A Little Polish Never Goes Astray

My new years resolution is to learn a little of the Polish language. Why? Because the culture, food and language of Poland, has pretty much intrigued me as soon as I stepped off the plane in Krakow. But this post is not about Krakow, but rather, it is about somewhere a little further south – in the Tatra Mountains and a delightful walk I took through a town called Zakopane.

Rural Poland and the Tatra Mountain Ranges

It has been well over a year since I walked through Zakopane, in Poland. Yet the memory of that day still haunts me in the very best way. [And I am still learning Polish.]

Krupowki Street, Zakopane

Zakopane is a town in Southern Poland, about a two hour drive from Krakow, lying close to the Slovakian border, in the Tatra Mountain range. Communication between Zakopane and other towns was difficult for many years due to the mountainous terrain, and so the locals developed their own dialects, songs, architecture and traditions.

If you are a fan of gabled timber architecture, you’ll have come to the right place. Come and walk with me down the main street of Zakopane.

If you are too tired to walk, there is always a horse and wagon option that will take you to the Funicular station.

These beautiful horses wait for the chance to take you for a carriage ride

Cafes in Zakopane feature seating carved with traditional designs from Lower Silesia.

I found plenty of things to tempt me to open my purse in Zakopane and prices a pleasant surprise.

If you didn’t want trinkets, you can always try some of the delicious local foods from the many street vendors along the way. A specialty in this region is Sheep’s cheese.

If you have ever tasted Haloumi cheese, the Sheep’s cheese has a similar texture, but also a delicate smoky flavour. So very delicious. I could eat it every day if I could. Yum!

Norm’s Thursday Doors fans would appreciate the work in this door along Zakopane’s main street.

Walk through the door to gawk at the ornately decorated church, clearly loved by the community.

The interior of the church

Poised above the town of Zakopane is the summit of Gubałówka. This is my next stop.


That Yellow are in the photo below is the summit and we are going to get there in a mountain cable car. You can find the entrance to the funicular at the end of the main street.

Especially lovely in Summer, the summit lookout is frequented by skiers in winter as Zakopane is a hugely popular ski resort. Here I am enjoying the breathtaking view over the Zakopane Valley.



Time to explore more at the top of the mountain.

Can anyone read Polish? Is it 5 zloty to feed or pat the sheep?
Some traditional huts for smoking sheep’s cheese perhaps?
These bundles are so cute, they look like Cousin It from the Addams family.


The return cable car journey gave me a different perspective on the Zakopane valley.

Ready, Set, Here we go.

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Linking to Jo’s Wonderful Monday Walks

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Eat Like the Japanese

It seems like the only people I have seen in Japan carrying extra kilos, (Sumo wrestlers notwithstanding), has been more often than not, Australian tourists – like me! I was thinking that there was something in this. Perhaps it should be a wake up call for Aussie lifestyle and diets.

At breakfast the morning after our arrival, the reason why Japanese appear so lean was becoming obvious. But first we had to make it to the breakfast restaurant.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm, or Does It?

Factoring in that there was two complexes that make up the Washington Shinjuku Hotel, I became a tad concerned about how busy the restaurant might be, particularly at breakfast time.

Arriving promptly at the buffet restaurant at the allotted time, would be the best way to stay ahead of the crowds all wanting breakfast at the hotel in Shinjuku, or so I thought. But this is Japan.

Booking.com photo credit

So when the lift doors opened to the 25th floor, it seemed that my concerns were totally unfounded. Only a few people were waiting at the restaurant’s entrance. They had even provided a couple of chairs for us. How thoughtful, I mused.

Then it dawned on me. Chairs? How long could the actual wait time be?

It was as if they were reading my mind, because an attendant quietly placed a cardboard clock on the counter, indicating a wait time of 30 mins to be seated for breakfast. Oh!

But it must be wrong I thought, as there was only one couple ahead of me, wasn’t there?

Several minutes later, we were ushered into a specially assigned waiting room…. full of guests waiting for breakfast. Water, mints and reading material was provided. This was a little concerning! When was breakfast?

