Zakopane – Wonderful Tourist Trap [Kult America]


On today’s episode of Kult America we explore Zakopane, Poland. My expectations for Zakopane were very similar to my expectations for the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty. I thought that these monuments would be so much bigger and grander than they actually were when I saw them with my own eyes So coming to the city was a little bit of a strange experience because you think about it being quaint, quiet, with very specific mountaineer architecture, and regional food, and regional dialect in Polish, but the reality what I found when I reached Zakopane was like, yes, these things existed, there was a lot of regional flavor and kind of local uniqueness, and a local charm, but it was completely overrun with tourists. Zakopane is a town that has an indigenous population of about 28000 people. Yet it’s visited by over 2,5 million tourists every year. It’s a very huge number for a town that doesn’t have a very urban style transit system so you notice that there’s not a whole lot of space in Zakopane. Sure you could visit it in the off-season, you’d have to deal with off-season kind of weather, but if you go when it’s prime time when everyone wants to go, the reality of situation is that you find yourself sitting in very tight restaurants, walking down very tight streets that are overcrowded with people who also had this vision in imagination of visiting a place that would be as romantic and quaint and moving as any other great global landmark. What did I love about visiting Zakopane? Well, the first thing is the ski jump. I didn’t actually see any skiers jumping off of this but when you climb to the top of that hill and, actually, get a prospect of what those people deal with, what those athletes deal with when they do jump, you can’t help but really respect how brave they are for attempting it because for a billion dollars I wouldn’t go down that hill, and it’s pretty cool to see a place that not only has this happening in reality but boasts it as one of their local prides when from my point of view it’s a completely insane sport, you know you can get killed ski jumping. The other thing I really really liked was the oscypek cheese. This is very very local and specific cheese made from goat milk and smoked. And the first time you try it, you notice that it’s got kind of a waxy texture when you chew it, it makes a very specific kind of squeaky sound almost in your teeth. One of the things that I found novel about Zakopane was how much activity tourist could indeed do. Though you have to struggle with the place being overcrowded by other tourists so doing those activities is a little bit off-putting, but if you wanted to visit an aqua-park or go skiing or watch some local performance, these things are all available to you, and it’s not only in the wintertime, there’s plenty to do in the summer. So my conclusion about Zakopane, it is indeed an overcrowded tourist trap like Disneyland. But I’ve never heard about a child that was disappointed in there childhood trip to Disneyland, and Zakopane has a lot of the same magical appeal. Yes, you struggle to find a place to sit down in a cafe, you have to wait in lines, but at the end of the day, the artful soul of the city wins. And I would definitely recommend that anyone head to Zakopane, check it out, spend a nice evening there, or a weekend, or a week or whatever. That was Kult America. Please like, comment, subscribe, send me your show suggestions on Twitter and Facebook. I will see you next time.

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