Zakopane the real mountaineering experience

Zakopane is a mountain town located in the south of Poland at the base of the Tatra mountains.

It truly is a town that embodies the whole mountaineering spirit, everything from the hotels to the restaurants feel like they belong. Each aspect has its own sense of purpose in creating the great atmosphere.

All the buildings have a wonderful wooden architecture giving the whole town a very rugged feel which defiantly works in its favour, it gives off a great atmosphere when strolling up and down the streets.

At night the town truly comes to life, the streets are illuminated, the restaurants and bars are packed and this overwhelming lively atmosphere appears out of seemingly nowhere.

Every direction you look has restaurants with roaring fires, bars full of cheery people and street performers making for an incredibly enjoyable experience.fullsizerender-4

During the day it calms down as most people are up in the mountains however there is still plenty to do in town. You will find all the high street shops, and most bars and restaurants are open.

However, when in Zakopane the best thing to do with your day is go up the mountains, you really have two options either hike it or get a cable car up.

Both are great in their own respect although I think it simply comes down to how much time you have. If you have the whole day I would personally walk up it, but if you only have a few hours then take the cable car.

If you get the cable car I defiantly recommend booking the ticket in advance and arriving early as it can get seriously busy. If you do not book in advance the chance is you will be stuck in a queue, most people who go mid day wait around three hours in the queue.

Zakopane really is a unique place to visit and it truly does capture the Polish mountaineering spirit, offering great food, drink and experiences.img_8176


Has Auschwitz become to commercialised?

On my recent trip to Poland I paid a visit to Auschwitz and went on the full tour of the grounds. Whilst on this tour I could not shake this strange feeling while me and the other 20 people in my group simply stared at everything.

For the majority of the tour it could easily be forgotten that you were in a concentration camp. It felt like your average museum, just multiple large group of tourists with their headphones on and drink in hand taking photos without a care in the world.

It was extremely bizarre to me, the photo taking I could understand I was one of these people photographing everything, it is just a way to remember a moment. The people I could not understand were the ones who instead just took photos of themselves allowing Auschwitz to fall into the background. It amazed me how many selfies come up when you search the Auschwitz hashtag on social media, it truly baffled me.

I think it was a combination of factors that made me leave Auschwitz with a bad taste in my mouth, I left feeling like I paid for a superficial experience rather then leaving with a greater knowledge and understanding of the events that took place. I do not know if it was because of the shops selling food and books, the excessive picture taking or just seeing all the tour groups that threw me off, but something defiantly did.

That being said while I do feel it was commercialised and a bit odd it was still something I would recommend anyone to see once. Frankly I did to an extent learn more about what happened there.

And I also do understand the purpose of it is so we do not forget what happened there. That is the great part of it, not letting the history die or be swept under the rug, it stands as a constant reminder for us. I love that part of it, I think I just expected the whole experience to feel a lot heavier than it did and that is what felt so odd to me.

Poznan a journey into the Renaissance

Over the summer I had the pleasure of visiting Poznan a city in Poland renowned for its university, Renaissance style architecture, beautiful old market square and its high end shopping.

When walking around my initial reaction was a mixture of shock and pleasant surprise due to the amount of street art I saw just strolling around. It was great exploring the side streets and keeping an eye out for all kinds of contemporary art plastered onto walls.img_7675

The old market square was where I spent the bulk of my time in Poznan and with good reason. From the moment I entered it felt like I was on a psychedelic trip, everywhere I turned beautiful bright buildings were glaring in front of me.

The architecture in the square is breath taking, it was like stepping into the renaissance, I felt like I was on the set of a play and everything around me seemed hollow and two dimensional. It did not seem real when looking at it, and that is what gave it such unique feel. The only thing putting a damper on it was the stalls selling tack however I can overlook them as the general aesthetic for the square was regardless incredible.img_7630

In the square you will find the Church of St. Stanislaus which is definitely a must visit if you are there as it is absolutely magnificent. While walking into the church a nearby apartment was blasting music out which could be heard a few streets away. It gave the whole experience at the church a rather absurd feel, nether the less it was enjoyable having the music in the background. It felt quite taboo hearing viciously loud dance music while strolling around a church, it added to the whole experience a sense of uniqueness that cannot be planned.

When walking around the old square I definitely recommend exploring, if you find a quaint side street take a gander the chance is you will find something worthwhile. That being said if the street you are on looks dingy I would recommend finding somewhere else. Quite a few of the streets were overrun by takeaways which dampened the whole atmosphere. However with that being said moments after the street with all the takeaways I found a quirky looking street that lead to one of the most unique looking cafes I have ever seen.

After exploring the square I went to the shopping centre in the more modern part of the city which is a paradise for any avid shopper. The shopping centre has everything from mid range brands to high end brands, sport clothing to high fashion clothing, everything you want it has it covered.

A day trip to York

Recently I had the pleasure of having a day out in York, and I must say it is a city that has so much to offer I could not help but write about my experience.

From the moment we stepped foot off the train we were caught in the in a frantic rush of slightly intoxicated individuals making their way to the races.

However after walking for a few minutes and making our way towards the centre the masses seemed to thin out and we could truly start to appreciate everything York had to offer.

Within five minutes of leaving the station the architecture of the city truly began to shine and I was honestly stuck in a state of awe, the long winding roads , Gothic houses and incredible cafes and pubs scattered in between really were a sight to behold.IMG_6488

Upon getting to the city centre I was instantly taking aback by the pungent smell emanating from the food market that was being held that weekend. The smell of kebabs, hog roasts and burgers filled the air drawing me in like a Siren drawing in a ship.

I could not recommend visiting this market enough, I was lucky enough to be there the weekend the Taster Festival was taking place and I must say with the amount of free samples there was no need to get lunch.

Everywhere you look there is something different to try whether it is chorizo, brownie, ravioli, coffee, hot sauce or dipping oils the variety is immense. It is something that really needs to be experienced because writing about it does not do it the justice it deserves.Shop2

Following the market we headed into the main strip of the city, there is a good selection of shops although I would really recommend York as a day out rather then a place for a shopping trip.

While making our way through the streets we stumbled upon Whitewall Galleries which was holding and exhibition for the artist Tim Steward. The art in the window caught our eyes, but in reality the free champagne was the overwhelming factor that drew us in.

Everywhere you looked your eyes were being drawn to these paintings. The aggressive lines and monochromatic colour scheme the artist used really worked perfectly to captured the the essence of the buildings and people he was painting.

I cannot praise the gallery enough, I came for the drink and I stayed for the art. The exhibition was great the art was unique, it was a short and to the point exhibition and the staff were all extremely friendly and passionate which made for a great experience.IMG_6389.JPG

After the gallery we explored the side streets which visually are stunning they look so traditional. They make a welcomed change from the typical high street, you feel like you have been transported to Diagon Alley.IMG_6489.JPG

Upon exiting the alley we found ourselves at York Minster and I cannot stress enough that if you are in York you have to go even if it is for a quick look at the outside. It really is the epitome of English Gothic architecture that captures you the moment you lay eyes on it.IMG_6387.JPG

After we strolled down a few more streets and took another look at the market we headed to the Jorvik centre, unfortunately it is undergoing renovations however when it reopens I cannot wait to have a look around as it is a fond childhood memory.

This gave a brief summary of the day, but do not let this short post fool you York has so much to offer. A second trip is already being planned and I cannot wait to see what we stumble upon next time.