Poland/Slovakia and the Tatras Mountains - TravelPUNK Backpacker College Student Budget Travel Message Boards!

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Old 05-06-2006, 07:47 AM   #1
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I'm going to Poland and Slovakia in early/mid June of this year. I was hoping to get some info on the area. I'm most interested in what the best city to go to is? We are looking to do some outdoor adventure/adrenaline sports and I'm wondering what city is best suited/equipped for this (kayaking, rock climbing, white water rafting, repelling/caving, paragliding, mountain biking etc.). Also would like to find a town that has a little bit of a nightlife. Does anyone have any recommendations?

We'll be traveling from Krakow and I'm assuming that train is the easiest way to travel?
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Old 05-06-2006, 10:16 AM   #2
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Traveling be train in Poland is fairly cheap and reliable. I would however advise you to opt for the 1st class train tickets as the cars are bigger and cleaner. I absolutely loved being in Krakow (even though I was born in Warszawa) and I highly reccomend going there. There are some areas which are very touristy and thus more expensive, but the city is amazing and the athmosphere is second to none. There are some really cool clubs and pubs in the old Jewish part of town and if I was you I'd make sure to go there at least once. There is also Wieliczka with the world famous salt mine and Zakopane as two main attractions close by in the area.

Hiking and camping in the Polish mountains is beautiful and adictive (of course make sure to have some good hiking boots as some trails are very rocky and steep). If you do your research you can even sleep a night at a youth hostel on the top of a mountain (in Polish look for "schronisko mlodziezowe"). Here is a link in Polish to get you started and here is another with a bunch of accomodations in the Zakopane area.

FYI - the main mountain ranges in Poland are: BESKIDY, BIESZCZADY, PIENINY, GÓRY SWIETOKRZYSKIE, SUDETY and TATRY. Also, seeing as Polish is a hard language here are a few key words when searching:

pension - pensjonat
mountain hostel - schronisko gorskie
guest room - kwatera prywatna, pokoj goscinny
summer house/cottage - dom letniskowy
pole namiotowe - campsite
Dworek, palac, willa - historical house, castle, mansion

Don't hesitate to ask any questions about Poland and I'll do my best to help you out.
"Growing old is manditory, growing up is optional"
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Old 05-08-2006, 06:45 AM   #3
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We weren't able to get any time in the Tatras on our previous trips around Poland, but Zakopane was the base city recommended for that area. Krakow is a great city, and if you only have one place you can visit in Poland, I guess it's the one I'd recommend, although if you have some time to travel around, there's plenty more to see and do, and quite different regions, too. I've done two ten day train circuits around Poland, so if you have over a week, it's quite possible to get a good taste of the country, although obviously more time is better. Places I really enjoyed, besides Krakow, were Gdansk, Szczecin and Swinoujscie, others where I spent less time were Gdynia, Wroclaw, Boleslawiec (known for its ceramics, but a pretty town in a lovely area - and the single best meal I've eaten in Poland), and, last on the list, Warszawa.

If you only have a week, I'd go to Gdansk and Krakow, so you at least get to sample the coast, and it's a cool old hanseatic league city, with tons of history. I also think it's fascinating to visit cities that were absolutely pummeled into oblivion in WWII, and to see the incredible reconstruction since. Krakow wasn't destroyed, so what you see is original, but I think the city museums in Gdansk and Warszawa give you insight into the pride and resilience of the Polish nation, refusing to give up their country, history and culture despite all their enemies threw at them. Gdansk of course was the home of the Solidarity movement, so if you're interested in more recent history, that's pretty cool, too. The first time I went was in 1991, when freedom was a relative newcomer to that part of the world. There was an old guy at the Lenin Shipyards with a beat up old flag that would pose for pictures for a couple of zlotys - nowadays it's much cleaner and already more commercial but still a beautiful place to spend a couple of days.
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