Sick in Zakopane

One of the most unexpected experiences I had, yet still lovely, was spending a few days in the gorgeous setting of the isolated, snow capped mountains of Kościelisko, in what was essentially a large log cabin.

I hadn’t planned to spend much time in Kościelisko, and I hadn’t known I’d be staying in a log cabin. Kościelisko, you see, is a little village near Zakopane, and what I’d intended to do was hike up to Morskie Oko, and go sledding and apres-skiing in Zakopane. Unfortunately, we’d fallen ill in Krakow, and so decided to just chill in Kościelisko instead.

If you’re going to be sick anywhere, though, you might as well be sick in Kościelisko.

We were staying at this place called MTB Hostel, which was literally, to our surprise, just a large log cabin where they’d put a few extra beds in some of the rooms. We were the only ones staying there at the time, and the owners, Mihail and Anna, had Mihail’s parents staying over to help look after their 2 year old son while Anna was pregnant. Their son could usually be found playing happily in the ‘common room’ (read: lounge room), along with their incredibly friendly dog and cat.

It felt exactly like we were staying over at someone’s house, especially when Anna was incredibly sweet and, hearing us coughing our lungs out, offered us medicines and tea.

I’d always felt jealous, when I was younger, reading books where the characters would get sent off to the countryside or mountains for their health whenever they got sick. All I ever got was put to bed in my own boring room. Recovering in Kościelisko was far more pleasant.

The temperatures outside went from -11 degrees Celcius to -17, but inside there were heaters in every room, and a real log fire in the lounge room, which I’d sit in front of, toasting my toes. There were fairy lights casting their warm glow over the log walls, and huge soft couches to lie on with my legs up, often with the dog sitting in my lap for extra warmth. Outside, a dense blanket of snow covered everything, and it looked like the scenes of Christmas I’d encounter in the English/American children’s books I used to read as a kindergartener.

We wandered a very little bit around the village. There was a tiny grocery store across the street, where we’d buy mandarins and Milka chocolate, and a few restaurants down the road. For most of the time we were there our appetites were non-existant, but one afternoon we both felt a sudden, unexpected hunger, and took advantage of it by ordering a 2-person taster plate at one of the restaurants. It was ginormous, with four slabs of different meats, dips, cheese, a selection of dumplings and salads, stewed cabbage with sausages, and a veritable mountain of potatoes. We got through about a quarter of it before giving up.

We had to truss ourselves up like little snowmen to go outside, wearing thermals and multiple jackets as well as scarves, gloves and beanies, so that we’d end up looking about double the size we actually were. It was worth it though; Dylan would frolic through the snow joyfully, and it was very amusing to watch.

It was lovely; travelling – as opposed to just vacationing – can be quite hard and stressful, and I’m always trying to make sure I learn and see and do as much as I can, because I want to truly experience a place and get to see how the people there live. Being sick was obviously not fantastic, but it was nice to take it easy and actually laze the day away, especially amidst such stunning scenery, with the coziness of a fire and warm blankets – and some very amiable pets.

A few days in Kościelisko left us feeling much better, and by the time we got to our next destination – Budapest – we were back to some semblance of health.

I seriously wish I could retreat to the mountains every time I got sick – it easily beat lying in my bed at home all day.

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