All was good though, because a mere 20 minutes later, we were invited to enter the restaurant. I was still impressed by the Japanese organizing capabilities. A waiting room – great idea!

JAPANESE ORGANIZATION


We were given breakfast cards to keep and use at our table. An ingenious concept that I had not seen before. Just flip your card depending on your status, ‘Having a meal’ when you take one or those,’ more please,’ trips to the buffet and ‘End of Meal’ when you leave.

No confusion or wasting table space with empty tables waiting to be cleared of dirty dishes, in the restaurant. Such a clever idea. So Japanese and so organized.

Breaking the fast

Endless varieties of lettuce featured at the buffet

As well as a slight obsession with fresh lettuce, (so far the single most recurring food theme of this holiday), an array of pro-biotic fermented foods such pickled kelp, mustard greens, dried plum and leeks featured significantly at the breakfast buffet.

I was starting to see more reasons why Japanese have a healthy diet.

You had to be super quick if you wanted to try these Deep Fried Fish Balls and the cooks could not keep up with the demand for Gyoza. Two foods that are probably not that good for the waistline.

I wasn’t sure what the above delicacies were. Apart from the greens, it looked like leeks, some kind of breakfast cereal on the left and beans and pasta in the middle. Any ideas?

I focused on the pomegranate juice; (at least I think that is what it was), but I could not altogether resist the American style donuts and had to satisfy my curiosity with a Japanese Sweet Potato Cake, ( bottom left in the photo below). Yes I was satisfied – but the cake was a little too sweet to eat for breakfast, but still quite delicious!

The view from the buffet window might have taken my breath away, but it did nothing to assuage my appetite. Plenty of walking was scheduled for today, so that would work off the donuts, wouldn’t it?

More about our day, walking over 15 kilometres around Shibuya next time.

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Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Turning Point

Which way?

Have you ever experienced a ‘Sliding Door’ moment? Those moments when you made a choice in life, that led to significant changes for you?

They are those moments in life, when you realize it was a Turning Point,  which meant that your journey would have looked quite different if you had chosen something else?

Great ocean Road
Contemplating the Choices

We make decisions; we take a variety of paths, at times choosing to be adventurous, spontaneous or at other times, quite conservative.

Later, we reflect on those decisions.

Some of us discover the path we’ve chosen to be too arduous, the scenery too different, that we decided to turn back or even turn away.

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Crossroads

On other occasions, taking that wrong ‘turn’ might have led us to incredible discoveries and serendipitous good fortune. Life is often surprising.

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To go or to stay?

The prompt for this week’s Friendly Friday Photography Challenge is:

  “Turning Point.”  

Friendly Friday

Create a post sharing your interpretation of the weekly prompt.

It might be a photo of a sign, a threshold, a place to contemplate, or a crossroad; something that represents a Turning Point for you.

Write as much or as little as you like to accompany the photo/s.

Instructions:

  • Leave your response in the comments section, with a link to
    your Turning Point post, so we can find you.
  • Add a tag, or link back to the Friendly Friday prompt
  • Include the Friendly Friday logo if you wish
  • Please note there are no deadlines for participating
  • Do browse the other participants’ posts to see how they’ve interpreted the weekly prompt. It can be quite interesting.

More Instructions on joining in with Friendly Friday

Friendly Friday Photography challenge is alternately hosted each Friday by
Something to Ponder About  

and

The Snow Melts Somewhere

Friendly Friday Photo challenge

I am looking forward to seeing your Turning Points.

Happy Friday!

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Living History at Røros

Røros World Heritage Site – The Church

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Røros Church in Norway – its reputation preceded it and my only chance to visit was offered to me when I was in Trondheim, Norway. Of course, I leapt at the chance. Walking through a living World Heritage Site, is not something one gets to do every day. Built during Norway’s golden age of copper mining, the church in Røros dates back to 1780 and is nestled amongst classical Norwegian village architecture.

