it was cruel on the horse. What was cruel was only giving us one sausage when we returned to base – though the sausage was truly excellent and the bite through it so satisfying. In terms of biting experiences, Polish sausages are on Suarez-levels.
Later we proceeded into the town and imbibed lots more cheap alcohol – when the beer is £1.20, sobriety is not on one’s mind. The entertainment in most bars seemed to consist of local instrument-players, occasionally with a keyboard player, playing local-sounding music. I did not hear one snippet of deep house. My particular favourite bar was the piano bar, with swings at the bar and cosy seating – along with two Irish ladies that had clearly wanted to speak to me just because of my mullet.
And the snow fell too – heavily, quite a snow-storm with a good 20cm of fresh snow on the ground in the morning.
Not that I saw the morning due to my hangover. Nor the afternoon. I had actually almost convinced myself to get a ski lesson at just £7 however I missed my opportunity to go with everyone by about 7 hours.
Saturday night passed without note and Sunday arrived with a nice fresh flu bug.
I eventually managed to get out of bed and tried to find somewhere that would serve me food but gave up after a traumatic adventure including some Polish bloke walking towards me thrusting his fists out (I remained unflinched and raised my eyebrows) and then someone trying to persuade me to go with him to help him get a boat for his girlfriend’s birthday. Why me?
That was pretty much that.
Initially though I liked the place I said I wouldn’t go back – I want to visit and experience new places – however I do feel that I have unfinished business. It was an opportunity lost to my body’s disapproval of alcohol consumption and subsequent illness. There could and should have been so much more fun.
I didn’t quite know what to make of the people over there. Quite staid and stolid – the customer service wasn’t exactly to English standards either though I did tend to find that you might get a smile if you attempted to speak in Polish, though I often wondered if they were laughing at my pitiful attempts.
Did I mention the sausages? The sausages were truly excellent – though anything else I ate wasn’t quite so interesting. The beer and vodka was excellent. And cheap, did I mention that?
The prices were the polar-opposite to Ibizan prices. I spent less than £100 spending money, and that included transfers – realistically if I had been going skiing and not been ill then I probably would have needed £150.
You could kind of tell that it used to be a communist country – there was a lack of culture, save for the same three guys in every bar playing their traditional music. I found the Polish quite boring but I feel that may be an overarching overhang of regimentarianism (yeah I made up the word but it works) from the communist days. Everyone seemed rather staid and predictable.
In some ways the country had flashes of modernity – new roads and new houses with electronic boards, but then there were plenty of dreary communist-era housing blocks too, not to mention our slightly-aged entertainment system.
Even more notably there was not one snowman in Poland.