When we last travelled to Poland, I realised that we could take a (somewhat) small detour and visit the lovely town of Gorlitz. The reason being that the Europa Marathon was in Gorlitz, and of course I grabbed the opportunity of running it.
This is a somewhat unique race in that it crosses the border into Zgorzelec in Poland – just over the river, and then back to Germany – my first (quite literally) cross-country race.
Supporters – one of them gave me a mid-race beer
It was a tiny marathon; only 110 people ran it, so it was small and intimate; it was great running past the supporters because they would sit around relaxing and then burst into cheering and applause as I ran past.
It was also a beautiful route to race – a large part of the race was country roads and bicycle paths through woods and farms.
At the finish
I loved running this tiny marathon, and I’m somewhat amazed that it is not bigger. It was super-well organised and a lovely route. There are also a few other events (half marathon, inline skate races, unicycle marathons etc). If you have the opportunity go and run a marathon in Gorlitz.
A well-deserved brakwurst and beer at the finish
When we are exploring the hills around Zakopane in Poland we found this lovely meadow overlooking the Tatra mountains. Many years ago I was in Salzburg in Austria (Where the Sound of Music was filmed), and this hill looks exactly like the one used in the Sound of Music. I was almost expecting Maria von Trapp to be walking towards me singing “the hills are alive…”
I took this picture at Zakopane in Poland, at the top of the funicular. But it so reminds me of Salzburg in Austria. It looks exactly like a set from the Sound of Music. I almost expect to see Maria von Trapp running up the hill singing…”the hills are alive, with the sound of music.
Zakopane has the most amazing handcrafted wooden good for sale, and the prices are amazing. From kitchenware (breadboards, spoons, salad servers etc) to the most intricately carved wooden toys you can imagine. The toys look like the old wooden toys you would expect your grandfather to have played with.
We bought ourself a chopping board (my sister got one as well for her birthday), and lots of spoons; yeah I know, spoons, but they are great spoons.
Much as I was temped to, we didn’t buy any of the wooden toys. Partly because we don’t have any children (ok I admit that was hardly an issue), but because they were far too big to bring all the way back to Cape Town. The toys that is – I wasn’t going to bring back any children.
The big toys for does bring up another aspect of Zakopane. There are many tourists and holiday-makers that visit the town, but they are mostly Polish visitors. There are very few tourists from other countries. A refreshing change (and yeah I am completely aware that by visiting Zakopane I am changing that).
This is the high street in Zakopane – Krupówki Street – this is where all the restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and most important…cheese shops are in Zakopane. These covered wagons are where you buy the famous (and delicious) smoked cheese from Zakopane. And you if you walk in any direction for just 20m, you will find another cheese stall. I have no idea how much cheese I ate while we where there, but it is amazing, and nothing quite like any other cheese you will ever eat.
We also brought some of the cheese home with us, but when we opened our bags everything smelt like smoked cheese – a lovely smell on cheese…but not that great on your clothes!