It was a pretty hectic week as we had our annual conference event at my company and everyone descended onto Krakow from across Europe, Asia & the USA. We spent 3 days in a hotel next to the river watching presentations and listening to execs.
However, I was lucky enough to be invited on the management Ski weekend which was to be held in the Zakopane region of the Tatra Mountains. The best thing? Everything was organised and paid for, I just had to turn up and fall down a mountain.
So at around 3pm on the Friday, we climbed into a couple of Mercedes vans provided by Krakow Airport Express which my company uses for all transfers in Krakow. They provide an extremely professional service with modern, clean, luxury cars, and the prices aren't too bad either if you fancy treating yourself. The drive took a couple of hours and we soon arrived at the Belvedere Hotel, a recently renovated 4* hotel close to the centre, and at the foot of the Giewont Mountain massif.
Our plan was to have dinner on the Friday night, skiing on the Saturday, followed by some thermal baths and then more dinner, returning to Krakow on the Sunday morning. Everything went according to plan, more or less.
Our Friday night meal was at Bakowo Zohylina, a traditional mountain cabin with a huge fireplace in the middle and a loud, lively atmosphere. A live band played while we ate our bread with lard, grilled smoked sheep's cheese, and huge meat platter. All washed down with some local beer. We then went off into the city centre to continue partying, with a snowball fight on the way.
On the Saturday morning, we woke early, ate some breakfast at the hotel and nursed our slight hangovers with some strong coffee and headed outside to meet the skiing instructor who had been hired to organise our trip to Bialka Tatranska. I had never skied before, so was a bit nervous. But the slopes looked easy enough for beginners and we hired all the equipment there and the beginners among us started our lesson, whilst the more experienced people went off in search of more technical slopes.
I absolutely hated it at first, and could not understand why people enjoyed it at all. I had no idea how to control anything and kept sliding backwards into a net. Our first descent took around 2 hours, and by the time we reached the bottom I was in all kinds of agony. But we persevered and after a short break for lunch we headed back up for a second run. This time I was a lot more confident and it only took me 20 minutes, with a couple of stops to wait for the others to catch up. It was enjoyable and I had started to understand why people enjoyed it.
Two runs was enough though and we then waited for the rest of the group to return and headed into the thermal baths which are part of the same resort. It's basically a huge swimming pool complex and the pools are geo-thermally heated. This means you can swim outside, even when it's -20C. It was only around -5C when we were there, but we still made the most of the outside areas. You can also have a beer in the pool, so we also made the most of that. There is also a pretty nice looking hotel there, so you could probably have a great ski trip, relatively cheap (comparing to the Alps, or other European resorts). You can check out the hotel here
All in all, it was a great experience and I'm really glad that I managed to snag an invite. I'm now considering more ski trips with my wife and her family as they all ski regularly. If you have never tried it before, I highly recommend Bialka Tatranska to learn.