Zakopane: Ski and Snowboarding Destination in Poland
Zakopane is a ski resort town with a beautiful river running beside its busy pedestrianised high street. Four ski areas are distributed round the mountains circling the town. Even in the ski areas, it is often required to pay for every ride on each lift individually. The most Alpine of the ski zones is Kasprowy Wierch, a bouldered crag accessible by a venerable 30-person, two-stage cable-car. Because it can just carry around 180 persons per hour, the queues look endless, although one can be possibly short-cut this issue by reserving a time slot the day before. When you’re at the peak, two good chairlifts maximise two adequate runs with interesting off-piste variations. The modern funicular railway on Gulbalowka is the best pick for intermediate skiers, although they’ll be needing nerves of steel for the high-velocity chicane across the mid-mountain bridge. The hill has a half-pipe and offers night skiing, with the train running until 9pm.
Beginner skiers will enjoy the wide stretch of nursery slopes at Nosal, yet the main run is abrupt, narrow, frigid and hostile. Novice skiers will better choose to level up to Polana Szymoszkowa having two advanced chairlifts, snowmaking and night skiing on leveled, open pistes.
The luxurious Belvedere Hotel, patronised by the Polish president, has good food in the penthouse Pod Aniolem Restaurant. Guests can and enjoy long night time drinks in the subterranean U-Boot bar. The Litwor, located at the center and under the same ownership, is of similar standard although with less showy opulence. The high street has an extensive selection of bars, one of them Seagrams Pub-Cafe where draft Guinness is famous.
Romania Ski Resorts: Poiana, Brasov
The purpose-made resort in Poiana is situated 13km up the mountain of the medieval town of Brasov, on the southeast outskirts of the Carpathian mountains. The randomly sprawled hotels in the pine forests round Mount Postavaru is simple in terms of architecture and ambiance, but the interiors are quite roomy.
Mount Postavaru has two cable-cars and a gondola, altogether ancient and heading to the same point on the shoulder of the mount 750m above the ski resort. With the highest station at 1,775 meters, the runs are slashed from the woods and graded more on width than steepness, yet all the colors are laid out on the piste map. Any competent intermediate skier will run through the area in a day, with dozens of ski instructors, a lot of them fluent in English, this is a practical and gratifying ski destination in which to learn to ski.
The Kanzel pub, at the peak lift station, may be considered the most affordable ski mountain restaurant in Europe.
Virtually without a village center, it would be most convenient to stay at the Sport, Bradul and Poiana complex, 3 efficiently-managed hotels under one corporate ownership located less than five minutes’ stroll from the Bradul cable car.
Most tourists have half-board travel packages including dinner in their hotels, but the renowned Sheep-Cot is a top regional tourist magnet, with bear steaks (which could be tough and overcooked) served at communal tables in a folkloric type of Romanian yurt.
The pubs and wine cellars in Brasov are surprisingly sophisticated, with a wide range of Romanian wines to offer. Festival 39 is highly recommended for its voluminous cocktail list, while the Blitz Club, in a new brutalist compound far from the busy region, is the late, late option.