Walking around the town’s old Wooden houses

Initially the church was closed and locked when I arrived, but my intrepid Norwegian friend was not to be deterred and energetically sought out a nearby caretaker who lived in one of the neighbouring wooden homes, who was then kind enough to open the church and give the “Australian,’ a short tour.

This was greatly appreciated.

The guide told us the church has been extensively renovated and restored in recent years, as it frequently plays host to popular concert series and services, often attended by the Norwegian Royals.  Isn’t it stunning?

Roros Norway
Some photos from my walk around the old mine site

Røros is a town high up in Eastern Norway, not far from the Swedish border. Dotted with historic wooden houses and the large copper mine turned museum, the copper mine flourished from 1644 right up until 1977.

bucket mine Norway

The mine is now a museum and the town’s Instagram-worthy architecture has been reincarnated as home to a range of craft artisans, gourmet food purveyors selling their local products, such as cheese and flatbread, in Instagram- worthy shops, as well as boutique objects popular with tourists. The walk along the main street is a delight.

The working life of the town’s citizens in the past was never easy, being as it was, a mining frontier town set high in the mountains on the border of Sweden. Conditions in the mines were neither comfortable nor healthy, it seems and the citizens a resilient lot, coping with difficult work and the threat of marauding Swedes over the border. You can re-live a little more of their history and life in the extensive displays at the museum, located at the mine’s site.

[Note: Signs were in English.]

roros mine
Walking inside the copper mine

Contrastingly, modern day Røros is peaceful quiet and colourful. The old wooden houses are beautifully maintained and the town continues to be a World Heritage Site in which people actually work and live out their daily lives.

Every February, the town hosts an annual Winter festival. I imagine there would be quite a different colour on the ground this time of year than when I completed my walk in early Summer.

Roros

Røros is also a place that tries to re-invented itself from its mining past by being sustainable and enjoyable for visitors. They try to preserve local nature, culture and environment, and tourists love it. I wrote more on a prior post about the history of Røros and its Mining Museum.

Something other regional towns might ponder about.

Linking to Jo’s Monday Walks

Friendly Friday – Contrasts

Friendly Friday

Earlier this week, I wrote about the Contrasts that I found on a recent trip to Japan.
This week on Friendly Friday Photography Challenge, I am asking you to create a post on “contrasts.

A Contrast of colour

Contrasts might not simply be a contrasting subject as in the photo of Nidaros Cathedral above. You could choose to edit and post the same photo, with the second being an edited version with more or less contrast? I added more contrast to the photo on the right below, and I think it creates a slightly different feel. Moodier, darker I think.

Contrasts of Size or Attribute

You might also consider contrast of size or some other characteristic. It would be hard to find a larger contrast in terms of size differential, than the small Trolls, of Trollstigen, (rock piles), against the backdrop of the larger (mountain), trolls, and the Green Valley, far below.

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The bare rocks against the valley below; the small Trolls against the large cairns.

Sometimes it is old versus new that provides the strongest contrasting photos.

Melbourne city Skyline

Whatever the contrast, it is really up to you.

Join in and share your photos here on Friendly Friday. Instructions below.

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge is alternately hosted at The Snow Melts Somewhere and Something to Ponder About, each Friday.

Friendly Friday Photo challenge

Instructions on Joining Friendly Friday Photography Challenge

Just like the former WordPress Photo Challenge, we’ll post a prompt each Friday and invite you to create a ‘Friendly Friday,‘ post using one or more photos that relate to the weekly prompt. Everyone is welcome to participate. Beginning or Advanced.

Write as little, or as much, as you like to accompany the photo/s. That part is up to you!

Add a ‘Friendly Friday‘ tag and create a link (or ping) back, so that others can visit you.

Once you hit publish, come back to this post again and leave a comment making sure you include a link to your Friendly Friday post.  Find further instructions here.

Here’s how to create a pingback if you are not sure of how to do it.

There will be another Friendly Friday topic posted over at TheSnowMeltsSomewhere, next Friday. I will be hosting again, in 2 weeks time, here at Something to Ponder About.

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Looking forward to seeing what you come up with –

Amanda