Day 15 – April 20, 2010 – Krakow, Zakopane

Girls from the Chawatselet Jewish gymnasium in Warsaw ride in a horse-drawn wagon during an outing in Zakopane. [Photograph #29029]

Marian Ament goes skiing at a resort in Zakopane, Poland. (Photo #22584)

Every day is a new adventure. Today our guide Eva (who has also become our best friend in all of Poland) took us to the highlands, Zakopane, Poland, where her mother’s family comes from, and where she still vacations very often. Located only two and a half hours from Krakow, in the beautiful Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is a quaint, beautiful part of this amazing country, Poland. The teachers on the trip had heard of the town from looking at images of pre-war Jewish life on the United States Holocaust Memorial website in the photo archives ( Zakopane has been a vacation town for Poles for decades.

On our way, we passed by a very famous train museum, where many historical steam engines are kept, including the one used by Steven Spielberg when filming Schindler’s List. As we wound our way up the foothills of the mountain, we stopped at a lovely Catholic church, the Spotted Salamander Church, built completely of wood, in the Zakopane style. This ornate style combines carpentry that uses no nails, but tongue and groove joints, and hand-carved decorations and figures. Inside the church are stations of the cross, hand-painted on glass, an art form perfected in Zakopane.

Once in the town, we stopped for lunch at a typical restaurant, serving highlander food. We enjoyed soups with sauerkraut, mutton and potatoes, potato pancakes (they have a better Polish name), Russian dumplings (pierogi), and other delicious, traditional food. However, all the boys in the group chose to go to the Pizza Hut down the street. They said the pizza was excellent.

After lunch, we rode the funicular to the top of the mountain, where we were better able to view the Zakopane mountain range of the Tatra Mountains. Most spectacular is the “Sleeping Highlander,” a mountain that looks like the profile of a sleeping man. Local residents erected a cross on the man’s mouth, which looks tiny from far away, but is actually 15 meters tall and 5 meters wide, and had to be transported from Krakow to Zakopane by train. At the top of the mountain, we couldn’t resist taking a ride on the alpine slide. Every one of us rode it, even Mrs. Sussman, Mrs. Tambuscio and Mrs. Bauman! We walked on the top of the mountain, seeing typical mountain homes for this region, with high-pitched roofs, attached sheds for animals, and even some chickens in yards. Eva told us that usually there are many tourists here, but because it is April and the off season, we are lucky and enjoy the views alone.

After riding the funicular down the mountain, we had about an hour to wander the local highlander craft booths, where homemade sheep and cow’s milk cheeses, leather slippers, and hand-carved wooden objects were sold. It was truly a step back in time, and indescribably beautiful. We returned home to our hotel, while watching Eva’s favorite comedy, “Mickey Blue Eyes.” Tonight, we’re ordering in pizza and skyping with Mrs. Tambuscio’s class at New Milford.


  1. We really enjoyed the photo of Becca and Mrs. T on the slid ride… You looked like you had the ride of your life. The scenery looks so breath taking wish we were there with you.


  2. Mrs. T. The picture of you on the Alpine slide is definitely \”Book Worthy.\” Enjoyed Skyping with you guys. Hope to see you inperson soon. Mr. Pevny


  3. Shout out to Dunham, Libby and course, Mrs. Bauman. Ok so let's be real I only looked at this blog to get extra credit but it looks like you are all having fun and this is a sweet trip! I think I would really enjoy mass in the Spotted Salamander Church, we need some Zakopane style churches in the USA. Also, Schindler's List is a dank movie, and the fact that you guys saw the train is even danker. Well, laters, we miss you over here, especially Mrs. Bauman ;)Love, Steven


  4. Ms. Sussman we missed you in Gov class today! By the way, did anyone get a picture of you on the alpine slide? Because I would love to see it. 🙂 Hope you guys can come home soon!


  5. It looks like you guys are having a truly wonderful time. There are worse places you could be stuck. Enjoy every minute and come home soon with lots of stories.


  6. Mrs. T you looked like you were having so much fun on that slide lol. I miss you so much…come home !!-Margaret =)


  7. Ms. T you have to come back soon so we can figure out more things we have in common! haha…From that picture of you I already figured out that we both love going down slides! lol =)~Colleen A.K.A. your namesake


  8. hope u all had fun time and had a great view of the mountains of Tatra, the view of the most spectacular \”Sleeping Highlander\” from the Zakopane mountain range, the intresting foods and beautiful sites in Zakopane, Poland and interestings items from the local highlander craft booths!!


  9. I hope you all will be happy that you got to see the mountains that looked like \”sleeping highlander \” .and also the important part from the schindler's list. hope youm guy had a wonderful time there. visiting the places,and hearing stories on each thing that you visited . youn all helped me to see it in my mind-joan


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